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Four Years: Part 2 – A Dismal Outlook

2014 05-06 Somerville Public Library ArtPerhaps “A Dismal Outlook” isn’t the best title for this post, but I figured it was better than “The Sad State of the Book Blogging Community.” Now before, you get up in arms remember this is MY blog and I can say what I want. And if I had my way we’d all be as happy and goofy looking as that photo from outside my local library to the right.

I will caution, that this post isn’t about anyone. Sure I’ve seen blogs that highlight this more than others and I’m just as guilty of doing some of these things, but self-awareness is a big part of it! If you find yourself reflecting negatively on this post, no matter what sort of blog you write, I encourage you to suck it up and deal with it. It’s outside of my realm and this is all about personal preference. This post is a continuation of my self-reflection and just general observations about things that annoy me about blogs.

So let’s just rip the band-aid off:

  • Doing anything for a book
  • Over advertisement
  • Click Bait, but specifically:
    • Meme, after meme, after meme
    • Advice
    • Generic Recaps
  • Losing sight of why you started

And yes I realize that in writing this, I’m giving advice in a backhanded way, but we’re all hypocrites aren’t we? I really just want to leave the list at that, but it wouldn’t be fair. So I’m just going to break it down and do a quick two-to-three sentence response to each. Feel free to counter or commiserate in the comments.

Doing Anything for A Book
When I started I had no idea about ARCs or NetGalley and when I found out about them I went a bit overboard. Free books? Heck yes! And I still remember being contacted by a publisher to review a book they sent me, (WHAT?!) and how excited I was. Don’t get me wrong I’m still excited and I love reading unreleased books, but I’ve cut it down so much. If I read every ARC/galley I could get my hands on I’d read nothing else. And this is where I feel a lot of bloggers get lost. As soon as they find the goldmine/black hole of ARCs/galleys they lose focus and go so far over the top with reveals, interviews, reviews, etc., that their blog changes completely! Now there’s nothing wrong with that and maybe they are (or see themselves) as more on the book publishing/industry side of things rather than a reader or a writer. Take a few minutes to reflect and if that is the case, make an announcement and embrace it, update your bio and your about and why you blog page. Don’t just do it, because it seems disingenuous

Over Advertisement
I’m not sure about the rest of you, but when I was offered the opportunity to join WordAds, I did. I thought why not, it could be interesting and I might make enough to pay off the domain fee for the blog and it will one day, but I use it very strategically. I have the least amount of ads I can possibly had (I had them take off those heinous luminosity ones over every photo) and I turned off the “extra ads” feature because it didn’t go with my site. If there is one thing that irks me more than any other on the internet it’s auto-play ads or too many ads. I’ve not come across too many book blogs that have auto-play ads, guess we’re not that big yet, but when I go to a blog and the ads don’t mesh well with the design or they’re poorly done (like a bad book cover), I almost rarely make it past the first page.

And since I’m on my soapbox and probably pissing people off anyway, maybe it’s just my propriety or my naiveté when it comes to blogging, but do book blogs really need a “contact me about advertising” pages? Do you really have enough visitors? When you get big enough that you do need those or you have multiple writers, shouldn’t you call it something else? Damn semantics.

Click Bait
Now I don’t mean an awesome post title. The whole point of a title is to grab a reader’s attention and get them to read your post right? And I’m not necessarily referring to breaking a post with the “Read More Tag,” although be caution! Those can be annoying as hell too! (I use mine for aesthetic reasons, not click reasons.)

What I’m talking about are the lists, the recaps and the how-tos that are available on hundreds of other sites. Do you really need to provide tips and tricks for something or is it click bait? Rather than providing a how-to why not write about what happened when you TRIED a how-to list? Sure it’ll give someone else credit, but rather than creating another vacuous how-to-list why not go through the millions that exist and try/edit them?! Maybe that’s what people are doing and I’m just so blinded I can’t see it, but UGH.

In addition, the news recaps, really? Go in together with others and do this, then MAYBE it’ll be alright I do love the On Our Radar: Feminist News Roundup at Bitch Magazine, but that’s their JOB! If by chance I happen to read a roundup post the chances of my having heard of most, if not all, things listed is pretty high. Let’s face it, most of us that read fellow bloggers entries are aware of what’s going on, but specifically with compilation sites like Goodreads (yes they’ve lost their independence, thanks Amazon) and NPR Books or any other number of non-publisher related sites, do we really need another post of interesting book links? I mean if you stumble across one that fits what your reading or really hits home for you then by all means share it or better yet write an entire post about that one thing with your thoughts and views!

Losing Site of Why You Started
Perhaps, going into book blogging I just had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do and use my blog for and I understand we all have different ideas, but the number of blogs I’ve stopped reading has increased exponentially over the past few months from all of the above. If anything all I have to say about this, I would much rather read a book blog created three months ago where the blogger is still excited and finding their way. There’s something so incredibly rewarding and refreshing about reading a blog post when someone first discovers the amazing online community that is book bloggers. I often feel the longer many of us blog the more rote we get, the more obsessed with stats and numbers we get and honestly, the more boring we get! Basically take your blogoversery or a random day to go back and read your first posts and make sure you’re still capturing the magic you had back then! If your blog has changed, embrace it and write about it, if it hasn’t then more power to you!

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8 thoughts on “Four Years: Part 2 – A Dismal Outlook”

  1. I plead not guilty to some of these at least (have never ever thought of advertising and no idea what you mean by click bait). But I suspect my weekend round up posts (I call them weekend bookends) might touch a bit on you comment that the stuff is already known so why bother. Hm, food for thought.

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    1. Definitely take it with a grain of salt! I apparently have strong opinions about these things. I didn’t realize it until I stewed on it for a bit.

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  2. Interesting thoughts! Even if its hard to hear, I think these are good things (and true things) for all of us to keep in mind. I barely consider myself a book blogger (or really that much of a blogger since my posting schedule is so atrocious 😦 ) anymore, but the advice to try to remember why you started blogging in the first place really hits home. I’ve been blogging for two years and I’ve never accepted an ARC. Initially when I started I thought this was the direction I would take my blog, but my busy schedule and general desire to read “what I want when I want to read it” has kept me from doing so. Also, I have this silly fear that if I spend a lot of time reading books that no one else has read that I will spend a lot of time reading mediocre books. I’d sort of rather let other people sift through the stacks and find the diamond in the rough for me. LOL. Anyway, like you, my blog hasn’t taken exactly the direction I thought it would, but I am content with where it is now.

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    1. Ha! I wouldn’t worry about your post schedule, you blog about what you find interesting and important when you find the time! And like you say constantly, graduate school is no joke!!!!

      I hadn’t thought of it that way, bu tit is great to think about it like that. I feel so many people get bogged down int he glamour of reading books that aren’t released (it’s a different kind of book snobbery) that they don’t take the time to read what they want and enjoy what they read. It’s another reason I backed off on challenges and extended my Classics Club list to an indefinite time period. I don’t want to be hemmed in and want to read a trashy romance immediately followed by a literary classic without having to care or worry.

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