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.
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).
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!
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!)
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.