The YA Shelf is a community blog for Young Adult authors and book reviewers. The basic idea is that, together, a bunch of us can post a LOT of content and book reviews, which will make this site bigger. That will help all the articles on this site rank better, and give more “link juice” to all the links pointing back to your own site or platform.
However, since better ranking = more readers, we also want the content to be well-written and look amazing. I’ve set this site up with some review features, and it’s important that all the reviews and posts look uniform, so please watch these videos about how to post content on The YA Shelf.
Although I made it as a place YA authors can use to boost their traffic and visibility, it’s not primarily a place to market your own books, at least not directly. You should be writing great content that attracts readers, and building powerful links back to your site or Amazon page, but not the marketing is indirect: don’t just talk about yourself or your books in the main content (although you can mention them casually, for example if you’re writing an article on a specific writing challenge you overcame and need to give examples).
Before you review a book, please make sure you search for it with the search tool in the sidebar, to make sure it hasn’t already been reviewed. If it has been reviewed, you can still login and comment on the post with your own review.
When you register, you should have set up some of your information, chosen a picture and added social media links… but you may want to make it look better and add links into your bio. You should be able to use your login/password to get into the regular admin page:
Once there, go to “users” and customize your profile – it will appear under your articles.
Then you can add a new post.
Make sure to pick your genre/category and add some keywords.
How to post book reviews
Book reviews are a good idea for two reasons.
- If you review traditionally published, bestselling books in your genre, it’s more likely your readers are already searching for them.
- If you review indie published books in your genre, it’s more likely the authors will appreciate it – that’s good for building relationships with them.
If you write a detailed, in-depth review and then share it with the author (either by emailing them, or just tagging them on Twitter with the link), it’s likely they’ll read it and share it with their audience. Then THEIR audience will read YOUR post, which ends with your bio and links to your site.
This is better than just posting reviews on Amazon, where people are much less likely to click your name and find out more about you (you can and should, however, also post your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads – it’s fine to post them here and also on other platforms).
When you first sign up and start posting, you’ll be a contributor – you can add content but not images, and you can’t publish (save the draft and we’ll finish it up for you). After you’ve done a few posts successfully, we’ll change you to author, which means you can add your own featured images and publish yourself.
If you want more responsibility, we can upgrade you to administrator, which gives you more control and you can help publish other people’s posts and help the site run smoothly.
Here’s a more advanced video on posting reviews/adding images.
Your author bio…
Will display under every post you write, and look something like this:
That’s the bio controlled in the WordPress panel, after you login here:
So make sure to fill it all out. It’s different than the bio you filled out when you signed up (that’s another plugin, called UserPro). You can see that profile on the members page, and edit it if you need to: http://www.theyashelf.com/members/
Other kinds of content you should post
Book reviews are great, but they won’t get the kind of shares and traction you really want. You’ll get more visibility, with less effort, if you can think of more interesting topics. Here are some ideas:
- Genre round-up posts. For example, this one I made on mermaid books. The title is really important: half the shares and likes will come from people who don’t even click to read the article! Plus, you can email every author you mention and a bunch of them will probably share it. That’s a great way to “steal” their audience.
- Genre observations. For example, “10 must-have objects every female protagonist in YA fantasy books should carry with them” or “10 perfect foods to eat while reading YA paranormal romance books.” You can get title ideas here: just type in your keywords.
- Author interviews. This is a great way to build relationships with authors in your genre. While some may not be interested in having an interview show up on your personal author blog, they’ll probably say yes to one on Off the Shelf, which looks more like a general site for YA readers. Make a personal goal of interviewing 10 authors who you’d like to get to know better; when you’re done see if you can get them to share it.
- Videos. If you’re a Vlogger or BookTuber, you can post a video review – this is an easy way to stand out; tens of thousands of indie books don’t get video reviews, so if you start doing them in your genre, you’ll have no competition (If you’re uncomfortable on camera, you can just record the book’s Amazon page and talk about what you liked…).
- Image Quotes. Pull out your favorite sentence or two from each book you read, and make a nice graphic with Wordswag or Canva – the authors will love it and share it for you. You can include it in your reviews… even if you don’t make graphics, you should pull a few passages and use the blockquote feature.
This is what the blockquotes look like.
Writing tips. Off the Shelf is primarily for readers, so we mostly want content from a readers’ perspective. But I’m also adding a section for “how to write YA” and “YA tropes that drive us crazy.”
A lot of YA readers dream of becoming writers, and excellent articles about improving your fiction are appreciated (plus, they’ll attract new YA authors and build our network).
Boosting your “also views” on Amazon
Something to consider: what you want to be doing, is driving people to view certain books on Amazon and also viewing your book – that will improve your “also viewed” and also “boughts.” So pick bestselling books in your genre, that are very similar to yours. Write posts about them. Get people to click over to Amazon and check them out, and also check out your books. When you tell the authors about your reviews or articles, and they share with their audience, a lot of those people might click on the book you reviewed, and also click the book you link to in your bio. That will improve your visibility on Amazon – so be selective about what books you want to appear next to!
What to do after you post content or reviews
You can share your content on your sites or social media platforms. If you interviewed an author or reviewed their book, tell them about it, or tag them. If you wrote something really awesome, see if any other Facebook groups for your genre or topic will share them.
I’ll also choose the best/most interesting articles to share on my Facebook pages, and every month I’ll probably email a few to my list of YA readers for more traffic.
A sneaky way to boost your Amazon page rank
One of the main reasons to post content on other people’s sites, is because Google depends on outside links to your site to decide how valuable your content is. But you can’t link to yourself. You can, and should, link to yourself from this website, to boost your rankings. You’ll already have some links in your bio, but you should focus on a handful of very specific keywords you want your website, and each book, to rank for.
You don’t really want to sneak in a reference to your own book in every post or review, but you can highlight a phrase and link it. For example, if I’m reviewing a bunch of mermaid romance books, I can link the text to that article I wrote on my other blog. That will boost the SEO of that article.
And I can also do it for my book’s Amazon page. Don’t be too general, like “YA paranormal romance” – there is too much competition. But “YA mermaid romance” is a little less competitive.
You want to grab the link from your Amazon page, ending after the ASIN, like this:
You don’t have to put it in everything you write, but if it makes sense to link to something on your site, or mention your book, do it. And if you want to sneak a link into a keyword phrase, that’s fine too – just don’t overdo it. Once per article is enough. (The links on this page are very subtle, readers won’t notice them, but they’ll still help SEO).
Very few authors are doing this – linking keyword anchors to boost their Amazon page in Google search results – so it gives you an edge.
Because TheYAShelf.com is a community site, it will grow much faster than a normal book review site and everything posted their will rank well and get more traffic.
You can help this process by:
A) Sharing the posts you write on Off the Shelf with your platform.
B) Finding other great reviews or posts on Off the Shelf and sharing them.
C) Adding the following graphic to your sidebar.
More people linking to The YA Shelf = stronger search rankings = all your content ranks higher = the links from Off the Shelf to your own website are more powerful, boosting your own SEO and traffic.
PS) Right now I’ve connected things with my other site, Urban Epics – and have a YA mailing list set up through that site as well as a Facebook page. I’ll probably switch things so the YA Shelf has its own platform/list/Facebook page later. Feel free to email me or chat on the YA alliance Facebook group with ideas on how to make this site better.