Book Blogging: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Hello readers!

Today I’m writing about something that has been on my mind a lot lately. Book blogging is a unique experience for each one, but there are some things about it that are quite universal, and I wanted to know what you think about it. I intend of keep blogging for as long as it’s feasible and enjoyable, but I have changed my approached to book blogging a few times, and I’m right now also in the process of trying to change my reading, my TBR and my posting schedule.

The Good

You discover SO MANY great books

I have no idea how many books I’ve only read the past few years because of blogging. My source of inspiration before used to be mostly lists that came out on Buzzfeed or Washington Post or that were Booker winners, but now I get to read many, many unique books I wouldn’t have found otherwise! It’s surely one of my favorite things about it. At some points I even ran out of books I wanted to read, which NOW is never an issue (quite the opposite).

ARCs

Being approved for an ARC is still one of the best feelings and it never gets old. It’s so great to receive a copy of a book you’re really excited about, and it saves a bit of money too, considering how many books a blogger reads per year.

Meeting new people

I’ve met so many people who love reading as much as I do, who love hyping books in a way that I love doing in real life and never quite knew anyone like that. It’s so nice to find people similar to you in that aspect, and see where your opinions on the same books differ or when you love the same ones! Also, buddy reading is so much fun and not something I could do before so easily.

Interacting with authors

Since you’re always talking and promoting books, you get to actually talk to authors a lot more! And you become less shy about approaching them on Twitter or so to say you loved their book – sometimes you might even interview them!

You can talk about books endlessly

In real life, I have to pretend there are other things I like talking about, but in my blog, I can talk however long I want about books!

The Bad

It’s time-consuming

Blogging is definitely time-consuming, I think whichever topic you choose to blog about will be a lot of work, but book blogging has the additional time you spend reading, and most bloggers I know will read 50+ books per year (some even 200 books or more), and that is TIME. If you post 1 review per week, that’s still several hours just reading the book, and if you’re investing time also with images for your blog brand and aesthetic, then getting people to READ those posts by talking about it on Twitter and Pinterest… phew. Each blog post takes a lot of work. And if you don’t post regularly, you lose viewers pretty quickly.

There’s so many book blogs out there already

It can feel discouraging to start a blog when you realize there are millions of blogs out there, many of them prettier and better-written than yours, or with access to books you can only dream of, and people going to conventions and you’re like… just there with your books everyone seems to have read and have well-thought reviews out already. It’s hard to feel like it’s worth having a blog at all. Honestly, I don’t care much about this (I’m not aiming for profit or anything), which makes the stakes for “standing out” much lower. But if you’re hoping to make money out of blogging, or you simply want to gain followers and become some sort of influencer, it’s pretty tough.

It’s so easy to worry about your stats

Stats are important insofar that they help you get ARCs more easily – it’s pretty simple, the more followers & interaction you have, the more publishers want to work with you to advertise their books. So getting worried about your stats and spending lots of time trying to improve them is really easy, and it’s exhausting. I’ve seen a few bloggers who spent LOTS of time and energy getting new followers and holding giveaways and so on, and then getting burnout from blogging after a couple months. It’s of course great to get lots of traffic for a post you spent so much time on, but I do hate actually worrying about it.

You never have time to read all the books

There’s just no time. I’ve been with around 200 books on my TBR for a couple years now and, no matter how much I read, the number never really seems to go down. And 200 is a very LOW number comparing to most bloggers I know. I truly miss going to the bookstore, picking up some books and immediately getting to them because there is no pressure to read anything else.

And because you’re worried also about your stats, you try to get first to the books you got as ARCs or have just recently come out, books that are really hyped. Which means you never really get to your backlisted books, or rereading favorites. And reading a thick book gives some people low-key anxiety (you could have read two 300-page books instead of that one 600-page monster!)

