The Top Five Things I've Learned Through Book Blogging

Friday, February 7, 2014

Now that I've been blogging for more than four years, I can honestly say I think that I'm finally getting a hang of this book blogging thing. I have a clear voice for my reviews, I feel comfortable in giving less than favourable reviews and I finally feel like I can put aside my fangirling enough to actually ask relatively insightful questions of authors. But it hasn't been any easy ride all the time.  Sometimes you need to take an 8-month hiatus (whoops).

But, through that time, I learned what I consider to be some pretty valuable lessons, and you won't hear me complaining too much because, at the end of the day, I've been having a blast. So, without further ado, here are the top five things I've learned through book blogging.

If you don't love it, don't do it. I felt burned out by book blogging by the time I took my hiatus. I felt too pressured to provide a certain number of reviews. I felt defined by the number of page views or ARCs I received in the mail, and I really struggled to actually enjoy it as I had in the beginning. Most of all though, I let my fun hobby turn into a chore, so I stopped. Luckily, I rediscovered why I loved it in the first place, and I taught myself that if I wasn't going to love it, it was no longer worth it. 

You are not defined by the number of ARCs you receive in the mail. This is one of those tricky ones that I'm sure most book bloggers have grappled with at some time or another. I see some of my favourite bloggers receive incredible books, and why I'm happy for them, there's always a twinge of "what am I doing wrong" that crosses through my mind. I've learned that it's not so much what I'm doing wrong as it is that the other blogs just have a little something else that they might be looking for. And, at the end of the day, publishers and authors are incredibly generous towards me and i swim for oceans, so I have nothing to complain about.

Give yourself some space. I think that if you force yourself to get up a certain number of posts a week, or a certain number of categories, that's when it starts becoming too much. Bear in mind, I have a job outside of book blogging, as most of you do, as well, and it can become incredibly overwhelming. However, when I came back, I committed to doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, and it's been liberating. I don't feel so many obligations anymore.

Remember to be kind. Not everyone is going to take kindly to a poor review. Heck, you'll probably receive an email or two that condemn your reviews (yes, it's happened), but as long as you maintain your integrity in your reviews, you can feel confident in it. I remembered my first bad review, but I also knew that I didn't want to BS my readers. If I don't like a book, that's fair…but I still need to explain why it didn't work for me. There is nothing to be gained from simply tearing a book apart for fun.

Don't get bogged down by the drama that will inevitably exist in the blogosphere. Guys, in my time book blogging, I've seen everything from authors trashing bloggers, to bloggers trashing authors, to people plagiarizing full novels and pretty much everything else you can imagine in between. In the end, there is nothing we can do to stop that. These days, I simply focus on making sure that what I provide it the best of my abilities - nothing more, nothing less. Live and let live.

What sort of things have you learned through book blogging?


  1. I do have those ARC thoughts now and then, and the rest too. But most of the time I just relax, sure I despair sometimes cos I need to finish a book

  2. Love this post. I've also been book blogging since 2009 (you were one of my first blog friends, and I'm glad there are still a couple of us around), and have felt burnt out from time to time. That's why I've revamped my blog this year so I could feel passionate about blogging again. I'm now doing about 50% bookish posts and 50% personal posts. I enjoy writing the personal posts and find them to be a better form of creative writing, but I don't want to quit reviewing either so I think I've found a happy medium. Hopefully we will both still be around the blogosphere in another four years! :) I think we will... definitely have come too far to leave now. ;)

  3. I've been book blogging for a little over two years now and I still haven't gotten the hang of it. I'm getting into the state of mind I want to be in when I blog. At first, I just knew that I wanted to have a book blog and instead of figuring out what I wanted from it and how I wanted to do it, I just followed others. That was a bad move and now I'm starting to realize that my blog is really my own. I'd have liked to have learned it all by myself but at the core, I think I really am doing just that.

    It's really about all the things you mentioned. I love blogging so I make time for it and sometimes I don't feel like it so I don't. That's what life is.

    I used to fret about ARCs but ever since I devoted a month reading whatever I wanted in December, I feel as if I need more time to read what I really am in the mood for.

    Space is important. That's half the reasons I don't schedule blogging as it makes me feel like it's a chore.

    I've always tried to balance negative reviews. I don't appreciate author bashing and I don't want to come out as someone who doesn't appreciate bad books because I do, they set a scale for all the books I do like.

    I've seen that when it comes to drama in the blogosphere, ignorance is bliss and that usually works for me.

  4. I can't thank you enough for this post. I am fairly new to blogging, haven't even been at it for a year yet and all these tips helped so much! Especially the ARC tip. Thank you!

    - Elizabeth @ Redhead Reader

  5. Awesome lessons-- thanks for sharing Melissa!

  6. Really great points. It's so easy to feel like you're doing something wrong when reading other blogs so it's nice to be reminded that just doing my own thing is fine. Thanks for sharing this post with us! :)

  7. I love this post, Melissa! I think the insights you've gained as a blogger are spot on. They're things that I've definitely come to realize for myself, especially your #1. I've seriously come to understand that if I'm not enjoying it, then I shouldn't be blogging. Obligation/necessity/formality isn't what I want from my blog; I want communication, fun and just plain love, love, love. Great post!

  8. Melissa, I agree with this post 100%. It's always a disappointment to know other bloggers have gotten an ARC you wanted, but the fact that we all get to read the book eventually is what allows me to overcome any bitter feelings. Plus, I'm so busy with the books I do have that I don't have time to worry over ARCs these days. ;) You hit the nail on blogging breaks, though. I took one over the holidays and came back so rejuvenated. It's important to keep in mind that this is a HOBBY, not a job, and we have lives outside of the Internet. Fantastic post, dear!(:

  9. What an amazing post Melissa, you provided the good and the bad of blogging and what I've always felt about it. I think at any one point us book bloggers sometimes feel pressured to post, to review, to read the latest books and to receive the latest ARCs that sometimes we forget the importance of taking a step back and realising why you started in the first place.

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

  10. Melissa, this is absolutely fabulous. I totally agree. If you're not loving blogging anymore, it totally means you need to chillax a bit! I sometimes feel as if it's becoming a chore and just have to step back. So glad I have co-bloggers now as well--they help so much.

    Lovely post! <33

  11. I love all of these, especially about the ARCs and the drama. I have always stayed away from the drama to the point where I usually don't know what's going on. I kind of like it that way. :) I think if you take a more laid back approach to book blogging it so so much more enjoyable…putting all that pressure on yourself isn't worth it. Great post!!

  12. All so true. It's taken me nearly four years to get to this point, too. I do still get that twinge of jealousy, go through blogging slumps and have to remind myself of why I'm doing it. But, in the end, I've made some great friends and it's totally worth it.

  13. Great post! I'm fairly new to blogging and I have to admit the stats of my blog really did affect me a lot but I feel much happier now not caring too much about it, because it's all about having fun and doing what I love! Thanks for all the tips! :)

    -Kimi at Geeky Chiquitas

  14. Excellent post. We really do need to remember why we're doing this - and it is to have fun, make friends, and to talk about our favorite hobby: books!

  15. Great post! Even though I think I knew most of this already, It's helpful to be's so easy to get caught up!

  16. I think taking breaks is essential and not pushing yourself. It's a hobby, not a job - like you say. And ultimately, we are all really doing it because we enjoy and love reading and (probably many of us) the industry in general. I don't want to do it if I don't love it. Otherwise, I can just keep using my library card, ya know? Great, great post. I think you nailed it. Also again, it's really good to have you back. I have taken a couple of short breaks recently myself and they were very very needed.


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