Discussion: The Entitlement Mentality

Posted 12 October, 2012 by Amanda / 61 Comments

Authors have been told by both bloggers and other authors that writing a book does not automatically mean that people have to read and review the book. We say that a book needs a pleasing cover and a good, well-written story. We say that authors seeking reviews must research and approach bloggers who actually read and review (and accept review requests) the correct genres. We say that writing a book doesn’t mean you’re entitled to have people read your book.

I’m here to apply that same advice to bloggers.

You see, bloggers, in our own way, are also self-publishers. We seek readers and comments. But creating a book blog does not entitle us to having readers. Writing reviews and discussion posts does not entitle us to comments. If we want readers and comments, we must work on our content to make sure that it is appealing to potential readers. We must ensure that our site is easy on the eyes and simple to navigate.

When confronted with a review or discussion post that receives no comments–or few comments–instead of bemoaning the lack of comments, take a step back and consider the possible reasons for this. Is it a book that your readers haven’t read? Is there not enough discussion-provoking content? Is it a slow Internet day? Did the post contain a topic that your readers are not comfortable commenting on?

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Reviews of books that many of my readers have read always generate more views and comments.
  • My comments increase when I’m an active participant on other bloggers’ blogs.
  • Some reviews are easier to comment on than others. (I’m still trying to work on a way of explaining this and how you can change it.)
  • Slow Internet days exist. It’s best not to take it personally.
  • The reading preferences of my readers often determine how many comments I receive on my reviews. When I review a mystery, for example, I receive comments from fewer (and sometimes different) people because most of my readers prefer the paranormal genres.
  • Appealing to Twitter for comments and views is tough work and rarely gets me what I want (and makes me feel like a broken record).
  • Discussion topics do matter. When I talked about being in denial about being a cover whore, I got TONS of comments (people can relate). When I talked about being in denial about reading free erotica, I definitely got fewer comments (not everyone can relate or feel comfortable admitting the same).
  • Thinking critically about why certain posts receive fewer comments than others can help me to improve future posts, or accept the fact I’m not going to get a lot of comments. (I’m not going to stop reading mysteries and reviewing them on the blog. If mysteries aren’t your thing, I don’t expect you to comment on my review.)

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61 Responses to “Discussion: The Entitlement Mentality”

  1. Absolutely agree with everything said here! Especially for newer book bloggers – commenting on other blogs is a must if you want to get eyeballs on your blog. And when the eyeballs do come, if you want them to return, there should be other engaging content, and a website that shows you put some time & effort into it, i.e. looks good & is well-organized.

    • Yes. And I think commenting on other blogs has to be more than “great post! visit my blog!” There has to be a genuine desire to connect with that person on their blog. If you do that, you build relationships. And building relationships leads to mutual commenting. And that is good.

  2. Great post Amanda!

    I think it is important for people to realize that it is a give and take in the community. I have seen people bemoan the lack of comments and then in the same breath say they don’t have time to go visit other blogs. Content is very important but so is being active in the community.

    • “Content is very important but so is being active in the community.”

      EXACTLY. It’s about building relationships. And commenting on other blogs doesn’t mean you have to comment on every single post. I mean, you can and that’s awesome, but it’s also a lot of work. Frequently commenting is just as good. Just enough to establish that you are reading.

      • Exactly! I love having conversations with my blogging friends and commenting on their posts is just one more way for us to connect :) I think of us like a neighborhood—you don’t move in and expect everyone to keep coming to you (maybe in the beginning they give you a welcome to the community gift), you have to get involved if you want to be part of the community.

        • You’re absolutely right. I think I once said that we’re not blogging islands. It’s a community–or, as you said, a neighborhood. That is a very apt description and very, very true. I mean, hey–we even run into each other in different places (other blogs, social media, etc.)

  3. Great post! I basically agree with the other two commenters. There’s a girl who whines every day on twitter about lack of comments at her blog, yet she never comments on others. I didn’t begin to receive a lot if comments until I began commenting at a lot of blogs. Is it time consuming? Definitely. But I’ve found some great content and friends by visiting blogs. Also, the number of comments is highly dependent on the book reviewed. If its a hot, hyped book, the numbers go up drastically.

    • A lot of times, I’ve noticed that you get what you give when it comes to blogging. If you invest a lot of time not just on your blog, but on other blogs as well, you get more back.

