Book Blogging is a wonderful adventure, but it does not come without its downsides. And I’ve been meaning to write an unfiltered post about book blogging pressures I and many (if not all) of you have felt at least once along the way. But I never knew how exactly I wanted to approach it and just siting all the ways in which book blogging stresses me out sometimes just didn’t feel quite right for how I envisioned this post unfolding, especially since it’s something quite a few awesome bloggers have talked about before. Then a few days ago, it dawned on me, while struggling with all these things, I also picked up some ways so battle them or at least make them easier to handle so why not rant about them AND share the tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Full disclosure, in summer 2018 I had the worst blogging burn out ever and even considered quitting. My content showed it, my interactions showed it and even my stats showed it (a…lot). A lot of it was because of my mental health also being at its worst but a some of it was because I put so much pressure on myself that I ended up hating everything I was doing and feeling discouraged. And here’s the thing, most of that pressure comes from us, HANG ON, DON’T HUFF AND CLOSE THIS TAB!!! I mean yes, it all has to do with the community as a whole but it also has to do with the way we interact with the community and let it affect us. And I will try to break down all the ways in which that happens and how I helped ease some of that pressure for myself.
I’m obviously no professional and I’m struggling as much as everyone else but since late 2018 and blogging being a factor in my worst mental health relapse, I put some things into perspective and my experience has been MUCH better for it. So, without further ado, here goes everything:
This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot since my friend cw @ The Quiet Pond brought it up on twitter. The book community is SO FAST PACED and keeping up sometimes can feel like an impossible feat and that alone is a crushing and anxiety inducing fact. Everyone seems to be reading a new book every day, reading ALL THE BOOKS at the same time, writing all the posts, commenting on all the blogs and just doing all the things at once. And then there’s you who’ve been reading the same book for a week or more, who can only dedicate a very limited amount of time to blogging so you feel like you’re falling behind while everyone else is moving on without you. And let me tell you: That’s a lie. Everyone feels the same way. We all have real life engagements that keep us from being on top of things and that’s okay.
Like I said above, I burned out last year and fell off the wagon for a while, didn’t read, didn’t blog, didn’t comment and just didn’t touch anything remotely literary for a solid month, and did it all very slowly for a couple more months. And guess what? THE WORLD DIDN’T GO UP IN FLAMES!!! Which was a wake-up call for me and an immense stress relief, because just as I was ready to be back in the swing of things, the community was still there, the books were still there and new posts were STILL being posted. So what if I missed a few things? So what if I can’t read every single book and every single post? So what if I have to fall behind a little? As long as you do your best and go at your own pace, then it’s good enough.
Boy oh boy, if this isn’t every book blogger’s worst enemy. Stats can either be the most encouraging OR most discouraging thing for us and that’s okay to admit. When ours stats are doing good, it gives us a boost of motivation to put out even more content for people to interact with but if they’re not as satisfactory…well, that’s no great. And I’m the first to admit that I’m guilty of letting my stats get to me more that I should.
When my stats weren’t great, when I was barely getting any engagement on my posts, when I felt like I was pouring my heart and soul into my content and releasing it into the void. I thought that maybe my content wasn’t good enough? Since obviously people didn’t care about it. But truth is a lot of people feel the exact same way. Most book bloggers share the same insecurities and a lot of the elements that factor into stats can be quite arbitrary, I know more than a few bloggers with amazing content who don’t get the kind of engagement they deserve.
On an individual level, reduce the time you spend looking at your stats. I used to OBSESS over my stats, check them every couple hours or so and beat myself up when they didn’t go high enough, so cutting back on that was HARD. But I did it, now I sometimes forget to check them out at all during the day. Most times now, I only check them out at the end of the day on a posting day but I sometimes forget even that. If you don’t give your stats power over you, they’ll cease to affect you quite as much. Do I still get bummed out when my stats don’t go as high as I hoped on a post I was expecting to do well? Yes. But I don’t let that discourage me anymore. I just focus on the posts to come, the potential those have and how to make them the best the can be.
