Blogging about books is the absolute best. Learn how to start a book blog as a hobby or one that makes money with TUL’s book blogging for beginners tutorial.
We’ll teach you how to create your own book blog website from scratch. Plus, learn about the importance of branding, and see how to receive free books. Work with book affiliates and high-paying ad networks like Mediavine.
Lastly, discover how to write a book review and market your book blog on social media — all from a full-time, professional book blogger.
With this Book Blogging 101 Guide, we hope you’ll leave knowing how to start a thriving book blog that people actually read and come back to over and over again. Let’s get started!
If you are looking for a quick glimpse of the book blogging tools we suggest, don’t miss our Master Blogging Resources Guide.
Are you considering starting a book review blog for fun, as an extra side hustle, or for your career?
Did you know that you can receive free books from authors and publishers in exchange for honest reviews posted on your book blog? Authors talk to you and work with you, too.
Have you wanted to create a kind and bookish community to discuss your favorite reads?
Do you just want everyone to know your bookish opinions and convert them to steampunk YA lovers?
If you answered yes to any of these you should know that…
Book Blogging Affords You:
- The opportunity to connect with like-minded people
- READ TONS OF NEW BOOKS and even receive coveted advanced reading copies (ARCs)
- Earn a little bit (or a lot) of extra side income, if that’s your jam
As an original hobby book blogger, in 2018 I decided to convert my book blog and website into a full-blown LLC. While this may not be your personal book blogging goal, this article will tell you how to start a book blog as a hobby or business.
Non-book bloggers may find relevant blogging tips and tricks, too.
How To Start A Book Blog: 7 Steps You Will Find In This Book Blogging Guide
- Choose Your Blog Name And Domain (WordPress Book Blogs, specifically)
- Pick Your Blog Theme & Set Up Your Website
- Build Your Book Blogging Pages Such As “About Me” and “Book Review Policy”
- Start Reading Books And Requesting Free Titles From Professional Reviewing Databases
- Write Your First Book Review Posts
- Begin To Think About Social Media And Where You Want To Share Your Posts
- Monetize Your Book Blog With Tasteful Affiliate Links
P.S. Special Book Blogging Discounts From Us To You:
As a full-fledged member of the blogging community, I work with many amazing and successful bloggers, website developers, and blogging teachers. I use only the best services. These are a few special book blogging discounts just for you to get you started:
- Want to enroll in a complete and affordable Blogging 101 course? Use the code UNCORKED40 for 40% off this comprehensive blog training guide→
- Looking to make beautiful graphics for your book blog, Pinterest, and Instagram? I love Canva and swear by it for my Pinterest pins and blog post covers. I used Canva to create the graphics in this post. Try Canva Pro for free here→
- If you want to start a newsletter like mine, grab 50% off of Flodesk here→
- Looking to up your SEO game and have more people read your book blog by finding you in Google searches? I use Keysearch for SEO research. Use the code KSDISC for 20% off Keysearch here→
Let’s get onto learning how to make a book review blog.
Book Blogging For Beginners: How To Start A Book Blog In 7 Easy Steps
Step 1: Choose Your Blog Name And Domain
How To Pick Your Book Blogging Identity: Brand Time
You want everyone to know who you are and what you are about. Your book blog title is essentially your brand.
As you consider a blog name and domain (meaning your www. address), you want a title that is catchy, descriptive, and unique.
Before you claim a brand, you want to make sure that no one else is using the name, has trademarked any part of the words or phrase, or snatched up all of its social media handles.
For example, I am The Uncorked Librarian, which tells you that I love books and booze. Everything I write about is related to books, booze, and travel. In addition, I have my MLIS and worked in public libraries for 5 years.
I own all of the social media handles like instagram.com/theuncorkedlibrarian and facebook.com/theuncorkedlibrarian. I made sure that no one had a similar name to cause confusion, too.
Pro Book Blogging Tip: I also registered my book blog as an LLC.
Once you make over $400+ dollars a year, you are no longer a ‘hobby blog’ in the eyes of the government. When you register as an LLC, you also have to check for trademarks, copyright, and if others in your state are operating under the same business name.
