How book blogging has changed my life…

Lately there has been a lot of drama in the blogging world about whether book bloggers make a difference for book sales, whether we are professional enough, etc, etc.  So I thought I would share some thoughts about how blogging has changed my life.  And actually has changed the life of everyone around me, because one book can change your life, right?  And I have recommended hundreds of books to people who would normally not have picked them up.  
I’ve always been a reader.  I was the kid that was under the blankets with a flashlight reading all night.  I hid books in every nook and cranny in my room because my parents didn’t approve of all of my reading material.  I was the girl that had to hide how well I knew the library because one time a friend couldn’t find a book and I led him straight to it with no thought and he said I should “like be a librarian or something” which was an insult to me at that time (though I would LOVE to be a librarian now!).   My point is, I’ve always been a reader and I know what I like.  On top of that I’ve always been a writer.  I wrote poetry and stories constantly through middle and high school.  I always had a notebook with me and you could find me scribbling away.  I was the girl that would call up my BFF and rave about the delicious smell of my brand new notebook (writers, you know what I mean.  That new notebook smell, yum. Almost as good as new book smell…).   
So being a book blogger only makes sense, right?  Reading and writing, two things I love.  Now if I got paid for it,  well, then it would be my dream job.  Seriously.  But even though I don’t get paid for it, spending 2-5 hours a day blogging is still okay with me.  I love talking books.  Whether it’s with authors, bloggers, random people on twitter…. Yeah, books are my thing.  
Before I was immersed in the world of books online I was a random book picker.  I’d go to the library and look for books that looked good.  I got some good books that way!  But I got a lot of bad ones as well.  About 5 years ago I discovered shelfari.com and I was immediately pulled in.  I had people to talk books with.  Like minded people, mind you.  And they gave me so many recommendations that I carried a list with me everywhere I went.  I spent hours a day on my shelfari group that I was admin of and I put a lot of time and effort into keeping it active.  I never really felt like I was getting anywhere though.  Yeah, I had like minded people to chat with, but any effort I put in wasn’t making me feel like I was accomplishing something.  The group could really run on it’s own as long as people wanted to talk books.  
Then I started blogging.  Lori from Pure Imagination, Angela from Reading Angel and myself were all shelfari friends and we all started our blogs around the same time.  I started at a bad time though, I was just about to have a baby.  So once I had the baby blogging kind of took a backseat for a year.  When he turned one I threw myself feet first into blogging books and it was like all these things that I felt were missing from my life just clicked into place.  I found my place and my purpose in life.  I know things may change in the future, but for the last year I’ve felt more accomplishment and joy then I have since high school.   I may not get paid for this job.  I may dedicate hours of my days to it, but in that time period I get to talk books with like minded people.  I get to ‘meet’ authors, who are my celebrities and I get comments from people on my posts, saying things like “I hadn’t heard of this one before but I’ll definitely have to read it now!”.    Yes, I get a few free books, but I buy and review more books then I get for free. 
 
I sometimes spend $100 or more a month with giveaways.  But I love to share my love of books.  If I really love a book I want someone else to read it and I’m willing to pass on my copy or buy a copy for giveaway because that’s one sure way to get someone to read it.  Some people can’t afford to buy books, and some people don’t live in an area where they can go to a booksigning to get a signed copy.  Passing on books feels good.  It’s not always easy to give up a book, but it feels better then letting it sit on the shelf never getting read.  
Each month, or so, I send a package of books to my mom.  It’s not as many as I’d like so I’m constantly emailing her or texting her other titles she must get.  Then she shares with others some books that she loved and it’s like a fever~ it spreads.  One example is the Bloody Jack books by LA Meyer.  I was recommended them by a fellow blogger and I told my mom she HAS to pick them up!  She did and loved them!  Then the next thing I know every single person in my family had read them!  And then all my friends read them and passed on the word.  From my ONE friend telling me about them I got probably 30 people to read them.  That’s just MY family and friends.  My brother’s wife probably told her family to read them and that’s another 30+ people reading them.  And then, well then they tell people… and well, you get the idea.  I can tell you, with absolute certainty that book blogging DOES sell books.  I just put in an order yesterday for 3 books that I keep seeing reviews for on blogs.  And that’s the norm.  I buy at least 6 books a month from recommendations alone. 
I love sharing my opinions of books with people and the more reviews I write, the more confident I am.  Sometimes I read a book and I’m just not sure what to say about them and my review might be a little lame.  Mood plays a big part in how my review turns out as well.   I’m also not a professional writer.  Yeah, I wrote in middle and high school, but I wasn’t a grammar expert, I actually hated English (which is very different from creative writing!).   So I may not be the best writer, I may use the wrong words and put an apostrophe in the wrong place, but I still can state my opinion of a book.  I can tell everyone how the book made me feel.  
So I know I kind of wrote this because of the drama going on in the book blogging world, but it was a post I was planning on writing for several weeks now.  The part about how it’s changed my life, I mean.  Book bloggers tend to stick together and even through drama we stick up for each other.  I think that enough has been said and done, and shown, that we stick together.  But sometimes there’s other drama.  This community is big and is growing everyday.  There are issues about whether so and so copied an idea from so and so.  There are issues about whether it’s bad form to do this or that.  But there’s no way we can all be happy, there’s no way we can all be satisfied with everything.  So really, we all just need to play nice.  Find a few people you can vent to when things are bugging you and avoid serious controversy.  Occasionally it may be necessary, but I find that once I vent to a couple friends and I let things blow over then I’m fine.  And trust me, I’ve had my issues.  Things that have got my blood boiling, but once it’s all thought out I can often just say it was a coincidence or they didn’t realize what they were doing.   

