Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Personal Post on Jealousy, Blogging and....

Personal Post Time (and it's looooooooong)

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?

Because pugs rule.


  1. What a great, honest post, Deborah! It is good to have those refocusing conversations with yourself once in awhile, because it is all too easy to let jealousy creep in.

  2. This is such an excellent post. Thank you for sharing what you are thinking about. I too feel a bit of blogger jealousy. Even thought we aren't "supposed" to compare ourselves to others, I can't help but do it. It is my nature to do so.

    If I can be totally honest, my stats are right about where yours are. I would love to improve them, but so far nothing is really working.

    I would love to be one of the sought out bloggers, just once. I got a blurb in a book from a small publisher once and it still gives me the giggles.

    Its too bad that there is such a stigma attached to Christian Fiction. I honestly didn't think I'd enjoy it until someone gave me some good suggestions. Now I don't hesitate to pick it up at all. I am not really a niche blogger either so I certainly feel your pain. All I can say is keep up the good work. I love reading your blog and the variety of books is fantastic.

  3. I think it's great that you chose to be honest in this post. You have these concerns and worries and insecurities in your head, so why not address them, and hopefully, DO something about them!

    p.s. I would love to meet up sometime for coffee and a chat. I don't read CF, but I admire you for doing so. *grin*

  4. It's okay Deb, my stats are low too :-) But, I've always maintained that I blog primarily for myself, and anything else that comes from it is a bonus. And that means that when my life is busy, my reviews fall by the wayside. I don't work well on a blogging schedule.

    I think we just need more hours in the day!

  5. First paragraph made me laaaaaugh! :)

    I think you're awesome and I love reading your reviews. I have always thought your humor flies too much under the radar. I'm glad I have you and hannah to talk to about GM and CF. ;)

  6. Great post, Deborah! Blog about what you love and don't worry about what other people think. We LOVED your reviews of Sandra Byrd's London Confidential series! A lot of book bloggers don't take the time to write such thorough reviews (which is disappointing) or don't even include the cover of the book in a post. You're a great book blogger! Anyway, I have to admit that I also love this post b/c you posted a picture of a pug puppy. :)

  7. For what it is worth I read Amy's blog about CF publishing from a link on your blog which I just happened to stumble across at that particular time. That got me thinking as I straddle the General Fiction/Christian Fiction divide and I have blogged much about the whole situation since, linking back to your's and Amy's sites on several occasions.

    We rarely grasp the depth of our influence. The internet gurus point to our stats as a good measure but they are a drop in the influential bucket. Stay true to your heart and look at the stats as the TIP of the iceburg that they are.

  8. I love your honesty in this post. Honestly, I think one would be hardpressed not to be jealous at least once in their time of blogging, or even life.

    I don't really read CF, not a Christian, but there's some CF that I want to check out like Redeeming Love i think it's called, and Christy. However, I think it's awesome that you get the word out about these books.

    Anyways, just wanted to end on the note that I really, really enjoyed this post!

  9. @jenn thanks! i talk to myself a lot already so why not say something useful for once? (maybe i shouldn't admit that...)

    @teresa i got blurbed in some CF books a few years ago, and that is probably one of my biggest achievements blogging. everytime i go to bookstore, i always turn those books out.

    @cecelia definitely! We can invite some of the Grove City peeps as well!

    @jamie i made a commitment to try doing a blogging schedule this year. it's worked out very well...until today because i still have not read tomorrow's book much less written it's review. i forsee a long night tonight.

    @amy - Love you!!! I'm glad that someone appreciates my written humor. I'm not so verbal with it.

    @Christy I knew I'd win you over with the pug! But seriously thank you, you guys have been awesome and I love that I can be open with you about whether i love or hated a book

    @sally it's true about influence and stats. i have a lot of people tell me that i've helped them out with getting books but all i can focus on are numbers. which is bad! numbers do not define me!

    @april thanks so much! you picked the two "classics" of Christian fiction. both are good. I was a bit afraid to get all honest in fear of retaliation but so far I haven't seen any. (hope i haven't jinxed myself)

  10. I moderated that Niche Market panel at BBC, but wasn't involved in selecting for it...and it didn't even cross my mind till you mentioned it that the Christian-fiction niche wasn't included! And it should have been. Like some of the other categories represented, CF crosses genres (romance and historical fiction come to mind). I don't think the exclusion was deliberate, and that panel was huge as it was...but still, CF belonged there.

    This is a great, revealing post, Deborah. Thanks for writing it.

  11. It is your blog and good for you for writing what you feel! I think that it is very easy to be tempted into reviewing what may be popular or more widely accepted. But if you're reading for fun, you should be reading and reviewing what you want to. Good for you!

  12. Here's the deal. I read both Christian and non-Christian fiction. I am thrilled (with a capital THRILLED) to find someone who reads and reviews both. I'm trying to choose reasonably clean non-Christian fiction and appreciate the reviews that you do. Oh, and did I mention that I'm a new reader to your blog? (not that my one view daily is going to increase your traffic all that much, but hey, progress is progress!) Anyway, before my wordiness got away from me, I was trying to leave an encouraging comment. =)

  13. I applaud you. I too read both Christian and non-christian fiction. I also read traditional and self-published books. I started my blog so that parents and students could get an idea of what books are out there. I don't have a great following but I am told each day by students at my school that they saw a great book on my blog and wondered if I had it on my shelves. To me that is worth it. We need to just remember why we started it and not worry about other people's stats.

  14. Thanks for posting this! I don't think you're alone out here. I'm another blogger who posts both general and Christian titles. I subscribe to your blog in email so don't often come to the site, which affects stats.

  15. I am one of those lurkers on Google Reader who reads and moves on without posting. I want to say I truly love your views and reviews and I never mark your blog all as read.
    I love the variations in books you read and you introduce me to new to me authors. This and contests of course keep me coming back daily to my Google Reader which saves me from finding the blogs I want to read via websites.
    Love & Hugs,

  16. I loved this post! I identified with it so much. It's nice to know that I am no alone.

  17. I also read all sorts of books, Christian and secular, children's, young adult and adult, fiction and nonfiction. It becomes difficult when I forget why I'm really blogging. I blog to get the thoughts out of my own mind and into cyberspace so that others can share in the conversation. But then I get ARC's, and it's ALMOST a conflict of interest. Because when I have an ARC I feel as if I have some responsibility to do a timely, thorough review and mention both the good points and the issues that might offend or turn off some readers---like poor writing in Christian fiction or language and sexual content in secular books. And I don't always want to discuss that stuff. Maybe the thing that caught my attention was something completely different, and I just overlooked the language or the cardboard characters. So I want the review copies because, especially with Christian fiction. sometimes the books are not available in my library, but I don't want to feel obligated to do an exhaustive review when all I really wanted to say was, "Hey, I really liked this aspect of the book" or even "I wish books like this one wouldn't be offered to readers as Christian fiction because . . ."


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