Sunday Salon: Do You Read Book Reviews? A Challenge and a Rant and a Sad Attempt to Attract Traffic

Parajunkee.com ran a short post on how to draw traffic to your book blog this week.  Her top ten ways to bring more readers to your book blog were:

  1. Tutorials
  2. Resource dump
  3. Lists
  4. Cheat Sheets
  5. Rants
  6. Challenge/Project Posts
  7. Event Post/Participation Post
  8. Personal Stories
  9. Survey/Quiz
  10. Comedy

I refuse to run tutorials because I teach for a living so I’m not going to give it away.  I’m not sure what a resource dump is-sounds messy.  Is is a list of links?  I’ve run several of those.  I’ve no idea what she means by cheat sheets but I do know that cheating is wrong. If I catch you at you’re going to get a referral.

But did you notice that none of the top ten ways to attract readers to your book blog included anything to do with writing better reviews.  In fact, you could do all ten of the items of Parajunkee’s list without even mentioning books.

It’s been this way since the beginning.  Last year I ran a post on comment worthy book blog posts in which I listed what sorts of posts get the most comments.  Here’s my list:

  1.  Posts about dramatic personal news get the most comments.  Good dramatic news like an engagement or the birth of a baby (human child, puppy or kitten) get the most.  This is followed by new jobs, graduations, promotions, moves to new towns, and children who win sporting events.  Bad dramatic news comes close behind.
  2. Post about blogging topics come next.  Wondering how to treat Advanced Review Copies, whether or not to publish negative reviews, should you change your blog’s layout design again?  Just about everyone who keeps a book blog has an opinion to share.  A post about comments usually does fairly well.
  3. Participants in weekly topics can do very well.  Sunday Salon still thrives on comments.  Booking Through Thursday still has a base of fans though Top-Ten Tuesday seems to be the current favorite.
  4. Post about general publishing issues and book world controversies come next.  Posts about Young Adult book controversies always do very well.
  5. Pictures of pretty scenery and cute pets.  Cute babies trump both, however.  (See #1 above.)
  6. Reviews of current popular books/authors.  Reviews of a popular author’s newest book will get more comments than a review of the same authors previous books will.  Positive reviews tend to get more comments than negative reviews do. I you loved The Goldfinch, then you have lots of freinds out there just dying to tell you how much they also loved The Goldfinch.
  7. Reviews of classic literature that is still widely read, especially if a new movie adaptation of the book has recently come out.
  8. Reviews of books people have heard of but not many people have read.  Comments will increase if the book is a classic people feel they really should have read at some point.
  9. Reviews of obscure books by well known authors.
  10. Obscure books by little known authors get the least number of comments.

While I basically match up with Parajunkee.com, I do include book reviews in my list because I am old school, Dawg.

That post, by the way, got 15 comments which was darn good for my old blog.  Since it met three of Parajunkee.com’s top-ten because it was a list, a rant and a comedy piece, it also increased traffic to Ready When You Are, C.B.   I can’t remember for sure because it was several years ago and I’m old, fifty and a half in fact, but I think I even gained a follower.  It was pretty popular post.

So here we are, on this new WordPress.com blog where I post mostly book reviews and don’t get all that much traffic.  You can sit there, wherever you are, and tell me you don’t care about traffic, but I don’t believe you.  You’re keeping a book blog, you want people to read it.

So do I.

I Read a Book Review TodaySo, to help drive traffic to this post which is already a list, a rant, and an attempt at a comedy piece, I’m going to give you a challenge that you can participate in as well.  Go out into the world, well, into cyber-space, and read a book review today.  After reading it, leave a comment.

If you’d like to participate, you can sign up in a comment below.  After you have completed the challenge you can include the cool button I made on your blog.  You’re not required to tag five friends, but if you want to, I’m not going to stop you.  How could I?

And who doesn’t love a good game of tag?

Have fun.

And watch out for traffic.

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28 Comments

  1. Teresa says:

    I haven’t read a book review today, but I will, assuming someone whose blog I read posts one. One I read this week was http://readingtheend.com/2014/09/12/review-the-girls-at-the-kingfisher-club-genevieve-valentine/ I remember it because I put the book on hold at the library.

    There was a whole slew of posts this week about people being bored with writing reviews and/or reading reviews–or maybe enjoying writing reviews but not reading them and therefore feeling bad that they were writing posts they themselves wouldn’t want to read. I was thinking about writing a post about it, but I’m bored with writing about blogging and general book topics and prefer to write reviews. I’m weird that way, I guess. I’m also weird in that I’ve never liked reading or writing list posts all that much. But I miss the comments and traffic that topical posts stir up.

    1. When I restarted blogging with this new blog, my intention was to just post reviews of what I read rather than to get caught up in all the rest of the stuff so many people do on their blogs. I’ve no problem with people doing what they want, but I think the search for traffic and comments can lead to exhaustion.

