Book Blogging Tips

Die or Thrive – The Mystery of Book Blog Success

Why is it that posts I lavish the most care over frequently get the fewest comments? And the jokey ones I polish off in almost as little time as it takes to read it overwhelm me with an avalanche of responses?

Chris @ Calmgrove

That question from Chris who blogs at Calmgrove, struck a chord with me because I’ve had the exact same experience.

In fact it happened to me very recently. I sweated blood over my review of The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood, struggling to explain why I loved the book and why I thought it was an award-winning novel. Yet it got hardly any reaction from my readers, generating significantly fewer comments than I see normally for reviews.  

Three days later I published another post. It didn’t take me anywhere near as long to write. It was basically a list of books I’m looking to read as part of the 20booksofsummer reading event. All I needed to do was find some photos and write a few sentences about each book.

Imagine my surprise to find that it’s had five times more comments than the Hiding Game review.

Fortunately it doesn’t happen too often. If it was a regular occurrence I think I’d get very frustrated and downhearted. After all if you created your blog to share your love of books, is there any point writing those reviews if no-one is listening? I’m not dispirited though I am definitely puzzled. Why do posts I think will attract a good level of interaction, just wilt and shrivel, while others which I don’t expect to generate a reaction, thrive and create a buzz?

I’ve been thinking about this over the past few days. I haven’t ended up with any definitive answer but I did come up with a few possible explanations that I thought I’d test out with you all.

Readers Are Busy People

I suspect part of the explanation lies in the time it takes someone to read different types of content.

Blog readers are bombarded with scores of excellent pieces of content every day. Even with the best of intentions they’re never going to have the time to read everything. They enjoy list posts because they’re quick to read. The text is usually broken up into short blocks making it easy to scan.

Book reviews, or other longer pieces take more time to digest so a reader may decide to hold off reading that post until they’re less busy. Then the inevitable happens – their blog feed gets filled up with other content, the review post gets pushed down the list and overlooked. If it’s not read within a few days of publication, it may never get read.

Can we do anything to counter this issue? Absolutely: there are some tweaks that will make your longer pieces like reviews easier (and therefore quicker) to read. This involves breaking up the text into smaller chunks and introducing more “white space” around the words. The overall length of the post won’t change but it will give the impression of being quick to read. This is especially important now that more and more people are accessing content via a mobile device.

Here’s what you do:

  • use short (ish) sentences;
  • break up the text into short paragraphs and.
  • add sub headings, bullet lists or images to break the text up further.

These few changes makes a huge difference in whether people read your article. If they’d don’t read it, then clearly they’re not likely to comment.

Uninspiring Headlines

Maybe it’s the headline that determines whether a post gets a reaction?

The Internet is full of articles and statistics about the importance of the title (also known as headline or subject) in any piece of communication. It’s the first thing people see when they visit your blog or they get an alert in their email feed/blog reader that you’ve just published new content.

Copyblogger has estimated that 8 out of 10 people read the title. The question is whether what they see in those few seconds, makes them want to keep reading and then to comment. So is your headline going to inspire them to read on?

There are a multitude of theories and tips about how to write effective headlines for blog posts.

Some ‘experts’ say your headline should be specific so that you don’t mislead your readers. Others recommend being abstract. Nearly all agree it’s critical to use action words and emotional language.

I find writing a post title for a book review extremely challenging. Initially I just used the formula of book tile + author name. But I was advised that was too dull so I changed to a more abstract/emotional formula. Tough enough to do that but then there are two other factors you have to consider:

  • Lengthy headlines can’t be read in their entirety on a mobile screen. If you have a long book title + a long author name and you also want to indicate the genre and the post is a book review you’re going to struggle with this. Personally I find long headlines that include multiple hashtags are a turn off.
  • Very short headlines are also an issue. They won’t give readers enough of a clue about the content of the post. Plus search engines don’t ‘like’ headlines of just one or two words so your visibility in searches will be affected.

I tried quite a few variations to navigate through these different ‘requirements’.

One version used the book title only but not. the author name. For example:

Another version used the author name but not the book title. As in:

Why Nancy Mitford’s “genius” novel left me underwhelmed

A third variety dropped both the book title and the author name. So we had “Complex World of Party Animal Holly Golightly [Review]”

These might have satisfied the guidance about making headlines more emotive/powerful but a) they took me longer to create and b) the result was often too vague to be fully effective I think.

So I’ve returned to the book tile + author name formula but now include just a few words to give an idea of the atmosphere or theme. For example we have:

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley – glimmers of magic

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – a world without memory

No doubt the ‘experts’ would find fault with these but for now, it’s the best I can do. But I’ll be interested to hear from you all on the importance you attach to a headline when you see it in your blog feed reader. Are there any ‘must have’ elements? Or elements that make you click away instantly?

Book Choice

I’m sure the title and. the author featured in the headline have a big impact on whether someone decides to read the whole post. I can see from my blog stats for example that interest in my reviews of books by Welsh authors is markedly lower than other reviews.

What I don’t fully understand is what has the most influence on the decision to read a blog post and how all the factors work together. I’ve ended up with more questions than answers on this topic.

Question: Do newly-published or ‘about to be published’ books get more interest than those that have been around a long time? Instinctively I would say the shiny new ones are more likely to trump the older books, but that’s not borne out by my blog stats. Reviews of ‘classics’ have proved just as popular as the new titles.

Question: When is the optimum time to review a newly published book? Too early and perhaps people are not yet receptive to your thoughts. But if you wait until after publication and it’s a highly popular author, is there a risk that ‘everyone’ else has already reviewed that book so there is reader fatigue?

Question: How big a factor is familiarity with the author featured in the review? Are you more likely to read and comment on a review if you’ve heard of the author or if you have heard of the book but not the author?

Why Do Some Posts Thrive And Others Wilt: Your Thoughts

I don’t think I’ve solved this conundrum. Maybe there are just too many different factors at work to reach a definitive answer. Or it may be that I’ve overlooked some of the obvious reasons. Any insight you can offer would be helpful. Do leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Book Blogging tips from A to Z


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

61 thoughts on “Die or Thrive – The Mystery of Book Blog Success

  • This is a great topic, and you’ve clearly generated lots of comments! I wrote a similar post about the lack of comments on book reviews, and I was gratified by the number of comments I got saying “keep writing book reviews”! I think we don’t get a lot of comments on those because readers don’t have much to say about a review unless it’s a book they’ve read or want to read. While a book list of any kind is easy to comment on. I also find I’m likely to pass on a book review if I’m not interested in the book, but I still gravitate to blogs that write a good proportion of reviews to non-reviews.

    I always struggle with headline writing, so if you have more to share on that topic, that would be another great post!

    • You’ve given me a great topic to write about – headlines are so hard to write in our niche I think. There are loads of tips online on how to write blog headlines but most of them I dismiss because they just don’t fit the kind of content I’m writing.

      As for the review versus non review content question, I like a balance personally when I go to a site. If every post is a review I lose interest especially if they are books I’m not interested in. The non review topics, like list posts or discussion topics are enjoyable because you get a sense of the person behind the blog

  • I agree, that getting comments is all about relatability, but that can be achieved by discussion posts or chatting about some topic which is relevant for all of us. So it doesn’t have to be list posts. Also, I think it’s important to distinguish between number of views and comments. There isn’t necessarily a connection at all. My most viewed posts are found via search engines, but these readers never comment. Most comments come from the blogging community. For me, the post title isn’t very important in my decision to click on a post, but obviously the title is crucial for your SEO.

    I had a quick look at my posts. I don’t see a pattern of new books getting more comments than classics or the other way around. But there is a relatively consistent pattern of book reviews getting fewer comments than other posts. Anyway, I post what I like to write about. And if I review a book few people have heard of, I am prepared it won’t be popular, which is absolutely fine with me.