Of course stats still matter to me, but I tend to look at the positive and sometimes even look for ways to improve them, because at the end of the day, they’re the most concrete proof of growth *shrugs*.
On a community level, we COLLECTIVELY need to be more transparent about our stats. It’s almost seen as a taboo to talk numbers because “we’re not supposed to care” but fact is we DO care and the less we talk about these things, the more the stigma and insecurities around them will grow. There are people who get 500 monthly views, there are some who get 5.000 or 20.000 but from what I’ve seen A LOT of people think that most fall in the latter when in my experience there are more who fall into the former, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong about that.
I tend to share my stats in my yearly wrap-ups but I’m thinking of dedicating a post to this because maybe y’all overestimate my numbers haha. I could also include my tips on how I almost doubled my number of views between December 2018 and January 2019 and how I maintained that growth if that’s something you’re interested in seeing.
This section alone turned into a whole post, oops.
Can we all agree that we need a year with zero (0) new books so we could catch up on all the ones that are already released? Yes? Yes. THERE ARE JUST SO MANY BOOKS COMING OUT ALL THE TIMES AND I NEED TO READ THEM ALL. And I feel this on a visceral level this year especially, everywhere I look is a book I desperately want to read and yet other just keep on popping up and I feel like I need a lifetime to read the books that released in the last couple of years alone AND CAN YOU TELL HOW STRESSED THIS MAKES ME? But seriously, too many wonderful books to read them, too little time to read them. But also too little funds, I don’t have the money to sustain my thirst for these books y’all. Send help.
A TIME TURNER!!!!!
No but seriously there’s sadly no fix for this particular issue other than to make peace with the fact that it’s literally impossible to read all the books. Mkay? Mkay. I know we can easily get carried away by the hype surrounding new releases and the semblance of urgency that comes with their imminent release date, we all feel that “OMG IT’S RELEASED, MUST READ NOW!!!!” but just remember that:
- Not all books are for you and you should sort through the releases and prioritize the ones that sound up your alley.
- New releases don’t have an expiration date, you can get to them whenever you have time/money to get to them. I promise they won’t lose any of their initial magic if you read them a few months or even years after release.
Lolol do you think that because I talked about new releases, I’ll forget about backlist books? I can’t. THEY HAUNT ME. Especially those glaring at me from my shelves, waiting to be read. And I know most of us bloggers are guilty with getting so caught up with the aforementioned new releases that we forgot about the as excellent books whose only fault is to be released a few years back so they got relegated to the background. This is also something else that I could have included in the fast pace portion, because at the pace in which books come out, older ones can quickly be forgotten and that’s just the sad truth that we’re sometimes all guilty of enforcing as well. There’s nothing wrong with it, we read what we want to read, but those books deserve love as well.
I won’t tell you what to do, if you’re not interest in backlist books, by all means, don’t read them, read whatever strikes your fancy! But if you’re like me and are interest in MANY backlist books, I am here to share a couple ways in which I managed to raise my older to newer books ratio:
- You can alternate in your TBR between older and newer books so half the books you end up reading in the year are older releases.
- Alternatively, if you don’t want to read that many older releases, you can make the conscious effort to put one or two backlist books on your monthly TBR, depending on how much you read in a month.
- Audiobooks. And this is the one that’s helped me the most. Since I got into them, I’ve been mostly using them to read backlist books that I don’t necessarily want to review but still want to read. That way I’m still enjoying the stories without taking physical reading time away from the books I need/want to review.
- Read different formats. If you are able to read multiple books at a time, once in each format, you can make one of those a backlist book.
Okay. We all feel this. This is a community that relies heavily on Arcs (Advanced Readers Copies) whether we want to admit it or not, and if you’re someone who doesn’t read them either because of a conscious decision or because you don’t get them, it’s inevitable that you’ll sometimes feel excluded, irrelevant, like you’re in front of an exclusive club, on the outside looking it and it sometimes can get discouraging too.
