How To Get More Comments On Your Book Blog

Day 3 of the
#A-Z challenge.

C is for comments

It’s enough to make you want to ditch your book blog.

You’ve sweated hours over that post. It’s on a topic you felt sure would attract attention. You put your heart and soul into the writing. Found some eye-catching graphics. And did everything the experts tell you to do about formatting and linking.

It’s now out in the world but instead of generating loads of comments, it’s met with almost silence.

Frustrating isn’t it? Especially when you see other book bloggers getting scores of comments on their blogs.

It’s dispiriting when this happens once. But when your posts disappear into a black hole time and time again you begin to doubt yourself. If other bloggers can get comments, why can’t you? What are you doing wrong?

If this describes you, you’re certainly not alone.

The question of course is what can you do to get readers to pay more attention and leave you a comment.

I’ll do my best to answer with the help of the blogging experts I’ve mentioned previously.

4 Ways To Get More Comments

A lot of those experts tell you that to get a reaction to your content your writing needs to show passion. According to Christian Mikhail from The Art of Blogging, it’s all about getting your readers to feel something when they read your article.

Imagine your readers. Imagine that they’re stressed from their jobs, probably hangry (hungry+angry) and tired. Your job is to get them to wake up, pay attention to your post, read all of it, and then care enough so they can comment.

I got the point that if people are inspired by your content, or they strongly oppose your point of view, they are more likely to react. But it’s not that easy to accomplish in a book review. There are only so many ways you can sing the praises of a book. Doing the opposite and going negative on a book sits uncomfortably with most of us.

So while I understand the advice, I probably won’t over exert myself to put it into practice. I’d rather adopt these four much easier, but still effective approaches.

1. Publish Less Frequently

I can see your eyes rolling at that piece of advice!.

It seems counter-intuitive doesn’t it? It certainly sounded so to me when I first heard about it from Christian Mihail.

Christian works on the principle that you shouldn’t publish a new post until your current one has attracted a few comments. His reasoning is that your followers and readers will always look at the newest post first. That may in fact be the only one they have time to read. Which means the previous post is history in their eyes. They probably won’t look at it, and hence you won’t get any comments.

Jon Morrow from SmartBlogger has the same recommendation:

The more often you publish, the less comments your posts will receive (on average). For one, the number of new comments a post receives drops dramatically when it’s pushed off the front page, but also, readers tend to get overwhelmed when you’re publishing a lot of content. By publishing less often, say once a week, you can actually increase your engagement, and therefore, your comments.

2. Re-promote Older Posts

If you’ve been book blogging for several years, many of your new followers will never have seen your older posts.

You’ve invested time and effort to create them so why not extend their life by re-promoting them?

There are three ways you can do this.

  1. Try linking to one of those older posts each day on whichever social media channel you use. Or use events in the calendar to push out a new promotion: for example, marking an author’s birthday to promote your reviews of their books or celebrating key dates in different countries by highlighting those local authors you’ve read.
  2. You can also re-publish older posts. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. We’ll tackle the details in a future episode of A2Zbookblogging.
  3. Finally, remember to enable “Related Posts” to show up at the end of each of your posts. These act as a nudge to readers that you have other similar, and equally interesting content on your site. 

3. Ask A Question

Readers can be shy creatures. They often don’t like being the first to comment on a post. So they hold back from commenting especially when they are not confident about expressing an opinion. So make it easy for them.

Ask them a direct question at the end of your post.

It needs to be something simple – you don’t want to make them feel you’re testing their knowledge! But don’t make it too generic either.

I’ve seen far too many blog posts that end with a bland question like: “What did I miss? Leave your response in the comments.” Or at the end of an opinion piece the blogger just says: “What do you think?” or “How about you?”

It’s too broad a question and invariably won’t provoke much of a response. If a reader isn’t that invested in the topic, they’ll have to think hard about what to say in response. Many simply won’t bother.

