Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Book Blogger's Confessional

There are a lot of secrets in book blogging. That sounds rather ominous and far more dramatic than reality, but it's true. With stats, there are hierarchies; with cliques, there are enemies; with unsolicited review copies happily received, there are unsolicited review copies that aren't. Often shown is simply the positive side of things - book blogging is great fun, after all - but there are negatives, too, as I once discussed in my post about why you shouldn't start a book blog (ooh, controversial.)

That blog post, however, was only my opinion. And one of the great things about book blogging is that there are so many opinionated people from all kinds of different backgrounds and with all kinds of different experiences. So a while ago I decided to set up an online form where bloggers could anonymously reveal anything that irks them about book blogging... and today we're going to hear from them.

Welcome to the Book Blogger's Confessional.

'I received a book to review, and then received an email two days later from the publisher asking if I'd had a chance to read it yet. Umm... blogging isn't the only thing going on in my life. And I take longer than two days to read a book. So... thank you, but... ?!'

'I think self published authors are underrated and don't get the recognition they deserve. Some bloggers refuse to read them because they don't have a publisher and I think that's awful.'

*coughs awkwardly*
'A publishing company keeps sending me unsolicited review copies and it's getting out of hand. I can't shift a lot of them because many are proofs, and I can't go back to them again and again saying "PLEASE STOP SENDING ME THESE!" I am so grateful to have the opportunity to review books, because it's something I envied in other bloggers before I did it myself, but when I've explicitly told them that I despised the first book in X series, and then they continue not only to send me more from that series, but similar books too, I lose the appreciation that I once had...'

SAME. I get that it would be difficult to keep track of people's likes and dislikes, but it can get very overwhelming very quickly...
'Smaller blogs are completely underrated by both bigger blogs, as well as by publishers. As a blogger on a smaller blog I don't receive review copies of books, which is kind of crappy. Us little guys can do just as good a review!'

I only read two bigger blogs these days; the rest are smaller and newer, and they're great.
'I don't like the sense of being left out I feel in the community nowadays. I've blogged for years and there feels like a sudden shift and I'm not part of the cool kids anymore and I haven't been told why. It's like school all over again. Is it because I don't this or that or a random reason someone has invented? The good side is that I don't really care that I seem to be offered less books and invites but I just wish I knew why I was picked as one the ones to boot off the list.'

R E L A T A B L E.
'I just don't get how there is any space for any more big book bloggers. I kind of feel like I came to late. :('

It's never too late! Just keep at it.
'I hate when people send you emails for 'opportunities' and they haven't even looked at your blog, let alone actually correctly named it! Also when I'll come home and there will be a parcel, don't get me wrong I am super grateful, but if it's something that I'm completely not interested in or is completely unrelated from my blog I won't do anything with it so it'd be much appreciated if you'd let me know first or ask me if I would like it!'

'where do I even start. I love book blogging, I really do - but it frustrates me how book bloggers are the underdog in the blogging world in terms of making a (semi?) career out of it. beauty bloggers and fashion bloggers and travel bloggers and parent bloggers are flown round the world and given opportunities book bloggers could only dream of. when anyone brings up their opinion on book bloggers being paid there is outrage and that isn't fair at all.
something I've also noticed are the 'cliques' - in general pretty much all book bloggers are really lovely and welcoming towards newer/other book bloggers but some seem less so - especially if a book blogger strays too much into their 'blogging territory' in terms of the main themes they post about, or if another blogger seems to be achieving more "success" than them. GET OVER IT - you don't own a certain 'subject' of book blogging, anyone can post about it - and if you're jealous of someone else's success then keep it to yourself, don't try and turn other people against them.'

PREACH. I've blogged about book bloggers getting paid a few times, and I always get a positive response... alongside some backlash. Ask yourself why you're so against other people doing what they want to do, something that doesn't negatively affect you or anyone else. *shrug*
'I've had my blog for almost 5 months and I haven't received any books to review :('

Keep going! 5 months is a very short amount of time. And not every book blogger receives books to review. Review your own for now, and hopefully you'll get noticed. Meanwhile, there's lots of other cool stuff you can do: Twitter chats (I recommend #teenbloggerschat...), making friends, entering giveaways, interacting and generally having fun.
'I feel super guilty at how many unread review copies I have that have already released, but there's school and life and I swear I'll get to them eventually.'