    • Views and comments are indeed different ways of measuring the success of a blog. Views are an indication of traffic, comments are an indication of engagement with the content. If you don’t have a good flow of traffic then it’s unlikely you’ll get many comments. But yes there are people who read the content but never comment – I notice that no-one who follows my blog via email ever comments. It’s not that they don’t find the info of interest, just that they are shy of leaving comments. None of that would matter unless you are a blogger whose purpose in blogging is to have interaction – if your reason for blogging is more about using it as a personal journal, then none of this will really matter.

      Thanks for that reminder about other kinds of content like discussion posts. I’d forgotten they can be highly appreciated so should be part of the mix

  • Great discussion post, Karen.

    I purposely stopped writing long reviews over a year ago. It was getting depressing that they weren’t even getting “likes” let alone commented on. So now I only share a few paragraphs. I’ve got to admit that I don’t read long reviews, I perhaps skim, press “like” but rarely comment on them unless I’ve read the book or want to read it.

    I spend more time reading and commenting on discussion posts like this one. But you’re right. Title, white space, images, subheadings all play their part.

  • Lists always get the most comments, as Sue and others have said, presumably because you can read them once then say something meaningful. But I don’t think that denotes what readers prefer to read. I think if I didn’t write ‘meaty’ posts then no-one would bother reading the lists (or Journals in my case). Even if only the most likely suspects comment, I want my blog to contain a substantial body of work about the sort of books people expect me to read. Interestingly the posts of mine that get looked at the most often are about (Australian) Indigenous injustice. I don’t write them very often and the lookers never comment.

    • I think the point is that we need to have a mix of content because people come to the blog for different reasons. You’d hope that if people come first of all to see a fun list post, that they see other more substantive comment that they also enjoy

  • This is all very interesting, thank you. I get quite dispirited that a post on a mid-century woman author will get more hits and comments than one about current multicultural issues (race, sexuality, gender) even though I’ve always read and reviewed both. However, I am finding more interaction on the latter now and gaining more followers. In fact my stats and followers have gone up a lot recently, and i’m not sure why apart from I’ve been consistently posting around every other day. I know my work blog stats go up when I post (at all, ha) but it seems very frequent posts are making that happen.

    As for what I read, I don’t usually read reviews of crime or thrillers, though I will read about less mainstream ones, like Welsh ones you and Paula review, and sometimes I just don’t get time to catch things until a week or so later. I tend to like where I can and comment where I can, and if my comments and others’ are ignored for weeks, I will unfollow the blog (I have one blog where I know he will comment on my blog, write a new post and deal with his comments then, once every two weeks or so and that’s fine).

    I use author, title, the word review and the odd hashtag or @ for the twitter share.

    • That’s a surprise Liz, I would expect posts on those issues of race and gender etc to be very popular given the high visibility of the topics right now.

      There’s no doubt that posting regularly is important. Getting the frequency right is a tough one. If you post only twice a week for example, I dont think you’ll get much traction but I have a feeling that publishing too often can have a detrimental effect. I know I don’t have enough bandwidth to read and comment on blogs where there is new content every day. There is one rather large and well respected book blog where there is a new review every day. But there are hardly ever any comments on them……

      • Yes, I find that odd, esp as I’ve always read and reviewed books by a variety of voices, but they’re definitely the ones that get the least traction. I am getting some new readers now who are more interested but I find it a bit upsetting, to be honest. E.g. a review of a book about a Canadian Muslim, two comments, one about Toronto, one from my friend Ali and we always comment on every one of each other’s posts. Books around it, quite a few comments. Oh well, I will keep sharing these books into the world!

        • I had to take a look at the book you mentioned which had hardly any comments. I see that it’s non fiction which might partly explain the lack of enthusiasm. I know when I do a non fiction review there is a clear lack of interest. I wonder whether in your case it’s also that Danny Assaf isn’t a well known name – so people are not intrigued enough to click on the post.

        • I think you might be right, although I have a good community of non-fiction bloggers and we comment on each other’s posts, maybe they just haven’t found it yet. Current book on cities has some engagement at least!