Instead, ask them a more specific question. For example. at the end of an article about your favourite fantasy authors you could ask “Who is your favourite fantasy author?” Or if you’re writing a review you could ask for a recommendation of other books by that author.

I’ve done this periodically and it really does work!

4. Respond To Comments

Want to know one of my pet peeves about blogs in general?

It’s that too many of the bloggers never respond to comments left by their readers.

I appreciate it takes time to reply to comments. And if you have a very popular site with scores of comments on every post, it could take you hours to reply to everyone.

But If I’ve taken the time to read their content, and to type a response, the very least they can do is to acknowledge my contribution. A considered response would be favourite but even a simple “thank you” would be welcome. Anything better than silence. Because silence means they just don’t care about my thoughts. And if they don’t care about me, why should I care about them?

book blogging

I’ll give any blogger the benefit of the doubt initially. They may be ill, or on holiday without online access or have family issues. I certainly don’t expect them to be sitting at their computer or mobile phone just waiting for me to comment. But if the silence happens repeatedly, then I walk away. There are plenty of other fish in the blogging sea.

It’s isn’t just good manners to respond to comments left on your site. It’s a critical part of building engagement.

If you want more comments you have to show that you care about your readers. The people who comment on your blog are waving at you, telling you they’re interested in becoming a friend. Are you really willing to ignore them after all your efforts to get them to your door?

It also sends a poor signal to everyone else who visits your blog if they see comments go unanswered. But  if you do reply to people, then it encourages them and others to comment more in the future.

Makes sense, right?

Join The Discussion

Where do you turn when Hyou have a problem with your book blog? I’d love to build a list of resources so please share any websites, blogs or podcasts you’ve found helpful. You can simply leave a comment below or follow the discussion on Twitter using #A2Zbookblogging.

About BookerTalk

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

Posted on April 3, 2020, in Blogging and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. I actually totally hear you about posting less often- recently I’ve posted less and I’ve definitely seen a difference. And I really do think it helps to ask questions as well. I also think responding to comments helps (and makes the whole experience more fun!)

  2. I respond to all comments where there’s something I can add (sometimes there’s nothing useful to say) but I use the WordPress like button to acknowledge them all which is a brilliant tool.

  3. In the blogs I’ve run growing the comment section interaction is challenging, but not something you can’t overcome. If you put as much energy and interest into those who read and reply to your posts, you’ll get more comments.

    Another good technique is to highlight past comments with links to those who left great comments. Sometimes you can expand on a comment in a new post, giving you both a great new post (for more comments) a link to your reader’s blog (which they will greatly appreciate). You can answer in shorter form and then link to that new discussion in your reply. Then readers from the old post will go to the new one and the conversation continues.

    Happy blogging to you!

    • Hi Todd, thanks for dropping in and sharing your experience. I’ve seen suggestions about using comments as triggers for posts on the theme of “my readers asked me” but have never tried that myself. I’ve never see your suggestion though about highlighting just the comments. Food for thought.

  4. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    Responding to comments was one of the best Problogger tips I took away from Darren’s podcast – I’ve done it since day one, and (above and beyond anything else) I’ve made some great friendships that way!

    • I try hard to respond too Sheree. My best take away tip was that the more you comment on other people’s blogs, the more interested they will be in what you have to say on your own blog.

  5. I’m enjoying these posts Karen as I have the time to read them. I thought this weird time off work phase would help me get back into blogging and visiting and commenting, but I’ve been too distracted so far to settle to anything properly.

    The idea of reposting old pieces sounds interesting, I might look at that, especially as I’m not reading or writing much right now either.

    I know that blogger is a pain to comment on. I have had several lengthy dialogues with their tech people over the years and I’ve considered moving across to wordpress (except that means losing ALL my hyperlinks!!!!) Maybe I should just start a new blog with links back to the old blog…..?

