Our nebulous, loosely connected community has been through quite a few ups and downs over the past handful of years. It seems that there is never a shortage of something cropping up (good or not so good) that seems to stir up the silty cloud of discussions and emotions, leading to an outpour of words, quotes, and expressions on a variety of subjects.
We have already seen some of these events happening in 2016. I’m sure we are all very aware of some confessions that popped up that lit a fire under the very roots of the book blogging world. There was a lot of good that came out of it, and bloggers, such as Kat at Cuddlebuggery, has posted up that there are some unhappy voices, and we need to listen.
I agree, I want to listen. However, I also want to point out that some of these “confessions” are not sitting well with me. Some of the complaints are issues you are going to face in the real world, in your relationships with life, at your job, at school, and other circumstances in life. Now that we have offered some tissues, support, hugs, and the more peaceful side of the community, I want to address some of the points that are really gnawing at me about that post, and that are still unsettled, to me, in a even-tempered manner. I’m not denying that there are issues in the community. When you gather a group of people in one place, there will always be problems and chafing. On the other hand, this is one of the better groups that I have been a part of. In any other fandom/online fellowship, I would have been long gone by now.
I’m not here to say that I am sagely and wizardly and that I am some sort of godlike know-it-all magic 8 ball, but sometimes I see a place where I can offer some input on what I have learned about life overall. Blogging has impacted me in such a positive way, and I think it is important to try to step back and understand why things bother us, and maybe, just maybe, look at something with a fresh pair of eyes.
So, for better or worse, I am wading into the muck of this confessions mess, and I will stay on topic to the best of my ability.
For the owners of the blog, I’m not even going to touch on those points. If your complaint is with how others rate books, or what they center their discussion posts around, then you are writing “shock value” negative complaints for the page views. That is sad.
What concerns me are some of the points brought up by the bloggers, the confessions of the bloggers and readers below the “confessions” of the other two.
“I get so annoyed by some bloggers who say they aren’t in it for the ARCs but totally are. Actions speak louder than words.”
I think sometimes excitement is confused with begging or greed when it comes to ARCs. Maybe interpretation of someone’s actions speak louder than their action intentions. ARC envy has been discussed to death. Also, it is worrisome to see so much anger directed at people over their actions. Sadly, you just can’t control what others do or say. It is hard, but it is time to start letting things go. I’ll be the first to admit that I LOVE getting ARCs, but it isn’t the end of the world if I don’t. I get excited when they come in, and I love sharing when I have them. It doesn’t mean that I do it strictly from the ARCs. Do I get sad? Yes, yes I do. But I will get the book. When I see other bloggers get the ARCs I wanted, I’m happy for them.
Also, bloggers spend a lot of money on books. In my personal library, I have purchased over 300 books in 4 years. I did that. I bought those. Do you know how many books I buy for giveaways? We run 2 yearly contests, and when I go to a signing, I try to get my friends a signed copy, plus a copy for myself to support the author. At full price. So why should I not get excited when I get an ARC? Will I quit if I never get an ARC ever again? No. So consider the time, effort, and money we put into this. Please keep that in mind when you see someone post a picture of the stack of ARCs they received.
“The negative stuff takes its toll though. I am so sick of the nonsense. I am sick of people in a BOOK community having to be told that plagiarism is not okay. I am sick of people judging each other. I am sick to death of the ass-kissing for books, and then turning around and berating people for having “ARC envy.” You know what? Yeah, I get a little incensed that I have worked my ass off and some people make it into a popularity contest.”
This is one that I have conflicting feelings on regarding blogging. I agree that I am very tired of telling others to stop plagiarizing. Not only is this taught in school, but you should know better. YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER. I’m not even making excuses or playing devil’s advocate on this one. Stop it.
However, the rest of it is so double standard. This one states that there is exhaustion of judgment while rolling out….judgment on blogging as a popularity contest. The drama does get old, and the “ARC envy” debate is a tired, sore subject. But our goal is to make our blog…well… popular. Unless the person is referring to others cutting corners, i.e. stealing content and putting down others for stat popularity, and if that is the case, then anon, I feel for you, and I hope you find the time to step away and gather yourself up. We all need a break from this from time to time, and the negative aspect can make you weary, but I hope this person has someone there for them to help out. Book blogging has helped me identify some of the problems in my life, and I slowly started to correct my own behaviors at work and in my personal life. Like this person states, I’m tired of running the gambit of negativity of work, traffic, news, politics, family disputes, but I have found a way to step back, gather my thoughts, and find a way to bring back balance. However, at the end of the day, book blogging is a popularity contest. You connect to more people, you’ll have more followers.
“Inflated ratings are EVERYWHERE. It makes me want to punch people in the face.”
This is a worrisome confession. If you want to assault someone over something as little as stars on a website, then maybe it is time to address some other issues going on. We always rush around to defend a reader’s right to a one star rating, or to leave a DNF review, but when it comes to a review with a high rating, then we have a whole new cauldron of drama on our hands. Once again, a reader has the right to their ratings. Years ago, someone added a star to the rating of a book due to a reference from another author in the novel. They stated it right there in the review. I didn’t see the issue. It was their space, their review, and I advocate for someone’s right to leave a 5 star review for their favorite book EVER as much as I do for a book regarding watered down rape scenes. If they stay in their space and don’t attack other users, then I’m not sure why this is such a punchable offense.
“I feel like a lot of the time my blog is wasted and no one is reading or even visiting my blog. Makes me want to give up multiple times a week.”