You can read more about why you would want to register your blog as a business and single-member LLC here (along with how to pay self-employment taxes)→
You want to stand out. Don’t mimic another brand. Be unequivocally YOU.
You also don’t want to use someone else’s established name or add numbers to your handles — that just looks spammy and is poor book blogging etiquette. Your readers and audience will struggle to find you or tell you apart from another book blogger.
Copyright is another issue that you can run into, says this uncorked lady that consistently has to send Cease and Desist letters for stolen content. It’s illegal and comes with hefty fines. Don’t copy, don’t rewrite someone else’s articles as your own, and don’t plain out steal their content. Find inspiration and do your own thing.
What Else To Consider When Looking At Book Blog Names:
- What is your book blog reviewing niche?– Will you focus on just young adult books or all adult fiction? Do you want a book club blog? Will you discuss what new books to read? Will you write about books on blogging? Do you want to write romance book reviews? Are you solely a book review blog? Are you hoping to add other topics besides books? For example, I am a book and travel blogger. My blogging friends have food paired with their book summary blogs. You get the idea…
- Who is your book blog audience?– Who are you hoping will read your posts? Mature readers? Teachers? Librarians? Readers that travel? Readers that cook? Aspiring writers? Teens? Families? Homeschool moms? Fitness fanatics?
Where To Start A Blog: How To Create A Domain/Web Address For Your Book Review Blog
This step is where people freak out. Don’t freak out.
There are a ton of free platforms to choose from like WP .com, Wix, or Blogger. Those sites are free, especially if you use a domain that ends in wordpress .com.
This is completely acceptable if you are a hobby blogger, never want to make money from your blog, never want to add book affiliate programs, or don’t have or want to spend the extra $50 this year to dedicate to a book blogging website. This part will not tell you how to start a book blog on tumblr. Sorry.
However, if you want to be a more serious book blogger–even as a hobby blogger–I highly recommend using SiteGround to buy a cheap domain using your selected blog name.
You don’t want to be tispybooksandcake.wordpress .com. That domain looks long and somewhat amateur these days. There are a ton of book bloggers out there.
You want your domain to be tispsybooksandcake .com. Clean. Professional. Serious. Easy to find.
Authors, publishers, and search engines like Google will see you as a professional book blogger with your own customized domain.
I also always recommend using .com versus .blog or .org. Studies show that people prefer and trust .com. This tip is more personal opinion/preference, though.
The Basic Steps To Claim Your Book Blogging Domain
If you decide to take the leap to self-hosting and invest in your book blog: Head over to SiteGround. They have 24/7 chat support and are my favorite techs alive. I’m not kidding. I run two websites through them (Uncorked Asheville is my second one), and I have used them for years.
I love to play around with my site and sometimes things go wonky. I am amazing at crashing my site when I edit my code. These people save my blog for free every time. Their tech support staff consists of magical faeries.
A domain name with SiteGround will cost you around $15.95 a year.
I also self-host with SiteGround, starting at $6.99 a month for beginners. Currently, I am on their largest plan since I have high blog traffic. Because their long-term plans are cheaper, I also have a 3-year contract with them.
P.S. Even as a hobby book blogger, you can earn these investments back with basic affiliate links.
With SiteGround, you also need a FREE web-hosting platform — they will walk you through all of this. I use WordPress .org. WP .org looks exactly like .com, but you have the freedom to include ads, download plugins, and pick any theme with customizations that you want (fonts, colors, styles).
TUL Blogging Resources page mentions helpful, free plugins that you will love.
*Uncorked Extra* Blogging About Books Self-Hosting Tip:
Don’t forget that if you self-host with SiteGround, you can also create your own free and professional email address. For example, my email is [email protected] Doesn’t that look more serious versus a gmail account?
Book Blogs WordPress Favs
These are a few of my favorite WordPress .org book blogs that I follow:
Step 2: How Do You Start A Book Blog That Looks Great? Pick Your Blog Theme
Once you have your book blog name and domain secured, you have to design your new blog site.
