Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bye Bye Book Blog

I just did something that was really difficult for me...something that I have been hemming and hawing about for months and months now, but I haven't been able to fully commit to.

I just said goodbye to my book blog.

For real this time.

I started my book blog two years ago. It was never supposed to be a book review fact, I didn't know anything about book blogging at the time, and I certainly had no idea there was such a large community of book bloggers. I really just started it as a place for me to talk about the books I was reading and share them with the members of my online book club. I never "reviewed" books or gave star ratings, I just talked about what I liked or didn't like about a book and that was it.

Somehow it grew. It took on a YA focus. I started participating in memes. I started getting ARCs from publishers. I started getting followers. It was so exciting! I had a real blog with a real audience! I made it pretty, I bought a domain, I felt like a legit member of the YA community.

But from there it became a lot of WORK. I somehow started posting every single day. Seven posts a week. That was a LOT of reading. And a LOT of typing. I was participating in ARC tours, which was awesome, but those come with reading deadlines, and I was putting off my writing so I could read/blog in time. I still loved my blog, but it got so involved that it wasn't really fun anymore.

Then I started hearing advice from out in the world about writers/aspiring authors publicly reviewing books. As in, they shouldn't do it. It can be a liability for many reasons.

I'll make it clear, I have ALWAYS been professional when discussing books. I have never bashed an author or talked trash on a book. But I had posted about every single book I had read, and I didn't love every single one of them. I didn't have a glowing review for all 200+ books I've read in the past two years. And suddenly this was a liability.

I couldn't stand the idea of giving up my blog! It was my baby! I had worked so hard on it! But the more people I asked (writers, authors, agents), the more I heard the same thing. If you want to be published, you shouldn't be reviewing books.

There were two major things that helped me make the decision. Back when I first brought up this issue on my book blog I got lots of comments from both sides. However, one piece of advice stood out more than any other.

Tahereh said: i think maybe you have to ask yourself what your main focus is -- are you more of a writer or more of a reader? are you hoping more to cultivate your career as a writer or a book blogger?

Well, duh. I don't want to be a blogger for the rest of my life. I want to be a writer! So that's where my focus should be, right?

It wasn't that easy for me, though. I still thought and thought and thought about it. I couldn't just GIVE UP 500+ followers. I couldn't just give up my ARC tours. I tried to throw myself back into my blog just wasn't there anymore. I read two highly anticipated new releases and I just didn't like them that much. But I couldn't bring myself to say that on the blog anymore. But I didn't want to lie, either. So I just said...nothing.

My posts went from daily to maybe once or twice a month. I wasn't reviewing every book I read anymore, because I didn't always have glowing things to say.

Then came the second major thing that helped me decide. I had read many blog posts and followed many twitter conversations about this writing/reviewing issue, but it was
this post by Susan Dennard on Regan's blog that made me realize that it was really just time to let it go.

So tonight I made it private. You can't see my book blog anymore.

I'm sad about it. I'm sad about losing the little community that I created over there. I'm sad about not being able to talk openly about every book I read like I used to. I'm sad because I know the ladies on my online book club really counted on my blog for YA recs. And worst of all, I wrote my blog address in the book my friends and I gave John Green and now he has no way of finding me online!

But in other ways I am glad. It had stopped being fun awhile ago, and it was feeling more like a job. My time has been stretched so thin lately that having two blogs in addition to two jobs and everything else I have going on was just silly. I was actually feeling stressed out by being contacted by publicists and publishers. I started to dread signing on to blogger.

So, while it's sad, it's also a HUGE relief. It's something big off of my plate. It's one less thing possibly keeping me from my dream. IT'S KEEPING MY PRIORITIES IN LINE. Because I want to be a writer, not a blogger, and I need to remember that

You'll never get me to stop talking about books I love, though. I'll have to designate a day here on this blog where I do book raves, because if there is one thing I love more than anything it's spreading the word about books I'm in love with, and not having a dedicated book blog is not going to stop me.

So, what do you guys think about the whole writer/reviewer debate? Do you think I did the right thing?


  1. This is sad but I definitely know what you mean. I am worried about this too, but I like to talk about books I enjoyed. Hmm.

  2. I have loads to say on this subject.

    1. I am happy for you because I can tell by the tone of this post that you did the right thing for you and that's what is most important.

