Who Are Book Bloggers Catering To?

A good Twitter conversation a few days ago made me think about this– as book bloggers who are we catering to? The answer will be different for everyone as everyone has different goals for blogging about books but I think it is an interesting question to ponder. Are we catering to other book bloggers? To readers (non book bloggers) who are searching for good books and might read book blogs for recommendations? Or are we just writing about books for ourselves and anyone else who might want to listen? Are who we are hoping to reach on our blog different than who we are actually reaching?

The conversation was talking about why one might put “review” in the title of a blog post for a review when it seems obvious that it is a review. I replied that I did it for SEO purposes which basically means, for those not familiar with the term, that I’m trying to make my blog searchable. Pam from Bookalicious echoed this reason as well and added that her blog is for readers and not just bloggers. And this made me smile heaps because that was my mission in starting a book blog–to connect other readers with books and to discuss them. That was the goal I had in mind for both The Broke and the Bookish and this blog when I started them.

It seem that most of the interaction on book blogs is between book bloggers (and this isn’t a bad thing) but I always wonder if non-bloggers read my blog and find it helpful. I also notice that much content on book blogs (aside from book reviews) is really geared towards other book bloggers. Again I’m not saying this is a bad thing or is wrong.. it’s just an observation. But I do wonder if readers (non-bloggers) feel out of place sometimes on book blogs? How can we better connect with them and bring them out to participate in our discussions and comment on our reviews.

I do know that I have some readers who aren’t book bloggers and I love when they comment on my posts. I also try, in discussions like my Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down feature, to ask questions not just to bloggers but to readers as well and I’ve gotten quite a few non-bloggers to comment on things–even when it is related to something blog related. For example, on my TUTD on star ratings, I asked readers if they found it to be helpful on the book blogs they read. On my discussion called “ARCS & When To Publish Reviews For Them” I asked non-bloggers what they found to be helpful and got a good response!

Ultimately we are all readers, book bloggers and non-book bloggers alike, but I always wonder who I’m catering to more in what I do. I want to reach book lovers and hope that those who don’t blog about books will feel at home here.

So, here’s what I want to know: Bloggers, who do you cater to? Do you think your blog is mostly read by other bloggers or do you have non-bloggers who read your blog? How do you engage non-bloggers?

And to all my non-blogging readers—here is your time to shine! Do you feel like most book blogs cater to other bloggers? Do you comment on book blogs that you read? Any additional thoughts that you can share on what book bloggers can do better to reach readers? Tell us how we can make our readers into participants on our blog!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. I think it changes. I started off writing just for me…no-one else was reading it after all! And then for my friends – and then I discovered the book blogger world. I guess, since then, I have been mostly writing for them, but until you pointed this out I hadn't consciously considered it. Not sure that I've particularly changed in style, though I have possibly written different sorts of posts as a result. The thing I find is that book bloggers are vastly more likely to leave comments (as they understand comments = blog oxygen) so it is more difficult to judge what non-bloggy readers think.
    If nothing else, Jamie, I am very grateful that you said review posts should start with review for SEO purposes and I will spend some time putting this right!

  2. An excellent and interesting discussion and has made me think of just who am I blogging for?

    I would like to say that I am blogging for myself but that wouldn't be completely true as I am doing it to get others enthused about the books and yes like you I do things to help my blog get picked up by search engines.

    I suppose it's like any art form, something you feel compelled to you even if no one saw/read it but it's obviously way better if others appreciate or engage with the material too.

  3. I started my book blog as a place to record my thoughts and feelings on books. I figured that readers could possibly find my blog when looking for reviews on books before they read them. But I agree that it seems that more book bloggers follow my blog than anything else.

    It's a very interesting topic. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. I also put "review" in the titles of my book reviews to make them searchable. I started my blog for the sole purpose of sharing books with any reader who might be interested. My friends were always asking for book suggestions, so I thought that blogging about books would be an easier way to answer that question for many people at a time, instead of individually. My blog is also a way for me to keep my mind active and force me to really think about what I'm reading before moving on to the next book. I'm definitely catering to myself and other readers, whether they be book bloggers or not. My goal is to get other people to read more and to express my thoughts in a creative way.

  5. I've thought about adding the word "review" but I found in the past that I could google just the title and often my review would still come up. Maybe that's only if it was recent… I don't know. I try really hard to do it just for me because when it becomes about other people the expectations keep getting higher and I feel like I need to do more and more. That being said, I do hope that readers, in general, enjoy my blog. I know my sister and her friend, both who are not readers, read my blog. But in general it does seem like the people who interact are bloggers. But then again when I do giveaways I see a lot of non-bloggers on there!