      I definitely agree that the book being reviewed often determines how many comments you get. I think it’s all about whether or not your readers have something to say about it–if they want to read the book or they have read the book, they naturally have more (or, something) to say about it versus if they’ve never heard of the book or aren’t interested in it.

  4. I agree with this post! There are days that I have to remind myself that if I got no comments ever, then I would be doing something wrong. But I understand that not everyone likes to comment, or doesn’t have something to say other than ‘great review’, or they just may not like the genre I just reviewed.

    I love discussion posts like this. I need to do more on my blog because I find that these ones are posts that many people can identify with.

    Great post!

    • Great point, Ashley: our readers and how they comment (or, don’t) are also important to take into consideration. Sometimes our content is NOT the problem, and it’s something that is out of our control. In that sense, I think we need to focus on what we can control (our content and our involvement on others’ blogs) and let go of what we can’t control. (Of course, that’s easier said than done.)

  5. Reading preferences make a huge difference in the comments I receive on my blog as well Amanda. My blog has turned into a primarily YA book blog despite the fact that I read a ton of adult PNR and UF (I just don’t always review it) so when I do post a review in one of those genres, I tend to get way fewer comments.

    I think the fact that you mentioned going out and being an active participant in other people’s blogs is really important as well. That’s always what I’ve done and people have been fabulous about visiting my blog in return. It makes me feel more like a member of the community to comment on other blogs and to respond to the comments on my own:)

    Love this post Amanda!

    • Jenny, when it comes to being involved in the community and commenting, you’re my hero. I always see your comments around the blogosphere AND you reply to the comments on your site (which, I think, is another good way of encouraging future comments).

      It’s kind of fun, actually, to see who comments on what sometimes. You get a good indication of a) the reading preferences of your readers and b) who your die-hard commenters are (because they almost ALWAYS comment, no matter the book).

  6. Love this post! Definitely going to refer to it when I’m having one of those down days and wondering why I’m not getting comments. Sometimes the friendly little reminders help. I’m definitely seeing improvements on my own blog, and making tons of really awesome blogging friends, by reaching out more and doing commenting of my own. Its the same as any other relationship, its all about give and take.

    • Yes. And I think it’s important to view no comments in a “well, how can I change this in the future?” or “how can I improve?” kind of way rather than getting down on yourself. Because it might not be you! Or your post just didn’t reach the right audience. It happens to all of us.

      (And, really, making blogging friends is often WAY MORE satisfying than a large number of comments.)

  7. Really great post! I love mysteries and still review them from time to time, but I schedule all of those on the weekends since the weekends seem to be slow traffic days anyway, and I’d like my YA posts to be when most people are out and about on the internet.
    It’s really hard for me to figure out how to get traffic sometimes…. But I think one of the best ways is just to talk to other people and comment on their stuff! Some people don’t have time to return the comment, but personally I will always try to comment back to someone, especially a new visitor!
    This is a great post – I love seeing what other people have to say :)

    • That’s a great way to deal with less popular reviews!

      I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that getting traffic is a hit or miss kind of thing, and there’s a bit of luck involved. I can tweet something and get NO hits from it, and other times I tweet it, and I get retweets, hits, replies, etc. It’s all a matter of how busy Twitter is and who is online. And there’s a definite flow to Internet traffic in general. Some weeks are slow, some weeks there is a lot of activity, and there’s really no way you can stop it or predict it…just roll with it.

  8. Oh I know these all too well. I’m still in the process of learning not to whine and moan about lack of readers/comments. Especially because every time I get into the swing of things and really get things moving, I have to pull back for school, and then the blog just becomes barren.

  9. This is a GREAT post, Amanda!

    You know, when I was blogging back in October, probably up until May-June-ish, I wasn’t such a big commenter. I’d go to other blogs, but only comment on a few, or even on my own blog, when people commented on a post, I never commented back. NOW, I’m realizing what a give and take thing comments are AND how big your role in the community is. I’m not saying that people should spend HOURS AND HOURS on Twitter (*looks away sheepishly*), but actually reaching out and forging friendships with people, rather than just assuming that because you’re a blogger people should comment on your blog, really makes a difference.

