Recipes for Success: Focus

Hello, bloggers and reviewers. This week’s Recipe for Success is focused on… Focus! Kate of Ex Libris returns to talk about how to strategically focus the theme or content of your blog. Share Kate’s Recipe for Success with your fellow reviewers on Twitter using #NGextras.

Next week Kate will be sharing some tips on Prioritizing. Catch up on Kate’s previous Recipes for Success posts!
Starting a book blog
Review Policy

Recipes for Success aims to give new bloggers and reviewers helpful information, tools, and best practices to help facilitate your growth and effectiveness as reviewers. Check back often for tips and tricks from the insiders!

Ex Libris

Does your book blog need focus?

I think it is human nature to want to categorize the things we do in our life and I think the same applies to most book blogs.  Although your blog may or may not produce revenue, it is essentially a business.  You have suppliers (bookstores, publishers) and you have customers (readers).  So, like any successful business, you might want to think about a strategy. …

 How can you best serve your customers?  How can you convince your customers to come back?  Obviously, quality content is the most important thing, but so is the type of product you offer.  In other words, what type of books do you review?   Many book blogs stick to a couple of genres.  For instance, I review fiction, primarily Young Adult and Women’s Fiction.   The focus can be broad, like Mystery, or more specific like YA paranormal romance.

So, why focus at all?
Some advantages to focusing your reviews on one genre or category is that you are able to concentrate on branding your blog and attracting a certain population of readers.  When people think about books similar to, let’s say, Twilight, they might go to blogs that are known to promote and review books in that genre.  There are several blogs that started out as Twilight fan sites and now review books within the paranormal romance category.   When you want to buy a book, you go to the bookstore.  Sure, a lot of grocery stores also sell books, but you are more likely to find what you want from a seller that specializes in what you are looking for – a book!   It can be the same with blogs. Authors and publishers recognize this, as well, and so it’s something to consider when trying to forge a relationship with a publisher.

After all of this talk about focusing, it’s not to say that you can only review one type of book. On the other side of this is the fact that most of us are not one-track readers. There are many blogs that review whatever they read, whether it’s paranormal romance one week or non-fiction the next. That in itself is a strategy and it really works for some blogs. Perhaps as long as you focus on something, even if it’s a focus on eclecticism, it can help you reach an audience that will appreciate you. I have been known to review a non-fiction choice that catches my attention.  If you aren’t 100% committed to one category or genre it won’t ruin your blog, of course. I always try to remember that, as a blogger, I am a marketing tool for publishers and authors and I think it’s valid to employ some of the same strategic considerations when planning what you will review.

Does my blog have to focus on a type of book? What about other ways to focus?
Novel SoundsOne of my favorite book blogs right now is Novel Sounds, which reviews books in all categories, but pairs them with music choices. Elena also interviews authors and asks them to talk about the music that most influenced them.  I like to hold this blog up as an example because I think it is a great way to show that you can take a unique idea that appeals to you and turn it into something that everyone enjoys.  It’s different, it has a great hook (music), and it offers up the product you are there for – book reviews!  Similarly, I have found book review blogs that pair recipes with book reviews, as well.  If it’s something that you love, I think that it comes across in the way you write and you will find that appreciative audience.

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