Before you start blogging about books, you have to ask yourself: How do you want your posts to look? Do you want a sidebar (as you get bigger the answer might be ‘yes’ for ad networks like Mediavine and popular posts)? What colors do you want to be associated with your brand?
This book blogging step is incredibly easy. Platforms like WordPress, Blogger, and Wix offer free themes. Pick a theme that:
- Is visually appealing and you like
- Is desktop and mobile-friendly
- Boasts of working well with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — basically tools that help search engines like Google index your site so others can find your reviews
You can also invest in a book blogging theme:
- TUL — as well as my other site — for years used a Restored 316 design. Their themes are beautiful. Because I wanted a speedier site, though, I recently switched to Mediavine’s Trellis framework and themes.
- Many of my travel and book blogging friends use themes found in StudioPress that equally look great. Many people also rave about GeneratePress.
Step 3: Build Your Book Blogging Pages
Domain secured; check. Attractive blog in place; check. Now let’s get started blogging about books.
Before you create book review posts, you need essential book blogging pages. Pages are static posts that don’t go into your blog roll. Your essential book blogging pages will describe who you are and your book review policies.
A few pages you want as a book blogger:
About Me/About My Site/Meet Me
Use this About Me page to tell people who you are in a professional but fun and personal way.
How did you start this book review blog? Why book blogging? What is your book blog specifically about (your niche)? How are you qualified to review books? What value will they get from your book blog? Why follow you out of the thousands of book bloggers out there?
You want your audience to be able to connect and relate to you. Tell them fun facts: Do you binge-watch Netflix? What is your favorite book? What else do you do besides read? I drink wine.
See my About Me page→
BOOK BLOG REVIEW POLICY
Your Book Review Policy is an essential book blogging page if you want to work directly with publishers and authors. Once you become well known in the book community, authors and publishers will swarm you with requests to review books.
You are now blogging for books–and oftentimes free and gifted ones. You have an obligation to be honest as well as try to review what you accept.
HOWEVER: You cannot possibly review every book, even if you want to. At times, you will have to turn authors away. Sometimes you might DNF a book and not want to review. Authors may get mad at you and even call you out. This is why a strong book review policy is so important.
Your Book Review Policy Should Include:
- What genre you accept for review: Do you solely read YA? Is nonfiction your favorite? What won’t you review?
- What types of posts will you write: Single book reviews? Book lists? Will you interview authors or accept guest posts?
- Where will you showcase reviews: Goodreads? Amazon? Twitter and Facebook? Will you pin the review to Pinterest?
- What will you do if the book is awful or boring: Do you retain the right to decline a review after receiving a free book? Will you write a negative review or choose not to review at all?
- Will you have a book rating system: Do you use stars? What do they mean? P.S. I do not use a star-rating system on my blog.
- How do authors and publishers contact you: Should they email you or use a contact form? What information do you need from them?
- What book formats do you accept: ePUB, physical copies only, or PDFs?
- How will you communicate with the author or publisher once the review is posted?
This my Book Review Policy→
NECESSARY LEGAL PAGES ON YOUR SITE FOR BOOK BLOGGING
Know that whenever you accept free items as gifts or make money blogging, if you earn over a particular threshold, you have to pay taxes either as self-employed or as a business.
Although I am an LLC, as a single-member LLC, I must pay quarterly self-employment taxes.
Plus, as soon as you start writing your opinion, you have to think about book blogging legally and ethically. There is Copyright Law to worry about, and you must disclose when you received free items.
Once you start monetizing, especially in the U.S., you want to read FTC regulations.
I am not a lawyer, but a blogger in my community is. Amira from A Self-Guru is a lawyer and blogger who helps bloggers protect themselves, even if you only make a few hundred dollars a year from your blog.
So where can get you get Privacy and Terms and Condition policies that are legit, will protect you, and are fairly priced?
Step 4: Start Book Blogging! Read Books To Review And Request Free Titles
Free Book Source One- Your Local Library
As a newbie and if you want to get started book blogging right away, you can head to your local library and peruse the latest titles to review.
