Actually, the title is kinda misleading… My days are inherently boring so I couldn’t do that to you. Long time readers may recall I once pondered the idea of a reality TV show about my life, but figured my days of eating junk food and lolling about in bed or sitting at my desk would really not cut it. No racy sex scenes. No violent outbursts. No cat fights. #BORING
However, I noticed a few blogs around lately (by other book bloggers) about what it is we do and since my audience is mostly non-book bloggers I thought I’d share some of our secrets. And dispel some of those myths.
Myth: We get shitloads of free books.
Truth: Actually that’s kinda true. Not gazillions, but a few. It depends however on your reputation (do you really read and review books or just take pictures of them, for example?!) and who your contacts are.
Getting review copies of books
There are online options via which you can request ‘early’ copies (ARCs) electronically for downloading. I don’t mind them as I can make notes electronically using either my Kindle or Bluefire Reader Apps. Often however, access to these books can expire and sometimes they’re not properly formatted which can be a bit confusing.
I have relationships of sorts with PR peeps at almost all of the bigger Australian publishers and get new release listings months in advance. Eventually (after some procrastination) I respond, requesting any books that leap out at me. I was probably less discerning several years ago but now I remind myself of the time it takes to read and review a book and the number I receive so I only request something if I’m intrigued / have heard hype / love the author etc…
The reading is the fun part
I saw an interview with a book blogger recently who mentioned the exorbitant number of books she reads. Some (non-reviewer/blogger) commenters scoffed and said they read far more than that. I wanted to – but didn’t – respond saying that READING the book is not what is time-consuming.
It’s reviewing the book that takes time.
It’s (perhaps) writing notes as you read the book (I tend to have a pen and paper next to the bathtub where I read and jot down names, key points and pages I might want to quote.) Then later I have to set up the blog post – I bought a program that inserts information from Goodreads – but I have to populate a lot of those spaces, add in information about the genre, source, series, prepare links to booksellers, upload book covers, write an excerpt. And so forth. And THEN I have to write a review. And edit it. And eventually publish it.
If I’ve downloaded an electronic copy I’m then required to upload my review to the site providing the galley. If it’s a print book I’ve received from a publisher I email the relevant PR person and send them a link to my review.
I then add my review into Goodreads and Amazon (x 2: US and Australia). I used to summarise my review, but it was too time consuming so now I just cut and paste bits.
Of course then we share our posts to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter or whatever. We could skip that bit but it’s nice to have people come and visit our sites or read the review we’ve spent so much time on…
And then of course we pick up the next book and start all over again.
The good, the bad, the ugly and the overwhelm
I love reading and always have. I read quickly and obsessively. I used to force myself to ‘stop’ every so often but since starting book blogging about four years ago I kinda allow myself the addiction. It feels a bit like my job. Albeit an unpaid one.
We often receive copies of books we may not have requested. Sometimes this leads to a nice surprise – a book you may not have chosen. More often than not it’s just not something you’re interested in. In the early days I felt obliged to try to read whatever I got, but now if I haven’t requested it I put it to the bottom of the pile (if it’s of some interest) or donate it.
And what if we really hate a book we’ve requested for review? Well, if I can’t finish it I won’t review it at all. I’ll mark it as a ‘DNF’ (did not finish) in Goodreads and – if I’ve been liaising with a PR person about it – I’ll email them and explain it wasn’t for me. If I managed to get through it but didn’t like it or enjoy it (two star or less) I’ll sometimes just review it in Goodreads. And I’ll try to be honest about what I did and didn’t like. I’m very conscious that sometimes it’s ME not the book. (And yes I know it’s shocking that my own taste may be at fault! 😉 )
In fact, I tend to stay away from genres I don’t usually read (historical fiction, romance, fantasy and non-fiction) because I worry my judgement will be tainted before I even turn the first page. I don’t really know what regular readers of science fiction or dystopian young adult fiction deem to be good. I might think something is TOTALLY unrealistic or makes no sense when it’s the norm in that world. Best I stay away for everyone’s sakes.
I used to try to read and review everything before it was due for release. But then several books would arrive at once. Or late. Or I’d have other commitments. I still try to read and review something just before its publication date (publishers don’t usually like you reviewing something more than a couple of weeks before it’s out) but I don’t always succeed. And my current bad habit is shelving those books whose publication dates I’ve missed, thinking I’ll get back to them at some point – and going to what’s next on my chronologically-sorted TBR pile.
The to-be-read pile
Speaking of the TBR pile… I try to read books in order of their publication date. Even if something arrives that I desperately want to read – if it’s not out for a month or two (indeed, I’ve had some 2018 books for a while now), I put it aside until later. Firstly… unless I review a book straight after reading it I tend to forget what I want to say. And if I can’t publish my review for weeks it means I have to pre-write it and schedule it in advance and remember to promote it when it’s published. Better to just plod through my date-sorted pile.
As for those books?
I used to keep everything. I was a book hoarder and HATED lending them to people. Now however I only keep books if I really LOVE them… and that’s probably not even one/week. Instead I either donate them (via my mum’s church group to a local hospital or women’s shelter), give some to friends or drop them off to a local backpackers. I am thinking however, I’d love to have my own street library outside of my house. I know loaning out books (I receive for free) means writers and publishers miss out on sales from individuals or libraries, but I like to think it’s encouraging reading and hopefully readers will discover new-to-them authors and buy / read more of their work.
Are you a reader? Do you think you’d enjoy book blogging or reviewing? Any suggestions re my street library? Or anything else you want to know?
PS. Pics are of the books I’ve read this year. 105 so far apparently.
The Lovin’ Life team includes: