Tag: How To

Blogging and Social Media

Social media is a huge element of blogging. Regardless of the content of your blog, you need to put yourself out there to get your content noticed. Which platforms you use is entirely up to you, and maybe dependent on the content of your blog. Sounds easy, right?

In some respects, yes. With a few simple settings, new posts I publish are automatically shared to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. All I have to do is write a brief description/summary I want to accompany the link and away it goes. I don’t even have to think about it.

It’s not all automatic though. There is a degree of effort you have to put in to maintain a presence online. Ultimately, readers are connecting with the person behind a blog, not just the content itself. A feed of links to own content can be a bit boring. Here is where I will admit that I fall down. I am not that good when it comes to proactively using social media. My feeds are pretty much as I have described above – links to my own blog.

I try to interact as and when I can, but I can honestly say I don’t really have the compulsion to use social media that much. On a personal level, I use Facebook to keep up to date with what is going on with friends and family, news and such and that is it. I am one of those ghost friends that hardly ever post. My blog has given me some purpose to post more in recent months, but it isn’t natural to me.

Even my ‘blog’ accounts aren’t all that up to scratch. I’m not at all consistent with my use of Instagram. Remembering to take pictures and create a visual medium for my blog is a conscious effort, but it’s one I am not conscious of all the time and so I lapse. I just don’t take that many photos. I change my Facebook profile picture maybe once every six months in a good year, and only when there is a change to the way I look really. Call me lazy, but I just can’t be bothered and I doubt anyone is really all that bothered about it – myself included.

Do you have any tips for me to get better with my use of social media? Which platforms do you find easiest to use and why? I’ll take all comments on board at this point!

 

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Tips to Get Out of a Reading Slump

We all get to that stage where we lack motivation to read. Maybe you aren’t getting on with the particular book you are reading, or perhaps you’re sick of a particular genre or a trope within it. Hey, it happens. There is no point beating yourself up about it.

My TBR is never far from my mind and when I heave deadlines, I don’t have time for a slump. There are a few things you can do to get yourself out of it, if you really need to.

 

Read Something Else

If your reading slump is just beginning and you think it might be your reaction to a certain book, try to read something else. Taking half an hour to enjoy something else could be more advantageous than trying to struggle on through the current read. I know it’s tempting to try and slog through it but you won’t enjoy it and might contribute to a longer slump in the long run. Take a break! You deserve it!

If reading another book from a genre you read a lot of doesn’t cut it, then try something totally new! Why not try a short story or novella if you are struggling with a full length novel? Finishing the book is a lot more attainable and the sense of achievement from doing it could be the pickup you need to get motivated again. Alternatively, branch out into a new or under-read genre. If I was looking for something different, then horror might be a genre I would turn to as I don’t read as much of it as others.

 

Set Yourself Achievable Reading Goals

My TBR this month is one of the longest I have ever set. I have seven books on the list that I want to have finished come 1st November, plus an extra sample read for an author I have worked with. It works out at over 1,800 pages to read, which sounds horrendous. It’s not really though; when you break it down, it works out at 59 pages a day, which I know I can do. I am keeping on track with it too, even considering all the extra blogging I am doing this month.

Set yourself an attainable goal that you can look at on a daily or weekly basis and assess your progress. If that goal is proving unattainable, don’t be afraid to revise the plan. We’ve all over-stretched ourselves before.

 

Try a Different Medium

Tired of reading books? Have you tried picking up a graphic novel or a magazine instead? Maybe you could try listening to an audiobook instead. I like the variety of reading in different forms and it allows me to maximise my time. I can listen to audiobooks when I am getting ready for work, or when I am driving home at the end of the day.

 

Take a Break

It doesn’t have to be a long break, but give yourself time to enjoy doing something else. Give yourself the night off to catch up with friends or a TV program you love. In my spare time, I like to play Minecraft and spend time with my family.