By already having books reviewed, your book blog will have samples of your work for authors and publishers to see in order to decide if your blog is worthy.
Trust me, publishers screen your content, quality, engagement, and social media numbers. Why give a free book to a blogger who writes poor reviews and has endless typos?
Booking Blogging Pro-Tip: I started creating more book lists with mini book reviews instead of writing full reviews. If receiving higher book blogging traffic is one of your goals, book lists are king.
ARC Source Two- Professional Book Reviewing Databases
These are two free databases where book bloggers can apply for Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) of books:
- NetGalley– Personally, I love NetGalley as they have great new releases, publishers can auto-approve you, and once you are established, publishers rarely deny you for a title that you want (at least in my experience).
- Edelweiss About The Treeline– Full disclosure: I have yet to use Edelweiss because I have way too many books sent to me directly from authors and publishers. I can barely keep up with my NetGalley queue. My librarian friends love Edelweiss, though.
ARC/Galley Source Three- Publishers’ Websites/Forms
You can also directly request books from publishers. Publishers obviously love blogs about books. Many have forms to fill out vs accepting email requests because they receive thousands of offers. For example, this is Penguin Teen’s Book Blogger Request Form.
Source Four For Free Books For Book Review Bloggers- If You Write, They Will Find You
Not even 3 months into starting my book blog as a beginner, I received author and publisher requests to review directly through my site and work email. I rarely request books these days as they find themselves on my desk directly from the source. Sadly, I turn down many authors.
Step 5: Write Your First Book Review Posts
I am not going to share advanced tips since this is the book blogging for beginners’ guide. After trying to learn all of the blogging tricks, I know from experience that too much information is overwhelming and stressful.
Starting a book blog is hard work. I will tell you some of the basics of having a solid blog post.
Once you have read your first book, you are ready to write a book review. So, now onto how to blog about the actual book… Everyone chooses to format their reviews differently. There is no one right way.
A Book Review Should Include:
- A disclosure noting that you received the book for free as an advanced copy in exchange for a fair and honest review (unless you grabbed it at the library or purchased it)
- An affiliate disclosure at the top of the post if you use Amazon or affiliate links
- An engaging and original summary of the book in your own words
- Points that you liked and disliked about the book without sounding like a third grader
- Information about the book: publisher, publication date, author, pages, genre
- Information about the author and a link to his/her site is always nice
- If you star-rate, go for it
- A cover of the book, optional bookstagram picture, and Pinterest pin cover
- Basically, tell people why they should care or why this book would interest them. Provide value.
Other fun ideas to include in your book review: read alikes, links to purchase, links to Goodreads, and quotes from others’ book reviews.
Don’t miss these engaging book blogging post ideas to keep your readers coming back for more.
How To Publish Your First Book Review Post:
Check for typos. A few will sneak past you — it’s OK not to be perfect. I use a free version of Grammarly to proofread my work.
Keep your paragraphs short. Many people read The Uncorked Librarian on their devices. Shorter paragraphs are easier to scan. Think two to three sentences, tops. Also, readers and Google prefer shorter sentences.
Think about SEO. Although this is a blogging about books beginners’ post, you want to have searchable keywords.
Place keywords in your blog post title, URL, headers, and image alt tags. A keyword might be the book title and author. I love Keysearch for SEO research and don’t write without it. Pssp…use the code KSDISC for 20% off.
Write a meaty post. Publishers will judge your work based on past posts. Make each book review long, worthwhile, and well-written. Google likes longer posts too, and you want your audience hanging around on your page. Aim for at least 500-700 words.
I recommend reading others’ book review blogs to get ideas. Do not copy them, though.
A Few Of The Best Book Blogs That I Love & Blogs For Book Lovers:
Romance Book Blogs
Book Blogs UK
Jenniely (awesome graphic designer too–she designed TUL’s logo)
Step 6: Thinking Past Book Blogging – Social Media Accounts & A Newsletter For Your Brand
You spent time on that book review: No one wants a book blog post to go unread. Let’s briefly discuss using emails/newsletters and social media to market and share your book blog. And no, newsletters are not dead. That is a book blogging myth.