    I can say from experience that the past 3 months (ish), my comments have been so much better and I really attribute that to the fact that I’m reaching out to other bloggers and letting them know I care. I’m not in this to get free books or anything, nor am I in it just for the reviews — I’m in it because I want to have other people to talk about books and reading, something I really, truly love!

    If your experience blogging is solely working on your blog, never reaching out the community, or visiting other blogs, then what’s the point? Maybe it’s just me, but the more involved I am, the better the experience is.

    I also think that bloggers have to accept thing like slow internet days or topics people can’t relate to, just like you say. BUT I think bloggers should be thankful for each and every comment — just because a discussion post doesn’t reach out to a TON of readers, the small handful of readers it does reach out to matter.

    Thanks for sharing this, Amanda!

    • I also think that bloggers have to accept thing like slow internet days or topics people can’t relate to, just like you say. BUT I think bloggers should be thankful for each and every comment — just because a discussion post doesn’t reach out to a TON of readers, the small handful of readers it does reach out to matter.

      This is a very good point, Kristilyn. I also think that if you’re blogging for yourself, you have to accept that some of the topics that are interesting to you will not be interesting to your readers, but you should go with it anyway. And you’re right: EVERY comment counts. Even if you only reach one person, that’s ONE MORE PERSON! It’s not something to turn your noise up. Every PERSON counts.

  10. Of course I agree with everything you said, because our brains are scary in sync.

    You said something to me once that really stuck with me: A certain well known blogger was lamenting on Twitter that only a handful people had entered a giveaway they were hosting and you said something along the lines about how you’d rather a book went to someone who would appreciate it than have 50 thousand entries from people who were just in it to win a free book.

    I liked that. Not everyone is going to get or be engaged with everything you as a blogger do, but that doesn’t make the people who do step out or speak up any less important.

    I know that’s not exactly the point of your post here but it shouldn’t be about quantity of hits or comments. I guess I’d rather have one person tell me “I loved your review on book X. I went out and bought it and ended up devouring the entire series.” rather than have 50 comments on the same review that just say “Great review.”

    Am I making any sense? Do I need to drink more coffee? Have I told you how awesome I think you are today?

    • You want quality over quantity. At the end of the day, it’s not about the number of hits or comments, it is about interacting with people. Hits and comments are a good way of gauging interaction, but not always. There could be one comment on your post, but it could be THE BEST COMMENT EVAR and your whole day or week turns around because of it.

      It only takes one person to make a difference.

  11. Also, some people just aren’t into commenting but it doesn’t mean they’re not paying attention. Sometimes I’m surprised by conversations with people who appear never to read my blog (going by comments/shares alone) yet they always seem to remember my opinions on books! These people are awesome even if they don’t contribute. I can cope with that, hell I can cope with posts that garner few views. It happens sometimes.

    • Ellie, that is a fantastic point. There are a lot of silent readers out there. And that’s okay, too. I’ve actually been considering writing a discussion post about/letter to my silent readers. I think we sometimes forget that zero comments =/= zero readers. People pay attention whether we realize it or not. And readers–whether they choose to comment or not–should still be valued and treasured.

  12. Such insight! My blog has definitely dropped in comments lately. I’m beginning to be ok with this. Maybe my personality isn’t coming through, my reviews aren’t interesting, the books I’m reading don’t interest my readership…I have no idea.

    HOWEVER. The comments I do get are SO much better than when I first started. I’ll take quality over quantity ANY DAY.

    You are so right about receiving more love when you give it. I have a feeling I will have an issue with this on the job. But, I do hope to be able to comment before work/during lunch, hopefully…

    • OH. I wasn’t finished. :) I wanted to add that this mentality is a serious problem all across the board, not just in book blogging. The families I’ve worked with have generations of entitlement-minded perspective. It’s ugly but difficult to halt. :/

      • I completely agree. In fact, the entitlement mentality is perhaps the biggest reason why I want to get out of teaching. I can’t take that mentality (because it invariably means more work and hardship for me).

    • As Ellie points out, it could also just be that many of your readers are silent readers; they’re paying attention, but not commenting.

      Someone should write a post about making the most of your blogging time. Or… how to make time for blogging when you’re busy with life.

    • I read this book once (a big surprise, right?) that had this great advice: you have to separate things and situations into what you can and can’t control. If you can control it, work on changing it. If you can’t control it, work on accepting it.