I feel this especially hard as an international blogger because through no choice of mine, I can’t get most Arcs. My only fault is that I’m located in a country that considered pretty much irrelevant in the publishing industry (I’m lucky if people knows where Morocco is located, or even that it exists tbh). Physical Arcs are a miracle, and digital Arcs are an almost impossible feat because Netgalley restricts my requesting privileges now and Edelweiss is a huge mystery. So I’m talking from a place of knowing when I say that this can be a bummer.
There’s also the other side of the coin, when you keep getting Arcs and getting them (2019 me can’t relate but 2016 me…Boi oh boi) and then you get approved for all of them and you stare into the void while you’re internally, in a wave of panic, screaming “HOW AM I GOING TO REVIEW THEM ALL IN TIME” and…yeah. Pressure. This is the definition of it. Self inflicted at that.
For the first part, well… honestly, I don’t know. It still gets to me sometimes that I don’t have access to Arcs like other bloggers do. Especially those that I am an ownvoices reviewer for. But mostly, I focus on the books I *do* have access to and I’m grateful and for those opportunities, no matter how far and few they are, because I *still* am able to receive Arcs. Mostly, like I did with stats, I removed the power they had over me by focusing on the positives, the Arcs I get to read and take it as an opportunity to trash my owned TBR.
For the second part, what I’ve learned shortly before Arcs got restricted by location, is to request only the ones I’m TRULY interested in. I know that in the midst of all the excitement and with all the available options on Netgalley and/or Edelweiss we can get carried away and end up requesting 20 books when if we stop to think about it a bit, we’re only truly interested in half, if even that. When requesting, I read each and every synopsis, stopped and asked myself “does this book really sound like something I’d enjoy?” If the answer was no I moved on and I found that a lot of the books I requested were hype driven and not interest driven. Plus, if you get rejected for most the books you were VERY interested in, you can always go back and request those that are lower on your priority list.
Last but not least, is this expectation we have of ourselves and that we think others have of us to be this perfect image of a blogger, to do the most of everything, have a bright personality but not too bright, to be smart and witty but still light and funny, to have entertaining, unique and creative content, to stay on top of things, to interact with everyone, to, to, to….AND ENOUGH. This is a huge myth that we all conscribe to for ourselves but that we actually do not expect of anyone else.
At one point, I lost my way as a blogger, I lost my voice, and whenever I wanted to post something my first question wasn’t whether or not it was something I was passionate about or genuinely wanted to talk about, it was “Is this something that would get me views? Is this something others are interested in?” and that’s sad. I tried too hard to be funny (especially when I was actually depressed) and when I go back and read my posts, it feels disingenuous because I can remember my mental state and how much everything I wrote didn’t match up. I also don’t like anything I posted back then, I mean, objectively, the posts are fine, they’re decent but the didn’t come from a place of enjoyment, I just wrote them because I felt like I had to.
There’s no simpler way to combat this than to realize it’s a myth. This perfection we all strive for isn’t real. Truth is as long as you put out content you’re genuinely interested in, in your own voice, no matter what that voice is (funny, serious, sunshiny, cynical, etc…) you’ll find your audience and people will be interested in what you have to say because they know it comes from a place of passion that shines through your writing. It’s as simple as that. And it’s quite freeing to be honest. Once I shrugged off this fictional pressure, I felt a lot less constricted in my blogging.
My posts are sometimes sad, they’re sometimes happy, they’re sometimes super serious and sometimes fun or sarcastic. Because that’s who I am as a person and I am proud to let that show through my blog. I’m not perfect but that’s okay, I still try my best. I don’t want to hide my mental state anymore, so whatever I am feeling shows through my posts and people like them all the same and show immense support. And that’s something I’m forever grateful for.
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That’s it until next time.
What are some of *your* blogging pressures? And how do you fight them?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.