Jan 11, 2010

10 Things I Hate About You(r Blog)

Author's Note: These issues are not addressed at a single blog. They are just general commentary on things that bug me within the genre blogosphere.

10 Things I Hate About You(r Blog)

1. You don't have enough original content

You pad your blog with lots of words that aren’t yours. You post pages and pages of plot summaries and book excerpts with none of your own commentary or thoughts. If you didn't write it, don't post anything longer than a paragraph or two word for word. If it’s longer than that, post a link (always do that anyway) and maybe a brief quote with some of your own thoughts for context. Everything you post should include at least some of your own input. If you don’t care enough to comment about it, why should we care enough to read it? If my RSS feeder says you've posted 30 times in the last two weeks and I can’t find 5 posts with original content, you are failing.

Additionally, if you're content isn't original, for the love of Tolkein, LINK THE SOURCE.

Exception #1: If you wrote the book, by all means excerpt/blurb/quote away. Duh.

Exception #2: Book Covers. They are visual, quick hits that can break up monotonous blocks of text. It’s also a good way to get feedback to the publishers/artists.

2. You pass off summaries as reviews

Tell me why I should or shouldn't read the book you just read. Don't tell exactly what happened in the book you just read. If you are still summarizing the book halfway through the review, you are doing it wrong. I can read the back cover for myself and if I know more than that, why bother reading the book. If you thought the ending was good or bad, don't refrain from saying so but don't explain that the main character's death was poorly written.

Exception: There is nothing wrong with a brief summary (or a link to one). Just avoid spoilers and don’t let it take over the review.

3. Your blog is overly negative

You attack authors or other bloggers on a personal level. You repeatedly revisit books you hated. You troll for comments. I like to read blogs that show me which authors I should be reading. I like to read insightful commentary from people who appear to love the genre. There is plenty of good stuff out there; let’s talk about that. Bad books and crazy authors aren’t worth the attention. If you don’t love what you are blogging, why the hell are you wasting your time? [Yes, I know this is kind of a negative post.]

Exception: If a book sucks, don’t pretend it’s good. But offer constructive points and keep it short.

Exception #2: If you are attacked, feel free to go out Nuclear MAD style. It’s fun to watch.

4. Your blog comes across as pretentious

Very similar to #3. Your authorial tone sounds like you know everything about the genre. You Don’t. You pretend that you’ve read everything. You Haven’t. Don’t confuse personal taste with objective truth. Remember, there is always room for improvement or learning new perspectives.

Exception: Don’t be afraid to take a firm stance of something. Just don’t disregard other’s opinions or provide reasons behind your judgements.

5. You confuse “contest” with “content”

One has a S. One has a N. One can takes some thought and skill. One could be done by a first-grader. If you are going to have contests, keep it in a separate section. I don’t need my RSS feed clogged up with your contest, your contest reminder, and your contest results for each of your dozen contests. I repeat. Contests. Are. Not. Content.

Exception: Contests with a purpose are fine. If you are an author giving away exclusive ARCs in exchange for the best themed submissions, go for it. Charity contests are certainly acceptable. But if you are holding contests for page views, get better priorities.

6. Your blog is too difficult to contribute to

If I have to log in, friend you on facebook, and then confirm the comment in my email, I'm not going to comment on your site.

Exception: Avoiding spam is worth a little bit of a hassle as long as everything I need to do is on one page.

7. Your blog is overly monetized

I see your jungle of ads. I see your Amazon affiliate links. I see what publishers send you free books. I don’t see the point where you acknowledged you were selling out. If your blog looks like a pop-up add, you’ve got a problem.

Exception: There is nothing wrong with getting free books, having advertisements, or using the AAP. Just don’t let it impact your credibility, readability, or honesty.

8. Your blog is stagnant

You are reading the same kind of books, focusing on the same authors, posting the same kind of reviews, and repeating the same kind of discussions. While you might love the specific subgenre If things are getting overly routine, challenge yourself. Look at some books you wouldn't normally read.