I have to say a huge thank you to the authors out there that take the time to talk to bloggers, to the publicists (and staff) that take the time to read blogs and find the right blogs to review the right books, to the bloggers out there that take the time out of their lives to read, to write reviews, and to talk books.  Some of my best friends in the whole world I have never met in real life, but when I do meet you~ well, expect a HUGE hug! 

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Comments

  1. thanks for the post, your rather bold aren’t you? (I mean that in an a positive way, you always seem to tackle the convo’s that everyone is thinking but no one dares say – I admire that)

    I have noticed a little snarky-ness going on lately and its kind of left a bad taste for book bloggers in mouth. I don’t know if the majority of the talk comes from other bloggers or from the publishers themselves. HOWEVER. They have jobs because of US. Really when it comes down to it we promote their business so I would think that they would be grateful. I have noticed that most authors are generous and friendly with book bloggers. I have a tendancy to trust your opinion of a book over what a professional would say.

    Lastly, your blog post made me smile. I have had this exact topic brewing in my head for a while now. It is a little iritating to see something you came up with floating around other peoples blogs – but my conclusion is that I cannot copyright a meme and that would just be silly. I think it is flattering if the book bloggers I enjoy reading and respect use a similar idea. Most important. I blog for me and I read for me. Blogging began as an outlet to discuss my thoughts on books. I think of it as my “book club”. Even if my blog is unsuccsessful it gives me something to look forward to. :)

    So keep up the hard work I love stopping by and I got your back! I can lay the cyber smack down if you want. hahahah

  2. This is a really good post. I am really really new to the blogging world and I am on here to talk books pretty much. I love reading and I love talking about the books I read. I also have a book club, I pick books that I love so I know the people in the book club will enjoy them. At least 3 people a month buy a book from me saying this is the book of the month. A lot are series to so then they buy the whole series and I get to talk to them about the book.

    I can’t afford to buy all my books. I get a lot from the library and then I buy them a little at a time over time. I also get so many of my books from reading blogger reviews. If not for all the bloggers out there I would be at a lost of what to read next. I look for bloggers who like the same books I do then I find ones they read and I haven’t.

    Anyways, Great Post!!

  3. This is a great post my bloggy friend!! I can honestly say that what started off as a fun little hobby and way to get free books has become one of our greatest accomplishments in life so far!! Book blogging is not only a passion of ours, but a respite from all the mundane or stressful events of every day life.

    Truth is that lately, I haven’t been my happiest with other areas of my life and unfortunately, the stress of it has also affected my reading & blogging…but I told my husband that as frustrated as I may be, I will NOT give up the one thing that is bringing me joy.

    In book blogging, I have been able to recommend and enjoy recommendations from others. I have met authors, who are totally our celebs. I’ve met some really great people that although I’ve never actually met, I consider my friend and people that I know understand & appreciate our passion for literary.

    I think that’s a big reason why we started RAK – it’s kind of our way of giving back to others and allowing them to do the same!

    The book blogging community is like one giant family; we won’t always agree, sometimes we’ll annoy each other, but so long as we respect each other it’ll be all good :D

    ♥Isalys

  4. This was such an amazing post.
    I think that blogs are such a great way to express your thoughtaswell as you feelings. There are so many lovely peopole out there too, which aslways look after you and cheer you up.