Same except I don't think I'll ever get to all of them hahahahahaha help.
'Sometimes I don't have the energy to read, or write about reading, but because I'm a book blogger I feel like I'm failing if I'm not able to manage those things. There's a pressure that comes with doing this, that you don't notice is there until you can't handle it anymore, and that pressure only increases when publishers come a-knockin'. They use bloggers for such a big part of their ad campaigns nowadays and even though the author interactions and ARCs are really great, sometimes it feels like we're doing their jobs for them, only we're not getting paid for it. It honestly really worries me the extent to which publishers are now exploiting bloggers, especially the younger ones.'

Book blogging looks easy from the outside, but like many hobbies and professions, there are hidden pressures and negative aspects that you'd have no idea about until you're doing it yourself.

There we have it: what book bloggers really think. Or, should I say, what some of them think. Thanks to whoever contributed (t'was anonymous so I can't thank you personally!) and let me know your answer to the big question below...

Are you surprised at these 'confessions' or did you find yourself nodding along in agreement?


  1. One thing I always tell new bloggers who are frowning about not getting ARCs is to go to Netgalley and review the "Read Now" titles while they are waiting to build up to getting the ones they request. I really feel that the blogger has a great deal of control over how much pressure they feel. I think the being harped on about a review comes from self pub authors and tiny oublishing houses mostly. That's why I have never had my blog opened up for review requests. I have never been asked where my review is by a larger publishing house. :)

  2. Love love love this post. I'm a new blogger and I do feel like no-one will ever want to read my blog - it's so nice to know I'm not alone in that feeling <3
    Megan @

    1. I feel the same way! There have been times I've thought "why am I doing this if no one is going to read it?!" ... but then I remember the reason why I started blogging in the first place and that's to add diversity to the types of books being shared and reviewed. Keep it at it but I definitely feel like the struggle for small/new bloggers is real!!

  3. Honestly, I'd have trouble naming more than one "big" blog at this point. I think there were more five years ago when my co-blogger and I first started blogging. Maybe I'm just out of the loop because blogger turnover is so high and it's hard to keep track of who's gone for good and who is new, but are there big blogs who look down on smaller ones? And are there cliques? I've noticed that people tend to comment in the same types of groups but I always assumed that people with similar tastes were attracted to similar blogs.

    I understand, however, why publishers don't give ARCs or review copies to blogs with small numbers. It's not that some people write bigger reviews, it's that that can expose the book to more people. The marketing department has limited funds to promote a book. If I had to sell an author, I'd give a review copy to someone who could reach 1500 people rather than a blogger who could reach 70. It's a business transaction where you get something because you are providing a service to the publisher. It's not meant to be a personal indictment about anyone's writing skills.

    The best thing to do if you want review copies is to start commenting around so you can get exposure and build your numbers. My blog started out small with essentially eight people reading it I would guess. It takes time to build a following, but it's not impossible. That being said, I don't have much interest in receiving review copies. I just go to the library to get free books and it works out great because then I don't have to read to a timeline. --Krysta @ Pages Unbound

  4. I honestly don't even know who the big book bloggers are, no matter how many times people refer to them, so if someone could fill me in, that would be great. :p I've been blogging for nearly six years now, and the "big" bloggers shift around as much as anyone else. So I might have known a couple big blogs three years ago, but they're not even active anymore. I have no idea who's big now.

    As for review copies, I think what we really need is an insider's look at a marketing department in a publisher. I get the feeling we're all sitting around feeling guilty about not reviewing books we didn't ask for, but I have the sneaking suspicion that the employees sending these things are perfectly aware that might happen. They must think it's worth sending the book and *maybe* someone will feature it on their blog, and that that is a better use of their time and publisher money than making a curated list for every blogger. I don't know, of course, but it would be great if we had more insight on this.

    As for getting paid, most book bloggers simply don't get the page views for it to be worth it. Not every beauty/travel/lifestyle bloggers get paid--just the biggest ones. Plenty of those bloggers are doing it just for fun, just like us. But if you're a big lifestyle blogger, you probably get 10X more traffic than a big book blogger. Why should someone play me to write a review that I might get 30 people to read?

    I'm actually all in favor of book bloggers getting paid, but we need to be worth it. If someone can spend their budget in limited ways, they're going to spend it on advertising that gets way more hits and visibility than most book blogs do.