This morning I was reading a really good blog post about jealousy, book blogging and what to do about it. As I was halfway through the post, I was thinking, "wow this is SPOT ON". I wonder who wrote this" as I had scrolled really fast and missed the name of the blog. I scrolled back up and was not surprised at all that it had been written by My Friend Amy. I swear, she is West Coast Non-Asian Twin. I kid you not.
I get jealous easily. I've been this way since I was little. I've always felt inferior to people because of my ethnicity and living in places where I stand out and get made fun of because of it. Unfortunately this has led to me feeling constantly inferior to pretty much everything in life and it's seeped into my book blogging.
I've talked before about how I feel weirdly disconnected from most of the book bloggers I interact with because of what I read and review. I constantly feel like I'm on the outskirts of the book blogging industry. I feel like I'm living between the city and the country on the border and no one knows I'm there because they're so involved in their own community. I love general market fiction and I love Christian fiction. Why can't the two worlds combine? (Well, they can....INSPYS!)
And here's the deal. It's not that I need more books. At this point, I am so saturated with books that I could review all the books I've gotten for review every day and it would probably be about 3 years before I was done. (I might be underestimating). And I know that I can get more books, all I have to do is ask for them. But there likes the kicker: I don't want to ask, I want to be asked. I want people to find me. I want people to be like, we want Deborah to read this to get her opinion. (Hmm, vain much?)
When I do review books, I feel like I'm lost in the shuffle. I send out tweets and emails saying I've posted the review, and I hear back nothing. Yet I see other bloggers constantly getting feedback and even personal conversation going with the publishers and publicists. Ok if we're going to be honest, what I really want is for me to put out a tweet or a facebook that says anything and everyone responds. (Laughs at herself for the absurdness of this)
I will admit that when the niche panel for Book Blogger Con was announced, I was shocked and hurt that there were so many genres listed for the panel....except Christian/religious fiction. Not that I wanted to be asked to speak on the panel (heavens no) but the fact that the entire market/genre was completely excluded. I don't know the logistics behind this but as someone who has been blogging about faith related books for YEARS and the fact that there are MANY Christian fiction book bloggers out there, this seemed like yet another sign saying "You're not one of us." This is just how I feel. I'm not complaining at all. I SWEAR! (honestly, i think Book Blogger Con is great and I wish I could have gone this year and I'm not trying to suck up at all!)
There are a few of us who span both markets actively but we're few and far between. I wish we had a bigger community. There are a few stragglers on both ends, those who only read Christian fiction will dabble in an occasional general market or those that focus only on general market will try out a CF book every now and then. But I read both actively. Just yesterday I finished a general market contemporary women's fiction book that contained sex and cursing and then today I'm reading a rather tame and "clean" Christian fiction book. And I enjoy both (well this particularly CF book isn't going to win any literary awards, sorry). But I hate that in about 95% of the conversations I have with most book bloggers, I feel like I can't really talk about 60% of the books I read because they are Christian fiction. They either don't know the market or don't want to know the market. If the last book I read was Christian fiction, I usually scramble in my mind to think of the last general market book I read as well.
Yet here's the strange kicker. I feel the same way from the Christian fiction market as well. Most of the publishers and authors I want to work with don't seem to see me as a viable source to review their book. For example, I have been reading YA all my life. And I do enjoy reading Christian YA. I'm not a teen but since I've reviewed tons of YA in both markets I would love to review the new CF YA books that are coming out on my blog. And yet there doesn't seem to be any way to get a lot of the Christian fiction publishers who publish YA to notice me, even after I try to contact them, send links, etc.
A lot of Christian fiction bloggers don't read my blog because I read general market fiction and also because I do post negative (and sometimes a bit scathing) reviews on Christian fiction books I hated. I love it on Amazon when I get negative votes simply because I am the only 2 star review and there are 300 5 stars. I wrote a post earlier on why I feel that I'm not the target audience for Christian fiction even though I enjoy it.
Also I'm just going to admit this because I've been avoiding revealing this for years because I'm rather ashamed of it. My stats are FREAKING LOW. It's a good day if I average about 80 visits, with 120 page views. It's a good month if I can get 2,000 visits. 4 years and 9 months of blogging have gotten me only 87,000 visitors and 134,100 page views. From the way other bloggers talk, they get half that much in a month. No wonder no one sends me books! I don't have a big enough audience to visit my blog! (And thus ends the trickle of books that does come my way as people rethink things)
Before you think I am whining (but wait, this is MY blog, I can whine if I wanted to!), let's turn the table:
A lot of this is my fault. I could switch my focus, stop reading Christian fiction and concentrate more on general market. I could market more. I could put more money into my blog by redoing the site, buying a domain, self hosting, putting more time into it. I could interact more aggressively with publishers and publicists. I could have made time to go to BEA. I could have put myself out there more trying to market myself and my blog. I could...I could...I could.
But you know what? I don't want to. And thus everything I said above is null and void then right? This is what I have to remember. (And yes I do make myself stop and think about this) I started my blog simply to tell other people about books. I didn't know about ARCs, I didn't know about getting review copies, I didn't know you could interact with publishers, I didn't even really know about any other book bloggers. And throughout the years, that's pretty much what my blog is. It's all about the books I, MYSELF read. And yes, I do have an eclectic taste that spans through different genres. I read and enjoy (most) Christian fiction. I read and enjoy YA fiction. I read and enjoy women's fiction. I read and enjoy memoirs. I read and enjoy cozy mysteries. I read and enjoy contemporary fiction. Yes it jumps all over the place. I don't read just one market, let alone one genre. My brain cannot function like that.
And I'm probably not the best person to sell books. But then I don't want to sell books on my blog. I want to TELL people about the books I read. I want to be like..."Hey this was a good book and here's why" or "Hey this was a bad book and other people won't agree with me but here's why" or "Hey I absolutely loved this book and I think you should read it and while you may not agree with me but here's why". I don't want my blog to be solely a free marketing tool for authors or publishers.
Also I have a job in a career that has nothing to do with the book industry. And I absolutely love my job. I don't want to get in the book industry, whether it be writing, marketing, editing, etc. Being an archivist and working in the history field IS what I want to do. Book blogging is my hobby (that's taken over my life a bit) and I need to realize that others are more focused in it because that's what they want to do. I just need to do what I want to do.
Here's the thing: I've been told MANY times by people that they really like my blog, the books I read, and how I do my reviews. Why can I not take heart in that? Why do I constantly want something else? (Interestingly this correlates with a Bible study I'm doing, but another time and place for that)
I need to refocus who I am blogging for. I am not blogging for other bloggers. They aren't always going to read the same books I am. When I hear that they are just going to hit "Read all" on their Google Reader, I shouldn't take that as an insult that they will never read the awesome review that I wrote last week. I am blogging because I WANT TO. It's for me. And if others take joy in what I say, that's totally awesome.
I think I need to sticky this post so that I don't forget about it when I have the blogging blues.
Since I admitted I have low stats, and lots of people hit read all in their google reader, there's a slight chance that not many people will read this. still I'm slightly worried that someone will read this, get the wrong idea and I'll find a tweet somewhere where people are saying that I'm complaining and whining. Please don't think I am. Well maybe a bit. But I just wanted to get this off my back. And it's my blog right?
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