    I love the blog by the way :)
    Perhaps if you have time, I would love it if you could check out mine.
    Thanks! :D

    http://lovelylilbookworm.blogspot.com/

  5. Awesome post!! I totally agree that book blogging *does* sell books– I have bought countless books based on recommendations, and I’ve only been blogging for a few months.

    I haven’t read much of the snarkiness and put-downs you mentioned around the blogosphere, but I think the idea of book bloggers having to be ‘professional’ goes against everything that book blogs are about and the kind of people that bloggers are. We’re all creative and we do our own thing and devote a lot of time to helping spread the word about books through our blogs (which tend to be way more personal than professional)– and obviously, we love books and what we do. Blogging takes a lot of my time as well, but if you are really passionate about something and enjoy it– nothing can ever be a waste of effort.

    Great, great article– and I get exactly what you mean about the smell of a blank page in a new notebook! :)

  6. I think the appeal of book blogging for many is that it is not “professional” – it’s relaxed and it’s done by people who only do it because they truly LOVE books. You aren’t always going to get that from people in the book industry who are paid to do what they do. But with the volunteers, the motivation is different, and you know when you read those reviews and recommendations, you are getting the real deal, not something that someone may be writing just to keep his or her job intact. I love that I get to be one of those people, and I am constantly amazed when I get comments that people are actually reading my reviews and enjoying my opinions.
    Because of me, my sister’s whole family reads more, my brother and parents read more, and my best friend is more likely to pick up a book than turn on the t.v. That’s progress!

  7. *cheers* What an awesome post! Weirdly, I was working on a similar post myself earlier, along the same lines. I will probably post it next week. But can I just say a big thank you for yours. These are the kind of posts I really love reading. One reader to another saying they blog for the love of books and nothing else, and that it’s changed their life for the positive. I’ve met some awesome friends through blogging as well, and found so, so many more books to love as a result of conversations with them and reviews from them. It’s a wonderful community to be a part of! No question blogs sell books!! I’ve no idea how many books I’ve bought from blog recs alone but it’s probably 1/2 of what I’ve read in the past 18 months. And then there’s all the books that get mentioned that I look for more info on and buy as well…

    Really great post, thank you for sharing. :)

    <3

  8. I really enjoy the story of your journey through blogging to this point. I definitely think having online friends that are like minded is a big reason I love to blog – along with the desire to share the great things I read with others. You’ve so eloquently expressed all of that. Right now the drama about book bloggers not getting published because of negative reviews has been FREAKING me out. I have decided to continue, not sure what the future holds for me as far as all that goes.

  9. I want to say THANK YOU to all of you for taking the time to read my very long post and to leave awesome comments! I’m feeling all choked up and filled with love for you guys right now. I don’t have much of a life, but I have you guys who cheer me up each and every day!

  10. This is such a good post! There has been so much drama floating around the book blogging world right now, and you just said all the words I couldn’t (because I get angry and my “Book Bloggers Make a Difference” comments/tweets/etc. turn into “YOU PEOPLE ARE JUST STUPID!” ones). I have only been in the blogger world since September of 2010 and already it has changed my life-> and my book spending has been off the walls because of recommendations.

    Thank you for sharing your journey!
    Britta

  11. I’m totally oblivious to the controversy that you are talking about but I enjoyed your post. It made me think about how happy blogging makes me and how it started off as another way to bond with my teenage daughter. When I started blogging it was mostly because of my daughter I wasn’t even sure I would stick with it. I’ve realized that my blog is just that, my blog and even if I didn’t have followers or ever receive free books I would still be blogging. I love reading other bloggers reviews and have bought so many books based on those reviews so no matter what’s been said I know I am one person that definitely does buy books because of what other bloggers recommend. So blog on bloggy friends cuz I’m always looking for the next best book:) Shari

  12. I’m so tired of the drama in the blogger world. I try to stay out of it all and even though some of it really gets my blood boiling, I try to brush it off.

    Blogging is supposed to be something we all enjoy doing and I know there have been so many books that I wouldn’t have discovered if it weren’t for blogs like yours.

    *Hugs to all*

  13. Seriously thank you so much for this post, I just spent how long today reading the stuff that had been said and it really bothered me. I am new to blogging but I have made friends in this short period of time as well as gotten to talk to authors I would have normally would have never talked to ever.