The Ugly

If you’re an international blogger, it’s a lot more expensive to blog, and harder, too

It’s pretty hard to get physical ARCs as an international blogger, so that’s pretty much out of the picture. As for eARCs, even with resources like Netgalley and Edelweiss, the selection is not that large of what you CAN get. So in the end, if you’re not from the US, you’ll have to buy most books you read. If you want to get new releases, you’ll probably pay full price (maybe even a hard cover full price), you have to wait until it comes out in your country or get it as an ebook in English. So that’s a lot of money added just for living outside of the US or UK.

If your first language is not English and you decide to blog in your native tongue, you’ll get only a tiny fraction of the readers. I choose to blog in English, but it still gets me nervous to write about BOOKS in a language I don’t speak as a native. The worry of sounding stupid while saying you disliked or liked a book is sure to cause some anxiety. Thankfully, the community is really kind in that aspect!

The books you hear about are mostly US, UK and other English-language countries

Unless you make an actual effort to look for books from other countries, in other languages (say, from my own country for example), you simply don’t hear about them at all. And if you do, sometimes you are too busy already with the books you already own to go out and look for books in other languages (which don’t get nearly as much hype and then you probably forget about them). I wish I read more Brazilian books – and hopefully this year I get to read more of them!

You won’t get that many followers, probably

I think blogging was a more popular thing some years ago, and now it’s a bit out of fashion (most people watch videos, anyway). And even when people read blogs, it’s probably a travel or cooking blog, or maybe a fashion blog, and really rarely a book blog. Meaning, outside of the book blogging community, you probably won’t get any other readers. To get more “outsider” readers, you have to spend lots of time promoting your blog and some of us just really don’t have the time or skill to do it. I’ve read many times since I created a blog that you should have not only the blog, but also a Goodreads account, Bookstagram, a bookish Twitter, and a Pinterest account to promote your blog. No, thanks, I have no patient or time for that.

Authors can attack you for your negative reviews

It’s not as rare as it should be, although I’ve never personally experienced this myself. At least one extreme case involved an author stalking a reviewer and scaring her out of social media and blogging. It’s definitely not a completely widespread problem just yet, but it seems to me that more and more cases show up. It’s no wonder some reviewers choose to only post positive reviews.

It can be very elitist… to say the least

If you have a Bookstagram or Booktube, this will be more evident. The posts/videos that get lots of views will be the ones taken with expensive cameras or expensive phones, with gorgeous hard covers and lots of props. Also recent releases is basically the only thing that gets views (except for Harry Potter, I suppose), which means if you don’t receive lots of ARCs (or you only get eARCs), you’ll be spending lots of money or not getting so many views. I think for book blogging this does not show so glaringly. Those platforms also have a LOT of racism and fat-shaming, especially Booktube.

So why do I continue blogging?

The truth is, I love book blogging, I am lucky enough to have the time and means to do it as a hobby. I find that it improves my mental health, too – I like having a structured hobby to dedicate myself to, something low stakes that still makes me feel accomplished without much pressure. It helps keep some of my anxiety at bay.

You can definitely go all-in and dedicate lots of time to promoting your blog, posting 3-5 times per week (I think some people post basically every day??), reading 200+ books, get a bookish subscription box, go to bookish conventions etc. but you don’t have to. My objective is to make this a more lowkey hobby than it is now, to minimize costs of new books and also the time I spend blogging and would rather dedicate to other things, especially other hobbies. I’ve already closed my Instagram account and cancelled Amazon Unlimited and Scribd, too. I’m also moving away from YA, which is THE book content to have if you want views, but I just don’t want to read it so much anymore.

I continue book blogging because I love it and because it’s not that much pressure for me. The people I meet through blogging, and the fact that I get to write a lot (I love writing), the excitement of seeing people read your reviews, those things are all really fun for me, and I will probably continue blogging for a long time.

29 thoughts on “Book Blogging: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

  1. I love this! Thanks for keeping it real about book blogging. My first exposure to book social media was through bookstagram, and omg I’m with you 100% about the elitism – and a lot of the time, the accounts with the most followers aren’t actually genuine readers, they just post the prettiest pictures. While blogging definitely has its downsides like you said above, I find it to be a lot more authentic.

