The Book Review Conundrum:
Today I’d like to discuss book reviews: specifically 1) my reviewing process and how it has changed over the last two years 2) my alternating problem with having either too many or too few books to review, and 3) my battle with publishing impatience. I know these sound like they could be individual topics, but they’re all things I struggle with whenever I try to improve my blogging experience (and that of my readers).
The Book Review Evolutionary Process
When I started this blog two years ago, I was posting a book review every other day. When I finished a book, it got written about immediately. Even I can’t read THAT fast (unless I’m exclusively reading YA), so I supplemented the reviews with my book review journal – which contained a hefty arsenal of books read before I started the blog. It’s how I kept track of books before I discovered blogging. I’d even go as far as to print out little pictures of the covers to tape inside. Anyway, when I ran out of current titles, I just pulled out that journal and transcribed the pages into posts.
Even while “cheating” with older reviews, posting every other day was a lot of work… perhaps too much. I was also at risk of overwhelming my audience. So to avoid burnout and unnecessarily inundating my readers, I took a chill pill and switched over to reviewing two times per week rather than three or four.
Too Far Ahead of the Game
Now, reviewing feels more free and easy – I write them when I feel like it. The downside to this newfound freedom is that sometimes the posts just don’t happen. I went from posting around fifteen reviews a month to seven or less. This is a change I think both my readers and I are happy with, but it did create a problem I never thought I’d have: too many books to review and not enough time… and it’s only getting worse.
I can remember several week stints in which I had trouble reading enough books to sustain my goal of two fresh reviews per week (as opposed to ones taken from the pre-blog journal). But now I’m reading more per week than ever before and am getting completely buried under TBReviewed titles. I can think of worse blogging catastrophes, for sure, but seriously, I now have have seventeen, I repeat SEVENTEEN unreviewed books from this year alone. If I don’t get inspired and post a review right after I’ve read a book, there’s a good chance the review is from a book read in February or March… It’s July. #fail.
At least I don’t feel at risk of forgetting how I felt about the book – I take thorough notes, and I have decent recall of everything I’ve read (within the last ten years, anyway). Every once in a while, I struggle with regaining my emotional reaction to a book, but a quick skim through usually brings it all back. Furthermore, not all reviews have to wait in line. I usually post reviews for 5-star books soon after reading them because, frankly, I just can’t wait to talk about them (has anybody who has followed me for a while wondered why I’ve reviewed so many 5-star books lately? Granted, I’ve been really good at picking titles, but I haven’t been that good, haha). In a way, this method has served me well because my excited “just finished the book” feelings gets poured into those reviews – usually making them better. I should also mention that I always post right away for “obligation” books (ARCs) and ones I REALLY didn’t like (which are few and far between). It’s the middle of the road titles that I find difficult to make time for.
All Is Not Lost!
So you ask, why don’t you just write reviews when you have the time then schedule them for a later date? I think it’s a great idea, but haven’t been able to do it. I don’t know if I’m the only one who’s like this, but once I write a review, I want to share it… immediately. It’s this crazy impulse to hit “publish” even if it means sharing two, possibly even three posts a day. If I don’t publish it right away, it hangs over my head and actually stresses me out more than if I’d just waited until the last minute to write it (this is the only place in my life where that sentiment is true – I’m usually a very “get it done now so you can play later” type of person).
I guess my point in all this is that I am fighting annoyance with how far behind in reviews I am while simultaneously trying not to set myself up for blogging burnout. I have yet to experience burnout of any kind, thankfully, and I think that has a lot to do with stress-reducing adjustments I’ve made along the way. Although I have occasionally felt a mite stressed to get something out on time, I haven’t ever felt like I need a break longer than just a couple of days. It’s essential for me to keep blogging fun because it’s something I’m truly passionate about. Avoiding burnout will be even more important going forward as I am working on several self-motivated projects that require me to sit in front of the computer screen all day (writing a book while starting a magazine… i.e. topics for another post). On the bright side, I can stop reading for several months and still have material to blog about (yeah, like that will ever happen). :)
Am I Alone?
How often per week do you write book reviews? Has it changed since you started blogging? Do you find yourself behind in your reviews or constantly struggling to finish books to write about?
I found myself getting far too stressed over book reviews once I started getting netgalley books, determined to publish reviews before their publication/archive date. So now I’ve forced myself to take a month away from netgalley books, making myself immediately 2 months behind (I’m not reading any next month either) and already that has relaxed me so much, just by reading what I want to read without the deadline pressure!
Oh, man, I know what you mean! Netgalley is the best and worst thing that happened to me since I started blogging. I’m happy to hear you are reading what makes you happiest, rather than what you feel obligated to read. I support your decision!! :D
I’ve struggled with this a lot lately too. I either seem to have too many books to review or not enough. I start to feel stressed out when I have more than two books I haven’t reviewed, I’m not sure why. I think when I get behind it makes blogging seem more of a chore, because then it’s something I need to do rather than want to do because I desperately feel the need to share my initial thoughts on a book. Because my reviews are so in depth and long they take a LOT of time and it can be daunting when I get behind on them! Like you, this makes me concerned about blogging burnout which I don’t want to happen. Lately I’ve been trying to get ahead on posts so that there’s less pressure but then real life always gets in the way (or I’m not in the mood to write) and then I’m back exactly where I started! I’m also bad at trying to schedule posts for the same reason as you.
Serious book blogging problems, LOL. :)
Haha it seems that no matter how far ahead or behind we get, there’s stress involved. It’s a good thing we love books and blogging so much. I feel for you especially though because your reviews are so thorough (and amazing)! I’m also so so glad you can relate! :)
I’m part of the writes-in-advance crowd. When I’m productive anyway – I tend to be really sporadic with how much time I write. I either write like 5 posts at once…or nothing for a couple weeks! I, too, have that urge to share as soon as I write, but luckily I’ve been able to rein it in. It also means I feel the urge to keep LOOKING at the post (like it’s magically changed? I dunno what my logic on that one is) so the further in advance I write a post the more times I end up editing, so that’s good I guess! And that way when I go on my sporadic not wanting to write anything new I have a post saved up for that spot :)
I’m with you though, I’m definitely reviewing less than I used to (and I consider it a good thing. I don’t like writing OR reading reviews very much, so it seemed kind of dumb haha!)
Oh, man! I envy your ability to rein in your publishing in favor of scheduling. And oh my gosh do I share your tendency to keep checking out the posts!!! It’s arguably why I spend so much time maintaining my blog. If I stopped looking at all of the written ones, I could cut my blogging time in half a couple of times over lol.