For What It's Worth

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions (2)

Welcome to Book Blogger Confessions, a meme co-hosted with Tiger from All-Consuming Books on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month, to discuss some of the frustrations that are unique to book bloggers.

You can read the introductory post here.

If you want to participate just grab our button and include it in your post with a link to either Tiger's All Consuming Books or For What It's Worth. We will be providing a linky at the end of our posts so people can "hop" to see all the participants answers.

If you don't want to post you can still comment!! All opinions are welcome.

Todays question is: Have you ever had reading/blogging slumps? How do you work through them or work around them?

OK kids this is a long one.....grab a drink and snacks....or run for the hills and avoid. You were warned lol

This week's question is something I've struggled with, as recently as last month. I'll tackle each "slump" separately.

Reading Slumps: My very first reading slump ironically came after I attended BEA for the first time in 2010. I came home with almost 100 coveted ARC's. That sounds like a reader's dream come true but it wasn't for me. I sorted all the books as soon as I got home….then sorted them again…..and again. By genre, by favorite authors, by release date….by pretty covers…..on and on. The problem was, once I had all those books I didn't know what I should read first. Then I started panicking that I would NEVER be able to read them all (which is true - I couldn't). Then as new books were released I would want to buy them even though I had 100 free books that everyone was dying to read sitting on my shelves. I felt like they were taunting me and I felt guilty for not reviewing them. After all they were given to bloggers free with the intention of getting publicity for said books.

So I started randomly grabbing any book that sounded good. There were a lot of duds and just because of the sheer volume a lot of repetition. I ended up hating almost every book I read.

I posted about it and sought advice. Most people suggested reading different genres but that didn't work either. Bottom line - i felt so much pressure to read & review ALL these books that it overwhelmed me and I just shut down.

Even though it was a reading slump and not so much a blogging slump, as a book review blogger, if you're not reading - you're not blogging. Which of course adds more pressure. I ended up hosting a few book tours and giving away books to fellow bloggers that I knew would appreciate them more than I would. It helped eleviate some of my stress because I knew the books were finally being reviewed.

It was odd because even though I didn't want to read the books myself I had a weird possessiveness over them too. I was worried if I let a book go without reading it, I would find out later it was amazing!! & I had it right under my nose the whole time but now it's gone!!! GONE!! lol

I attended BEA again in 2011 and I did get a lot of books but I didn't feel anywhere near the pressure I felt the first time. I tried to research the books beforehand so I made better choices instead of grabbing anything that was being touted as the next "best book ever"! I shared them with friends when I got back so that didn't need to read them right that second.

The other cause of reading slumps for me is hype. I am not a hype driven person by nature. Book blogging is almost defined by hype. Everyone wants that next book NOW based on the pretty cover or popular author. The hype machine can be in overdrive before we even know what a book is about. I started falling into that and choosing my books based on hype rather than how I used to - by walking into a book store and seeing what popped out at me. That led me to a few slumps where I wasn't loving the books that were getting near perfect reviews by everyone else which then of course leads to that cycle again of rushing to read a book, not liking it and then not wanting to read anymore.

Blogging slumps: I've been blogging for two years but I never really had a problem until late last year. When I first started I had envisioned saying "Hey! I loved this book - you might too!" The End. Throw in a few posts about the movies I'd just seen, maybe a favorite song I had been listening to and that's about it. Maybe I could reach 40-50 regular followers.

After reading other blogs that I enjoyed I realized that I wanted to write more detailed reviews. I started reading more. It became an obsession almost to the exclusion of movies, TV or any other hobbies I used to enjoy.

Then came the review books. AHHHH! Nothing is more stressful than review books. Don't get me wrong I love them and I appreciate the fact that any author would even know I exist, never mind want my thoughts on their baby! However, once you start scheduling reading it all goes downhill.

I know many bloggers need and do well with schedules. I do not. I tried to have a blog schedule. Certain days for reviews, memes, author guest posts & interviews, giveaways etc. but I rebel against anything I HAVE to do and that includes blogging.

I do have a loose idea of what I want to do in my head and I do have a planner to organize the upcoming week or two but I can't schedule reading/reviews 3 & 4 months ahead. It stresses me out. It also leads me back to the reading slump issue. I blog as a hobby. When I'm scheduling it more than I do my job, family and downtime it's too much and not fun anymore.

The other issue became Blogger itself. They suck. Sorry but it's true. I think they have good things planned to make it better in the long run but while their tweaking it is making blogging the most stressful hobby EVER. Just formatting a post can take hours.

It can take a few days to read a book - we'll just say I loved it and the review flowed right out of me (rare) - so add another 1- 2 hours to write the review, then I have to spend another 2-3 hours formatting the damn thing. Then after posting I have to link it to the archive, add it to Goodreads and Amazon, Netgalley if required. A lot of work for a hobby.

