How to start a book blog

Ever finished reading an interesting book and wished you could discuss it with someone? Or read a great book that you're dying to recommend to everyone?

Book blogging is a fun way to connect with book lovers all over the world. Luisa Plaja, the former editor of Chicklish, a teen fiction site which ran from 2006 to 2014, gives her top ten tips for starting your own book blog.

Nadia Shireen illustration

1. Start by thinking up a name for your blog

You can name it after yourself (e.g. 'Katie Reads'), or invent a name that fits your vision for the blog or its special focus. For example, Chicklish got its name from its origins as a review site for romantic comedy books for teenagers, so 'a bit like chick lit'.

Some examples of other existing book blog names that could help you to name your own blog include:

and so many more...

2. Decide which blogging platform to use

Two of the most popular free ones are Blogger and Wordpress. However there are many others out there - for example, Chicklish used Typepad.

3. Have a look at some existing blogs for inspiration

Find a great list of UK blogs for inspiration on layout and themes, and decide what you want your site to look like. Most blogging software will prompt you to choose a template as soon as you register, but feel free to play around and try out different looks until you find one you like as it can usually be changed later.

4. Start your blog!

If your platform allows it (and most of them do), create a separate page called something like 'About', where you can introduce yourself and your aims for the site. Or you might want to include a page called 'Review Policy', where you outline whether you'll accept books for review from authors and publishers, and what kinds of books you'll consider (specify the genre and format - will you accept e-books?)

Include a contact email (perhaps by creating a new email address that uses your blog name) or, if you'd rather not receive private messages, prompt enquirers to post a public comment for your attention instead.

5. Add some posts

Start by reviewing books you've recently read, or write about books you want to read. If you've exhausted the contents of your bookshelves and wishlist, it is easy to borrow books from the library for review. Publishers and authors might offer you review copies as time goes on, but build your blog first from books you've obtained yourself.

6. Join in with memes

Two popular examples of this are 'In My Mailbox', where you list all the books you've received or borrowed in a given week, and 'Waiting on Wednesday', where you write about an upcoming release you're looking forward to - and post it on a Wednesday!

7. Join in or start some reading challenges

It's a great way to feel a part of the wonderful online book community and encourage people to get involved with your blog!

8. Write some 'list' posts

For example, you could write about your five favourite reads this year, your favourite characters, or your book gift ideas. You can illustrate each one with a book cover.

You can also go to a site such as Goodreads for book information and cover images, or if you're reviewing a book from a series, a great place to find full series listings is Fantastic Fiction.

9. List your favourite book sites

List your favourite sites on your blog, in a sidebar. Make sure you comment regularly on other sites. The book blogging community is generous and wonderful, so it shouldn't be long before you have regular readers and commenters.

10. Have fun!