        • All we can do is keep ploughing on I suppose

  • Then there’s the case of coming to an excellent, provocative blog post 24 hrs after everyone else, and seeing that everyone else has already made the comments you were going to 🙂

    I think the comment about community is an important one to consider. I suspect these posts you write about blogging, are big hits for your stats. We’re all keen to share and learn from each other, but so are 20 books of summer and other list memes and things like the classics club spin. It’s nice to be a in a like-minded group of people who are talking about the same thing for a while. It’s often where the connections happen that spill over into reviews for books that you may have never heard of before.

    I must admit, I do stop commenting on and eventually visiting bloggers who never respond to comments. I don’t expect instant responses (I certainly cannot manage that on my own blog), but within 24 hrs is nice if possible.

    • Chuckle! I’ve had that situation too where I feel I’m the last one to the party.
      Your comment is still valuable because it’s reinforcing how important that sense of shared interest can be among bloggers. That’s why I’m reluctant to give up reading events entirely even though I am rubbish at them. But the feeling of reading the same author/genre/language as other bloggers is one I love.
      As for comments – the lack of response is a turn off for me too. I know there are some bloggers who get a zillion more hits than I do so it must be a job and a half to keep up with them but if that’s the case, it would be better to close the post to further comments after a while.

  • Great post!
    I get hardly any comments on my blog, so for ‘interaction’ I have to mostly go by how many views and likes I get. Like others have commented, classics get me a lot more views and likes than more contemporary fiction. Unlike others, I have not had much luck with the “jokey”, listing or update type posts. Maybe I don’t strike the right tone or something. While they don’t take much effort to create, they do take some and when they don’t generate much interaction, I just think I could have better used that time working on a review. So I’ve given up on them and my blog is mostly review only – but I can only post one or two a month.
    My lack of comments could also be due to my ‘style’ and ‘tone’. As you say, people are busy; I tend to write very long reviews, maybe people struggle to get to the end of them! My wife thinks my style gets views from students and I should review more books on school text lists to get views.
    I too don’t think there is much wiggle room with post titles. I also stick to the “[Book Name] by [Author Name] [A Review]” formula.
    The question of when to post a review of a book that has not been published yet is one that has been on my mind lately – I have two reviews in the pipeline for books being published soon. I’m going with posting two weeks before the publication date and will see how that goes.
    I’m surprised and sorry to hear your Welsh reading has not been supported as well as you would like. I have a side project of reading ‘Indian’ books which has been good for me – India has large population of keen readers who can read English. Only the US provide me more views than India.
    I too am miffed by why some posts thrive and others don’t, why some suddenly get new life while some thrivers diminish. I wrote a review of Sense and Sensibility a long time ago. I did not get many views and I thought it’s a well-known-well-read book, there’s probably too much out there for anyone to come through to my blog. Then after two years idling on my blog, views suddenly took off and it became one of my most popular posts. I’ve also enjoyed a surge of views since the pandemic began. I’m not sure why, maybe people in lockdown are looking for things to read.

    • Length of the post could be a factor indeed Jason but you do break up your text well with quotes so it doesn’t look like a very long, hard piece to read.
      One other thing could be the level of your engagement with other blogs. I find that if I go through a period where I don’t have time to comment on other blogs, that my visit and comment numbers go down.

  • To look at the question on the positive side, posts that are part of Memes (like #20booksofsummer) get the most views and comments, in my case, and several bloggers I have talked have experienced the same. I guess because blogging is ultimately about sharing, and it works best when we all share about the same thing. Plus yes, these meme posts are more like lists.
    So when I post for #TopTenTuesday or the #SundayPost, my stats get way higher than usual.
    When beginner book bloggers ask how to get more views, I always encourage them to take part in memes, especially these 2 I just mentioned.
    Being part of a vibrant sub-group of bloggers also helps, like TheClassicsClub, for book bloggers who read classics

    • Your advice to new bloggers is very sensible, it helps them build a community. I hadn’t though t about that idea of a shared experience as the reason why some posts work better then others but it does make a lot of sense.

  • Oh, excellent points! My thoughts:

    1. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s as much, and sometimes more, a matter of timing as anything else. You know that adage about politicians issuing announcements when the world is looking the other way? I tend to schedule pretty much all of my posts at 06.00 GMT to catch evening readers in the Pacific hemisphere and also be ready for early bloggers either side of the Atlantic — that consistency of posting eliminates some of the randomness of response to when I first started blogging. (It also allows me to keep tweaking a post nearer the time of publication.)

    2. As to my cri de coeur which you opened your piece with (thanks for the mention!) I’ve never mentioned title or author as my heading, letting tags do that job for me. Instead I’ve tried to think like an author by creating creatively: the heading may be alliterative, a quote from the author, a suitable literary allusion, a pun, a twist on a simile, a self-contradiction, anything in fact that may act like a hook to draw the reader in. Three to five words is best: A thing more necessary — Home to roost — Covens above! — Looking forward to 1976…

    3. I also have an introductory formula which involves an image and a set number of short paragraphs. I try to use my own photos for images and not book covers, only occasionally memes — but then I’m a visual person — and make them relevant to the review or discussion in hand. Then I tend to sandwich three short prefatory paras, with the odd quote or even haiku starter, between one photo and another. The triple textual whammy is followed by a ‘read more’ break and second image. My reasoning is that a casual reader (like me) browsing my website may be encouraged to explore after sampling the tone without feeling pressured to plough through a prolix post.

    But, as my heart-felt cry made clear, none of this is a foolproof formula for critical success!

    • If only I were as organised as you and could schedule my posts – but I’m usually scrambling to get them done by about 10pm so I can switch the brain off and watch a dvd or something to relax before bed. It seems to work anyway because I catch the US crowd at the end of their working day and the late birds in Europe.

      Your headings are always unusual so they stand out in a crowded space. But they don’t always give me a sense of what the piece is about so if I’m pressed for time, I might pass over them.

  • The thing about reviews is they can be slow burns. They may not get a lot of views in that crucial first couple of days, but, they are “ever green” e.g. don’t go out of date as fast. People can find them via search days, weeks, months, or years later. That’s why I prefer simple titles on reviews, title and author, maybe a cute saying after a colon! I recently looked at my most popular posts after ten years, and quite a few reviews were in there. That said, they were for widely-read books like Infinite Jest, The Fault in Our Stars, and Stoner. You’re right that reviews take more effort to read, so I’m more likely to spend that effort if it’s a book I’ve heard of. Admittedly, I read your 20 Books post but not the review you worked so hard on 🙂

    • I love your honesty Laura! There’s a strong theme coming from the comments here that people don’t tend to read reviews of books they’ve not heard of or authors that are unknown to them. That’s made me think about my own habit and it’s very similar in fact. I do occasionally read reviews of books I’ve not heard of if the blogger is someone whose opinion I trust and who I know has similar tastes to my own.

      Good point about reviews being more evergreen. List posts do tend to be a bit of a flash in the pan – they very rarely last whereas there are clicks on reviews even years after they were posted

  • Oh Karen, I’m not at all surprised. List posts nearly always get more hits and responses, mainly I think because people feel they can say something in response. They are easy to engage with.

    Re review posts, here is what I think and practice…

    For my blog, I just use Author and Title (and now the word Review or BookReview), because my early blogging research into SEO suggested that that the blog title was part of what search engine algorithms use to index. Is this still the case? If it is, abstract titles are pretty useless for that purpose and clear informative ones are spot on. Your idea of perhaps putting something catchy at the end is a fair compromise, unless the book title is really long? With my longer posts I frquentl use headings and dot points and images and quotes, anything to break up big lots of text. I think we need to see that blogs are not newspaper articles or school essays and that we can be a bit looser with presentation and form. I agree that in general we should make sentences short but I fail there a lot! I’m working on it! Too many short sentences can be staccato and not easy to read, but too many long ones … hmm. The other thing I’m trying to remember is to use shorter paragraphs than I would in more formal writing.

    For other blogs, I just don’t have the time to read every post that comes my way, so if the review looks to be for a book I’d never heard of or don’t think I’ll read I just don’t read it. (Sorry). I’m so so behind in reading all the books I have to read and want to read, so I just have to be sensible. I hate abstract post titles that give me no idea of what the post is about. More often than not, I don’t check them out, for the same reason I’ve just given. I don’t have time for wild goose chases.