I was completely burned out by the end of this year. I didn't even want to read or look at my computer anymore. So I didn't. I took all of November through January 1st off except for what was already scheduled.

It scared me to do that. Blogging has become an enormous part of my life and no matter how much I bitch and whine about it I also LOVE it, the people & the opportunities I've had because of it.

I'm not sure why we have this self imposed blogging ethic that we feel guilty about veering from. Most of us don't have advertisers to answer to so what does it matter if we only posted one day that week? Will there be a mass exodus of followers? Will be brought up before a blogging court to stand trial? I know I can't follow everyones blog 7 days a week. I miss a lot of posts so is it a huge deal if you're not blogging something new everyday?

To a certain extent if you get review books or use Netgalley then page views etc are important in order to be approved but I've decided that ARC's aren't the end all - be all of blogging. I like buying books and supporting authors so I've decided to relax about the whole process this year. I do think it matters that people read your blog - I'm not dismissing the importance of it - but numbers can't be the driving force. Not for me anyway. If I'm so stressed out that I quit then what good is that?

My anti-slump mantras & goals for 2012:

*Choose books that interest ME. It doesn't matter that 300 people LOVE that amazing book, if it doesn't appeal to me, I'm not reading it. Also, see that little book over there that no one is reading? Yeah - I think I'm going to read and review it. It may not be my most viewed review but that may be the next great book but we're just not noticing it.

*I can't read everything. I just can't. I must accept this fact once and for all. I haven't read Shiver or Across the Universe or The Night Circus and 100 other amazing books I absolutely must read before I die.. I hope I get to them but it's ok if I don't.

*I'll blog when I have something to say. I won't if I don't. It's ok to go two or three days without blogging if I haven't read anything.

*Same thing with reading. The books aren't going anywhere. I'll read when I'm in the mood not because I HAVE to.

*I don't need to review every book I read. Sometimes a quick one or two lines on Goodreads is fine. Not every book needs a lengthy detailed review.

*Manage my review requests better. I'm doing good with this one so far. I felt guilty turning anyone away before but I couldn't get to half the books for review and then I ended up not the reading process because of self imposed deadlines. That's not really fair to anyone. I'm not at the point of turning away requests but I am sticking to accepting books that I'm sure appeal to my tastes. I still get incredibley depressed saying no but hey - that's just the way it has to be.

This is really long and I haven't' even gotten into half of it! Maybe some of your responses will help lead to a Reding/Blogging Slumps Part 2 !


Book Blogger Confessions schedule for February:

February 6th: Deadlines for reviewing and blogging. Do you set them? How do you keep them? What do you do if you can't meet a deadline?

February 20th: Social networking with authors: Do you interact on Twitter/Facebook etc. with authors? Does it affect how you review their work or do you look at their books differently because you are on friendly terms with them?

Join in the meme and link your post up below or leave a comment!
Feel free to suggest future topics you want to see discussed.

30 comments:

  1. I try to avoid book hype as much as I can. I know it can be detrimental to my reading stamina. That's not to say that I won't ever read a book that has been hyped up. I tend to not buy the book right away. I might wait several months for the hype to fizzle out before buying the book. That way I won't be terribly disappointed if the book doesn't live up to all of the expectations that would be fresh in my head if I had read the book right away. And, I won't be left feeling like something is wrong with me because I didn't care for a book that a million other people seemed to love!

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  2. oh hype on books. Great goals and I had added these to mine as well. I agree reading books that you want to read not the masses. I get turned off on book when all the bloggers have read it and posted the same day. Ugh not a way to get me to read a new book.

    Thanks for sharing the book love . I agree about deadlines and review books. I have cut back on review books , and trying to enjoy this hobby of mine too. I need to read my own books too. Heck even more classics. My answer will be up soon.

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  3. Great post! You've said a lot that I agree with. Remembering why you started your blog is vital. So is making sure that you are reading stuff you love, and because you actually want to read. I don't have the BEA issue, but I'm a shopaholic and the "Oh, no! I don't have anything to show for IMM!" bug has certainly gotten me to buy some ... interesting things.

    I also agree with you about hyped books. Listening to your own gut and learning to be able to define your own taste is actually one of the best things about book blogging. Getting to a point where you feel confident in assessing what you will or won't like is good. Especially since reading is so personal.

    I also agree about posting pressures. And number pressure ... ugh. That one use to drive me crazy and it got me to do some things that I shake my head at looking back. Right now I'm actually really interested in playing Star Wars with my boyfriend so my blog isn't moving along as quick, but for now I'm good with that because I'm enjoying what I am doing.

