Recently there as been a sort of "blogging revolution". It first started (that I know of anyway) with Becky at The Bookette. Although I do not follow or regularly read her blog, Becky's post was brought to my attention by In Which A Girl Read, a blog I recently started following a fews days ago because her very interesting post about YA romance. There was also The Book Owl (who I follow and check regularly) and Staysi at Lost in Ink who I featured on my blog [see post] many months back when she first started. After reading everybody's opinions and distresses I decided to add my two cents as well.
Newbies, Books, and Competitions?
When I first started book blogging a year and one month ago, I had no idea that there was a "blog-o-sphere" of countless other people who had the same idea as I did: write book reviews to express their passion for writing and/or YA books. I also wasn't aware of the complicatedness that surrounded these book blogs. Here I was, an extreme newbie–heck I didn't even know how to change a blog background (that really bothered me by the way)–and I only thought blogs were just for recording reviews, not gaining publicity enough to where publishers were contacting you and giving you free (advanced) books to review.....
Another reason why I started blogging was to maybe "meet" some other teens who were like me. I did, but that didn't necessarily mean they were like me. Oh, sure they read, they reviewed, they raved, but they acted more like reading machines than humans. After abandoning the hope of finding a few bloggers who had similar opinions or notions about their love of books, I was even more determined to be "different". As months went by nothing on my blog changed. No new followers, no comments, no reader activity–it was kind of depressing. Then I requested a few of my first ARCs and posted about them on "IMM". Boom. All of a sudden people and other bloggers started responding. Is that what it took to get people to notice my blog? To get these shiny new books that have yet to touch the shelves? I love finding and learning about new books, but I was sort of put down by the competitive vibe other bloggers were sending about receiving advanced copies. Even the other bloggers who started their blogs about the same time started getting wrapped up in following the same old routine of posting about their ARCs or raving about books that aren't always "rave worthy" DO NOT get me wrong, ARC are just about the best thing publishers have done for the book industry. Without them, the word wouldn't get spread about new or upcoming reads.
The popular blogs (you know who I mean) are also big intimidators to new bloggers whether they are aware of this or not. With exception of a few exceedingly friendly bloggers who've been around for awhile, the blogging community is not what I'd always say as extremely "friendly". When I first started BLT, only a handful of people actually "greeted" me, so as a result I try to find out about new bloggers and leave comments welcoming them to the community.
"Just for ARCs", Lovely Readers, and Feeling Pressured
"Don't start blogs just for ARCs" may seem rude, but what can we do about it? Whine? Be jealous? Certainly, not. If you think a blogger is just doing it for free books, so what. Keep your mind on your own blog because chances are, those bloggers with fade away or suddenly disappear. And don't think you have to participate in the blogging community by having a blog either. We love people who are strictly "readers", not bloggers. Did I mention we love you?
Another problem among bloggers is feeling pressured by a stack of "to-read" books from publishers or a books authors personally sent to you and are hoping for good reviews. Ugh, every night before I go to bed I stare at my reading pile and it stare back at me. "You must read me!" they whisper. I pull the covers over my head and dread an email bugging me about "when will you review my book?". You shouldn't have to feel pressured to review books "on time", but it happens. If a blogger is truly interested in reading, genuine, and maintains a updated blog, publishers/authors shouldn't have to worry about their book "going to waste" even if it takes the blogger (dare I say it?) months to review a book. Life happens. Reading/blogging slumps happen. School happens (for "younger" reviewers such as myself). Sometimes though, it's the very thought of having all those books to read that makes you not read them. Wow, I'm good aren't I? This very fact is why I haven't requested a single book since the beginning of the year and I don't think I will again until that scary pile of books has been read!
My Evaluation on the Matter
My dear Watson, I do believe I have come to the conclusion of this post! [Taking off checkered hat and pulling out magnifying glass] Recently (and what a coincidence too!) I've been thinking about the pressure to blog, routines, and not finding any blogging buddies. I've come to the decision that I will renew my objective to be different than the rest of the blogging community, not worry about followers/visitors, and seek out some reader pals like me. It might take some late night scheming or no-posting weeks for BLT, but I want to do something BIG, something neat to feature! In weeks that will go by, there will be some changes, nothing completely drastic or immediately, but there will be changes....good ones.