  6. Lyndsey– What you said about not changing your style but maybe the different types of posts you have definitely resonates me. I think it is so easy to think of topics to write that seem "exlusive" to book blogging. I wonder if non-bloggers find some of those topics interesting to read or if they feel left out. Any time I can, I try to spin a "blogging topic" into a discussion that a non-blogger could comment on.

    Stacey– I agree with you. I always think that I'd keep on doing this just for myself but it really does help when someone is commenting and interacting. It validates what we are doing and lets us talk about books with others who love books…which is very hard for me to do in my real life having no book loving friends.

    Heather– I like your goal! I feel the same way. I want to connect people to books and I also really enjoy having this outlet. It's made me want to start a bunch of blogs for other interests of mine! lol

    Jenny– I totally agree with you! When you focus on blogging for other people..those expectations are crazy high! I've just gone through a bit of a book blogging burnout in the past few weeks and I'm trying to focus on NOT trying to live up to those expectations. And you hit on an interesting point–where do those non-bloggers come from when we have giveaways??! I always see a TON of them. I wish they'd interact more!

  7. Greg Zimmerman says:

    Wow – must be something in the ether again today. This was the underlying question to my post today about book recommendations. I like to think we cater to a mix, but in reality, I think I have a lot more book blogger readers than "normals." I do always make sure to explain bloggy concepts – like memes – when I they show up in my blog in order to be as inclusive as possible. And to be honest, at the end of the day, it sounds trite, but the most important person I'm writing for is myself. That's why I started blogging. It's a bonus that ANYONE reads it! 😉

    Great topic for conversation!

  8. Midnyte Reader says:

    This is a great post and great topic. I've enjoyed reading everyone comments. I do think that mostly bloggers ready my blog, but I would love to have readers too. Not sure how to make that happen.

  9. When I started blogging, it was so I could remember the books that I read. Now I read books that I wouldn't have read before so that I can blog about them. I suppose that means that I am writing for others as well as myself. I did read book blogs before I started my own. I think they are a great place for reviews, since they allow you to get to know the reviewer in a sense. Reviewing is subjective, and I like to know that the person has similar tastes to my own.

  10. Great post. I started mostly for myself and to share my reviews with friends and family.

    I'm still sort of new but I think that there's a mix between readers and bloggers that visit my site. But I think my content is geared toward both.

    I tend to put "review" in front to distinguish it from simply information on an upcoming book's release or an article I might post on a related subject.

  11. Jacinda (The Reading Housewives) says:

    I blog for myself…in a way. Sometimes or maybe even most of the time I don't really like writing reviews. I always think I could be reading or cleaning or whatever instead. I have to tell myself if I really love the book I should write a review to spread the word to other followers of my blog. Also, I think writing reviews helps me manage and organize my thoughts about books and helps me remember the content of the book more.

    I didn't really want to start a blog until my sister wanted to start one with me, otherwise I would be just a non-blogger checking out other blogs. Most of the people who follow and/or comment are bloggers themselves on my blog.

    I will admit, even though I say I'm blogging for myself, if a post doesn't get much traffic or comments I do get down. If it's a discussion post it's even more upsetting to me because I probably worked longer on that than a review or meme or anything else.

    And before I was a book blogger(I was following blogs for almost a year before I started myself) I would comment on blogs. I probably comment more now than I did then though. As a non-blogger, I did buy/read books based on reviews or book content on their blog.

    I will admit, my blog is only like 6-7 weeks old and I occasionally think about stopping. When I think of what else I could do with my time or when the hubby mentions something about it…but I try not to quit things too much.

    Okay, I think that's a long enough comment, lol.

  12. When I started my blog I was really trying to blog for college students. I know I reach an audience at the school I go to even if those readers don't always comment. In general I don't really blog for book bloggers, it just so happens that a lot of them read my blog and comment because they run blogs as well. Hmm, and I blog for myself. So I guess a little bit of everything.

  13. Jacinda–I HEAR YA. Every other day I think about putting an end to my blog. Sometimes it's because I'm feeling pouty about something about not getting as much traffic or something else blog related. And sometimes it's because, like you, I think about all the other things I love doing and end up sacrificing for the time I spend on the blog. I made a post a few days ago about how I'm changing things on my blog for this reason–there is so much more to me..and I'm going to blog about those things too and STOP stressing myself out about "how my blog is doing"…it's hard though. It's hard to look at a review or something and see no comments or see that you've lost a follower. It's a process. And thanks for giving some perspective on someone who wasn't always a blogger. I definitely loved interacting with you knowing that you were a reader…and I love being able to comment on your blog now that you are a blogger! 🙂

  14. April (BooksandWine) says:

    I started my blog after reading Kristen at Bookworming in the 21st Century's blog. I was uberactive on goodreads prior to starting one.