    I have many posts that get few hits or comments – and mostly they are the ones I expect. But, that’s OK. I write them mostly for myself, to document what I thought. If they interest other people well and good, but if they don’t, I don’t feel I’ve wasted my time. Sometimes, it’s just good to have that book out there on the net and findable whenever someone goes looking? Of course, I love hits and even more, comments, but that’s not my prime goal.

    • You’re absolutely right Sue – Google and other search engines do pay attention to the blog title. They also notice sub headings so well worth using those. If you want people who are searching for a particular book, to find your review of it, then you need to put the book title in the heading and also several times more in the text.
      Abstract titles might attract attention because they are emotive but I’ve found that they do nothing for visibility on search engines.

  • I read and very much enjoyed your review of The Hiding Game and should have left you a comment to say so! But also it was a book I’d been considering reading, and so I was very interested to hear your response to it. I used to find the exact same thing when I was blogging. Even publisher-organised book tours never really garnered much in the way of comments. I really do think it’s all down to the book. If it’s been in the news because of being shortlisted for a prize, that interests people. If it’s a really popular up and coming author (like Sally Rooney) that attracts people. If it’s a controversial or talking point book that attracts readers. And also hatchet reviews, I’m afraid, are far more tempting to the passing reader than positive ones. The last post I wrote that really had any big interest was a review of Stoner by John Williams and I absolutely hated that book. It was also a book that it turned out a lot of people had read because it had a surprisingly successful reissue several years ago. But the release for the Naomi Wood novel was really quiet. I might read it now, though, after your review!

    • I’ve been wondering for some time whether blog tours really have a good return on investment. I don’t do them regularly but when I do I notice that other people on the tour seldom get many responses. so then I have to ask myself, why would publishers want to do them?

  • I particularly like your reviews of Welsh authors, and look out for those.

    • That’s so lovely to hear, thank you. I feel for those authors…

  • I find I follow several blogs and read several books plus magazines and other things related to my interests. I enjoy hearing about books people read but don’t have the time or interest to read a long post about one book. I don’t want all that information. I want to discover the book myself without other reviews. Sometimes once I finish a book I’ll read a longer book review of it. I enjoy quick lists with a blurb to just get an idea of the book but then I move on. Time is a problem but so is interest. I also enjoy a personal touch in a blog. I like to hear about a blogger’s life and what else they do. Like an old fashioned letter. It seals the friendship to that person more. Just a few thoughts here.

    • Interesting to hear your preferences Pam. Very long reviews which practically tell me everything about the plot are a turn off for me,
      I’ve very rarely included any personal info about what’s happening in my life. Part of that is being quite reserved I suppose but also for the first few years when I was blogging i was working flat out so had little time for much else that would have been of interest. And the last few years seem to have been more of routines – same things every week which doesn’ make for interesting reading!

  • Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Ahahaha you’ve been far more pragmatic in your thinking on this question – I’ve always attributed it to a strange dark magic that I couldn’t possibly understand and don’t bother trying! I guess I just try to produce reviews and lists and discussions that interest me, and figure they will either find their audience or they won’t. One thing I would add is not to give up on posts that appear to be withering: I have a couple that didn’t garner much attention when they were first published, but somewhere along the line they got picked up somewhere and suddenly readers flocked to them. Like I said, magic!

    • I’m sure that there is that unknown factor – call it magic or luck. You might just hit the publish button on a day when your content is very topical for reasons you couldn’t possibly know about.
      Good point about the lifespan of a post – that’s where having strong keywords comes into effect

    • I’ve been blogging reviews for quite a few years now so have got a bit sneaky. If an early review of mine barely got any response in terms of likes and comments what I do is revise it, adding a note of when the review was first published, then rescheduling it so it can catch followers who weren’t around at the time the post first went up.

