Day 5 of the A-Z challenge.
E is for Expectations
I love hosting a book blog. It can certainly be challenging to find the time but it’s a joy to connect with other avid readers all around the world.
I also love reading other people’s blogs.
Every week sees me visit easily a hundred plus blogs. Book blogs (obviously). Genealogy blogs. Blogs that explain some of the technical aspects of social media. Blogs about social history. And occasionally, when I’m in need of inspiration, recipe blogs.
Since I discovered blogs (about 15 years ago I think) I’ve become a huge consumer.
It’s a world that’s changed significantly since the early days. But so have we readers. We’re more demanding. More savvy in searching out content to suit our interests and tastes. Quicker to form an opinion whether we like what we see. Less tolerant of sites that take a long time to load.
I thought I’d share some of the elements of book blogs that I enjoy the most and some of my expectations.
There are three key elements that help determine whether I enjoy the experience of reading a book blog and whether I become a loyal follower.
3 Elements Of A Successful Book Blog: A Reader’s Perspective
Perhaps it’s stating the obvious but the content of the blog site has to be relevant to my interests. I want a good match between the blogger’s shares literary tastes and my own. Not an identical match, but good similarity. So if I detect that the blogger mostly reads Young Adult, Science Fiction or Fantasy, I know we’re not going to have a long term relationship.
My main interest in the site will be the book reviews: ideally those that introduce me to new authors or new titles by authors I have already experienced. I want the blogger’s reaction and enough information about the book’s plot, themes and style to help me decide if it’s one for me. I don’t like reading a blow by blow account of all the plot developments. Nor do I like just getting the publishers blurb and two lines of why the blogger enjoyed or didn’t enjoy reading it.
I also enjoy discovering what other bloggers are reading (Is this me just being nosey or being afraid I’m missing out on something exciting? )
Next in priority would be interviews with authors I’ve heard about and reactions to shortlist/longlists for prizes I don’t follow personally.
Of lesser interest are monthly round ups (especially if they are just a list of the books read and reviews posted) and book haul posts. I do read them but if I’m short of time, these are the posts I will tend to skip.
By usable I mean the whole experience of visiting the site is a positive one because it’s easy to use and easy on the eye.
I don’t want to spend a ton of time figuring out where to find the blogger’s “About” page or a way to search for topics of interest. A clear navigation bar is a ‘must have’ but sometimes it’s not in the common place at the top of the page and you have to scroll far down to find it.
Nor am I happy if I click on a link and the page to which I’m directed no longer exists or images take forever to load because they’re so big. I’m not alone it seems: I read recently that almost 40% of people leave a website if images take too long to load. That statistic has given me pause for thought – how quickly does my own site load? I need to find out otherwise I’m in danger of (justifiably) being accused of double standards.
You can have all the great content in the world and faultless functionality, but it still doesn’t add to a great blog. There’s an absolutely critical element that makes the difference between being an OK blog and one that I want to return to time and time again.
When I visit a blog I want to feel there’s a real person behind all the words.
The blogs I value most are those where the blogger sounds as if they are talking directly to me, as if we were sat chatting in a coffee shop. So, although some blog experts argue we should write in the third person, my own preference is for blogs that use the first person. It takes confidence which doesn’t come easy to many of us, so I value it even more when I see it on other blogs.
I highly appreciate bloggers whose expertise and knowledge is evident but they never boast or puff about it, it just comes through naturally in how they write about books or authors.
Personality makes such a difference to my reading experience. I don’t look for bloggers to share personal information (though the antics of their pet can be fun to read about occasionally). But I do like them to share an opinion and – just as importantly – make readers like me feel our opinions are valuable.
It’s a tall order. I know because I’ve tried to do this on my blog. I don’t think I’ve been particularly successful but I haven’t given up trying.
So let me ask for your help.
What do you expect when you visit a book blog? What do you particularly enjoy and what do you dislike? What do you like/dislike most about Booker Talk? Is there anything you’d like to see more or less of in the future?