    I guess my primary audience is non-blogging readers. Honestly according to my stats, I get AT LEAST 70 hits, if not more per day from people doing searches for specific books. I mean, I also get hits from twitter and subscribers and stuff, but yeah I SEO code my blog, which is why the title also shows up in Heading Format, and why I put the book title in italics, in bold, and underlined at different points, and why I repeat the title so much. I don't care if book bloggers don't like it. They aren't my audience. They already know about the products I am reviewing.

  15. Jennifer O. says:

    I started this blog after I saw how much fun a Shelfarian friend was having…

    I've been wanting to write for a long time, and just never dedicated myself to it. I decided on my 32nd birthday that it's time to get to it. Whether it's writing about life, or books, or pet peeves, I needed to demystify the writing process and just get waist deep in the muck of it all.

    I decided to concentrate on book reviewing simply because books are my favorite thing in the word (besides kids of course) and talking to other book bloggers fills that void of not knowing anyone in rt that likes reading as much as i do.

    i also have an eye out for nonbook bloggers, so in my title of book reviews, I do post Review alongside the title. This is to differentiate on posts that talk about a certain book, but don't review it.

    Hope that made some sense. I've been to the Broke and the Bookish so many times and didn't know you had this site as well. Feeling so dumb right now~!

  16. Man of la Books says:

    I started blogging to keep track of books I read and my thoughts on them.

    I'd like to think I get some non-book-bloggers hits (I have about 4 times the amount of unique visitors as I do followers neither is a large number).

    I'd like to say I don't care but my ego gets in the way 🙂

  17. Reading Angel says:

    I think the reason its mostly bloggers that read our blogs is because that most.readers who actively read blogs decide to become bloggers themselves. I cater to anyone who wants to.read my reviews! I just want to be able to interact with others about the books I loved or didn't love.

  18. So, as a non-blogger (I mean, I post my reviews on my Tumblr but only irregularly and basically just copied and pasted from Goodreads, which I don't really count)… I think it falls somewhere in the middle.

    I feel like there are some things that are sort of blogger-centric, like a lot of the memes that I see all over the place. I also think that since there's a lot of connection and interaction between bloggers as a community, it can sometimes be intimidating to just jump into the conversation, especially with some of the bigger bloggers that have lots of knowledge, tons of followers, know the authors, and are reading books WAY before I've even heard of them.

    On the other hand, I do love reading book blogs because I feel like I have so much more awareness of what is going on in the book world than I ever did before. I have learned about so many great books from bloggers that I probably wouldn't have found otherwise. I am more aware of new books that are coming out on a much greater scale than before, I've discovered new authors that I love, and new genres. For example, for a long time I wouldn't touch the YA section with a ten-foot pole. A few months ago, I read The Hunger Games because everyone seemed to like it so much and I absolutely loved it, so I went looking for more good YA and have found several more books that I've loved that I would've probably never picked up on my own. I've also had some really interesting discussions, and learned a lot about how the publishing industry and book world work.

    If I feel like I can contribute to the discussion about a certain book or issue, I try to leave comments. I think posts like Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down really help that because they try to more actively encourage discussion. I think the kinds of posts that are more participation-oriented in general see more participation from non-bloggers — like reading challenges, book club style discussions, etc. I've participated in a lot of those and see other non-bloggers doing that as well. One of the blogs I read does live chats with authors every so often and another does a monthly book club, both of which are really cool. I'm more inclined to leave comments or be involved in something like that than to leave a comment on a post with a meme or for a book I haven't read.

    On the other hand, I do get that a lot of blogging is personal, and not everybody wants to do things like live chats or book clubs; some people just want to keep track of their thoughts on what they read. That's cool, and I still read them for recommendations, though I do notice that I tend to comment less.

  19. Woah, that turned out way longer than I thought it was — sorry for the novel! lol

  20. alicetheowl says:

    I am not a book blogger. Maybe it's that I don't have a lot of trouble finding new books to read, but I don't read book blogs for recommendations. I sometimes read them to see what someone else thought of a book I really liked, or was on the fence about. But I'm on Goodreads, and I really like that all the reviews are there; you just scroll down to find out what people liked or hated about the book. Having to search all over the internet for a book I may or may not like frustrates me.

