Thoughts on Book Blogging
I am by no means an expert on the book blogging community. I only created my blog in July 2014 and I know that there are countless bloggers out there who have been in the community for many, many years. But, there have been many recent events that have added a bit of drama and controversy. I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the community in general and what I’ve learned from this community as a newbie. Most of this was based on Anna’s decision to leave the community and some of the amazing tweets she posted recently on her opinions and choice to leave blogging behind. I’ve been wanting to make a post with tips for newbie bloggers, from a newbie blogger, but this seemed like a good time to combine all of my thoughts and advice into one big ol’ discussion post.
On ARC-Envy and Pressure
There is no greater thing than free books, right? Of course. When I started up my blog I had NO idea that ARCs were possible. Book bloggers got free copies of books before they were released? I was in heaven! I knew this was the place for me. But, of course, there’s a catch. There are so many side effects from ARCs that you almost wonder if it’s worth it. I used to get very envious of other people’s ARCs because I wanted to feel needed and popular like that. ARC-envy is understandable for books you’re realllly itching to read, but otherwise it’s not healthy. Just because you don’t get ARCs doesn’t mean your blog isn’t good or people don’t value your opinions. Consider it a blessing: you have more time to focus on the books you REALLY want to read. No pressure. No deadlines. Just reading. After all, that’s the point. You don’t have to worry about getting some surprise ARCs in the mail that don’t interest you and you feel obligated to read. The pressure of having ARCs can overtake you. When I started scheduling my reading out, it made me not want to read. I was in a major reading slump because I was paying too much attention to deadlines and TBRs. If you enjoy reading, do everything in your power to keep it that way!
ARC tips for newbies:
- Only request ARCs of books you heard of (and started pining over) BEFORE browsing NetGalley and Edelweiss. That’s the only way you can be sure you really want the books for the right reasons. Sometimes browsing the sites can make you request books you may not ever want to read.
- Request ARCs by authors you’ve read before and loved their work. You’re more likely to want to read the ARC if it’s by an author you really enjoy or have read before. Sometimes it’s hard to get yourself hyped over an ARC if you have no body of work to base it on.
- Don’t stress about ARCs in general. Having less ARCs = having more time to read what you want, when you want to read it. Your highly anticipated book of the year will be released at some point. Just wait for it and hopefully it’ll be even sweeter then.
On Blog Tours and Marketing Posts
I’ll be honest – I’ve obviously had a few blog tour posts come up on my blog. When I see sign-ups for something like that, I jump at the chance because of the whole ARC thing I talked about above. (It’s an addiction I’m working on overcoming, okay?) There are so many blog tour posts I see by other bloggers where their post doesn’t even feature a review. As a past member of blog tours, I know that you can change your type of post after signing up if you don’t like the book. They don’t want you to make your post with a negative review, obviously, because that defeats the purpose. However – why would you even want to be a part of a tour for a book you didn’t like, regardless of the kind of post? Don’t market things you’re not 100% behind.
Publicity posts for newbies:
- Similar to my ARC-related tips above, only sign up for blog tours for authors or books you’ve already read and loved. No one wants to join an ARC tour and have to bail on the review segment at the last minute because you didn’t like the book. If you are a major supporter of the author and are excited about promoting their stuff, sign up! Otherwise, you should skip it.
- Remember this is your blog, not a marketing tool. Of course it’s nice to help publishers promote books that you’re a big fan of. Part of starting up a book blog is to share your opinions on books, bond with other readers, and (in turn) promote the authors/books you love.
They’re people too! Everyone has a right to an opinion. If we didn’t share negative reviews, there would be a lot less reviews out there in general. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with writing negative reviews! You can find quite a few on this site. One thing I try to think about, though, is how the author would feel if they read the review. I want to be honest and a little snarky, but I wouldn’t want to personally attack anyone. Beyond reviews themselves, the author-blogger controversies with Kathleen Hale (#HaleNo!) and Stacy Jay’s Kickstarter (still makes me sad) are major areas of contention. Bloggers exist to read, review, and share opinions. We’re not obligated to do anything if we don’t want to. I don’t know anyone who gets paid to do this. You’re welcome to support or not support any author you’d like. Threatening them and making them feel unsafe on the internet is just not fair, especially when they only asked for support. (The issue with Kathleen Hale is another story – she made another blogger feel unsafe and threatened, and that’s not okay.) The bottom line is that I think bloggers should definitely be conscious of what they post and who it would affect… especially on issues that aren’t even about the books themselves.
Author-related tips for newbies:
- Do tweet positive reviews to authors. More than likely they’ll love to see your kind words! Think about the warmth and encouragement you’d feel if someone publicly shared a positive opinion about you. Sending authors tweets with links to your reviews could make their day. On the other hand…
- Do not tweet negative reviews to authors. That’s just not fair. Authors in general are cautioned not to read a lot of reviews of their books because it could make them sad or angry or discouraged. You never know what you’re going to get when you put your work out there for the public domain. Do not draw an author’s attention to your negative review. Remember that they’re people too.
- Follow your favorites on Twitter. I tell you, there’s nothing I get more of a kick out of than watching some of my favorite authors talk to each other on Twitter. I love reading about them. They’re like celebrities in our community and it’s lovely to see them be real. Some of my favorites on Twitter are Emery Lord, Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han, and Morgan Matson. Love their books and love their tweets!
I love me a good giveaway. Free books, heck yeah! I wish I could host more of them. For real. I do enter giveaways when I see ones I’d like, but I used to have a major issue before. I would enter any and all giveaways just because FREE BOOKS. I’ve had to cut back. If I see a Twitter giveaway, I am always tempted to just do a little retweet and enter… regardless of the books in the giveaway. I’ve recently been limiting myself and only entering when I genuinely care about the books in the photo. The reason is because I don’t want to be greedy. Why should I take away the chance for someone else to win them – someone who really wants them? Especially if that person may not have the means to buy them themselves. I’m fortunate that I usually can purchase the books I really want. Why rob someone of their chance to win and just be greedy?
Avoiding greediness tips for newbies:
- Um, don’t be greedy. I guess this one is self-explanatory. If you don’t care about the books in the giveaway, don’t enter it. Simple as that. Give someone else the opportunity to win – someone who really wants them.
- Spread the word about friends’ giveaways. Retweet the giveaway post and then tweet to your friend to let them know you’re just spreading the word. They’ll appreciate the help and will maybe help you in the future with a giveaway.
On the whole point of this blogging thing
I alluded to this in my first point, but you need to remind yourself WHY you started blogging. Before you made your blog, were you even aware that you could get advanced copies of books for free? Probably not. So don’t make that your focus! Remember that you started your blog because you loved reading. You wanted a place to share your opinions. You wanted to meet other people who love books. You wanted book recommendations and to read other peoples’ thoughts. There’s no wrong or right way to do it. REALLY.
BE HAPPY. SHARE FUN THINGS. TALK BOOKS FOREVER.