      It kind of goes back to the idea that you can only control how YOU react to situations.

  13. Yes! I love this post. I think the most important thing out of all of this is book blogging is a COMMUNITY. And you have to give and take if you want to be a part of the community. Now, if you don’t care about who comes to see you, etc, then that’s your prerogative , but if it’s important to you, then ya, ya gotta give a little too!

    I know my blog isn’t nearly as popular as others, but I feel the comments I get are full of quality over quantity and really, I think we all prefer those kinda comments! And I totally get what you mean when some review posts are easier to comment on than others – sometimes I just don’t know what to say other than “yes, I was here. I read this, I like what you wrote, but I don’t really have a real comment” lol.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is blogger who brag about their “stats” on twitter (page views and followers) yet they have almost no comments or when they do have one or two, they don’t even respond to the comment! I admit, I used to follow a few blogs which I did actually like, but my comments (which ofter was the only one) were never ever acknowledged and that kinda stings after awhile. I know we are all super busy and I don’t expect all my comments to be responded too, but I sure do appreciate when they are!

    Anyway, great discussion!

    • I don’t know if others view the blogging world as a community. I think it’s possible that people who don’t respond to comments–regardless of their following numbers–see comments as a reward for a good post. In that sense, for them, comments are not a community building thing or a chance for further interaction. (I’ve done this. Not in the blogging community, but elsewhere.) It’s more transactional. You wrote a good post, so you get a comment, and that’s all the interaction necessary.

      For me, commenting is about wanting to interact beyond reading. You can read something and think, “Wow, great post” but never feel the need to comment or contribute to that discussion. For me, most comments actually require responses. Like, I want to COMPLETELY AGREE with you, Brie, about not liking it when comments aren’t responded to. If I reach out to a blogger by commenting and receive nothing back, I go elsewhere. Commenting is time consuming, and it is about building relationships, so if it’s not working, I move on.

      Page views and followers are easily manipulated through things like giveaways. I never pay them much attention.

  14. You have some of the greatest discussion posts that I have ever read. I try not to take a lack of comments as a personal slight. There are a lot of book blogs out there and only so many readers. I do love that connection that you get with frequent commenters though. It’s how I’ve met most of the people that I admire in the book blogging community.

    I pretty much suck at getting to the commenting part. I read a lot of posts but find myself (and this is a personality flaw) unable to come up with something to say. Sometimes I feel like if I can’t say something unique or contribute to the discussion it’s just better to not say anything.

    I, too, have noticed that it is a give and take thing. If I haven’t had time to get around the blogging world to read and comment, why in the world should I expect someone to pop in and comment on my stuff? Chances are they are just as, if not more so, busy as I am.

    • Thanks, Stephanie! I just talk about things that I notice. :)

      I was working on another post today that touched on commenting. I think sometimes comments are not about saying something unique or contributing to the discussion–they’re about sending the message that you’re there, you’re reading, and you like the content the person is putting out. It’s about validating them as bloggers. If that makes sense. Sometimes we need to know we’re not talking to ourselves. (That said, I’m terrible at doing that sometimes, too. I don’t comment as much as I should.)

      Yup. I think you get as much as you give in this case. (Though it always takes more to get going at first.)

  15. This is such a great post! Getting comments does take effort beyond just writing a post and having some followers. You have to cultivate a sense of community on your blog and beyond — start and contribute to discussions both on your blog and on other blogs. It takes work and sometimes I feel like I just don’t have the time, but I agree that it is an important part of blogging.

    I also see tweets about “my post is so lonely” and the times I’ve gone over to leave a comment, I’ve noticed that a) blogger does not respond to any comments and b) blogger does not visit back. Clearly that person is not interested in discussion, just in collecting comments like followers. That’s fine — and I’m not out to tell anyone else how they should blog — but I probably won’t take the time to comment again.

    • Yes! I think that those of us who see blogging as being a part of a community won’t spend a lot of time commenting on blogs that don’t respond to comments (or the blogger doesn’t visit other sites). That is a very one-sided relationship and many bloggers are looking to find something that is more of a two-way street.

  16. Awesome post and true. I hate “please stop by and comment”. Being a sincere and active participant in our community is the best and the most fulfilling approach.

    I would love to have more readers and comments, but I don’t necessarily put in the work to get them. BUT I know that it is directly (not necessarily negatively) related to ME and I am ok with that.

