The Three Stages of Book Blogging
First up, I’ve got a glass of wine in my hand, so know that I’m being BRUTALLY HONEST!!
Second up, I get NO financial kickback for my thoughts and opinions on blogging. I’m no longer affiliated or advertise on my blog. This, I admit, is to my parent’s horror. They think my words are brilliant, magical and worth billions of dollars.
I think anyone who has followed me in the book blogging world would have noticed a slight change in my approach and maybe even in my review style. This, I think, is a result of being disheartened, disillusioned and disgusted by what’s going on in reviewing. My approach now is more about reading what I want to read and an author proving they have the skills to keep me entertained.
My first step to disilluionment…or maybe it was the 50 millionth step, was people making money from selling my details they took from Amazon. For a long time, I was happy to receive review requests and I studied and analysed every request on their own merit. When I started to see the same review request over and over and over again, I started thinking things were smelling a little fishy.
If you’re a legit author asking for a review, don’t tell me that you saw my review on Amazon for so and so. I will automatically delete, or if I’m in a bad mood (after the 20th similar request) I may spam it.
Anyways…back to the real point of this post.
I think there are 3 stages to book blogging.
Stage 1 – Bust a Gut!!
I like to think of this step as I see the light. You’ve found Goodreads, you may or may not have found a group or two of like-minded readers and you’re feeling euphoric. People finally GET YOU!! They LIKE YOU!! They AGREE WITH YOU!! That’s a bloody good feeling.
Well, if my Goodreads buddy’s like me, the whole world will like me and what I have to say.
So, you start to review more, you share your opinion, you start checking out other reviews, you talk, you get BUSY. Wow, I’m feeling a confidence I NEVER FELT BEFORE!!
I CAN TAKE ON THE WORLD!!!
The confidence kicks in, you get all cocky and you decide you need a new and BIGGER platform to share your MAD SKILLS. Bring in the BLOG!! Sign me up to SOCIAL MEDIA!! Bring on the REVIEW REQUESTS!!
I WANT IT ALL!!
UNTIL I DON’T…
Wow, this is harder than I thought it would be. I have to work for it? My bank balance will take the hit? I have to want it so bad, that I’ll lie, beg and steal for it (slight exaggeration, no lying or stealing occurred but there was plenty of begging)?
But, I struggled on. There had to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Why else would I be busting a gut? Am I aiming for celebrity status? Am I going to be “FOUND”?
Stage 2 – I’m not cool enough
Not too long ago, I reached stage 2 and things changed for me quite drastically. I was sick to death of feeling like I was being taken advantage of. Promo companies started to TELL ME to post cover reveals and excerpts. I was informed that I was declined because I wasn’t BIG enough. Authors no longer had the power to approve ARC distribution, publishers had control. I was no longer special, I hadn’t done enough. If I’d only followed the crowd…MAYBE, I’d be cool enough.
WELL, BUGGER OFF!!!
I found this stage quite depressing. Every decline by a publisher or promo company fell like a stab to the heart. I had reviewed my little heart out. I felt like I had done my fair share of “sharing the love” for authors. Noone seemed to care that I’d stayed up until midnight to allow for time differences to make sure my post “hit” at the right time.
The ARC’s that I had so desperately wanted at Stage 1, seemed to be attached to lead weights. I was sinking to get ahead. They were asking me to go beyond my boundaries…
Promo companies and publishers should NOT be adding stipulations to ARC’s. Negative reviews serve a purpose. Buying a book after reading an ARC should be the choice of the REVIEWER!!! It still comes down to an author DESERVING A SALE!! I am not going to buy a book because I reviewed it. An ARC will not influence me to buy a book. I am not going to buy a book because I’m TOLD TO!!
So, maybe I’m not cool enough, but at least I’m honest and don’t bow down to pressure.
Stage 3 – Reading for my pleasure
To be honest, reviewing should have always been for MY pleasure. I am now at stage 3 and I have a smile on my face…most of the time. Sure, I still get the review requests quoting my reviews on Amazon for so and so, but I know that’s an author trying to get ahead. Maybe this will work for them but I can’t imagine they’re going to make it big time on this approach alone. I know, it’s HARD!! It takes perseverance, hard work and an EDITOR!! I can’t believe in this day and age of capable editors and proofreaders, Grammarly and Beta Readers, that we are still receiving emails, posts and BOOKS with spelling and grammar mistakes.
Stage 3 has made me take a good hard look at what I want from reviewing. Is it bad that I feel freer having an opinion on a book bought instead of given? Or, maybe, it’s an indication of my true enjoyment that I bought the book I was given – OR – reviewed the book I bought?
In the end…
I think the book blogging world has taken a turn. A lot of bloggers are disillusioned. When “bloggers” are receiving ARC’s and it’s then found out that the “blogger” downloads books from pirating sites AND SHARES, it’s bad. If “bloggers” are PAYING for likes to get their stats up to get ARC’s, it’s bad. When promo companies ARE TELLING bloggers that they HAVE TO buy the book after receiving the ARC, it’s bad.
WE ARE DOING THIS FOR FREE!!
WE ARE DOING THIS FOR OUR LOVE OF READING!!
WE ARE DOING THIS FOR OUR PLEASURE!!
Sure, I’d love to be paid for my good opinion (wink, wink) but in the end, a good review from me is based on HOW I FEEL at the end of the read. NOT because I got it for free. If an author is my friend, it does NOT change my review. I’m NOT following the leader and clapping my hands.
An author has to earn my 3, 4 or 5-star rating. I don’t feel obligated to love a book. If it’s not working for me, I’ll either scrap it from my pile or give my reasons straight and to the point.
This is what reviewing should feel like…
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green,