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Chronicles of an Obsessive Bookblogger: The Book Review Conundrum

chronicles of an obsessive bookblogger

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?

by Niki Hawkes

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Niki’s Top Ten Blogging Confessions!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

As I am perfectly content letting people think I’m a rockstar book blogger, this post was kind of painful to compose. Today I will be hanging a lantern on all of the things that on a normal day I would be praying you guys don’t notice. Hopefully my blogging flaws will come across endearing rather than just plain sad. :-)

Top Ten Blogging Confessions!

 1. TTT are actually my least favorite posts to compose…

… but they are my most popular, so I do them anyway. On occasion I’ll get one that I’m super excited for, but after you’ve been doing them for more than a year, all the lists start to sound the same. I’ve recently decided it’s okay to skip one once in a while if it’s going to be totally lame (or change it to fit my inspirations, as I am wont to do).

 2. It took me two years to figure out how to add social media buttons to my sidebar…

… and it’s actually a lot less complicated than I thought it would be. I’m not a total tech-tard, but HTML codes are fricken confusing at first. You should’ve seen the party I threw when I finally figured out how to do it.

3. i suck at profraeding…

… or perhaps you’ve already noticed that? I go through and proof each of my posts at least three times before publishing and even then I’m still finding things to fix weeks later. I just get so caught up in what I’m saying that I already know what I mean… you know what I mean?

 4. I’ve never been able to “schedule” posts…

… because every time I write them, I can’t keep myself from hitting “publish” even if it means publishing two sometimes even three posts a day. The problem is when I do that, there will be a four day lag before I have the energy to do anything else. I just can’t help it though – I’m always so excited about what I wrote that I have to share it. Now.

 5. I am no longer a bookseller…

… as of the end of March this year. This is a big confession for me because it’s how I’ve branded my site. After spending eleven years with the company, I still feel like a bookseller even though I’m no longer one in title. I still hand-sell titles to people (not obnoxiously) whenever I go back to visit. Heck, I even had a coworker call me last week for some dragon book recommends for a customer. I’ve decided to keep the name though, because bookselling was my passion and I will always be a bookseller at heart. It doesn’t help matters that I was driven out of my job due to personal injury. I would have never chosen to leave on my own, but it became clear pretty quickly that I could no longer physically handle the job. Sad, huh?

6. I am OBSESSED with my blog…

… to the point where I will scroll through it several times a day – checking stats, updating the sidebar, proofing my posts (yet again), or just enjoying all the pretty covers. I have an addiction.

 7. I started this blog to promote myself as an author…

… but actually love the blogging more than writing. It has turned into a passion all its own, taking precious time away from my novels. And all the platform building might be in vain because I’ll probably end up starting a new site when I do become a published author.

8. I have been wanting to go self hosted for over a year…

… but am too intimidated to move forward with it. I’ve done all the research but I still feel like a fish out of water.

9. My review posting is consistently inconsistent…

… because I either post right after I finish a book or several months later, depending on my current level of motivation. Don’t worry though, I have great book memory and, when that fails me, I have copious notes.

10. Nothing makes my day better than you guys

… because every time I see someone has liked or commented on a post, followed my blog, geeked out with me on FB or Twitter, or mentioned me on their blog, I get a huge emotional power-up. I love blogging so much I’d probably be doing it just for myself, but the fact that others take the time out of their busy lives to read and respond makes me feel really special. So thanks :-)

Phew! I feel so much better now that I’ve gotten all of that off my chest. :-)

What are YOUR confessions? (I won’t tell anyone…)

by Niki Hawkes