Newsletters For Book Blogging 101
Over time, you will slowly build a list of book blog subscribers through an RSS feed, WP reader, or a newsletter. I vote newsletter (emails)! These are slightly more advanced book blogging tips that you can learn more about later in your book blogging career, too.
However, it never hurts to start collecting emails and sending out blog updates to your readers. I highly recommend using an emailing service like Mailerlite or Flodesk.
You can try Flodesk for free, create a sign-up form like you see below, and send out updates whenever you like to your subscribers. P.S. You can grab 50% off Flodesk here→
For The Uncorked Librarian, I send out bi-weekly emails to my mailing list of a few thousand people. My newsletter helps me connect with readers and share updates — bringing them back to my website. Emails are honestly my favorite part of book blogging. I can be more personal and real in them.
Below is one way readers can join my mailing list via an opt-in with a freebie:
Travel Around The World With Our Uncorked Reading Challenge
Join our 2021 Uncorked Reading Challenge today with monthly reading themes. Never be late to the party again with unique new book releases. Sign Up Now.
You will find forms like the above on the top and bottom of my book blogging website, in book-related articles, and in the sidebar. Unlike social media platforms — which we will get to next — you ‘own’ your website and mailing list. You have more control without any algorithms to ruin your day.
And speaking of algorithms, let’s talk about social media for book blogging…
Starting A Book Blog: Social Media 101
First off, you want to add a sharing button to the side and top of your blog if your theme doesn’t have one you like. I use and recommend Grow (formerly Social Pug), which is a free plugin. This allows readers to share your content for you. Many might want to save a post for later on a platform like Pinterest.
Then, you want to be active on social media. For beginning book bloggers, I recommend working on one or two platforms that you enjoy or where your readers are first. You don’t want to burn out trying to do it all. Later, you can grow all handles.
My biggest tip for starting a book blog and using social media is being consistent. Try to show up on your channels and don’t disappear for large amounts of time. If you need to be away, schedule your posts in advance. I try to post at least once a day in some capacity on all of my channels.
A few social media platforms that I love for book blogging:
Social Media Accounts For Blogging About Books: An Extra Note On Pinterest
Along with search traffic (mostly Google), Pinterest is my next highest blog traffic source these days. I consider Pinterest to be more like a search engine than a social media platform.
Each book review that you create should have a pinnable image so that readers can pin that review to Pinterest.
This image might be a book cover or a pin you create in Canva or Adobe Spark. I love Canva and subscribe to the Pro version. You can save book covers into folders by book list and create tons of fresh Pinterest pins in seconds. For book blogging, their stock photos are great too — and you get more in the paid version. Try Canva Pro for free here→
Marketing on Pinterest is slightly advanced Book Blogging 101, but I highly recommend making Pinterest a priority. I’ve had to up 6.9 million users view my pins MONTHLY.
Imagine how many of those users see my book review pins and come to my site. It’s A Lot. You can see The Uncorked Librarian Pinterest account to get a better idea of how the platform works.
I did not go at Pinterest alone, though. In order to have 3,500+ daily blog page views, I took this Pinterest marketing course by Boss Girl Blogger, Ell Duclos.
She’s a Pinterest goddess. In that link, you will also find a FREE traffic-driving for your blog course. You keep the course for ‘life’ and get all of her updates.
One Advanced Tip: How To Make Money Blogging About Books
Step 7: How To Make Money Book Blogging With Ads & Affiliate Links
Since I recommended a few book blogging tips and tools that cost money, you probably want to make that money back. Right?
I will not go into advanced marketing, sponsorships, ads, etc, but one way to make a few dollars per book review or book list is through affiliate marketing for book bloggers.
So how do you get paid by blogging about books?
Affiliate marketing involves applying for affiliate programs like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, IndieBound, and Book Depository.
At the end or beginning of your book review, you use these links for readers to purchase the books. If someone clicks your link and buys the book, you make a commission. You also earn a commission if that person buys other items through that link within a certain timeframe on Amazon.
