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Dear Story Siren (27)

If you aren't familiar with "Dear Story Siren" it's my attempt at an advice column for bloggers. That being said, I am not a book blogging expert. I can only give my opinion, please take it with a grain of salt.

You can find questions from past Dear Story Siren posts at Dear Story Siren: Find it Here!

Dear Story Siren,

I have a good amount of followers considering my blog isn't very old, but I wanted to know how one goes about generating discussion on posts. Is there some way to get your readers to comment more to blog posts?

Thank you,

Dear Anonymous,

As far as I know, there isn't any way to "make" someone comment. You can encourage interaction by having a discussion type post, but even with that there is no guarantee that people are going to comment. Interacting with commenters is a good idea, although it's hard to do in certain platforms like blogger.

I wish I could tell you a magic trick to make it happen, but there's not one!

Dear Story Siren,

How do you choose when to make an international competition? If the winners are not US residents,can you send the package anywhere in the world?


Dear Ada,

It just depends. A lot of the contests I host are sponsored by the publisher or the author. Which mean that they send out the prizes directly to the winner, I don't ever have them. US publishers won't send over seas, thus most of the contests end up being US or Canada only.

I try to make contests I sponsor personally open to everyone, but recently I have not been able to afford it. It's expensive to send just one book overseas, I'm not trying to be mean or exclude anyone, I just honestly can not afford it right now.

Dear Story Siren,

I noticed you don't use your star rating system in your reviews anymore. Is there a specific reason why you stopped? Do you think a rating system is good to have for reviews?


Dear Anon,

For some reason I've had a lot of comments and emails about this, and I'm not exactly sure why. Some of you voiced your opinions about the matter in my inbox, which is fine, but when it all comes down to it, I’m going to do what I find most comfortable.

When I started blogging I didn’t do ratings, I never even thought about it. Wasn’t my review the “rating” itself?

Eventually I did start using ratings, but it was more something that I thought I should be doing rather than what I wanted to do.

Ratings were hard for me. How can you put a numerical value on something that can be so varied? Did I feel the same about every book I gave a three star rating to? No, I didn’t. As far as that goes I’ve never felt the exact same way about a book. So, how am I supposed to “rate” them the same? I couldn’t and know I don’t.

Instead of focusing on my ratings, I’m focusing on my reviews.

I’ve seen several posts, tweets and such about the topic. What it all comes down to is personal preference. Do them if you want to, but don’t negate someone for not doing them or vice versa.

I feel like reviews don’t get read when there is a rating. It’s very simple to just look at those stars and move on. And if the review does get read, the ratings often sets the tone, I want my review to set the tone. If you can’t tell if I loved a book or hated a book by what I’ve written, than what’s the point.

It’s been liberating for me as a blogger to kill those stars.

Dear Story Siren,

I was just wondering, on average, how long does it take for you to write a review? My reviews usually don't take longer than 20-30 minutes, and I'm wondering if that's a decent enough amount of time to write a review.


Dear Anon,

There isn't really a review writing guideline that says how long it should take you to write your reviews. It's going to take as long as it takes you. Some people might write theirs in 10 min, someone else in two hours. Is one more "right" than the other, no. Don't worry about it!

Dear Story Siren,

Thank you for all that you do for the blogging community. I love your IMM posts, and I was just wondering, what do you use to record those? Do you use a webcam or an actual video camera? Your videos always have such a high quality!



Dear M,

I'm all about easy. All I use it one of those little Flip cameras. Before that I used my webcam on my laptop and before that I used a handheld video camera. EASY!

Dear Story Siren,

How do you set it up so that every time you blog a tweet goes up?


Dear Anon,

I'm sure there are many ways to do it, this would be a great time to utilize google! I am not a technical person at all! But I do know one way to do, so I'll at least explain that.

I have feedburner through Google. If you have blogspot blog you have a google account and thus you also have feedburner. If you sign into your "account settings" then click on "feedburner." Once you are in feedburner you'll want to click the "feed title" which is your blog name. On the next page there will be five tabs at the top. One of them will be "publicize," click it. Along the left sidebar under "services" look for the link for "socialize." It will guide you through setting up your blog feed for twitter.

Dear Story Siren,

Some of the people who have asked me to review books for them have also requested in their email that I send them a link to the review if I post one. Should I still send a link to the ones who don't request a link?


Dear Jess,

I usually always do. As far as I know, publishers appreciate when we do. You can find out more about the preferences of publishers from a special edition of Dear Story Siren called, Dear Publisher.

Dear Story Siren,

I used to be a book blogger but then I took a long absence because I was in the worst reading slump ever. What do you think is the best way to come back to the book blogging world? Do you think I have to make a post stating why I left or start a whole new blog?

-Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Dear Absence,

My advice would be to get back in the saddle. So what you fell off? Dust yourself off and hop back on. I don't think you need to explain yourself to anyone. Life happens!

Don't make a whole new blog... how exhausting! Spiff up the one you already have. Start posting reviews and being active again and let the pieces fall where they may. Don't dwell on 'coming back' just pick up where you left off. Your blog should be like an old familiar friend!

If you have a question for me, please feel free to submit it in the form below and I will try to feature it in a future post.

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Dear Story Siren (27) + TIME