This one breaks my heart. I admit that I feel bad when I work on a discussion post, just to see 2 comments on it. I highly recommend joining a blog hop or co-blogging with another blogger, or network and try to reach out to other bloggers. This is an issue I know I have struggled with, but it does happen. Bloggers get busy, and I wish I could visit ALL THE BLOGS. I do hope this person was able to build some connections and find the resources to build traffic to their site.
“I really don’t get bloggers who tweet things like “I got a super exciting email in my inbox from @publicistX.” What is the point of such tweets other than to name drop and try to make others feel jealousy? Don’t tell me you’re trying to help publicize the book or just being nice to say thanks to the publicist. Because no, you’re not publicizing the book and you can thank the publicist in an email.”
The point is to thank the publicists, and to get the book some coverage. I had no idea how important this was for authors until it was pointed out that hype books still struggle to meet their numbers, or that authors known well in their circles still sweat over their numbers. It might seem like bragging or shoving something in the face of other bloggers, but when you promote a book, you are promoting the author. It is unfortunate that this feels like a personal attack, but I know it helps me see what is coming out soon, and it helps me keep track of what publishing houses are coming out with books I will want soon. No one wants to use ARCs as a tool to belittle other bloggers.
“I trust very few reviewers. There are certain bloggers where it’s clear they’re “friends” with publicists for the perks and nothing more. If they’d have met on the street, they wouldn’t be friends.”
I’m not sure why book bloggers get this sort of hatred. What happened to acquaintances? Some of these bloggers have come to know these people, and since the publicists and the bloggers work in the same field, they are going to overlap. You never know if people really click, and some people are more outgoing than others. I’m not sure why outgoing book bloggers are frowned upon. It seems that most people have this closed up bookworm in mind, but when a friendly, suave book blogger comes along, then this person is labeled as a “suck up” instead of someone who naturally just connects to others. The “connection-shaming” astounds me to no end. And if the bloggers are friends for perks…..what does it matter? Once again, you are going to work with these type of people in real life, and this type of attitude is not going to win you any favors at work. It is best to focus on your own traits.
“I am so annoyed by all those bookish rep searches… Most of us already love the products and would buy the products on our own. We don’t need someone who takes pretty pictures to tell us to buy it and it annoys me that their blog/social media accounts basically turn into infomercials which feel very forced…”
I love bookgramming/Instagram with books! I think it is creative, and lovely, and I love to see this side of book blogging. I also see this with make-up, with action figures, and with any other fandom. One of my favorite aspects of book blogging is reaching out to other readers and showing off new editions of older books, and using books and novels as a pieces of art. I certainly never want to “push” a book. However, like I mentioned above, I love giving exposure to authors and books that I love, and this is such a beautiful approach. I honestly hope that it never comes off as commercialized, but more artistic and attempting to connect with others when you have no words for Twitter.
“No matter what some people say, this community is very cliquey.”
Does getting left out make me feel a bit down at times? Yes. Yes it does. But there are going to be people who connect naturally better than others. From what I have seen, it just comes across that if some people are not automatically liked or included, then the community takes a hit. Networking and building a relationship takes work. Also, relationships naturally change over time. They might grow or shrink. People change. I have even had to come to the conclusion here recently that I have lost a few friends over time. But it happens. And I cried, sucked it up, and became even more thankful for the friends I still have with me.
I’ve heard this over and over, and I can contest that I have not seen any cliquish behavior that seriously calls for such anger. Are there cliques? Yes. They are going to always naturally form. But the great majority of the small groups don’t aim to exclude or bully others. So I would say that there are people who are close.
“I *hate* the cliqueyness that goes on in this community. I’ve seen bloggers who are *always* like “blogger X is my *best friend* (don’t you wish you had friends this good?!)” and I’m like “you don’t even know the person in real life and yet you’re still trying to make the rest of us feel left out of your friendship.” Then when anyone else but blogger X tries to talk to them, they’ll ignore it. Ugh. And usually blogger X is a more “popular” blogger (or at least one with a decent sized following).”
This one is the one that struck me the hardest. This is the one that is going to have the most emotional vomiting out of all of them.
I do know these bloggers in real life. I have met them. I’ve never had friends like this until now. When I say that such person is my friend, they are saving me from myself. When I write a shout out for my favorite bloggers, I want to be the drop of sunshine in their day, because you never know when someone needs it. I don’t care if my friend has 10 or 100 friends. I will give them the love they deserve. My friendships are not a weapon against others. They are a shield and a safe place against the rest the universe. I can’t do for them what they do for me, I feel, in my heart. So the most I can do is make one tweet for them and put their name out in the universe. And I will never, ever, EVER be sorry for stating my love for my blogger friends. If there is some jealousy that stems from this action, then please, PLEASE find that blogger or group that makes you feel the same way.
The bottom line is: take care of each other. I’m pretty positive that most of us want the best for others. We’re not Mean Girls or Plastics. We’re people, behind computers, who love to read, who have come together, who have different approaches to book blogging. The ones who want to hurt and belittle are the ones to block and ignore and pity. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Don’t be the bastard that grinds others down. Either accept, walk away, or change your own approach to life. Attacking each other on the internet isn’t going to solve anything. We are all in the same space. And we’re going to have to learn to settle in the same area without napalming each other’s approach.
Don’t make me keep you all here until 3’o clock. If we need to rent a huge gym to talk it out, then so be it, we will.
Now, who wants cake?