It may be that a longer break would suit you; that’s fine too! We read for the enjoyment of it above all else, and if you aren’t enjoying it, what is the point in doing it? Nothing good comes of forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do… so my advice is don’t.

Do you have any advice for anyone stuck in a slump? What works for you?

 

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Discussion Post: How to write book reviews… (and how I write mine!)

How do you write a review?

Everyone has their own way of approaching the task – there really is no right or wrong way to do it. Naturally, you are taking the opportunity to express your opinion, so it’s a completely personal experience.

I like reading other bloggers reviews. I love the variety of style and structure to other bloggers writing, compared to my own. There are the same underpinning conventions, but we all have creative licence to do things our own way.

In today’s post, I want to touch on some of the things I do (and don’t do!) when writing my book reviews. So, shall we get into it?

 

Make Notes Beforehand?

I don’t really make notes as I read. I have tried, but I never stick to it. It interrupts my reading flow and does more harm than good in the end.

If I don’t wait too long to write my reviews then usually my thoughts are fresh in my head and the review is easy to write. That’s also the case if a book makes a good impression on me. I do struggle occasionally. I’ll freely admit in that case that I’ll look at other people’s thoughts and reviews. I would never copy a review, but I’ll shamelessly admit that I’ll use it as a prompt to ask myself what I thought about the same subject. It works!

 

Describe the Plot

I am not a big fan of reading detailed, lengthy plot descriptions, hashing out 80% of the book before reading a person’s review. I do read posts by bloggers who do this, and to be honest I just skip this section. I’ll have already read the synopsis of the book. If I read a post that summarises the vast majority of a book (minus the spoiler /ending), do I want to read the book then? Honestly, no. You may not have given the ending away, but the plotline and enjoyment of the rest of the book has been taken away from me. Why waste several hours reading something I already know?

Sometimes review points need a little context and I don’t have a problem with that. There is a balance, however.

 

Expressing views

I always write my reviews as honestly as I can. That is the point, after all. Reviewsfeed is my place to express my views. As a reviewer, I couldn’t in good conscience lie about my experience of a book. How could readers ever trust me to be honest again? It’s probably one of the easiest ways for others to lose their respect for you… and yet, it’s so easy to feel pressured into not saying something that may not be popular.

I’m not saying all bloggers should be brutally honest about their opinions. Saying that a book that an author has poured hundreds of hours into to publish is **** is uncouth. That doesn’t mean you have to lie or even gloss over the fact in your review; there is a way to be tactful about it. If I thought a book was that bad and I had nothing good to say about it, truthfully, I just wouldn’t review it.

I once gifted a handmade jumper to a family member for Christmas. It is one of the very first big crochet projects I completed, and I am really proud of it! That jumper has remained in that person’s wardrobe to the present day, unworn. They’re being tactful; they won’t get rid of it but they haven’t worn it either. I know I love it more than they do because I know how much time and effort went into it, and that’s okay.

That said, I really wouldn’t mind if they got rid of it now. It is several years old.

 

Star Ratings

Some bloggers like to breakdown their ratings based on various aspects of a book and then average the ratings. From other bloggers, I actually quite like reading these. It’s not something I will ever do though. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite an organised and orderly person (mostly), but I find this approach a bit too regimented.

In a sense I do take this approach, but I am a lot more flexible with it. I would describe myself as more of a mood reviewer. In my mind, sometimes character development may be more important than world-building. Personally, narrative style is a make-or-break thing with me and books. The story could be fantastic, but if I don’t enjoy the way a story is written it will hamper my enjoyment of it. I like to rate the overall experience of the book in a less rigid manner.

Also, I rarely put star ratings on my blog. I have used them in my Throwback Review posts, but I try to avoid them. In my opinion, star ratings are well and good, but the more important bit is the explanation of why I have rated a book a certain way. So, that’s what I focus on in my reviews on my blog. My star ratings are for Goodreads.

How do you write a review? What do you do differently? Do you agree with me?

 

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