Monday, 13 April 2015

Beneath the Surface of Book Blogging

Something exciting is happening in the book blogging world, and I for one could not be happier about it.
When you start blogging you’re excited, you’re nervous, and you go looking for other book bloggers and boy are there a lot of fantastic ones out there. You stalk their blogs, their facebook pages, their twitter feeds, Instagram, digest emails – the whole shebang – and a terrifying feeling starts to sink in… ‘I’m not good enough.’

Because as a collective, bloggers are very good at making it seem like we are all up together through social media – invited to all the events, with book post and book hauls galore with hundreds of followers and comments,  and never suffering through reading slumps. And seeing that can be incredibly intimidating (to both new comers and old timers alike) and make us wonder why we’re doing this.

But now something seems to be happening and we’re beginning to talk about it – the insecurities, the stress, the reading slumps and pressures both from publishers and ourselves. And that is incredibly reassuring to know that you are not alone and we have all been there. Our rational brains may know these things, but we all still have those nagging doubts, and this is producing some wonderful posts as bloggers start to open up and talk about it.
Lucy at ‘Queen of Contemporary’ led the charge with a wonderful blog post about why she was stopping doing formal reviews. Kieran at 'Book Bitch Reviews' posted about the relief she felt on reading this and how she was stopping doing formal book reviews too.
Michelle at 'Fluttering Butterflies' did a fantastic post about the perils of Netgalley and how to try and crawl out of the hole you may or may not have gotten yourself into on their feedback rating.
Faye at 'Daydreamer’s Thoughts' posted about what she feels book blogging should be about and the frustrations about expectations that bloggers are placing on themselves. And Carly who runs 'Writing from the Tub' talked about how some publishers can sometimes forget that what we do when we book blog, we do for free. 

All of these are showing that there are pitfalls and darker sides to blogging. We all have insecurities and reading slumps. Days when we cannot make ourselves write any reviews, where the guilt crushes out any enjoyment we felt at blogging. It’s so wonderful that bloggers are starting to openly talk about it with others.

I burned myself out pushing to try and read and review all the books because I loved it. But when things started falling apart in real life, I couldn’t persuade myself to read anything, never mind to write reviews. I completely stopped everything on my blog, which had been a source of pride and fun and represented all the wonderful books and friends and stuff I’d achieved. And I felt guilty, I’d look at it, and look at the backlog of reviews I hadn’t managed to write and feel terrible. I stopped blogging for about a year and a half and somewhere in there I finally managed to take a step back. To stop feeling guilty and berating myself for everything I wasn’t doing. I gave myself some time and then slowly (very, very slowly) I started to review again. At first just the odd book, but gradually more and more. Until at the start of this year I was excited again. I wanted to read, I wanted to review, I wanted to share my thoughts.
I felt so embarrassed and guilty about my reading and blogging slump. I was reluctant to talk about it and I was terrified that I had lost something that I loved when I couldn't persuade myself to do it anymore. In actual fact, looking back that break was a wonderful thing. It gave me time to re-evaluate and fall in love with book blogging all over again and allowed me to come back and throw myself into it with even more enthusiasm.

What book bloggers do as a collective and as individuals, is extraordinary. We take on what is effectively another job on top of all the other jobs/children/families/life that we’re trying to juggle and we do it for free. We are sharing our love of books, we’re increasing sales of author’s books and providing free publicity, and we do it all because we love them.
This year has already provided some fantastic recognition of bloggers with the UK Young Adult Book Blogger Awards and UKYA Blogger Awards.
But with the awesome, it is also really important to acknowledge the harder parts.
Over the next few weeks I will be hosting some wonderful book bloggers who will be talking about their experiences, insecurities and ways to deal with reading and reviewing slumps. There will be posts from bloggers who are just starting to find their feet as well as some who have been around for years to share a wide range of wisdom, frustrations and experiences. Starting twice a week from this Friday, Nicole from YA Interrobang will be the first guest blogger so check back then!

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