    • Some of the best promotion is indirect. Show the person you care about them, what they read, and their success. Eventually they’re going to want to reciprocate the feeling. (And if they don’t, eh.)

  17. “Reviews of books that many of my readers have read always generate more views and comments.”

    AGREED. Which is actually kind of funny. I mean, it makes sense we enjoy discussing a book we all know and love, but isn’t one of the reasons we all say we love blogging is discovering new books? Hehehe!

    “My comments increase when I’m an active participant on other bloggers’ blogs.”
    VERY. YES. If I’ve spent the day before posting a review (or say the 12 hours proceeding), people comment back. And I love that! COMMUNITY!

    Ooooh, Amanda, I’m curious about this… “Some reviews are easier to comment on than others. (I’m still trying to work on a way of explaining this and how you can change it.)”
    Like, I don’t think you mean technically? But, finding something on which to comment about on a review? For instance, this post is VERY easy to comment on because of the bullet points, I feel like I have something to respond to :D

    But ANYWAY. YES. When you post a certain genre? Very different commenters. If post a review for adult PNR, I find people I haven’t spoken to in AGES will comment. They’re not as interested iN YA (and that’s FINE), but also, I think some of the YA reviews, well, we’ve all seen the book review a gigazillion times? And… I’m waffling. I’m tired. Need caffeine.

    Do you find you get more comments on discussion posts? One of my most successful posts EVER was a discussion post. The only posts I’ve ever done that were MORE popular were reviews with giveaways attached, where people comment for an entry, so I’m truly not sure that counts.

    • Re: reviews being easier to comment on…

      Yes. There are some reviews (and posts in general) that contain more relate-able information that makes the review (or post) easier to comment on. I started writing a post on this based on a conversation rule that deals with providing additional information. So, if you’re asked a question in a conversation, you answer the question and offer extra info. e.g.:

      “What book are you reading?”
      “I’m reading Adventures of the Peen Queen. I know it sounds weird, but it’s actually really funny.”

      The answer only “required” the title of the book BUT by including the extra information (sounds weird, but funny), it allows the conversation to continue and develop naturally.

      “You know, I think the weirdest sounding title I ever picked up was….”

      Make sense? Rather than “What book are you reading?” “Title.” “Is it is good?” “Yes.” “Oh, good.” *conversation struggles to continue*

      Discussion posts definitely produce high comment counts for me. Though it appears that a couple CR posts, my Bloggiesta mini-challenge, and a review for Graceling (non-giveaway review) all have more comments than any of my discussion posts (being in denial about reading YA is the most commented on discussion post). I’d say that discussion posts produce the best responses, though, and they tend to pull in silent readers or new readers (when regular readers share). And that’s one of my favorite parts about discussion posts.

      • YESSS. Totally makes sense.

        This is SERIOUSLY fascinating. I mean, the random higher commented posts, statistically, are anomolies, and it makes sense the discussion posts are the generally higher commented ones.

        But I LOVE what you said, about how they actually promote and encourgae commenting, especialyl amongst people who you don’t usually get to speak to, and… yeah. Love :D

  18. What an interesting discussion! Have to agree with many of the points made, especially being an active participant in the blogging community. When I have time to visit other blogs and leave comments, my comments tend to go up as well. And I’m working on being more active, but sometimes it’s hard to add anything relevant.

    • I agree. It can be difficult to add to the conversation. And being an active part in the community does take a lot of time and effort. I know that it’s something that I continually work on. And I still feel like I end up missing out on a lot of stuff.

  19. Totally agree on this. I’m always my own worst critic when it comes to analyzing blog content. Or any writing, really. Of course, knowing that my lack of publicity and interaction is driving down my numbers and using it as a motivator are turning into two very separate things. Gulp. :)

    I have noticed the same things about review comments – which is too bad since I often want to review books I *know* my readers haven’t read. So I’m trying to balance that with discussion-y topics that may inspire some conversation.

    • Ha. The knowing and doing conundrum is one that has plagued me FOREVER.

      I think maybe the key to getting more comments on an unknown review book is to find a way to connect it to what you know your readers know/like. (So, if I read a mystery with really good characters, I make sure to mention this, because I know a lot of people who read my blog enjoy character driven stories.)