Advice

Beginning Blogger 1o1: Blogger Guilt and Taking Breaks

Hello my lovely readers! I hope this week has been treating you well. Today, I’d like to talk about blogger guilt and taking breaks. Recently, I haven’t been posting much to this blog. I didn’t add any content and I felt awful about it. I felt like my blog was going to die, I’d lose my followers, and I was disappointed in myself that I messed up my carefully planned schedule. But, I didn’t have the time or energy to devote to this blog. I had a lot of my plate these past weeks and it helped me figure out where I stand with this blog. I enjoy this blog and I definitely plan on continuing to post, but this is a hobby blog. I make no money off this and that’s okay. My lovely followers didn’t abandon me. Thank you all for that by the way. I actually gained followers oddly enough. It wasn’t the end of my blog that I took a break and it was good for me. It gave me time to breathe. I had no reason to feel guilty and if you choose to start your own blog you shouldn’t feel guilty about it either. Now, I know that’s easier said than done, but we’re all people writing these blogs and people usually get the need for breaks. Starting a blog that you’re passionate about can be an exciting and kinda scary thing. When you put a lot of love into it stepping away even for a day or a week can feel like a loss. I think that’s why it’s important to remind ourselves that it’s okay.

Below is a TED talk about the importance of taking breaks. This talk is given by an artist who regularly takes breaks and it has allowed him keep his creativity alive. This advice can seem obvious when you think about it, but we are a society that is generally focused on product over process. It trains people in many ways to work themselves until there’s nothing left and I want us all to avoid that.

How to take a secret break

Now, you might not understand the title, but what I mean is: How do you take a break without it being super obvious you are taking a break? If you’re worried about about keeping up with appearances or you don’t want there to be a time gap in your posting there are a couple things you can do.

  1. Create a schedule– this is probably one of the easiest things you can do. When I first started blogging I wanted to post everything I wrote right away and wanted to share all my ideas with readers RIGHT NOW. While it feels really good especially when you get reader feedback from all your hard your work that sort of posting schedule is hard to keep up with. However, if you have better self control than I had when first starting out posting only a couple of times a week while saving drafts for future posts is SO helpful. I try to have an ongoing collection of reviews saved up just for this reason. It takes some of the pressure off.
  2. Partner with someone – if you know you’re a busy person, but would still like to blog you could always share a blog with a friend or interested person. This means that if you get busy then hopefully your partner could take over and vice versa. This option can be a little tricky depending on what vision you have for your blog and how protective you are of it. I’ve seen it work well in the past, but personally don’t think I could handle it.
  3. Guest posts – what I’ve seen done before and actually really enjoy are guest posts by other bloggers. Now, this is usually done when there’s a particular topic being discussed that different bloggers will do a guest post on their thoughts or personal experiences. This one takes a bit more planning at the beginning and you have to have bloggers willing to participate. This has a double benefit though. Not only do you not have to post something on that day, but you’re bringing more attention to the guest and their blog and possibly vice versa. True booking community spirit here.

Breaks of Different Types

If you decide that a break may be helpful there are always different types of breaks you can take based on your needs. Here are some types of breaks and what might be helpful to do during them.

  1. Radio Silence – This is the best break to take when you’re so exhausted and frustrated with your blog that it’s seeping into your every day life. Radio silence break is where you don’t post anything. You don’t read other posts. You temporarily forget that wordpress even exists. I would even recommend not reading books during this break either. Sometimes we need a hard reset before we can get back into enjoying something. I recommend doing something else you enjoy or going outside for a walk. Whenever I reach this level my brain feels foggy, my eyes hurt, and I have a headache. If you can get away from the screen for a little bit or a long time (if you need) it can allow the physical needs of your body to be taken care of as well as your mental and emotional ones.
  2. Snail posting – This is when you’re just getting a bit overwhelmed by your previous blogging schedule. Slow down, it’s okay not to post every day or even every other day. This is where my above suggestions would be most helpful. You need to let go of some of the pressure you are putting on yourself.
  3. Readers Block – If you’re dedicated to writing review for your blog then the pressure to read books quickly can take away the joy of a good book. If you have a book blog chances are that you enjoy reading. Don’t let the blog take that away from you! Depending on your readership the least interesting part of a book blog are the reviews. Readers often enjoy content such as lists, book meme posts, or other fun posts that allow them to participate more in your blog or at least give them something new to read that might now spoil a book for them.