Since this isn’t an affiliate marketing how-to guide, do know that are rules about affiliate marketing. I learned a lot from this affiliate marketing course. Be sure to read up on disclosures and nofollow/sponsored links.
Easy Affiliate Programs For Starting Book Bloggers To Apply For:
- Amazon – Amazon takes seconds to sign up for and is easy to understand and use. They have a lot of rules that you should read first. You must make three initial sales within a certain timeframe to become fully approved. Don’t list prices, and don’t change their links. They have specific disclosures that need to go on your book blogging website.
- Barnes and Noble – Barnes and Noble has an affiliate program through CJ Junction. This one is slightly trickier to learn.
- Book Depository – You can apply through Book Depository directly or use Awin. I prefer
Awin because not only do they include Barnes and Noble, but they have great vendors like Etsy. As you gain book blogging skills, think about all the fun links to Harry Potter wine glasses that you can add to your book reviews.
Read all about Book Affiliate Programs that TUL uses here→
Ad Networks For Book Bloggers
I also make money book blogging with ads. I use Mediavine, a high-paying ad network that you can apply to once your blog has reached 50,000 monthly sessions.
Google Adsense, Ezoic, SHE Media, and Monumetric are a few more ad networks that have less pageview requirements.
- This Book Blogging Guide
- Laptop or Computer
- Hosting Platform
- Choose Your Book Blog Name And Domain (www.). Pick a unique blog name and consider self-hosting on WP .org through SiteGround. Make sure all social media handles are available for that name. Check for any trademarks. Don't forget to have a strong niche. Be the expert in your field and provide value. It helps to have your brand name reflect your niche. Make your niche book-related from the start. Know your audience.
- Select Your Book Blog Theme & Design. Use a free Wordpress theme to start or make an investment in one like Restored316 using Genesis Framework. Make sure your site works well on mobile and desktop. Pick a theme that keeps your book blog speedy.
- Build Your Book Blogging Pages. You need a solid Book Review Policy, About Me, and Legal Pages. Create strong book blogging categories for readers to more easily navigate your site. Don't use category headings like "Musings." Be specific.
- Start Reading Books And Requesting ARCs. Head to the library or request books through professional reviewing databases like NetGalley. Make sure to use Goodreads, too. Publishers appreciate it.
- Write Your First Book Review Posts. Use keywords, be engaging, and include book information. The goal of any book blogger is to provide value. Start learning about SEO. Headers, post title, a few images, and paragraphs should include your main keyword.
- Share Your Posts On Social Media. Share your newly published book review posts and book lists on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Start building your online presence by being consistent and showing up.
- Monetize Your Book Blog. Apply for affiliate programs. Don't forget to properly disclose and follow all program directions. Amazon is the easiest to start with affiliate marketing for book bloggers. Once your traffic increases, add an ad network. And, HAVE FUN!
Book Blogging Discounts From Us To You:
Don’t forget these special book blogging discounts to help get you started:
- Take our recommended Blogging 101 Course and use the code UNCORKED40 for 40% off this comprehensive blog training guide→
- Make gorgeous book blog, Pinterest, and Instagram graphics with Canva. Try Canva Pro for free here→
- If you want to start a newsletter like we have, grab 50% off of Flodesk here→
- Improve how people find you in Internet searches with Keysearch for SEO research. Use the code KSDISC for 20% off here→
- Need some help setting up or speeding up your site? I use Aamir and his team from WPGeared. Tell him Christine, The Uncorked Librarian, sent you, and he’ll give you 5% off and priority. Email Aamir directly at [email protected]
Do You Feel Like You Know How To Start A Book Review Blog Now?
These are the basics of book blogging for beginners. Once you start playing around with all of the tools mentioned, you will slowly learn more about starting a book review blog.
Never hesitate to ask me any questions in the comments below or drop me an email at hello [at] theuncorkedlibrarian [dot] com.
If you are still unsure about blogging, check here for fun reasons why you should book blog. Remember, creating a book blog should also be fun.
We originally posted this Book Blogging 101 Guide in January 2019 and the article has been updated for 2021.