I just attended my third PTALive event, a book event held for YA bloggers and readers by Penguin Random House. I’ll be doing an event recap on ibrary shortly.
Unlike previous years, PTALive this year was focused on the reader (instead of bloggers and booktubers). PTA said as publishers, they have noticed a lot of bloggers feeling the pressure to be part of the conversation and to read ALL the books and every new release that’s out there. Lots of bloggers are now burnt out from the constant pressure to stay on top of things, which is certainly what I sense in the blogosphere as well.
Reading should be a hobby that you can relax and enjoy, it shouldn’t be about a competition to read the latest releases. It doesn’t matter when you pick up a book, or what book you read, or what genre it is. Switch things up. Reading is a passion, but by pressuring yourself to keep up with the long TBR, it can become a chore.
I appreciated this reminder so much. It definitely reflects how I’ve felt about the blogosphere for a long time, but haven’t had the courage to say. But with this fresh on my mind, it couldn’t be a better time to say it.
It’s easy to forget why you’re blogging, or even why you’re reading, when you get ARCs and review copies. I mean what could be better than getting free books sent to your door, even those that haven’t been released yet?
I don’t know about you, but I’m not immune to ARC envy. I see people being hurt, saying nasty comments, and even subtweeting when they don’t get a coveted ARC. I’ve seen the community divided over those who thought they deserved to get it, and those who criticise those who get it.
Blogging is not a competition. It has never been a competition for me. I do this because I LOVE books and I love chatting with you all about books. I don’t blog to get free books. But let me tell you, there are people who do, and unfortunately it’s easy to tell.
Remember why you’re blogging guys. Remember why you’re reading. You’re reading because you love books, not because it’s a competition. ARCs do not define your value as a blogger. YOU define your value. Read widely. Cross books off your TBR that you’ll never get to. Read books released years ago. As long as you can stay true to yourself and why you are doing this, you will endure. You will keep enjoying this hobby. The worst thing is creating stress and pressure around something that you should be enjoying.
Penguin also reminded us that publishers want to see honest reviews. While positive reviews are great, it’s those honest, negative reviews on your actual and true opinion of a book that they appreciate. Publishers can learn what readers’ tastes are, and focus on publishing books that readers truly enjoy. This is something that I’ve always, always focused on at Happy Indulgence. I write negative reviews (see my 1 star review of Allegiant). But that hasn’t had a detrimental impact with publishers.
If you’re constantly loving every book, or every single book you review is positive, your readers can tell. Just be you. We’re here for your honest opinion, and often its those negative reviews that find out what you like and don’t like. And hell, sometimes negative reviews make me interested in a book more! We can’t like every book. And oftentimes, what doesn’t work for one person, will be exactly what another is looking for.
As someone who gets a lot of review copies (and I appreciate each and every one!), let me tell you the flipside that’s rarely spoken about.
- I have so many books that I will never finish my TBR.
- I don’t have time to read all of the books that I want to, because much of my time is taken up reading review copies. If I get time to read at all.
- I have run out of shelf space, with many books that I don’t think I’ll ever read.
- I have so many books which are double stacked that I accidentally bought a copy of a book I had already. SAME EDITION.
- Many proof copies are not finished copies with pretty covers and extras.
- I get sent lots of review copies that I will never read. For instance, I don’t think I’ll read a dragon romance that is the 3rd book in a series I’ve never heard of or a middle-grade juvenile sequel to a book I didn’t enjoy.
- I actually don’t have a strong attachment to a lot of my books because I HAVE SO MANY. I give and donate a lot of them away.
- I don’t care if I can’t pick up a new release ASAP because I have so many other books to read.
While I appreciate getting review copies, just remember they aren’t free. With these books, come an obligation to read and review them, which is fine if you don’t have 200 other books to review (I wish this was an exaggeration). I’ve seen so many bloggers let this pressure consume them, which is where I was at earlier this year as well. But I made changes, I got co-bloggers, I blogged less. I don’t want to forget why I’m blogging, and Happy Indulgence is my place to share the passion of reading, that I want to continue, for eons.
Just a final reminder. We don’t blog for publishers. We don’t blog for readers. We blog for ourselves. Remember why you started your blog. Remember why you put so much heart and soul into this hobby. It’s not easy, but we do it because we love it. Treating it like a competition, or continuing down the path we’re going isn’t going to create a sustainable community.
Whether we blog, bookstagram, booktube, tumblr, or whatever, WE’RE ALL READERS. We are a community of people who are passionate about books, and we should be appreciating how each and every one of us contributes to the love of reading. There aren’t enough people in the world who appreciate reading as a hobby, so it’s important to love, enjoy and appreciate it together.
Just remember that.