      Reposting an eight-year-old review I was proud of again today, for example, has already tripled the number of likes and comments it originally garnered, and triggered the kinds of responses I was originally hoping for. (And it also fills in a gap in my posting schedule while away on holiday!)

      • That’s not sneaky at all – republishing posts is a well established practice and one that the blogging experts recommend doing. Obviously you don’t want to do it too often but it does have value because there are people following you now who were not following you when you wrote that review eight years ago. They’re not going to hunt through your site to find it that far back so if you didn’t draw their attention to it, they would never see it.

  • I can only speak for myself obviously, but I’m far more likely to comment on a post like this, or a booklist of some kind, than on a review of a book I haven’t read and don’t feel particularly inspired to read. On the other hand, I nearly always comment on a review of a book I have read, or want to read. I think other people may be the same – it’s quite hard to comment on a book you don’t know without falling into the generic “Great review!” type of comment, which I guess most of us want to avoid. Like you, my reviews of classics get far more response than reviews of new releases, I think because most people have read them or seen an adaptation of them, or have read other books by the author – i.e., they find it easy to think of something to say. But my most popular posts for comments are undoubtedly my TBR Thursday posts, when I do a short list of four books I intend to read soon, complete with blurbs cut and pasted from Goodreads. Minutes to prepare, unlike reviews which can take me hours for a serious book. C’est la vie! So long as my “regulars” pop by for some of my reviews, I feel it’s still worth the time investment.

    • So true that it’s hard to make a meaningful comment when you don’t know the book. I do try to avoid the ‘great review’ kind so I suppose that means sometimes I don’t make a comment at all. And if that’s how other bloggers feel, then its not surprising that some books which haven’t been around for long, don’t get comments. Thanks for giving me the insight on this.

  • This is an interesting discussion for sure! I’m more likely to read a post that’s a review of a book I’ve already read or thinking of reading. I read so many blogs that I tend to scan most of them. Thus lots of white space and small chunks of text work well. I think the title of the book is important in the post title because those are the key words most people will use for searching. Comments are difficult to generate! I’m mystified as to why some book review posts receive comments and others don’t. I know I’m more likely to comment if I’ve read the book, too, or it’s on my radar. I think discussion posts generate the most comments, so maybe structuring a discussion question in a review would facilitate comments. I might play around with that idea!

    • Asking a question does help to encourage people to comment. I’ve found that some bloggers (especially if they are new) don’t really know what to say. They’re afraid of looking silly especially if they see other comments that suggest other people know a lot more about the topic than they do. But if you ask a question, if gives them a steer.
      Not sure how that would work within a review post but I’ll be watching with great interest on how you do that…

  • I’ve noticed exactly the same as you: lots of comments on the 20 Books of Summer billet. I think you’re on the right track, it’s easy to read and also easy to comment.

    What can you say about a book you’ve never heard of? Unless you leave a trite comment or you just click on “like” or do nothing. I tend to leave trite comments, as a way to say to the blogger that I was there and read their whole piece.

    I tend to get more comments on books that are widely read. My billet about The Last Night at the Ritz had very few readers and it’s disappointing for the book because it deserves a wider readership.

    I don’t like titles with riddles and a lot of hastags. They tend to turn me off, unless I know they come from a blogger I really like. I do the title + author + two/three words to tease readers. I have no idea if it works or not.

    I often feel guilty because I don’t have time to read all the posts I receive in my inbox. I have a policy now. I keep them until the end of the month and delete the ones I haven’t read, unless they’re about a book I’m curious about. (I tend to read reviews of French books because it’s very refreshing to read about French lit through the eyes of foreigners)

    I’ll be curious to see what other bloggers will say.

    • There’s a definite theme coming through from some of the comments here so far and it’s the point you make Emma that it’s difficult to find anything valid/meaningful to say on a book you’ve not heard of. So a degree of familiarity with the book in question is a key factor.

      I don’t have time either to read all the posts I see from blogs that I follow. It takes at least 5-10 minutes to read a post and make a comment on it. If I spent two hours a day just reading and commenting I’d barely touch the surface of all the feeds I get. So like you I have to do a periodic clean out. I feel bad because I know how much effort it takes to create content…

      • Yes, I meant to say this too – that I want to leave a meaningful comment rather than simply “another one for the TBR” or some such. I want to engage in discussion. Its very disappointing, as we’ve discussed here before I think, when the blogger doesn’t respond to a “real” comment.

