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!