    Anyway, it was very interesting hearing your thoughts on this one. :)

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    1. Meme's were an issue for me for awhile. I felt like I had to have a WoW pick for some reason. I don't worry about them now - if I have something to say then great -if not it's ok.
      I think we all succumb to numbers pressure - whether we admit it or not. I don't look at my stats very often anymore so it's not my guiding force for blogging. It's gotta be fun or it isn't worth doing!

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  4. Great post and great ideas..i agree you should read what you want to read :)

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  5. more questions-- writing that negative review or author behaving badly ...

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  6. Great post :) And I sure why that amount of ARCS would make you crazy. Too many books, and then more books come along.

    And I guess what has saved me from serious slumps is that I take blogging seriously and at the same time not seriously at all. I am lazy, I write reviews in 20 minutes and I let my mind drift. And then I got schedules when to read books, lol

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  7. I need to get better about not feeling like I need to review every book I read. I just completed a readathon last week that I finished 5 books in. So now I am 8 reviews behind, and it is all so overwhelming that I don't want to write a single review at all right now!

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  8. The whole time I was reading your post, I was nodding my head like those chinese cats bobbing their head and hands up and down. It's been my dream to attend BEA even once in my life and the thought of having so many free arcs is just like a dream come true for me although I'd probably have the same problem as you with all the pressure and all. Plus, I absolutely understand the possesiveness monster, I had one like that too. And I know it's incredibly selfish so I'm learning to manage it now. And I do hate hypes, although I do not always read books based on the popularity factor, it did affect the next book pick and I sometimes don't like it as much as I thought I would because expectations suck big time. Also your blogging problems, oh my I think you summarized what I haven't included on mine. I was getting nearer on the dreaded burn-out and I just started blogging last Nov. Go figure! I was this OCD person, everything has to be perfect, tenses smoothed out, i have to reread every single thing I have written so no mistakes can ever be posted on the watchful eye of my beloved followers. That my friend, I guessed was the sole cause of my reviewing fears. Failures and typos. I could say that I'm trying to tone down the OCD attack a bit and it made all the difference. I realize that this is my hobby and not my job. And I just need to go with the flow, have fun and made new friends along the way. Goodness, your post is way better than mine it feels like this is the extension of my brief and not-so well thought out answer. And instead of going back and editing mine, I just let it be. I think I'm getting better at controlling my anxiousness at having to be perfect all the time. I so love this weekly blog meme!

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  9. Yes, yes, and yes. I can't possibly imagine how overwhelmed you felt w/over 100 ARCs. I have 10-12 on my shelf, and i feel like a bad boyfriend b/c I'm ignoring them and won't look them in the eye. ;-)
    It's easy to get swept up jn the next "it" book. I love discovering those little unnoticed "gems", also.
    As far as scheduling goes, I'm one if the nerds. I know what's going on my blog for months. But it's about maintaining some sort of control. Once I'm caught up, I
    plan to relax.
    Good luck on your goals!

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  10. I think I might be getting out of a reading slump right now. I completed my first book in almost a month last week and then I completed another though I still don't have that urge to pick up another book and I am taking a break this month from blogging to hopefully get reenergized because my reading slump led to a blogging slump which make blogging feel like a chore. Also I know what you mean about scheduling I can't do it, except for manga which I talk about on Mondays (usually) and covers which I talk about on Saturdays (again usually) and of course memes which are easy. But normal reviews are posted whenever.

    I can't completely hide away from blogging though so my link is leading to my friend's blog which I am a co-contributor of :).

    Sandy

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  11. I love that this was the topic this week. It really goes hand in hand with last weeks topic. I find mnyself getting into slumps when I am overscheduled (either in real life, or my reading/blogging life). It leads to a lot of pressure and extra stress that causes me to just shut down. This year I am accepting fewer review books and focusing on my TBR pile.

    I'm glad you came back to blogging! I would have missed you! <3

    Bonnie @ Hands and Home www.handsandhome.ca

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  12. Hi! It was great to read your post --- I totally feel better about the stress I start to feel sometimes about reading and blogging. I was nodding my head when I read what you wrote about feeling possessive about the ARCs.... I sometimes have that happen too. Actually, reminds me of how I felt about one of my ex-boyfriends.... I didn't want him, but I didn't want him with anyone else, either. But I got over that feeling. :)

    You have some good ideas here, and I'm in agreement with not feeling like I have to review every book I read, and also, feeling like it's ok to turn down review requests.

    Thanks for hosting this --- I'm looking forward to seeing what other bloggers have to say.

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    1. It's hard to let that one book go. I almost always end up not liking it so I'm trying to learn to say goodbye lol

      Saying no to review requests has been hard for me. I feel horrible because I want every book to have a chance.