    Anyway that’s not what I was going to say. Re commenting on blogger, it is possible to tick the option that says send me an email for replies for this post, if you’d like to know if the blogger has commented on your comment, just like wp has at the bottom of its commenting section as well.

    My blogger account is attached to my google account which I never log out of (unless updates etc) so I can always comment on blogger posts. If I’m a different device though, I often need to relog into my wp account. Also have noticed that reading a wp post that I’ve accessed to from twitter or fb or instagram requires a new log in each time. So it depends on how I find your post as to whether I leave a comment or like or not. If I’m coming from my Feedly page all is fine for both blogging sites.

  6. 3 I’ve been doing questions for a long time on my Monday Musings (most of them – often asking for recommendations inspired by the topic I’ve chosen.) I have a standard question at the end of my Six Degrees posts. Otherwise, I use questions intermittently because I don’t want to irritate readers either and sound shcool-marmy.

    4 Yes, I’m very disappointed when bloggers don’t respond. It seems that there are those who rarely do and those who always (or mostly do – with the mostly I suspect being oversights). I don’t not read the former bloggers if their content is interesting but I don’t always leave a comment. The commenting IS what makes blogging fun I think, and getting around to other blogs is an important part of that.

    I often link to older posts when relevant, and I use Six Degrees specifically for this purpose. I NEVER put a book in Six Degrees that I haven’t read and reviewed. (Well, if you searched Six Degrees you may find an exception – I think there was one early on!! haha.) Sometimes it’s a shame because there are books I read long ago that I’d love to reference but no, it’s all about giving air to old posts – and, through that, to past books that should not be forgotten.

    • I don’t use questions for all posts either, just the ones that are more discussion based. I can’t see that they would workforce review for example.

      All my six degree books are ones I’ve read though many are pre blog so there is no review, you’ve reminded me that I should add that explanation into my posts,

  7. Many thanks for this series, it’s very interesting.

    I answer to all the comments I get, if I don’t, it’s not on purpose.

    I’ll have to think about re-posting older billets.

  8. I’m rubbish at commenting on posts, so I’m always amazed when someone takes the time to comment on mine. I’ve never knowingly not responded though. If I’ve missed one, it’s a genuine oversight.

  9. Really good advice! I’m with you about responding to comments. I try to respond to nearly every comment I receive (I’m sure I miss a few here and there, but it’s unintentional). I want commenters to know I appreciate them. Of course I do not have hundreds to deal with, but in that case it’s nice to see that a blogger is at least responding to a reasonable number … it does give the impression that they care.

    I look forward to learning more about re-blogging older posts. I’ve never tried that.

  10. Very interesting ideas. I tend to find that it’s my longer posts which get less comments, whereas one with pictures of a book haul or a visit somewhere will get a better response. Which is fair enough, though my blog is pretty much about books so that’s going to be on there one way or another. I hope I don’t intimidate people into silence with any of my posts because I do love to discuss and I *always* respond, but I hate it when people don’t if I comment somewhere. In fact I can think of blogs I’ve abandoned because of that. But I like the idea of re-posting!

    • It had never occurred to me to re-post until I read some blog posts recommending that approach. So I’ve done a few where I updated the image, added some hyperlinks and sub headings. I’ll explain more on that in a few days …

  11. I’m really enjoying this series, Karen, thank you. (Indeed, I signed up to email from you so I wouldn’t miss any as I know I’m not keeping up using the reader page at the moment.) I suspect you may be convering this at some stage in your alphabet but I have certainly found that to generate comments on my own blog, it’s important to read and comment on other people’s blogs. It’s very much a two-way thing. (Of course, in my instance right now, it would be helpful if I was putting out posts at all. No one can comment on posts which aren’t published!)

