It’s six months now since What Cathy Read Next was launched into the book blogging universe and it seemed liked the right time to reflect on what I’ve learnt so far. What I’ve come to realise is there are a lot of temptations out there for the unwary or novice blogger. Some of these you may not see as temptations – I fully appreciate they might be the right thing for your own blog. For me, resisting these is the key to remaining true to myself in my blogging journey and avoiding the dreaded blogger burnout. This is supposed to be fun after all!
The NetGalley Frenzy Temptation
When you first discover there is a place where publishers will give you ecopies of books before they are published for FREE it’s tempting to go on a requesting frenzy. Who can blame you? Before you get carried away, remember these books are provided in return for reviews – publishers are not charities. If you request more than you can hope to read and review prior to publication you’re doing yourself, the authors and other book bloggers no favours. I’ve learnt to show patience. So I only request books I genuinely want to read, try to write thoughtful, detailed reviews in line with publication deadlines and work on keeping my feedback ratio above the magic 90%. I hope this will make it more likely I’ll get approved in future (but no guarantees – NetGalley can sometimes seem like a lottery).
The Author’s Best Friend Temptation
As a book blogger you want to help authors by reviewing their books and featuring your reviews on your blog. But you can’t be every author’s best friend. When I got my first contact from a real life author about reviewing their book, I was over the moon. I’ve arrived as a book blogger – authors are actually approaching me to review their books! And then the next request came, and the next one, and soon I’d agreed to review a whole stack of books, some of which I probably wouldn’t have dreamed of reading in other circumstances. It took me a while to realise I shouldn’t say yes to every review request I receive but nor should I give a blanket no. It’s great to help authors, particularly self-published authors, but it doesn’t help them to accept a book review and then never do it.
The Follow Me Temptation
Like me, you probably started your book blog for yourself – because you love reading books, you already added reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, etc and it seemed a natural step to share your love of books with a wider community. You didn’t do it to become the next internet sensation and make millions. But…you get a few people following your blog – that’s nice. Then a few more – even nicer. Now you find yourself checking your blog stats a little more often. And you start to notice other book blogs that have way more followers and, voila, the little competition devil takes hold. You begin looking for ways to increase your followers – perhaps they like this kind of post more than that, perhaps they like that type of book more than the other (even if you don’t). If you’re not careful your blog will morph into nothing more than a vehicle for attracting followers and you may start to feel like you’re on a treadmill. Personally, I’m grateful for all the followers I have and new followers are very welcome but I’m not going to change what I want to feature on my blog just to get more. That’s not to say I’m not open to new ideas for my blog but they will be for me and I’ll just trust that others will like it too.
The I’m a Book Blog, Hire Me Temptation
My real love is historical fiction but I know this isn’t the most popular genre out there – crime, thrillers, YA, fantasy and romance are way more popular seemingly. In the chase for followers, it’s tempting to sign up for blog tours, blitzes, cover reveals and the like for books you wouldn’t otherwise read just because they are in popular genres and may get you lots of social media attention. I’ll admit I fell prey to this in my first months of blogging but I quickly realised I felt a cheat giving publicity to books I would never read myself and couldn’t recommend. From time to time now I do venture outside my preferred genres – every reader benefits from going outside their comfort zone occasionally – but I never promote a book I couldn’t see myself reading.
The I Didn’t Like It But Temptation
So you accepted a book for review but didn’t really like it. You feel a bit bad about it so instead you offer the author the opportunity of a guest post, Q&A or featuring an extract on your blog (although the latter maybe not such a good idea if the prose stank). I’ve been tempted, I’ll be honest, but to me that’s cheating. I didn’t like it so I shouldn’t promote it. Now you could argue, with some justification that because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean someone else reading my blog might not. However, for me it just doesn’t seem right.
The Time Saver Temptation
Blogging can take over your life and you still want to have time to read books, don’t you? So how about cutting a few corners? Author Q&As are popular but how much easier if you just ask the same questions to each author? For me, that’s a temptation I don’t want to give in to. When I read author interviews on blogs I admire, what I like is that the questions are tailored to the author and the book. By all means have a couple of questions you ask everyone but I believe you owe it to the author to spend some time researching their book, their previous work, checking out their blog or website, etc. Better questions, better answers, to my mind.
The Shameless Blogger Temptation
Each to his own, but I can’t bring myself to constantly ask for likes, shares or follows of my blog posts. Sure, I share them on Twitter and Facebook and I’m grateful for every like, view, follow or retweet that results, but it’s just not in my nature to beg for attention just to increase my stats. Perhaps that means my little blog is destined to remain in obscurity. So be it.
The No Time To Be Nice Temptation
As already noted there are lots of temptations out there that can turn blogging into a full-time occupation that can seem at times like running a small country. However, I never want to get to the point where I don’t have time to: respond to review requests, even if turning them down; say thanks for retweets every so often respond to every comment on my blog; visit other blogs and share their blog posts; thank publishers for books they send or including me in tours. Of course, I realise I have the luxury of doing this because my blog is small. However, I’d like to feel I’ll always have time to be a nice blogger.
Do you recognise any of these as temptations? What personal temptations have you faced as a blogger?