4 Ways to Build a Book Review Backlog

Posted 13 September, 2015 in Blogging Tips / 6 Comments

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Wouldn’t it be great to have reviews all queued up for one of those days where time just got away from you? Or you just aren’t in the mood to review? Make it possible with a book review backlog.

What’s a Review Backlog?

A book review backlog is where you keep materials to help you write future reviews. Basically, it’s like a ‘rainy day fund,’ but with blog posts instead of money. ūüėõ It can come in many forms and be kept in many places, which we’ll talk about in a hot minute.

Why Keep a Backlog?

For me, there are two major reasons I keep extra book reviews in my drafts folder:

  • There will be times when blogger burnout starts to set in. I believe the best way to beat burnout is to manage it instead of giving up and taking a break. Having a backlog lets me¬†continue to publish¬†posts, while I¬†still get a bit of a break.Since they’re already written, the posts won’t take as long and I have a bit more time to relax. All I¬†need to do is publish and promote, which usually takes about 15 minutes total.
  • There will be times when life gets in the way of blogging. Having extra posts queued up, again, lets me¬†take more time away from the¬†blog without changing my¬†publishing schedule. I¬†can take weeks off of blogging without you guys¬†ever realizing (until now – oops).For example, I knew when I started my new job I wouldn’t have time to blog much for a few weeks. So for the month leading up to my first day, I wrote one extra review each week. Those were published while I was settling into New York and my job.

What Do You Include?

Your backlog doesn’t necessarily doesn’t necessarily need to be made up of completely finished reviews, where you just hit ‘publish’ and you’re done. Backlog items can include:

  • A bulleted list of things you liked and disliked about the book
  • What star rating you plan on giving the book (I always include this since I feel like I rate best shortly after I finish reading)
  • Any specific chapters or scenes you want to bring up in your book review
  • Notes on anything else you want to talk about
  • Rough drafts of reviews
  • Fully formatted and completed blog post drafts

My backlog usually contains reviews at each stage of the process, from bullet points to “ready to go.”

5 Ways to Build Your Book Review Backlog

1. Inside Your Editorial Calendar

If you use an editorial calendar tool that lets you include notes, like a Trello blogging calendar, Google Docs, or a WordPress plugin, you can just add your notes there. For example, we all know every detail of my book blog is logged in Trello, so I add bullet points or drafted paragraphs to the card descriptions on my blogging calendar.

2. Carry a Notebook

If I finish a book while I’m not at home and want to jot down notes right away, I’ll write it down in one of the several notebooks I carry with me at all times. (I don’t love typing long things on my phone – I’m still really bad at typing on touch screens but I’m a fucking ninja on a keyboard.)

3. Make Notes in Books

If you take notes in your paperbacks or ebooks, it can be daunting to consider going through all the marked up pages when writing your review. Instead, when you finish the book, You can go through all the notes at once and compile them on a sheet of paper, or at least bookmark pages with notes on them so they’re easier to find later.

Another way to do this is to jot down a few bullet points on a post-it and stick it to your e-reader case or your book’s inside cover. And yet another? At the end of your ebook, create a note with info for your review.

4. Create Evernote Notes

Yep, I’ve played around with this, too. Like I’ve said before, it sometimes takes experimenting with a lot of tools before you find the perfect workflow for you. ūüôā Evernote’s¬†a good option because its notes handle long-form text (like a full blog post) just as well as a bulleted list.

While I still prefer Trello for myself, it’s true that the size of the open card means drafting a full post doesn’t have the best readability or user experience. It’s right in the name: Trello card descriptions are for descriptions, Evernote notes are for notes. ¬†If I were to switch from Trello to anything, it would be this. (Evernote is also where I keep a post backlog for a different blog that I don’t have a Trello board for.)

5. In Your Blog Post Drafts

Of course, one of the easiest places to keep your backlog is in your blog itself. For this, just create a new post, add the title, put some stuff down in the body, and save it as a draft. You can also quickly fill out other info, like the category and tags, metadata and SEO info, and formatting. And that’ll save you even more time later.

Where do you plan your future reviews? Share in the comments below.

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