    How to reach more readers? Put your reviews up on Goodreads with a link to the writing blog. I'm sure there's a very good reason why you're not already doing that, but I would see your reviews there, and, if I keep seeing the same person posting reviews on books I've read, and I keep agreeing with their reviews, I'll seek out more of their reviews.

    And if there's a reason prohibiting this plan, do let me know what it is, because I'm curious.

  21. I'm not a blogger, I'm a writer and I love to read blogger's blogs. I follow about fifty or so and check in each day via my blogger list to see what they're up to. I don't read every single one every day, but if they are reviewing a book that I'm curious about or that is similar to the ones I write, I'll take a look. I learn a lot about what readers like and don't like about books and writing styles. It helps a lot.
    I also pay close attention to posts about book covers and author interviews.
    Keep up the great work and thanks for all you do to promote reading!

  22. When I think about it, my blog seems to be catered to other library professionals (sort of). I try to keep my reviews fairly professional, though sometimes I get away from that when I'm doing readalongs. I hope readers are reading my blog! That is who I really want to reach out to. Unfortunately I think my style might be a bit too dry for some YAs and teens. I'm glad other bloggers read my blog, but maybe I should try not to think about what other bloggers will think about my reviews so much.

    Thanks for this post. It's given me some things to think over.

  23. I have always maintained that my blog is for me. I started it with the intentions of journaling my reading experience and whenever I find myself getting stressed about writing a post or not commenting enough, I remind myself of that.

    However, I have taken on a small mission of convincing people to read classics and analyze them in new ways. I'm sure this really only appeals to a small amount of people who read, and a small amount of bloggers, but I try to be as accessible as possible.

  24. Chrisbookarama says:

    Most of my commenters tend to be other book bloggers. I may not mean to but a lot of my topical posts are blogger relate. I think that is just a part of being in the book blogging community. You tend to think about the blogging world a lot and it comes out in your writing. Hopefully, even if my readers aren't bloggers they are getting something from my posts.

  25. I've never actively sought or tried to figure out where our readers come from. For me, I just want people getting interested in books I love.

    I would say that comment wise it tends to be bloggers. But visit wise? Hard to say. Our main traffic sources are twitter and other blogs, which doesn't help. But there's also a lot of googles and yahoos and bings and some of the most common search terms we've had were people looking for a book's summary.

    Overall, I'd probably say we're more read by bloggers, but it's not an overwhelming majority. Discussion posts always seem to get the most pull and I try to make them easy for anyone to answer and I'll have to keep trying!

  26. I think my blog is read about 30 percent by other book bloggers and subscribers and the rest seems to be students looking for ideas or homework help-I based this on Google Analytics and am assuming most people who come to my blog via a search are researchers not regular blog readers-all are welcome to visit and read but student almost never leave a comment or even a thank you for doing my homework note of any kind-

  27. Stephanie M. Hasty says:

    After having a kid, i found that i was losing myself and frankly, with teaching and kid and husband couldn't find a time to find myself…i started blogging because my cousin has a blog mostly about fashion and girlie stuff, but it's fun to read and i thought 'i can do that', so that's what i did, it's my journal to me. and, then my friend started the 50 book challenge on goodreads and i thought yes that's what i want to talk about books, and reading and my family and my life and teaching etc. i write about whatever tickles my fancy and reading the above post, it seems that the more i do this the more i start writing for people…i hope that isn't the case (frankly, i like writing like its my journal that people may or may not read)…having an audience makes me say things in a way that makes me have to think and it keeps me honest with myself. i love it! and, i love blogs and subscribe to many, crafting–which i don't have time to do, but love the projects, some fashion and trinkets, lots of food and book blogs, as the latter are my two favorite pasttimes in the world. i thank the blog world for giving me back a little part of me i'd forgotten. 🙂

    http://smhasty.blogspot.com/

    oh, and i do a second blog for my students (http://lhssopheng.blogspot.com/)and will help author a third for the lit group i sponsor…and i also like the book blog ning it's like paradise! sigh…blogs are addicting.

  28. I personally cater to the readers, whether you have a book blog or not. Even though we are book bloggers, we are readers so what's the problem if we're catering to other book bloggers? We're still readers. Kind of defeats the purpose if we weren't.