    • That’s great to hear Sandra. Comments like this make my day! Your suspicion is correct, I do indeed plan to talk about the importance of commenting on other people’s blogs in order to generate traffic to your own. I’ve fallen off the perch on that one the last few days though …. Need to get back into the flow

  12. I’m trying to get into the habit of promoting old posts when it seems appropriate. I found myself wistfully looking at my travel pieces this week! Absolutely agree about frequency – I unfollowed a local interest blogger recently who was hurling posts into my reader at a rate of three or four a day – and I always answer comments which feels like a conversation to me.

    • 3 or 4 a day? Good grief, when do they have time to eat and sleep?? I’d love to see your travel pieces since in the absence of actual travel, this is our only way to see places right now

  13. I do like Carol’s idea of re-posting on Throwback Thursday. I may do a few of those myself, because I know my readership has changed over the years. Very interesting point about the lessoften/once a week approach. Hmmmm. I follow an American blog, Red’s Wrap and she posts daily and I always read them. But must admit she’s the only one I follow with such diligence; oh, and Rachel McAlister in NZ with her Growing Old Posts.
    Thanks for blowing the whistle on long, long academic posts. I do read a few, but …

    • I think I’ve also seen a similar approach called Flashback Friday but forget now where that was. It’s the same idea anyway as Throwback Thursday. Could be worth giving it a go….

  14. I would also add it’s worth checking your blog’s comments spam folder from time to time to check legitimate comments haven’t ended up there. WordPress also has a pending status for comments. And of course you need to have enabled comments in the first place in your Settings.

    • Those are excellent pieces of advice Cathy. I have indeed found comments stuck in my spam folder. I should make a note in my calendar to do this regularly….

      • And I agree with you about the need to respond to comments otherwise why will people bother to comment in future? And, of course, commenting on other blogs often results in reciprocal comments on your own.

  15. I agree with what you say about comments, but we should remember that not everyone actually opens the page to read the latest post. I subscribe to *a lot* of blogs by email (and I don’t subscribe to those that don’t offer the option). So a lot of what comes in I read in my email program, not on the web. Reading this way (at least with WordPress blogs) gives me the option of reading it or scanning it or not reading it at all because at the top of the page I can see the tags the blogger has added (e.g. if it’s about a kind of book I’m just not interested in).
    I click on the link to take me to the website if I know I want to read it properly and to see what other commenters have to say, and to comment myself or ‘like it’ (which is usually because I can’t think of anything in particular to say but I want the blogger to know I’ve read it but sometimes I’m just too busy to do anything else.
    And then there are the bloggers who are my friends. I read everything they write no matter what it is, and I nearly always comment on what they’ve written.
    I have done my level best to reply to every comment I’ve ever had. If I missed one, it was by accident… I have, a couple of times, discovered one that I’ve missed and replied late with an apology. On both occasions it was because there was a huge amount of traffic on my blog and I missed seeing it.
    But if I had an enormously popular blog that had zillions of readers, I’d probably find it hard to do this, so I’m more inclined to cut them a little slack.

    • I do sympathise with bloggers who have scores of comments but I don’t feel inclined to be sympathetic when it’s clear they don’t reply to ANY comments, not even one or two. Which gives me the feeling that they just do the post, press publish and don’t care what happens next.

  16. I hate getting no comments! But on the other hand I like all you guys, I know you’re busy and I don’t mind if you don’t comment. How to reconcile those two positions! And I don’t unfollow if I don’t get comments. Sometimes I feel like opening a dummy follow account, not to comment or to get my numbers up, but to see if the email has gone out, and yes to see what each post looks like to others.

    I feel sorry for my old posts, some very good ones that never got any notice. I did repost one a few months ago and it was well received, but that felt like a special case. I try hard to link in related content, from mine and other blogs. I’m going to think more about what you’ve said here, partly because my ‘social’ posts generate way more comments than my literary ones, which is fun, but in the end my purpose is to generate serious literary exchanges.

    • There’s a really key point you make right at the end – if your reason for blogging I’d to generate exchanges, then working to get comments becomes more important.
      I have set myself up as a subscriber to my blog just so I can do as you suggest – verify how it appears to other readers.