Interview your favorite authors. Try and find some up-and-comers. Analyze the publishing industry from an abnormal persepctive. Doing something new and different can often reinvigorate your love for the genre and increase the quality on your blog.

Exception: Don’t confuse consistency with stagnation. If you post a great essay on the state of various sub-genres, keep going.

9. You misrepresent your blog

If you say your focus is books, don’t only post on TV and video games. If you say are content-focused, be more than a news/links aggregator. If you an author or don’t work for a publisher, don’t hide it.

Exception: As I said in #8, there is nothing wrong with switching things up and doing different things. Just don’t lose sight of your core audience.

10. You treat authors like Word-Machines instead of people

This is a big one. Authors don't owe you anything (unless you are an editor that has them under contract). They are people with families who want to enjoy life the same as you. Granted, it's a good idea for them to deliver complete stories in a reasonable amount of time but if an author is taking their time, read something else. There is more quality writing out there than any one person can hope to read. I refer you to #3.

Additionally, authors are busy people who aren't particularly well  compensated. Every blog post, interview, and comment is something that they didn't have to do. Don't ever expect or demand an author to supply you free content.

Exception: GRRM. Come on man. When do I get A Dance With Dragons? You deserve everything you get [just kidding. somewhat.]


  1. Good man, Patrick. These days it truly does seem like there are more content-generators out there then the honest to God bloggers of old.

    I've had many of the same gripes with the sites we must not name and at the turn of the year, I decided to get proactive about it and start my own. Eleven days in probably isn't the time to start making me some enemies, on the other hand...

  2. Upon initially seeing the story title, I was worried this was going to be a rant at best. But then the article itself is utterly fantastic! Spot on for every point, I started my own site less than a year ago and you mentioned practically every pitfall I encountered (and hopefully avoided). I know other blogs (without mentioning names) that loose lots of credibility by ignoring these basic principles, or simply assume that a blog doesn't need to have standards. Bravo!

  3. Fantastic post! I agree with everything you say. I find the major problem with many blogs to be #1 - I see the same memes/books every day and quickly get bored. People need to start concentrating on quality over quantity. I hope a few more people take your advice!

  4. You make some excellent points. I've added a link to this post to my new book blogger FAQ found here:


  5. @Jackie I absolutely agree with you, but the trouble is, without a regular stream of content, readers just lose interest, and original, involved articles every day takes so much work that you'd have to be monetising your efforts somehow - another of the 10 things Patrick would probably hate about my blog, too.

    I'm hardly very experienced in this, but I don't think the few readers The Speculative Scotsman has won over to date would be coming back day by day unless there was some interesting new piece for them to read. I'd love to run a blog in a world where quality counted above quantity, but even a glance at the upper echelon of our sort of sites is rather discouraging.

  6. @Lenore - That's an excellent guide. Lot's of good stuff there.

  7. @N.R. Alexander - There's definitely a balancing act and there's nothing wrong with taking a day or two off. You simply can't be interesting every day.

    And I guarantee if you look at my site you will find I've violated some of my own rules. I don't claim to be perfect. Heck, my amazon links are part of the affiliate program.

    These are just the things I try to avoid. It's all about creating and maintaining a level of credibility.

  8. Oh wow, I can list four or five of them that I have personally fallen foul of *sad face*. Hopefully my blog is now avoiding those pitfalls!

    Thanks so much for the considered article. It really helps us beginners try to target the right direction we should be taking!

  9. Bloody good list, Patrick. I've been dealing with number four a fair bit lately, which is frustrating me to no end.

  10. Great list. I'm going to have to think about it! I probably do some of it.... maybe all of it... eek!

  11. Great list! Definitely the kick in the butt I needed to make sure I add varied content. :)

  12. I think I've actually grown out of most of these pitfalls over the last 6+ months. I do post unoriginal content (poetry and short story teasers). Hopefully they're leading people to visit the sites I found them on though. This article gives great advice.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...