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    • Thank you, Mel! I had a bookstagram for a few months, but got so bored with it – it’s so much WORK and like you said, it’s not always people who actually read the books who have the most popular accounts, which is a bit discouraging. I agree that blogging is more authentic – I still follow a few Bookstagram accounts, but I don’t think I ever bought a book because of them! From blogger recommendations, though, I buy books all the time.

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      • I totally fell to “peer” pressure a few times and bought some Bookstagram favs since they were ALL OVER my feed – books like Circe, Three Women, American Royals, Educated, etc. Some of them were actually good, but for the most part they were pretty overhyped and I was super disappointed! I think bloggers have more diverse reading interests, whereas bookstagram tends to all read the same books since they see everyone else reading them. But yeah, I love blogger recs way more.

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        • Yes, me too (what did you think of Three Women, by the way?). I’m under the same impression, Mel – Bookstagram reads the same few overhyped books and summarizes them in such a reductive way (for ex., Circe being talked about as a Feminist Greek Retelling with a Witch, which is true, but misses out on a lot of the nuance of the story).

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          • I can’t agree with you more about how bookstagram reduces things down to just a tagline. Three Women was extremely underwhelming for me. Maybe my expectations were too high going in, but one critic even called it “the new feminist classic” so I was really hopeful! My main issue with it is how Taddeo didn’t seem to do ANY analysis/opinion writing of her own…the entire book is literally just writing down the words of these three women, and how is that progressive/revolutionary in any way? For someone who spent almost a decade following these women, I just expected a lot more. How did you like it?

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          • Phew, I was considering picking up Three Women, but what you said mirrors a lot what other people have also said about the book, that it’s in no way a very innovative book at all, or all that thoughtful. I wonder how some people read it and had a completely different experience, I mean – someone must have thought “oh this is THE new feminist classic” and a lot of people seemed to agree?

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  2. Naty, you are killing it with these amazing bookish topic discussion posts! This is great, and I agree with pretty much all of your points! I say that as a book blogger who does read around 200 books a year, and posts pretty close to every single day. I post like 4 reviews or so a week.

    It has especially become a time suck since I stepped up my game and started writing posts that had more content in them. So instead of my post word count average being around 650, it’s now around 900. That takes a lot of time and effort. Plus, like you said, there’s the time spent reading, and then add in Bookstagram, and Book Twitter, and for a majority of us there’s also the full-time job or school, plus other social obligations. It’s a lot to deal with.

    But honestly, I LOVE having my blog and sharing my thoughts with others in the bookish community. I’m so glad to have a space where I can talk about books and TV shows and movies and manga and all the geeky stuff I enjoy, and to have other people who understand those passions. So I guess I should say thank you to lovely people like you, Naty, for being a part of this awesome book community with me. I’m glad to have “met” you, and that wouldn’t have happened if we both didn’t start book blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Dani, that is SO kind and put a big smile on my face! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so impressive that you read 200 books per year and also 4 reviews per week!

      Yes, I often wish I’d put more content in my posts, more discussions and such, instead of some short reviews. But in the end it’s hard enough to keep a schedule for the posts every week, and when I come from work I don’t feel particularly creative… I guess that’s how most book bloggers feel! Like you said, every post is already so much work there is not much time or mental space to be very creative.

      I totally relate! As much as it’s a lot of work, I love blogging and the community is really great. And thank you for the lovely words – it’s SO nice to have met you (and other amazing people) and to having found people we can totally be our nerdy selves with!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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      • I’m glad I could help make you smile. For the past several years I was reading about 130 books a year, but somehow last year I read 231 books, so I feel like I need to put up a lot of reviews because I want to review them all, and I can’t bring myself to do three sentence mini-reviews. So I’m actually playing with the idea to post more than once a day so I can catch up on all the reviews I need to write and share.

