Tis the season to reflect on the things we’re grateful for in life. While there are many, many things I’m grateful for — family, my job, my home, etc. — there is a group of people that play an important role in my life (and the lives of most writers), but who lately are under attack and not receiving the recognition they deserve. So I want to take this moment to express my gratitude to the book bloggers of the world.
Yes, book bloggers. Why, you ask, do they get a special shoutout? Because their job is getting harder and harder and, from what I can see, many get nothing in return other than personal satisfaction. Which, yeah, is worth quite a bit, but sometimes when work is hard it isn’t enough.
Book blogging used to be a fun job for a bookworms. Heck, you got to read all you wanted and then write about it. You got to meet and correspond with authors you loved and evangelize their work to others. There aren’t too many cooler jobs for devout readers.
But then the wheels started coming off.
Amazon started throwing its gorilla weight around and refused to accept reviews from, well, almost everyone, including book bloggers. Accounts were banned and buying privileges revoked, even for those who play by the rules. YouTube changed the algorithms for its videos, impacting how much money vloggers could make. Instagram and Facebook (one and the same, now) changed their algorithms, too, making it harder for readers to find your posts.
Then there’s the sheer volume of reading bloggers are asked to do. The more Amazon tweaks its algorithms and makes reviews harder to get, the more desperate authors become. This means that bloggers get asked to read all kinds of stuff, even when it’s not their preferred genre. Some authors descend into crazy town, badgering bloggers and resorting to unattractive behavior in order to get noticed. Many bloggers are paragons of restraint, remaining polite even in the face of constant pestering and begging. That takes more patience than I have, so my hat’s off to you.
Because it takes time to read and review a book, there’s no way a blogger can read everything they’re asked to read. They have to be selective, and that means saying, “No,” quite often. Some authors take this well. Others…Not so much. Some authors abuse the blogger, or post negative things on social media. (Not a good way to make friends, people!) Others get really scary and I honestly have to give a hat tip to anyone who continues to blog in the face of some seriously crazy-ass, restraining order-worthy behavior.
Then there’s the fact that most book bloggers aren’t even getting paid to put up with this crap. Sure, there are some book bloggers out there who make a lot of money. There are some who are big enough to still rake it in on YouTube and Instagram. They have enough fame that their posts on Facebook aren’t hidden at the bottom of reader’s feeds. But most of them don’t have this luxury. Many are “paid” only in review copies of books which is nice, but won’t buy you dinner.
In case you haven’t figured it out, this is not a job for the faint of heart. Book blogging is tough and getting tougher every day. If it’s not working for free or peanuts, it’s putting up with crazy authors and corporations who do all they can to make the job harder. Many bloggers have quit, frustrated and angry. Some have even had their love of reading tainted. (I hope it’s not a permanent condition.)
And yet… Many persevere because they simply love books. They love finding a good story and telling everyone about it. They enjoy trying to help writers achieve a little bit of visibility. In addition to reviews, some even help coordinate local events and participate in blog tours. I say we raise a glass to these good people. Celebrate them. They work hard for little reward, and yet the effort they put forth on behalf of readers and authors is phenomenal.
So this one’s for you, my book blogging friends. Carry on bravely and know that your efforts are appreciated! I can’t buy all of you dinner, or pay you for your hard work, but I can say Thank You!
(Photo courtesy of Caio Resende)