The Story is About + TIME

Dear Story Siren (23)

Dear Story Siren is sort of an advice column for bloggers. Or it's at least my way to try to help other bloggers with questions they may be having. Plus address questions from my blog readers too! These answers are my opinions and my opinions alone... I'm by no means an expert on book blogging... so take this advice with a grain of salt.

If you have a question, be sure to check the past posts to make sure your question hasn't already been answered. You can find a link below that will take you to a page to view all Dear Story Siren posts and where you can submit your own question. If your question has previously been answered (or a similar form of your question) I probably won't answer it again, so be sure to check there first.

In this post:


Sometimes I have a hard time writing my reviews because I am unsure of what all I should include. I know it is mainly up to me but is there anything you think should be included in every review or something that should be touched on?


Dear Story Siren,

What do you suggest for a "layout" in book review posts? I notice you always put in ratings, page numbers, publisher, etc. and as a new blogger I'm wondering If I should put in details like that. My posts on books tend to run a little long (to me) and I don't want it to look like an overflow of information. However, I still think putting in information like publishers and other things will make me look more credible and professional.

-My Summer Girl

Dear J & My Summer Girl,

Do whatever you want. There isn't anything that you have to include in your reviews. There are a few things that I think you should absolutely include and that is the title of the novel and the authors name, otherwise put as much information or as little information about the book that you want.

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

I always feel obliged to write a nice review when I'm being sent an ARC, even when I don't like the book. Because I know the author might read it. Did you ever have trouble with that? maybe when you first started out blogging?

And how do you manage it when you also have the author visit your blog around the same time as you post the review?

Another Anonymous

Dear Another Anonymous,

Don't feel that way. I didn't have trouble with that with in first started blogging because I had no idea that you could even have a professional relationship with an author. I didn't know that you could email them, or follow them on twitter... (there wasn't twitter when I started blogging) so I never in a million years worried about authors reading my reviews, because it never crossed my minds that they would.

Do I worry about it now... sure. Do I like writing a negative review... hell no. But I'm not going to jeopardize my integrity that I've worked so hard to obtain by lying about my opinion. I just had a situation with this, this week. It's especially hard when it's a book that everyone else seemed to love, but I still posted that review. (Even though I felt a little guilty.) But you know... you shouldn't feel guilty about being honest, and I should take my own advice.

As far as your second question... perhaps you should change your policy. I recently did. I won't interview an author until I've read their book, unless it's an author that I've previously worked with. That way you won't be in this situation again. But again, be honest with your review, don't feel like you have to change it just because you are having the author visit.

Story Siren

Hi Story Siren,

I'm gearing up to start a book blog, but I'm not sure what to write in my first post. Should I introduce myself or just go straight into a review? What did you do?


Dear R,

I think I did a little introduction. If I was just starting a blog now, I'd probably just go straight to the reviews and make an "about me" page instead of doing an introduction post.

Story Siren

Dear Kristi,

Do you believe that reviewing books you haven't finished is acceptable, as long as you inform your reader how far you got and your reasoning is well-written as to why you didn't like it? Do you think it is more professional to skip these books regardless?

I usually finish a 'three-star' rated book, but anything less won't do for me. I don't want a sugar-sweet blog, but I recently got a lot of flack and hate-comments for posting a review of a book I didn't finish and didn't like. The author was personally offended and made sure everyone else was as well. I'm not sweating it, but I want to know if I am breeching reviewer etiquete here.

Thank you,

Puzzled, Perplexed, and Pondering

Dear Puzzled, Perplexed and Pondering,

I don't usually post a review for a novel that I don't finish. I don't think I can give it a fair rating or review unless I've read it in it's entirety.

That doesn't mean that I never finish a book and mention it on the blog. I've done a post with a few titles that I didn't finish and why I didn't finish them, but it wasn't really a 'review.' I know that several other bloggers review books that they didn't finish, but I think that is something that you need to decide if you want to do or not, for yourself.

The author never should have never made it an issue. That is extremely unprofessional. It's YOUR opinion and you should not have to defend it. You did not breach reviewer etiquette in anyway, and you should have not been put in the situation to feel that way. I'm sorry that you had to deal with that.

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

How did you decide to just focus on YA books? Do you ever wish you read and reviewed other genres? I'm wondering because currently I have a very eclectic mix on my blog and was thinking that focusing on just one genre (most probably YA) would help with readership.

I focused on YA because that's what I read. I didn't make a decision really, I just reviewed what I read. I read other genres but I don't usually review them on the blog if they aren't YA, because that is what most readers of the blog expect.

I know of several other blogs that have an eclectic mix of reviews and have very successful blogs. Don't feel like you have to focus on one genre if that's not what you want. Are you blogging to get a readership or are you blogging because you enjoy reading and sharing thoughts on those books?

Story Siren

Hi Kristi!

I was wondering - I participate in a couple memes during the week. Really, I only do them because I like the questions, and I feel like it could give my readers some insight into me as a person. My problem is, I get a ton of comments from "new followers" asking me to follow back, but a lot of them just don't...strike me, you know? But then I feel bad about not following them back. Is it against blogger etiquette to not follow everyone back, or should you follow everyone who follows you?

--Kinda guilty, and a little confused

Dear Kinda guilty and a little confused,

I think everyone feels this way at one time or another. But here's the thing. If you don't enjoy reading a blog, you're not going to. I used to have over 400 blogs in my google reader... because I thought I should follow blogs that followed me. And you know what, I never read my google reader... so I didn't read the blogs I wanted to because I was overwhelmed with the blogs I didn't really care to read.

Take it from me, follow the blogs you want to follow and don't worry about the rest. You will be much happier. You're not going to click with every blog/blogger. Don't feel bad about it. Everyone has different tastes! And thank goodness for that!

There are bloggers that I follow that don't follow me. I just have to remind myself to not take it personally (even though it's hard) it doesn't have anything to do with me! It's that person's preference and I need to respect that!

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

When you write a review, do you just copy and paste it to every site you post your reviews at (goodreads, amazon, your blog)? Or do you type up a new one for each place? I feel like I should mix it up a bit with each place I post, but sometimes I have a hard time coming up with new stuff to write.

Thanks for the help :)

Dear Jessica,

Oh. hell. no.

It usually takes me an hour or more to do one review... there is no way that I'm going to write more than one. If I see someone's review in one place... I'm probably not going to seek it out in another.

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

Your Blog Advice and Dear Story Siren posts are very helpful. I noticed that there are a few other bloggers who have started their own advice features. What do you think about that? The ones I have seen do not mention that they were inspired by your advice posts.

Thank you! I'm glad to hear that someone thinks that they are helpful!

What do I think about people starting their own advice column? Good for them!

Perhaps they weren't inspired by my post. I know I wasn't the first person to start a "question" feature and I'm sure I won't be the last. Now... if they call it Dear Story Siren, I might be a little offended then!

My answer might have been different a few years ago, but honestly it's not worth sweating the small stuff. I've seen a blogger attack people in the comments section (and have other people do the same) I've been witness to that same blogger send insulting emails to those bloggers when they felt like their toes were being stepped on. I don't have any respect for that person. I'm embarrassed to say that I've sent emails myself, and I don't want to be that person. All it does is cause drama and honestly, I am so over it.

I have a much better time blogging when I don't worry about "what everyone else is doing" and worry about what I'm doing.

Story Siren

Check out other questions from real readers on other "Dear Story Siren" posts.

Submit A Question!

ask the story siren, drama, novel, and more:

Dear Story Siren (23) + TIME