    Thank you for reminding me why I do love blogging so much. I had planned on not making any comments regarding though it upset me. I did want to respond to this one because you said all I wanted to say and spoke exactly how I feel.

  14. I have no idea what’s being said, but I can imagine. But have you ever noticed that the “professional movie critics” never like the movies that everyone flocks to see. I suspect it’s the same with us bloggers. If we were “professionals” we’d have to get paid and our creativity would be stifled.

    I started blogging because I read Twilight, the Vampire Diaries, Wicked Lovely up to Radiant Shadows and Fallen and I didn’t know what else to read. I loved this newly discovered genre. Something I could relate to even though I’m waaaay over YA. And I started poking around and discovered all of your blogs and was overwhelmed with how many people had blogs. So I started my own and I’ve never looked back. I’ve made great friend, met authors, helped promote indie books and bought at least 150 books. All my recommendations came from blogs. Without blogs I’d feel lost all day. It’s like being surrounded by friends. I push myself to finish a book so I can get a review up. I make myself go to the library so I can do my Library Hop (which is late) I have goals. I have purpose. Candace you said everything I’d say, I’m sure, if I knew what the controversey was about, but they can’t shut us down.

    Heather

  15. Very well said, Candace! I somehow completely missed out on all this drama until someone mentioned it yesterday on Twitter. And I still don’t know for sure what’s going on…I need to read up on it.

    I really think bloggers make a difference. I have spent more money on books since I started blogging than anything else, except bills of course. I can only imagine that other bloggers do the same. We may not be getting the word out to the mass public, but I think we get the word out to the book loving community.

  16. I’m a blogger, but not a book blogger so I wasn’t aware of anything going on. But I do know that if it wasn’t for you wonderful book bloggers, I would never know what book I should read next. I have loved reading my entire life. I even majored in English and have written a few children fiction books, but when it comes to a good read, I depend on the opinions of others around me. I just wanted to let you know that you will be featured on our Spotlight Saturday Blog Hop tomorrow. Our theme this week is our favorite book blogs. Participants can link up their own blog, plus one they’d love to spotlight for the week. Hope you can stop by and join us for some blog hopping fun.

    Kel
    http://www.betweenthelines-kel.com

  17. Love your blog-I have it sent to my inbox every day. :o) I’ve started interviewing “Baby Bloggers” (on my blog) to help them grow a following. It’s so nice to hear about your journey from “baby with a baby” to success story.

    BTW-I’ve burnt out many a flashlight in my time, *grin* so I completely get your passion. As an aspiring author, I’m aware of how instrumental book bloggers are. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. I don’t have a book (yet) but it’s reassuring to know that when I do-the people with the flashlights will be there. Thanks so much for all you do. <3

  18. Blogging has been such a wonderful thing for me. I am not a very social person. I’m the type of person who can happily lock myself in a room and not speak to anyone all day (ironic that I work in a job where I talk on the phone all day long). I live very much in my own head. But still, I crave having like-minded people to talk with. Not necessarily to hang out with – but to have controlled interaction. Blogging is perfect. I get to make lots of new “friends” who I have loads to talk about with. It’s wonderful for a bookworm like me.

  19. I really just want to squeeze your neck so hard right now!!! ((((HUG))))
    Your post just stated exactly what I have thought through all of this drama.
    I’m one of those people who just let stuff roll off my sleeve and don’t get into it with anyone.
    I blog for the love of reading and talking about books and refuse to let any drama and “he said, she said” stuff take that joy away from me!

  20. Hi,

    I totally agree with everything you said. I wish I had so many people who follow my reading recommendations, lol! Then I’d help sell a lot of books, too, or at least make them well known and well loved, as in my family we tend to borrow books from the library and buy one only when we are reasonably certain that we’re going to love it.

    I’m an email subscriber, so I usually read your posts in my inbox and missed the change of layout. I like the new one (well, the previous one was very pretty too), even though the font for the blog title and the sections at the top is a bit hard for me to read.

  21. Beautifully written — thanks for saying what most of us are thinking. I love my blogging and just being able to talk to other people like me. I believe my “online” friends and just as important as my offline friends and quite frankly I love my offline friends but not many of them are book people, so its nice to have the ability to interact with people who do love books as much as I do (hubby says my fellow addicts) and btw I always play nice : )
    Thanks! and I adore the picture of the cats!!!!!

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