  29. I am blogging for me, because it is fun. The minute it stops being fun I am so outtie. However I blog so that people see it, I seriously don't think anyone starts a blog and doesn't hope to find an audience. I blog for real readers of books, be that other bloggers or non blogging folk. However it makes my heart super happy when I get a comment with no blog link.

  30. I think readership is probably around half-and-half, book blogger vs. non-book blogger. Obviously, book bloggers are going to want to read other book blogs like themselves. I think a certain percentage of non-book bloggers follow book blogs for the contests – after all, I find it to be the easiest way to raise my follower number. I think there is also a certain amount of mimicking in the book blogger community (the best form of flattery). I do try to comment on the book blog articles that I find time to read, but getting regular comments on my own blog is probably the most difficult aspect of running it. The majority of readers seem to be the silent, lurking kind.
    I see many book blogs that hold a questionnaire about how the reader views the blog and suggestions, etc., but I think my lower follower number would make holding such a concept on my own blog rather difficult to garner much response.

  31. Becky (Page Turners) says:

    I cater for me and whoever else reads the blog – although realistically I think that is only going to be other book bloggers.

  32. Chachic says:

    I'm surprised whenever a follower who isn't a blogger leaves a comment to say that she enjoys reading my posts because I feel like only bloggers read my blog. I think, in general, book bloggers comment more while other followers tend to just lurk. So my blog's audience includes both book bloggers and readers who don't have blogs even if I'm not aware of the latter.

  33. Sabrina says:

    Great post.

    I write my blog to talk about my favourite books and I'm blogging for all readers. Many of the commenters on my blog are other book bloggers however I don't write posts that are only interesting for them.

    I would love to have more visitors who are not book-bloggers because I think it's important to get opinions from people outside of the book blogging world.

  34. Books for Learning says:

    I set out to make a site that I could share my love of literature through the eyes of a teacher and a parent. I write my blog with parents and teachers in mind first and other book lovers (blogger or not) second.

  35. Awesome post. I have a blog and haven't been doing it very long, so I don't have many followers yet. I focus on Jane Austen and that era, but I do a little bit of everything on my blog. I do some book reviews, have videos or blog about things related to Jane Austen. I also write so I also use it to blog about the story I work on and to interact with readers. The blog is a mix of a lot of things. It doesn't have just one purpose. It's just fun.

  36. Avid Reader says:

    I was in the reader, but non-blogger camp for a long time. I enjoyed reading blogs, but didn't start one until the end of 2009. I think my posts have changed over the past 6 months or so as I've settled into a community of bloggers. I also know that some of the people who read my blog have no idea what memes, read-a-thons, read-alongs, etc. are and I try to keep that in mind. In the end I blog about books because I want to discuss them with other readers, regardless of whether or not those readers have a blog.

  37. Stephany says:

    Ultimately, I started my blog because I don't have a lot of people who are as book-nerdy as I am, and I needed a way of telling others, as well as myself, how good (or not so good) a book is. Then as I started getting more and more into it, I wanted to get both other bloggers, and non-bloggers on my blog so I could get all sorts of feedback. I try to get SOME sort of post up once or twice a week, but unfortunately that doesn't also happen. I feel like that hurts me in the long run, and people "forget" about my blog. I'm having a REALLY hard time getting my blog "up and running", so I'm always trying to find new ways to get traffic on there. So, I'm trying to cater to ALL audiences as much as possible.

  38. Sash and Em says:

    I think my blog tries to cater to all book lovers, but for the most part I think it actually reaches mostly book bloggers.

    With that said, my blog does post its reviews on Amazon (where I feel like most people are not bloggers, but are reading reviews trying to figure out whether or not to purchase the book). If the person wanted to, I suppose they could go to our Amazon Home Page/Profile, and it has our blog listed there for them to click on. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I try to reach out to readers in other venues and then draw them to the blog world. 😛

  39. April (BooksandWine) says:

    I already commented on this back when you first posted it, but to update on what I said, I still cater to readers, of an adult age because I use swears a LOT. And well, am still typing review in my title meta tag, but since I have wordpress holla for showing off, I can make the title that shows up on google reader more interesting and grabbing than the one that shows up on search engines.

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  41. I stumbled across this page in a moment of downtime at work (lead to this post from your discussions page), and I just want to let you know as an amateur blogger of books (I write about books because I love them, and for no other higher purpose!), I love seeing your pages. Today, I finished If I Stay (for the second or third time…) and I was looking for new books, so I went to your reviews page and sorted by rating. That helped so much! Just wanted to thank you for adding that feature, for book bloggers and book lovers alike!