        I will occasionally leave a more meaningless comment just to show I’ve been there and read it, because I know bloggers appreciate at least that.

        • Sometimes you do just want the blogger to know you’ve read the content even if you have little to add. I do try to avoid the ‘will be adding this to the tbr’ kind of comment whenever I can but there are times when that’s about all I can say

      • Glad to hear I’m not the only one.
        I never know when I’ll need a dictionary when I read and comment on posts, so I’d rather read on my computer instead of my phone. My blog reading time is limited because of that too.

        • I hardly ever read blogs on my phone. I find the screen too small to make that a pleasant experience. Plus if I want to leave any substantive comment, it takes me so much longer because of the tiny buttons

    • Oh yes Emma … riddle titles and lots of hashtags and unrelated words are a big turn off to me too. I started putting one hashtag in front of BookReview at the end of my titles, but I really don’t think the hashtag adds anything, ie I don’t think it means anything to search engines, so I should stop it I think.

      • I’ve asked people who include hashtags why they do so and their explanation is that they have the blog set up to immediately push out a twitter message when the post goes live. So byh having the hashtags included in the blog title they don’t then have to add to the twitter message.

        It’s their blog so it’s their decision of course what to do, I know that I won’t use hashtags personally because I don’t see they have any value

        • Of course, I keep forgetting that my automatic Twitter posting. So I might leave it. I don’t think it’s intrusive there at the end of the title. I do think it is though when it is scattered throughout a post title. So distracting.

      • You don’t have to put the hashtag in the title. You can add it manually to the Twitter message that gets published at the same time as your post, if the settings are done in WP.

        • Thanks very much, Emma, I know that but I’ll never remember. I know some bloggers craft their automatic Twitter posts but I don’t! Just one more thing I suppose. I figure the hashtag at the end after the author and title isn’t too intrusive, so I think I’ll leave it there at this stage.

        • I don’t like to rely on the automatic twitter posts so although there is a basic one that goes out as soon as the post is published, I also spend time creating my own versions

        • I just let the basic one go out. I don’t spend much time on Twitter but I think crafted ones probably are good for engaging people.

        • I don’t spend much time there either. I see some bloggers pumping out tweets every few minutes and I wonder how the hell they have the time and the energy.

  • This is something I was thinking ever since I started blogging. My blog is basically a review blog as I’m here to share my thought and yes I have noticed blogs who do discussion or list or any other kind of posts get far more views than my reviews. it’s really disheartening.
    I changed things from just title and author to hashtags and now I do title + author + something that explains the book. I do struggle with keeping headline letter count and I feel helpless coming up with creative title as well. It’s something I keep experimenting and would love to get better at it.
    Short sentence thing is also I’m not exactly comfortable with as I want some aspect or character I’m talking about in one paragraph. Breaking them would make it weird to read. So I think bullet points at the end would make it better. I may try that technique see how it’s working.
    Amazing post!

    • Headline writing is an art form – I had to do a six month assignment during my journalism training which involved headline writing. It was exhausting trying to find something that captured the essence of the story, caught the reader’s eye and fitted the word count limitation. So you have my deep sympathy.

      It takes time to get comfortable with the short sentences/paragraphs style. Just looking at your blog and sampling some of the reviews I don’t think you have a problem with length of paragraphs. None of your paragraphs are very lengthy and you mix them up with short paragraphs so it reads very quickly. Maybe you could focus on sentence length more?

      • Yes, I need to work on that headline thing and get some inspiration from blogs that are not using generic titles for reviews.

        Thank you for going through my posts and letting me know where I need to make improvement. I will try to make it right in next review.

        • I just read a great tip on another blog – look at the headlines that make YOU click to read more. And then analyse why they make you want to read more – apply those same concepts to your own headlines

        • The analyser can give some good pointers

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