  17. I respond more to posts of others that have a bit of personal information in it. I like the feeling of being in a coffee shipop with someone talking about the most recent book we have read. I get bored reading a very long completely academic post week after week. It is nice to feel a connection. I agree completely with responding to comments on my posts. If someone cares enough to comment on something I write then I will certainly answer them or I will tell them ahead of time I’m travelling, etc and can’t get back to them. Some bloggers sound quite arrogant and I leave them after awhile.

    • Pam, you and I commented simultaneously. Please feel free to skip any long academic posts I might put up!

    • I’ve read a few blogs which feel more “academic “ If the subject is one I’m interested in I’ll read it but I also enjoy the less formal posts that give a sense of the person who is writing and what’s going on in their world. I read such a funny one this week from South Africa about frustrations with the black plastic bags used for rubbish collection.

  18. Love this post! A month ago I started reposting old content: I’ve been updating the Old post (SEO, format, checking links, adding alt text, using Grammarly, adding internal and external links, etc)….all things I was shaky on in the first year!…Then creating a new throwback Thursday post each week and featuring the old content. I’m not sure if this is the right way, but I’ve been gaining views and comments on those old posts. I’ll be eager to hear more of your advice on reposting!

    Re comments… I enjoy leaving comments when the interface works! I love clicking the WP icon but that doesn’t always work. For instance, when I leave this comment, I need to enter my email, name, and website because the WP icon won’t work for mean your site. I really have to WANT to leave a comment to take the extra steps. I wish I knew if commenters face the same situation on my blog. I need a test group of people to check my comment process! I’m not sure if this is a WP glitch or something about the device I use? I’ve also noticed that the “like” option doesn’t work on some blogs I visit…I love using that feature to let bloggers know I stopped by! Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I clicked like on your post but it didn’t register. I wish I could figure this out!

    Looking forward to all your blogging posts! Great information and encouragement! Thanks so much!

    • Thank you for letting me know you have issues leaving comments and likes on my post. Are you using a phone or computer or iPad when this happens or doesn’t it make any difference? I need to investigate this further – I’m wondering whether it’s connected to some security measures I put in place earlier this year to reduce spam….

      Well done for those upgrades to old posts. I cringe when I see what I wrote in the first few years. Some posts were so bad I just deleted them.

      • I had this issue on your blog not long ago, didn’t I? I seem to recollect us discussing it but I can’t recollect whether you changed something or it was the device I was using. I do find the device can make a difference.

        BTW I should have said I LOATHE commenting on Blogger sites. I do have a blogger account which would make it easy but that’s not linked to my blog which of course I want to do. Blogger sites seem to vary quite a lot in their friendliness, but some are nigh impossible.

        • After you told me about the problem I changed a security setting back to its earlier status. Has that made a difference? I do think the device plays a part, if I use an iPad there are some blog sites I simply can’t get to accept my comment. They are WordPress sites and I am logged on yet the system constantly throws me out.

          Comments on Blogger sites are such a pain. I could make one using my blogger account but I always forget the user password so end up doing the name/url combo. But then I never know if the blogger has responded…

        • Exactly, the Blogger.

          And yes I think that change did help. I don’t seem to have had a problem since.

      • Usually I’m using an ipad…..I can leave comments (obviously!) but I can’t use any of the automatic sign-in features…I have to manually enter my info each time. I’m experiencing this with a random number of other blogs. So I’m thinking it’s me and not specific to your blog. The only thing that I’ve only experienced on your blog is that I’m not receiving notifications for your replies. So weird. Our WP platforms are not playing nice with each other! I need to manually go back to each post I’ve commented on to see your reply.

        Yes, the earliest posts are sorely lacking! It feels good to fix them up. I may be mistaken, but I’ve heard it’s best for SEO not to delete posts.

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