      I like comments, I like traffic, but trying to write for it specifically is one thing that led me to semi-retire and switch over to just writing reviews, most of the time. And my reviews are really just free-flowing things now rather than attempts at something more systematic.

      But I am having fun with my blog again.

  2. Rohan says:

    There is a difference between number of readers and number of comment(er)s, of course: I read a lot of book blogs through Feedly (I still miss Google Reader, sniff!), which would not show up in hits or immediate traffic either. I have been trying to comment more often so that people know I am reading! So this is a good nudge in that direction. I far prefer book reviews to any of those other kinds of things on Parajunkee’s list — but I have noticed what you remark, which is that they are far less likely to generate much (visible) interest.

    1. It’s tough when so many of us read things that not all that many people read, at least not that many people who follow book blogs. I started blogging as a way to find other people who might be reading what I am and might want to discuss it. Sometimes I succeed.

    2. I am in the same boat as Rohan. It is refreshing to read a post by someone who enjoys both reading and writing reviews, after so many bloggers I follow recently have been saying they don’t enjoy doing either. My favourite aspect of book blogging is reviews, both writing and reading them. That’s why I’m here. I most enjoy the sort of posts that might influence whether I want to read a book (reviews, author interviews, book discussions, etc.).

  3. Juxtabook says:

    I experience the post/comment/popularity in the same order as you do (though I’ve never done much of no. 5 views/puppies – unless the view was a literary one – I’ve never met a literary puppy). I also mostly post book reviews. I’m not a naturally frivolous type, so some of the other blogging quirks have never appealed to me. I don’t do too many rants either, though I’ve just done one on sticky labels on books. http://juxtabook.typepad.com/books/2014/09/a-small-rant-about-small-labels-and-how-to-remove-sticky-labels-from-books.html

    I agree with Rohan that you do get lots of readers that don’t comment. If your style appeals to readers that just want book reviews with out all the ‘fun’ stuff, you probably attract readers that aren’t the commenting sort. I read many more of your posts than those I comment on for example.

    I know my dyslexia puts people off too. Though people don’t comment on my blog in enormous numbers they can’t resist telling me every so often that they’d read Juxtabook more but my spelling irritates and they ‘can’t bear it’.

    I also think that fact that I’m both a bit serious and also ‘trade’ and therefore a bit suspect as I might be wanting to sell you something (indeed I do!). Though I’d blog whether I was ‘trade’ or not. The selling something is just the result of the needing to eat thing that we humans have. Like you and teaching, it is what I do and I can’t help that!

  4. No literary puppies! I think I could do a post on literary puppies. Imagines the comments I’d get. Bill Sike’s dog, the disturbing puppy scene in Wuthering Heights, Dora’s dog in Copperfield. I could go on and I just might someday. 😉

    I appreciate the people who read my reviews but don’t comment. I do that as well. I try to comment only when I have something to say. I try to say something on the blogs I follow at least once a month. I know many people do much better than I do.

  5. TracyK says:

    Most of my posts are book reviews and most of the blogs I read do book reviews, either exclusively or as a large percentage of their posts. Outside of work and having fun with my family, my pastimes are reading books, reviewing books, and reading about books in books or at blogs. I am trying to improve on my book review posts all the time, but I appreciate any book review I run into, long or short. I do pay more attention to book reviews of books in the mystery genre, because that is what I love. I do read three blogs on a regular basis that are not slanted towards mystery / crime fiction. Yours, Clothes in Books, and ipsofactodotme.com.

    1. Thank you. I am flattered. I read so much crime fiction that I have considered becoming a crime blog. Last week a student asked me what kinds of books I most like to read and I had to admit that I enjoy detective stories the most.

  6. Lisa says:

    I started a blog first because I wanted to talk about what I was reading, and also to talk about books & reading in general. I can pretty much guess which books will draw comments and which won’t, though I’m sometimes wrong. That’s pretty much why I’m still blogging, so most of my posts are reviews, though I do some themes (cats in books, but not dogs so far). I tend to stick with blogs that post at least some reviews, and I’m trying to comment more – though it’s hard with authors I haven’t read yet, I feel like I keep saying the same things about new authors (that sounds interesting/I’ll add her to my list). I’m guessing that commenting here doesn’t count 🙂 So I’ll leave a comment somewhere else today.

    1. I’m basically in the same boat you are. The blogs I keep going back to are ones that feature book reviews and a couple who are by people I’ve been following for a long time who have moved away from reviews a bit. Sunday is really the day I go out and leave reviews, though I still do a few during the week.

