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Blogging Retrospective and Confessions

I apologize beforehand to the readers of this blog that are not bloggers. This will probably be rather boring to you, and even if you are a blogger, you may be bored.

I always wonder when I start a post with an apology if I should even write it at all. This particular instance, I did something uncharacteristic. I waited. I thought about it. I let it digest.

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a few years, you’ll know that I tend to act on the moment, and don’t always “think before I speak.” And if you’re a new follower/reader... now you know. I tend to overreact... I’ve thought and now it’s time for me to speak.

Retrospective... Why I Blog.

When I started my blog (in 2007) it wasn’t to get free books. It wasn’t to get to know my favorite authors. It wasn’t to meet other bloggers. It wasn’t to sell books, and it wasn’t to be a marketing tool.

If you would have told my 2007 blogger self, that one day I would be getting emails from publishers and authors wanting me to read their books... that one day I would have thousands of readers a day... I would have laughed in you face. Actually, that’s not true... I probably wouldn’t have laughed, I would have dismissed your notion with a shake of my head and a shrug of my shoulders. Because all that stuff I mentioned... it was never a possibility. At least I didn’t realize it ever would be.

I started out by checking books out at the library, and buying them at the bookstore. I never knew there was any other option. Sharing my “opinions” on those books I’ve read... simply because I wanted my opinion out there. I couldn’t talk to my husband... or my non-reader friends. So, I talked to my blog, I put my thoughts out there in cyberspace, never expecting anything to come of it. My reviews have never been objective, even from the beginning, and I’ve never wanted them to be. I don’t want to be a critic. I didn’t then and I don’t know. I don’t want to make reading work. I hate the term “book reviewer.” I’m not a book reviewer. I hate to even say I write “reviews.” I don’t write reviews... I share my thoughts. I’m a book blogger. I’m a reader. I’m an individual.

My blog has evolved since I started. I’m not going to deny it. I still blog to share my opinions. I don’t do it to get the free books. I don’t do it because I have thousands of readers, I don’t do it for the publishers or the authors, I still do it for myself. BUT... I do use my blog as a marketing tool. I market the hell out of my blog. I want to sell books. I DO sell books. I want people to read. I want people to pick up my favorite book and get that feeling that I get when I read it. I want someone to discover the joy of reading. I want someone to rediscover the joy of reading.

Sometimes I Wonder Why I Blog

This past month as a blogger has been very discouraging. If I was a new blogger, I would have quit. I would have given up completely. Because I’ve felt like doing that several times recently.

I’ve always said that I blog for myself. And I do. But as I’ve mentioned I also use my blog as a marketing tool... because I want to. I want to promote books and reading. I want to promote authors and the industry... and I “work” very hard to do that.

I’ve seen uncountable times, that bloggers aren’t professionals. If they are saying that bloggers aren’t paid to read books, than yes I would agree with them. But if they are saying that I’m not qualified to blog about books because I don’t have a degree in literature, I’d have to respectfully disagree. I don’t think anyone has the right to call me a nonprofessional.

Bloggers don’t sell books.

I’ll agree somewhat there. But I’ll amend that statement. NOT all bloggers sell books. There are so many book bloggers, to use a blanket statement such as “bloggers don’t sell books” is completely asinine. Bloggers do sell books. And I am one of them.

I try to promote titles as much as I possibly can. I’m only one person, and as much as I wish I had a superpower, I don’t. I can only read so many books in a day/week/month/year. But there are other ways to promote a book without reading them, right? As a blogger, this is something that I really struggled with.

How can I promote this book that I may or may not be able to read and review?

That question is what prompted In My Mailbox. I would mention those books that I’d gotten for review... so at least they would get some exposure, even if I don’t find the time to write a review. In My Mailbox evolved... other bloggers now participate weekly and it’s not limited to books for review, but books bought or borrowed from the library. If you check a few links listed on the weekly posts, I guarantee you would see that! These readers are excited about books and just want to share that excitement!

A few weeks ago an author, on a public forum no less, said and I quote “those "in my mailbox" posts represent everything that's wrong with the whole scene. It's all about status and swag.”

I’m only guessing that “the whole scene” is referring to book blogs. This was also the same conversation that suggested bloggers aren’t professionals, nor do they sell books. So you can imagine at the time, I was a great deal upset by this point and then to have that bomb dropped in my lap... I was a tad bit furious. (You may or may not have witnessed my wrath on twitter... I told you... impulsive!)

Nothing like being responsible for single handedly ruining “the whole scene.”

Thank you author person for absolutely alienating me. I mean, I’m just a blog, I’m not really a person with feelings or thoughts... just a mindless drone... a swag whore. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course I started In My Mailbox because I wanted everyone to feel inferior to the greatness that is ME. That’s why I try to discourage any kinship with my fellow bloggers and readers. It’s all about me and that’s the way it should be. {insert eye roll here}

You don’t have to like IMM, I know that many people don’t. That’s fine, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. (Despite how infuriating “author person” made me, they are certainly entitled to their’s) I shouldn’t have taken it like a personal attack... but how could I not. I’ve considered quitting IMM multiple times. I know it’s not perfect, but I also know why I started it. And it WAS because I wanted to show off. I wanted to show off my excitement for these titles and perhaps get someone else excited too. Why should we feel ashamed and guilted for wanting to share that. It was never about status. The person with the most advance readers copies, isn’t the best blogger... that’s another asinine comment. It’s not about status... it’s only a bigger reading pile. (And as we know, that’s not always a “good” thing.) I suppose the person with the most pencils must be the best writer...?

Whether I host In My Mailbox or not people are going to “talk” about the books they get. Be it on twitter with a twitpic... on facebook... tumblr... their blogs. And I’m sure they just want to brag about it, being readers... they wouldn’t be excited or anything. I’m sure it’s just so they can up their blogger status. (And those last two sentences were supposed to be sarcastic, just in case that didn’t come across.)

I try to provide a positive outlet for people to share that excitement. If you don’t like it, don’t participate. Scroll through your Google reader, ignore it. But don’t point fingers. It’s not In My Mailbox that is “everything that is wrong with the scene” it’s a few people that abuse the privilege that most of us realize IS A PRIVILEGE.

Those are the same few people that give all bloggers a bad name.

I can say in good confidence that the majority of book bloggers understand that receiving advance readers copies, working with publishers, interacting with authors is a privilege. It’s not something that you are entitled to just because you have a blog about books. This is something that I take very seriously as a blogger, and it’s something that I try to advocate as a blogger. But advocation only goes so far. I can’t make people care.

Confessions

I’ve been struggling.

I wonder if blogging has tainted my love of reading.

I still love to read, but blogging has made it a totally different experience. I know things the average reader doesn’t know. I’ve witnessed behaviors that have turned me off of certain books. I try not to let it... but it does.

I wonder if my history of blogging will ruin any chance at becoming a published author. Although I should be more worried about having any talent as a writer at this point.

I know that I’m “respected” as a blogger, but I wonder if blogging will ever be truly accepted. I feel like bloggers as a group are constantly defending their right to do what we do. We shouldn’t have do that. It’s disheartening.

I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, blogging has become a way of life for me, and I can’t imagine leaving it behind. I just wish something that brings so much joy and opportunity in my life could be simple. I suppose that’s rarely the way things work.

If you made it though that I applaud you. I realize that this post really had no point. It was more me talking to myself. But I do feel better now that I’ve said my piece.

And if you’re still here... Thanks for listening.

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Blogging Retrospective and Confessions + TIME