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  13. I also get into slumps from having too much to read - which feels totally backwards - but I do feel guilty when there's books that are sitting on my shelf that I haven't read and I feel like I need to get through those, whether they are what I want to read or not. Sometimes I have to sit and just think - ok what do I want to read right now - and I have to do it without looking at my shelves or else I feel flooded.
    Great post, great topic. Thanks so much for hosting!

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    1. I don't look at my shelves anymore. They look pretty and neatly organized but I try to approach it as a book store and I go shopping for a book not as "oh my god - all these books NEED to be read now!!"

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  14. I love your answer. I know it's long perhaps, but it's informative and enjoyable to read. If I was to respond to everything I wanted to, I'd have a whole new blog post down here! I'll put my answers up some point today but it won't be too long (I'm having a rather depressing kind of day) but you'll see where I agree, I hope.

    The one thing that really stuck out as well was the fact that you can't blog if you're not reading! This something I really feel, and something I'm constantly at odds with. Do I blog for me, for authors or for readers?

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  15. It was really interesting to read your response to this! I've had a blogging slump too a year ago, and I had to stop blogging for a few months because of it. Blogging and reading are supposed to be fun. I like your tips, I'll have to keep those in mind myself!

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  16. Isn't it great to see that not all bloggers are perfect reading and blogging machines ;-) - it's certainly made me feel better to know I'm not the only one who feels overwhelmed, stressed or just generally uninspired by everything.

    I've never been one to buy into 'hype' much (it's the rebel in me!), but I can certainly see how it would be easy to get completely caught up in it. Reading those unknown books is fantastic - it's so exciting to discover something amazing that no one else has read, or even heard about!

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  17. *high-fives* The hype machine shall not win! If everyone loves it, I'm still not going to try it unless one of my " secret recommender circle" says it's good. Or unless an author I'm in love with says it's good--normally an excellent author has a reliable opinion about which hypey books are actually worthwhile.

    I'm very proud of you for working through your slumps, because I know the weight and pressure of all those reviews and all those waiting books can be a killer. You rock! Blogging only when you have something to say sounds like a good plan. Otherwise, we're forcing the words and are /unhappy bloggers/. Which must not occur! :-D

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  18. This is such a good post and very articulate. I'm like that with Hype too, I haven't read a lot of books that "everyone else" has read.

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  19. Great post! I wish I had 100 ARCs to read, but I can definitely understand how you wouldn't eve know where to start. I have about 50 or so books that I have bought over the past two months and I still can't figure out what order I want to read them in.

    As for the blogging, I actually have two blogs and I have seriously been debating trying to merge the two. However, I just don't know if that is the right decision. They are so drastically different. One if my book blog and the other is my life blog. I blog about whatever I want really. I don't know.

    Again, great post. I love your honesty. And I love the honesty of this meme! I'm so glad you started this.

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  20. I've never been one to go out and try to pick up a lot of review books, only because the pressure to read and review on a schedule takes the fun out of reading. So I definitely agree about with the really great points about that. I definitely have the it's a hobby not a job point embedded in me, but its easy to lose sight of that from time to time, that is why I take weekends off from blogging. It always make me feel excited to come back to it on Mondays. :)

    Thanks for sharing so much, Karen. You're awesome!

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    1. Missie, I love your blog & you because that is always the feeling I get from both - that you're having fun!
      I took a few months off and I actually feel great about blogging right now. I'm refreshed!

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  21. What a fun question! (and so relevant to me right now) I tried to linky but I don't know if it worked so here's a link to my response:
    http://karensaddictions.blogspot.com/2012/01/book-blogger-confessions.html

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  22. Great question....I am not going to answer just now...lots of things going on....mainly RETIREMENT. :) Hopefully after that I can join in.

    OLD FOLLOWER...Stopping by from the Blog Hop.

    If you need another book, try my giveaway. :)

    Book Giveaway on my blog….THE WICKED WIVES. It is more a mystery than anything, and it is true.

    Stop by and complete the entry form if you like.

    http://silversolara.blogspot.com/2012/01/give-away-of-wicked-wives.html

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  23. Great post, Karen!!

    I took most of the past two months off as well. Pretty much due to the holidays from Thanksgiving up to just last week, I really didn't have time or energy. I wrote a few reviews that were prescheduled and did a meme if i had time.

    I'm starting to say No a lot more often too! I don't like it either, but it really has to be done! I'm really trying to narrow my focus back down to the genres I really love Historical Romance and YA.

    I think i'm lucky on the 'next big thing' hype b/c dystopian ya is the next big thing and i don't like that genre! so yay! no next big thing books for me LOL. I never get requests to review the super hyped books anyway lol.

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