That is my advice. I hope it is helpful to some of you out there who are stressed out. I’d love to hear if anyone has anymore tips or tricks on blogger guilt and/or taking breaks!

Advice

Beginning Book Bloggers- ARC 101

Hello lovely readers, I hope the day is treating you well! Today I want to talk about ARCs. ARC stands for advance readers copies. This is probably one of the best perks outside of the book community itself to book blogging. It is where you get free copies of a book with the understanding that on some platform you will leave a review. As a lover of books this is amazing! However, it’s also really easy to overwhelm yourself if you’re not careful. In this post I’m going to discuss general ARCs stuff and also some precautions about what I call the ARC trap.

Where can you get ARCs?

NetGalley– my favorite site. Full of professional publishers

Edelweiss+ – also full of professional publishers. Haven’t personally used.

BookSends ARC – sends you an e-mail with ARCs you can choose. Very small selection. The deadline to read is usually very short compared to other sites.

Reading Deals – the first place I ever got an ARC. They’re very clear on book review expectations and etiquette which was nice, but their selection isn’t very good.

I’m sure there are even more than this, but these are the ones I’ve either heard of or used myself. You can also always personally ask the publishing company or author for an ARC though with no following and limited experience you probably won’t have much luck.

How do I get approved for ARCs?

This is the golden question. For smaller companies that handout ARCs like BookSends and Reading Deals anything you request you can usually receive no problem. Fairly straight forward. I’m not really familiar with Edelweiss+ so honestly I can’t really speak for that website, but I’ve heard a lot of people use it so I wanted to include it. NetGalley is where I get all my best ARCs from. It’s a great site! Now, NetGalley is hub for a variety of publishers that receive your requests and then either approve or deny them. If you look at the publisher’s preferences you will see that almost every publisher has the right to approve or deny your request basically just because they want to. However, there are some things you can do to really improve your chances. 1. You need a platform. I’ve been approved when all I had were Amazon and Goodreads accounts, but it’s not the best. A platform such as a blog really tells the publishers that you have a following and that you’re taking this seriously. You don’t even need a large following so don’t worry about having tons of followers! 2. You need to keep an eye on your feedback ratio. Your feedback ratio is the number of books you’ve given reviews for compared to the number of ARCs you’ve received. Some high profile bloggers may be able to get away with low ratios, but starting out I’ve found a low feedback ratio tends to be why I get denied a book.

Beware the ARC Trap

What is the ARC trap you ask? It’s when you requested lots of ARCs, think you didn’t get approved for any of them, and so request more only to later get approved for all of them and then you have six or more ARCs and limited time to read everything. Plus, your feedback ratio is now horrible. Now, if you’re thinking that’s oddly specific then you’d be correct. This has happened to me multiple times and I don’t want it to happen to you. It puts you under a lot of pressure that you don’t necessarily need or want to be under. Publishers are very busy and probably receive hundreds if not thousands of requests for books every day. It can take a publisher anywhere from a couple days to a month to see your ARC request. I didn’t realize this at first at it put me under a lot of pressure to quickly read a lot of books that I didn’t necessarily have time to read. I would encourage you if you’re just starting out as a reviewer to only request one or two books at a time. Most publishers are kind enough to e-mail you that they have denied your request for their ARC so you should usually know if the publisher has seen your request or not.

ARC Etiquette

So, I would say there’s definitely some ARC etiquette I would personally recommend that bloggers/reviewers follow. If you are getting a free ARC it’s important to remember that the author and publisher are giving you a gift. They worked very hard on it and probably put in a lot of love. What does that mean for you? You need to actually take the time to read the book. Don’t skim it, don’t give up on it even if you don’t like it. Read it. Now, there of course can be an occasional exception. I have DNF-ed one ARC, but that should be a rare occurrence. Once you’ve finished it, give a thought out review. It is 100% okay to give an ARC a bad review. Honesty is the best policy my friends and if you’re not being honest then you’re not helping anyone. But, if you’re going to give a single star to a book then there needs to be a reason just like if you gave it five stars. This is part of why you were given the ARC in the first place. Honor that responsibility.

Transparency is also important. If you were given an ARC it’s important to make sure you let readers know you received it as a free ARC. This has personally never changed how I feel about someone giving a review for a book, but again I think honesty is the best policy and letting readers know is a good trust builder.


Does that answer all your ARC questions? Were there things I didn’t cover? Let me know what you think!