There have been quite a few posts and comments on facebook and twitter recently regarding book blogging, “free” books and payment for reviews. I know there are other bloggers who have written about these issues and because of that I’m not going to do the same. What I am going to do, however, is talk about why I blog, what got me to this point and why I’m still doing it despite the stress and upheaval I’ve experienced in the past few months.
I read a lot when I was younger. I come from a family of readers and this picture (while not mine) gives an accurate representation of my library borrowing till I was about 15 and reduced it so I could concentrate on my exams. I easily had 10 books at home at any one time and this continued for years so basically I’ve always loved reading and, always loved crime and mysteries which is why my blog is mainly crime books. This love of books continued for a long time until, one day I lost my dad. And then I stopped reading. We had had similar tastes in books, even reading different series by the same author (yep, more crime!) but I lost all interest after that. It wasn’t until about 6 years later that I started reading properly again and by properly I mean more than 2/3 books a year. I missed my love of reading the entire time but anyone who has lost their motivation or reading mojo, even temporarily, knows you can’t force it to come back. Although I had started reading again it wasn’t back to the amounts I had been reading before, things had moved on, new authors had appeared and I felt out of the loop on so many levels.
Cue more life upheaval a few years ago and after a bit of time for that to settle down I registered with my local library. I spent time just looking at books, borrowing piles (half of which went unread!) and simply enjoying the fact that I wanted to visit the library, could enjoy and concentrate on books and was re-discovering reading properly again for the first time in years. After that I joined a book group and realised I had missed talking to people about books. It was around this time that I got the opportunity to start reviewing. The book group was, and still is great, but at one meeting a month it wasn’t enough for me. I had been leaving reviews on Goodreads but nothing more than that and to be honest I was unaware of book blogging at that time. However, when the opportunity to review for more than just my own records appeared I jumped at the chance. Finally I could do something where I could talk books to people and share the books that I loved with others.
As with many things my book reviewing grew. I discovered Netgalley and began getting books from there to review. I started my twitter account to get my reviews out to more people and to connect with authors and publishers and share my love of books with anyone who would listen. During this time I discovered blog tours which I wanted to take part in but I had no blog and so this was created. It’s been around 18 months since I started this blog and I have learned so much since then. I’ve taken on too much (something I need to work on!!), I’ve learned about scheduling blog posts, I’ve met, both in real life and online, some amazing authors, publishers and bloggers. I’ve panicked when I’ve realised a review for a blog tour is due in days and I haven’t read the book yet. I’ve been excited every time I get a large, thick envelope in the post because that means book post and that is never, ever boring! I have an Instagram account now that I never had before and I’m still developing the blog which, to be fair, is an ongoing process.
One thing I have never, ever done is take this for granted. I don’t expect anything from anyone and certainly not “free” books or payment for my reviews. I get annoyed when the comments about reviewing for “free” books appear because these books are not free and reviewing and blogging are not things that people do just because. Take it from me, blogging takes time. There are so many different parts to it like creating posts, reading and reviewing books, sharing posts, establishing relationships with other bloggers, authors and publishers and more. This is not something that can be done in a few minutes or an hour a day.
If you’ve read this far in the post you’ll notice that I have always read books. Admittedly there were a few years when I didn’t and for good reason, but even then I thought about them and wondered when I would start reading again. I do this because I enjoy it, I love the excitement of discovering new authors and new books. I’ve complained to one author about having to wait for the next book in the series because of the suspenseful ending of the last one. Books are my thing, they always have been and despite the fact that I have blogged and read less this year due to study and work commitments that have seen me working up to 55 hours a week for 4 months and studying on top of that, I still wanted to read. Books excite me, they always have. Through easy times and life challenges books are the one constant I have had and when I didn’t have them they remained in my thoughts.
I blog, not because of status, “free” books, money or anything else like that; I do it because I love reading and that is the only reason anyone should ever have for being a book blogger.