While I haven’t been that active in visiting other blogs and commenting on various posts and reviews in recent months, I have noticed certain trends that have me rolling my eyes, raising my eyebrows and in general wondering about the state of book blogging. I want to take some time to address each one and hopefully start a discussion about them. As I have a lot to say, this is going to be spread out over several weeks. Think of it as a modern-day expose on the world of book blogging. I’ve discussed readathons, giveaways, blog hops, and rules. This week I tackle the reasons for starting to blog.
A discussion on Twitter prompted this one, and I do think it needs to be addressed. I mentioned when discussing the idea of blogging rules that one needs to have a strong idea of the reasons and goals behind blogging. Why did you start? Why do you continue? What motivates you to put forth the time and effort to blog? What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? Without serious, thoughtful answers to these questions, most bloggers will flounder and eventually quit because they have no direction. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
Along with this is the idea of blogging for external versus intrinsic rewards. For those bloggers who have been around for a while, we have all been asked by new bloggers how to get free books or to improve stats. These questions, to me, are disturbing and indicative of the fact that the blogger did not start blogging for the “right” reasons. Yes, I realize that there are no right or wrong anything to blogging, but hear me out.
Blogging takes a lot of time and energy. The payoff, most of the time, is negligible and for the most part internal. It is a sense of satisfaction at starting discussions, at broadening one’s horizons, at being exposed to new authors and new genres. It is a sense of community that there are other people out there who are just as crazy about books as you are. It is exposure to a new audience, improving one’s writing skills, and creating a network of people to potentially help further your writing career. Notice, these are all intrinsic rewards. They are not tangible. You cannot put a dollar figure to them.
Blogging is not about the external rewards and never has been. Sure, the free books are nice, but I challenge the idea that they are free. The publishers who send them out are doing so in exchange for something from us. They want to see reviews and are hoping the money they are losing to send out these “free” review copies will be offset by increased sales. Keeping in mind that this is a business transaction for the publisher, they are going to be less willing to take a chance on a new, unestablished blog because the payback for the publisher will be less.
Stats, books, recognition – these all take time. You have to establish yourself as a blogger who means business, one who is not going to quit at the lack of external rewards, before you will be recognized in the industry as a true book blogger. Time means work. It is not easy to write day after day with little to no feedback. It is a balancing act to put yourself out there on other social media sites without letting it consume the rest of your life. Those that succeed understand that it is internal motivation that keeps most of us going. If you do not recognize this before you start blogging, you are doomed to fail.
What do you think? Am I too harsh? Thoughts?