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What I learned from a decade of book blogging

When I started Lesbrary in 2010, the book Internet was a very different place. Book Riot hadn’t even started yet! I was just starting to prioritize bi and lesbian books in my reading, and although I followed dozens of book blogs, all of the “LGBT” I could find were really 90-95% romance. and M / M eroticism. So I started mine! Here is what I learned from over ten years of maintaining a book blog.

1) Don’t overthink it: go for it.

I spent a lot of time considering starting Lesbrary before I did. I questioned myself and planned the content. I thought I had to figure everything out before I started, but of course you can only learn by actually doing. I had a lot of great ideas for what the blog would look like in its early days, but quickly some things fell apart and others became regular features. No one is forcing you to stick to a consistent schedule or format when you first start out, so it makes sense to just dive in and start experimenting.

2) Consistency is more valuable than content.

I don’t have the most exciting format, I admit. The Lesbrary is mostly reviews, with regular link raids and other occasional articles. There are a million other book creators who create original and entertaining content – and some of them are spreading it with amazing speed. At first I was really embarrassed about it. Kissing By Venus had better messages than I did. SFFic was doing such interesting things. The good lesbian books have supplanted the need for the Lesbrary. Except that all of those sites are gone now. I’ve seen great gay book blogs go up and down in the decade I ran the Lesbrary – which is roughly a century in Internet times. I realized that while I don’t have the most cutting edge content, it’s my consistency over those many years that has garnered support.

So if you start a book blog (or a TikTok or YouTube channel or an Instagram account) and have a ton of ideas for what you want to do, try to slow down and pace yourself. Can you continue indefinitely? Otherwise, instead of updating once a day for a month and never posting again, try planning ahead to give yourself a stamp. Don’t burn yourself out!

3) Book review changes the reading experience.

I’ve reviewed almost every Sapphic book I’ve read in the past 11 years, and that’s about 50-80% of the books I’ve read, depending on the month. It forces me to be careful while reading and take notes of what works for me and what doesn’t. I remember things much better when I review them. On the other hand, sometimes I pick up a book that isn’t Sapphic just so I don’t have to reread it. Sometimes I want to get lost in a story without having to follow it so closely. There is value in both!

4) Recruiting a team of reviewers is helpful.

Because my blog is based on reviews, in the early years of blogging I only updated when I finished a book – and I wasn’t reading that fast. I was afraid of not putting enough content. Who would follow a blog that only updates once a week – or sometimes less? (Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I felt embarrassed.) I decided to see if anyone wanted to review a book once a month on Lesbrary, expecting no one not be interested. Now I have a team that ranges from a dozen to 30 reviewers – enough to sometimes have a review every day of the month! It’s mutually beneficial: I get more content and they have access to free Sapphic eBooks to review (plus their reviews are seen by a wider audience). I now feel a lot less pressure to read more just to produce content.

5) You don’t have to review every ARC you get.

When I first started I read and reviewed every ebook I received. It is incomprehensible to me now: I get a lot more than I can read, and a lot of them are not my personal style. I was so excited that the authors and publishers wanted me to talk about their books! They had heard of my site! I received free books! As I began to realize how many books there are about gay women, I fell off reading each and every one that I received.

Having a team of reviewers really helped with that too! I now have a standard response to eARCs that says I’ll pass this on to my review team and hopefully one of them will pick it up soon. This self-developed text helped a lot not to feel guilty about it.

photo by Lum3n of Pexels

6) Don’t feel like you have to do something you don’t get paid for.

This is the most important thing I learned while blogging: if you don’t get paid for it, you don’t have to. It’s supposed to be a hobby. If you don’t want to read a book sent to you, don’t. Book bloggers often provide publishers with free work and advertising – and if you want to do it because you’re so excited about the book, great! But that’s not your job, and you shouldn’t let anyone beat you up for not revising on time or matching the tour format of their book blog or whatever.

In addition to that standard “I’ll pass it on to my reviewers” ​​response, I also say, “If you want guaranteed coverage on the Lesbrary, check out our advertising opportunities (linked). Sometimes people place ads but even more valuable to me it reminds me that if publishers / authors want me to advertise their book I should get paid for it. Otherwise, I should just pick up the books that interest me.

7) Appreciate the niche you have.

Speaking of advertising, I haven’t had any ads on Lesbrary for many years as everything I’ve seen online says I don’t have enough views to make it worth it. Eventually, however, I realized that while the Lesbrary doesn’t get 100,000 views per month, it does have a special audience. Everyone who reads the Lesbrary reads Sapphic books, which makes it a much better place to advertise than a place with a larger but less specialized audience.

I also undervalued these ads early on because of this – one advertiser even let me know that I priced them too low. I adjusted my prices up and down a few times before realizing that I had to stop trying to make this decision mathematically and instead think about what my time is worth. Between emails, planning, and troubleshooting, it wasn’t worth it for me to have ads that cost just $ 5-10.

8) Accept the support and dream big.

Speaking of underestimating myself, I considered making a Patreon for a long time, but couldn’t imagine anyone would support me. I’m not really a creator, right? It’s not like I’m writing stories or doing art. I just revise books and collect links. Who wants to pay someone to write book reviews? Eventually I gave it a try and was shocked at the support I got, including at levels I never thought I’d sell. People were grateful for the work I was doing and wanted to help. I’ve learned to include levels that I didn’t think anyone would actually take because people can surprise you.

9) Leave room for growth.

Another reason I didn’t place any ads to begin with is that you can’t do that on a WordPress.com site. I started the Lesbrary in the most basic format possible – which worked for a while, but when I started experimenting with the layout and ad options there were some difficulties growing . It was difficult to transfer everything. While I know I couldn’t have predicted how well it would grow over the years, I wish I had started on a platform that more easily accommodated that growth. (I also wish I had hired someone for the more difficult parts of this process)

10) Start scoring early.

That might be a disappointing note to finish, but in the spirit of thinking about future growth early on, I wish I had consistently tagged my posts to begin with. It’s a big job trying to go back and mark a decade of posts, but it’s a huge help. I want to be able to find all the Sapphic 1920s book reviews, or all the 5 star reviews, or the fantasy novels! I’m tagging everything I can think of now, but wish I had done it from day one.


And that’s what I learned from a decade of book blogging! I could never have guessed in those early years that I would become a professional blogger, paid both through Patreon and for Book Riot posts! Now I am working full time in the bookish internet world which is a dream come true.

For anyone considering starting a book blog, I refer you to lesson # 1. And no, there aren’t too many people here. We are just getting started.


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Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson