The Role of Book Bloggers

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been pondering the direction of my blog and what roles I want it to fulfill.  In the past, I’d never given too much thought to what role my own blog played.  My content has changed over time, but those changes have been organic rather than deliberate.

Over the past month or two, I’ve been working more closely with several publishers and reviewing many of their new titles.  It’s something that I’m very excited about, as I’m discovering a lot of wonderful new books.  I’ve also been contacted by authors and publishers for publicity requests such as cover reveals, book trailers, interviews, and guest posts.

When I began my blog back in 2011, I didn’t know that book blogs were even a thing.  I was looking for something to put on a resume (and a way to stop driving my friends crazy by ranting about whatever book I’d just finished while at the bar).  What I didn’t expect was the welcoming and supportive book blogging community.  If it wasn’t for the blogging community, I’d have stopped writing reviews a long time ago, for the same reason that I can’t keep a journal for more than two weeks before it ends up sitting on a shelf gathering dust.  In the past, I’d run into someone maybe once or twice a year who was as excited about books as I am.  Now, going online and interacting with people who share the same passion is one of the highlights of my day.

The internet is our generations’ bohemian café, where people gather and share ideas.  For that reason, it has become an integral part of marketing and publicity schemes.  Publishers give out review copies to bloggers because it helps them sell books.  Bloggers write about books because it is their passion.  It’s a win-win situation, but sometimes it can get taken to an extreme.  I’ve visited some blogs where it seems like the blogger doesn’t have opinions.  If every post is a meme or cover reveal, it makes me wonder whether that blog is anything more than a marketing tool.  On the opposite extreme, some bloggers don’t accept any review copies, and stick to reviewing books that they’ve purchased or borrowed.

The rise of technology has inevitably changed the face of the publishing industry and literary culture.  It makes me wonder what role I want to play as a blogger and reviewer.

In the past, I’ve mostly stuck to reviews, with my “New Acquisitions” posts to let people know what books I’d be reading in the near future.  At the same time, while reading other blogs, I get excited for books that some of my favorite authors are going to release but that aren’t in the ARC phase yet.  When I find out about new books, I’d love to help get the word out about them.  I want to find a middle ground that I’m happy with, where I can promote and support the authors that I love while still focusing on reviews and commentary.

I don’t quite know where that middle ground is.  That’s where I’d like your help. What do you like reading in a book blog?  How much of a feature is too much?   How do you feel about reviews, mini-reviews, cover reveals, author interviews, guest posts, blog tours, book trailers, memes, etc.?  Do you have any feedback about what works and what doesn’t?  Do you think there’s anything that would improve my blog?

Comments make me happy! Please feel free to leave a reply.

20 comments

  1. Okay, this is just me, but I tend to avoid blogs that have a meme lined up every day of the week. Reviews and mini-reviews, I love. Author interviews are pretty interesting, too.

    I’m pretty confident you’ll work it out, Grace. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about your blog, it’s that you make sure each post has intelligent, meaningful content. Your reviews are respectful, even if you don’t like the book personally. Stick to that, and you’ll do great, no matter what changes you decide to make. I wish you all the best! 🙂

    1. Thanks! I don’t do a lot of memes, partly because the terminology irritates me. Memes mean something different everywhere else on the internet. It’s kind of how I get irked every time I hear “To boldly go where no man has gone before” and am like “It’s ‘to go boldly’ dammit! Split infinitives!” Memes can sometimes be fun though, and I like the interaction that they have. 🙂

  2. I think it’s great to watch everyone’s blogs evolve! I mean I randomly decided I needed to add non-book stuff to help me process other things in my life and so far I think it works out great! It’s all about your personality on the web and what you want to give to the world! Good luck regardless and I can’t wait to see what you decide.

    1. Thanks for the input! I think I’m going to stick to mostly book or book blogging related posts, but I might be a bit more open to guest posts/announcements/etc. than I have been in the past. Your blog is wonderful, and I like what you’ve done with it. 🙂

  3. I know exactly what you mean. Over the past couple of years, I’ve realized, that personally, I prefer reading a review from a well-written & intelligent book blog over a mainstream newspaper/journal (and I write for these publications too!).

    1. The problem with newspaper/journal reviews is that they discuss whether the book has literary merit without addressing whether or not it’s enjoyable to read. I read mainstream reviews too, but they don’t generally influence whether I buy a book. Bloggers are more enthusiastic, and after reading someone’s reviews for a while, I get a pretty good idea of whether I’ll like the book.

        1. That’s how I was with one of the books I read earlier this summer. The story itself was irritating, and I hated all of the characters, but the writing was so wonderful that I ended up loving it. Other times, I want something campy and ridiculous. Literary merit is one criterion, but I don’t think it should be the only one. 🙂

  4. I disagree completely with short reviews — simply indicate at what point the review starts to contain spoilers. Unless you give some actual analysis the reader has no clue whether or not to trust your opinion!

    1. I try to always include spoiler alerts, because spoilers ruin the experience for me. Before I’ve read a book, I like reading medium-length reviews. I like the more in-depth ones after I’ve finished reading a book, because that’s the point that I really want to analyze it and spend lots of time thinking about it.

  5. I’m still working on my own reviewing style, but I think I’m getting there. I’ve come to realize that my reviews vary in length according to how much I loved the book or not. I do not do memes though, except for the Sunday Salon, but I’m not even sure it counts as one…
    Hey, I noticed you are reading Quiet (loved it!) and The Never List! I’m waiting for that one to be available at my local library, can’t wait to see your review 🙂

    1. Your reviews are wonderful!

      I’m hoping to review The Never List within the next week or so. I started Quiet and was enjoying it a lot, but my local public library has very short lending periods, and I couldn’t renew it and had to give it back. I need to wait for another copy so I can finish it.

  6. The best thing about book blogging is the huge number of books I have discovered that I might never have heard of otherwise. My blog is mostly still based on reviews but I have been writing more feature articles and lists about bookish related things recently as they generate a lot of good debate. I would say if people seem to like what’s on your blog and how you arrange things, then just keep doing what you’re already doing 🙂

  7. I like to do whatever the hell I like whenever I like! Hah, nice and easy. No, seriously, I don’t schedule. The thing is, I work full time and have a family, home, garden and pets to look after. Reading is my hobby and blogging is just a way of (1) letting off steam or hyperventilating about books I love – because, otherwise, whenever I socialise I become a total book bore and go on and on until I notice I’ve cleared the room! (2) it’s great for finding other book recommendations (3) I feel like I’ve really come to know a few select people who’s blogs I follow and who I now really trust in terms of their opinions (4) I love the banter (5) it’s expanded my reading horizons whilst at the same time helping me to realise my favourite type of books/authors.
    I love book reviews mainly but I do like other random trivia blogs.
    Lynn 😀

    1. I sort of schedule. Generally when I have time to write reviews, I write a handful, and then schedule them to post throughout the upcoming week. I’m not very good at planing for longer than that, because I work full time and get busy. Then again, when things get super crazy at work, finding some time for blogging afterwards helps keep me sane.

      I’ve discovered so many wonderful books from reading book blogs. My TBR pile keeps multiplying. I am okay with that. 🙂

  8. I like blogs where there is a variety. I think if you mix memes with reviews with trailers it is the perfect mix because it keeps things fresh and interesting – especially when you mix in your own experiences / opinions…