    2. I will really miss your book blog. I feel like I would never have read half the books I've read over the past two years if it had not been for your blog. How sad would my life be if I never read "The Book Thief", or "Looking for Alaska"? (swoon)

    3. I am sure that John Green would be able to find you if he were so inclined (and he totally is)

  3. Jess, I follow you on Twitter and have never read your book blog, not even once, but I'm sure you made the right decision as well. There's so little time for writers to spend writing and editing with all the platform building, querying, revising, promoting and selling we have to do, in addition to our day jobs! I have two words for you ... Write On!

  4. Aw. That must have been a hard decision, but it sounds like the best one for you. Your priorities are in the right place. I'll miss the book blog, but I'll just keep up with you over here and look forward to hearing about your journey as a writer. :)

  5. Well, when I need book recommendations, I still can hunt you down on Twitter . . .

    Kidding aside, I'm happy for your decision. There's no right or wrong; only what is good for you. Best of luck with your writing!

  6. I think you made the right choice. If for no other reason, because you didn't enjoy it.

    The day I stop enjoying my blogging experience is the day I stop blogging. Platform or no platform.


  7. Wow, two blogs and two jobs? Do you sleep? :)

    I think it's a shame, but I do agree with it. The worst thing would be for a bad review to stand between you and an agent or editor or a blurb from an author.

  8. I will miss your book blog but I totally understand why you made it private. Sounds like you did the right thing. :)

  9. I agree with the others above: it sounds like you made the right decision for YOU, and that's what matters. Keep writing! :)

  10. This is so weird. I actually had a dream that you (and all other book bloggers) deleted their blogs overnight. Maybe my dream was prophetic?

    Anyway, I know you struggled over this decision and I'm it's the right one.

  11. Hugs!
    Sounds like you made the right decision for you and that is what matters.

  12. I know this was a really tough decision for you, but I think you're right, and it's for the best.

    I'm sort of sad because that's where I get a lot of my book reccs. Now I guess I'll just have to bother you more on twitter and in the weekly chats!! :-)

  13. Your book blog was one of the first I started reading, so I'm sad to see it go. However, I totally understand your reasoning. You have to do what's best for you!

  14. I'm struggling with this right now. I only review books I like, so I'm sure that's not nearly as bad as the people who flat out say, "I didn't like this book,' but at the same time, you never know if an author of an agent I might query might take umbrage with an innocent comment, and then there you go... I suppose as aspiring authors, we are part of the industry, no matter how small a part, and therefore, we're expected to behave as those in the industry do - respect our colleagues and only say something if we have something nice to say.

    I really hate to give up reviewing, mostly because then I can't participate in ARC tours. I guess I have to think it over a little more. Either way, a very thoughtful post and a solid decision on your part.

  15. I remember chatting with you about your conflicted feelings when we were at Big Sur. I'm sorry to see it go, but glad you're going to be having more time to write!

  16. I will just echo everything Tameka said, because she had it exactly right.

  17. I feel like I should have paid it one last visit! I know you will still rave about the books you love, so we can all still get recs from the YA Expert.
    It does sound like you did the right thing, so way to go!

  18. ((hugs)). I think you made the right call. It's a tricky business, but book bloggers and writers really are separate. The only reviews I do are rave reviews through the Bookanistas, and we make it very clear that we don't post negative reviews. If we get an ARC we don't like, it gets donated, or given away in a contest. Not criticized.

    You'll find your rhythm for doing the same on this blog. And once you get used to it, you'll be glad you did it.

  19. This must have been a tough decision to make, you have my sympathies :( I recently deleted my blog too after a LOT of consideration. I just felt it would be in the best interest of my family and our privacy if I went ahead and removed it from the web. I know in my heart I definitely made the right decision, and on the up side--it has created more time for novel writing :)
    But you HAVE to keep this one!!! K? ;)

  20. I've kept up with 'book recommendations'; would you say those are better?

  21. Yup, I think you did the right thing. Mainly because it cut into so much writing time. If that's your dream you gotta invest as much as you can. Time for you to get YOUR book on all the book review sites. ;)

  22. The fact it is a huge relief indicates you made the right decision. I'm sure you'll get your followers back up - in fact you have a new one right here!

    Good luck with your writing.

  23. Hmmm . . . something to think about. I read books and then give my feelings on them on my blog (not a lot just here and there) but know I wonder. You make some great points here to take into consideration.

    Thanks for posting this.

  24. I'll miss your blog, but I think you made a good decision. Writing is a career just like any other and I think you're right that posting negatively about colleagues is never a good idea. As crazy and hilarious as some of the things that go on at my work are, I'd never post them because I don't want to hurt my chances at future employment. Writing isn't any different.