        But I totally understand. I’m finishing up a 52 hour workweek right now, and I have no idea how I still managed to get all of my posts written up for the week. It’s a little bit easier on the weekends, usually, because I wake up a couple hours before my fiance, so I use that alone time to blog prep.

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        • Wow, 130 is already a really amazing number, 231 completely blows my mind. I think long reviews are nicer than short ones, so it’s really cool that you tend to write those – and I think your solution of posting more than one per day is a good idea!

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          • It’s a good idea in theory, lol. In reality it means a lot more time staring at my computer screen as I try to write out a coherent review at a decent length. So I’m trying to write about two-three posts a day right now and schedule them ahead as needed. Right now I’m pretty much a week ahead on scheduling posts on my blog. I think all the extra work will be worth it once I no longer have a giant review backlog.

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  3. Excellent post! I agree with all of your points. For me, blogging is a fun hobby that lets me talk about reading with other readers, which just makes me so happy. I’m definitely not in it to become an “influencer” (ugh, I hate that term) or for financial gain. Even with the best of intentions, it’s hard not to get too focused on stats, but I also know that I don’t have the time or interest to devote to social media promotion, etc. Your blog is great! I hope you keep at it a long, long time.

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  4. Thank you for acknowledging the fat phobia in video book reviewing. There was (maybe still is?) this meme on social media called Sock Sunday. Book reviewers take picture of their legs to show off whatever cute socks they’re wearing. Not only is it expensive to showcase new socks EVERY Sunday, but there’s also the pressure to have good looking legs to participate (every photo I’ve ever see was a young woman with bare legs, typically in short shorts). It really irked me to no end because the whole trend suggests good looking legs posted on the internet are more important than what a person thinks.

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  5. For every pro of book blogging there is certainly a con but I think if a blogger cares less about stats, followers etc and just does whatever they want to do because they want to do it, that it’s easier to balance it all – the good and bad.

    For what it’s worth, I’m in awe of the international bloggers (i.e not in the UK or US/CA). The fact that you not only speak a second language but can read books in it is astounding to me AND that you write such articulate blog posts in an entirely different language from your own… You all rock.

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    • I agree, Nicci! It’s much more enjoyable to post whatever you want whenever you want instead of following a bunch of rules of how you “should” do things to maximize followers and views.

      Thank you!! That is so sweet of you to say! โค

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  6. Pingback: The Sunday Snuggle: Weekly Wrap Up W4/2020 | Naty's Bookshelf

  7. This is a great post. I really appreciate the way you’ve laid it out here. I’m a very casual book blogger in that I do it for fun and try not to take myself too seriously. As someone who has always read a lot, I like talking about books with other people who also love books. But it’s also so easy to get caught up in the Next Big Thing or over-focusing on stats. And for what it’s worth, as a new reader, I had no clue that English is not your first language!

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    • Thank you, Karissa! I’m glad you do blogging casually, because trying to amount followers etc is terribly exhausting and no fun at all. Have you been blogging for long?

      Also thanks, it’s nice to hear that! ๐Ÿ˜€ I lived in the US for a year, which I think really helped.

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  8. Amazing post, Naty! I found myself nodding along with so much of it, the pros and cons and why I keep blogging anyway. I really need to try to make this a more lowkey hobby also, but have such fun participating and meeting people here that I can’t imagine quitting anytime soon. I’m so glad you’re planning to continue, it’s a joy reading your posts! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Emily! It is so tempting to join everything, all the readathons and keep up with new releases etc, which is why I have such difficulty making this a more low-key thing. I also don’t see myself quitting anytime soon! And I look forward to your future posts!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Amazing discussion! I completely agree with you on all the positives. But I also agree with you on how time consuming it is and how it’s easy to worry about it. I think there are some downsides, but I also agree that it’s really good for my mental health to have such a structured hobby.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! When I was actually quite depressed some years ago, it was hard to keep up with structured tasks, and blogging helped A LOT. I hope we both continue blogging for a long time! ๐Ÿ™‚

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