  7. I usually make a habit of reading at least 5 to 10 blog posts a day and tend to comment on three. That adds up during a week and gets me started for the day on life in general. I get more comments on visits to book stores, sharing books, travels, popular books and my pets. People see to like my cats and dogs though I don’t post about them a lot. I read blogs that aren’t too heavy and don’t have really lengthy reviews in small print. I don’t really want to know all the details of a book but whether or not it was enjoyed, why it was enjoyed (or wasn’t). Some posts give away too much of the information and then I don’t feel the need to read it. If I read anymore posts on the Goldfinch or the Luminaries I will shy away altogether and actually read something more obscure that I know nothing about. Oh, I wanted to thank you for your tutorial (wink). You really can’t help yourself. Hope your week goes well.

  8. I avoid reviews with lots of plot summary. I find I have no real interest in plot summaries. I barely mention the plot at all in some of my books. I want to know what else is going on, what else you thought of the book.

  9. I read multiple reviews every day and certainly leave plenty of comments, in fact too many, as I suspect I have become too argumentative, and many book bloggers do not want that at all. Maybe if they were more open to argument they would get more – no, see, that is just what I am trying to suppress.

    Perhaps I should write a post – a tutorial in list form – on how to get really good commenters, because that is what I get. So do you, CB.

    1. Thank you, Tom. I always value your comments, even when they tend towards the argumentative. I hope that my own add to the discussion.

    2. bookaddictuk says:

      Argumentative is good (so long as polite). And I find it tends to garner further comments. It’s a shame though that some people can’t seem to do argumentative without also being impolite (I’m sure that’s not you, Amateur Reader Tom!). A post though on how to get really good comments sounds like a great idea to me.

  10. Jeanne says:

    You have some of the best readers and writers on the internet, here!

    1. On behalf of everyone, thank you. I agree, too.

  11. Juxtabook says:

    Just to say, I’ve taken your challenge seriously and am playing tag here http://juxtabook.typepad.com/books/2014/09/read-a-book-review-today.html

    1. Going viral is on my bucket list…maybe this time…..

  12. Jim Randolph says:

    I hate those “how to drive traffic or in crease followers or whatnot” type things. I mean this is blogging for fun, so if you happen to blog about something that tons of people read and comment on, great. If not, who cares? It’s really just for you and whatever interest you’re blogging about. Unless you’re TRYING to just please everyone, but then if you are like that you’re probably blogging for HuffPo or somesuch and writing posts like “X number of ways to drive your blog traffic through the roof!”

    Ugh.

    I think a resource dump is probably a post like “Here’s ten links to site that will help you find out of print books” or “A list of the best books with green covers” or some crap like that. If they’re using the term “resource dump” then I wouldn’t read them even if I was taking a dump! (That should be read with an Archie Bunker type voice I think.)

    The funny thing is, I rarely comment on just book review posts. Unfortunately, that’s all some of the blogs I follow do. I mean I read them and sometimes I think, “Nope, not for me.” Or I think, “Sounds great, will add to my list.” But I rarely ever take the time to click on through and go through the process of commenting.

    Look at me! I’ve practically written a whole blog post. Might have to recycle this…

    1. I think we all care a little about traffic, some of us more than others but this is a public activity. I care some, but not very much. As long as I have a few readers, I’m happy.

  13. Jay says:

    I’ll share a “secret weapon” of mass traffic: literary maps. One of my all-time most viewed posts is one of Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” where I included a map of the unfortunate domed town. (Of course, now it’s also enjoying a second life of traffic due to the TV series.) I’ve also included maps for posts on the Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire series. I’ve written several on that, but the most popular: the ones with a map.

    That said, my “map posts” seem to generate traffic only and no or few comments. I can kind of sense why that might be, though. You and some of your commenters have it right, too. Write what you want and try to make it the best you can. You may have fewer commenters than otherwise, but they will likely be of better quality and have a better chance to return for more.

    1. I once published a review with lots of charts. That did very well, even got me a mention in The Guardian. It got 1000 hits which is my record for a single post in a single day. But my blog traffic leveled off after a day.

      Maps, though, that does sound fun.

  14. Juxtabook tagged me – and I’m going to join in and play along formally, although I do visit a handful of blogs most days and often leave comments. I must admit, I’m guilty as charged in shamelessly exploiting my two cats on my blog, and lots of bookish waffle when I haven’t got a book review to post – and you’re right these always get lots of comments! I will search out some great book reviews and comment.

    1. I’ve posted plenty of pictures of my dog over the years, so I am not own to judge. I used to do many non-review posts/activities, but thesedays it’s just reviews, Sunday Salons and the rare rant/ramble, just things I find fun.

  15. Well, James, this if my first time here. A link from Reading in Bed blog brought me over. I’m a blogger and reviewer. I started blogging about a year ago. I don’t know how many people really read my blog. I don’t get many likes, but I know that many tell me my reviews are interesting and well-written. So why do I review? I review because I read. I enjoy putting my thought about the book in a review and I hope this effort will support the authors in their craft. Thus far, I happy to continue reading and writing my thoughts– readers or not.

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