This post has probably been done loads before but I wanted to offer my perspective.
When I started my bookstagram I was a student and had plenty of free time. My account grew pretty quickly in a year as I had loads of time to take photos and I was posting twice a day. Now my time is EXTREMELY limited I am really feeling the pressure and I have become much more aware of negative behaviours that I adopted and how using social media everyday can have a big impact on your life.
Don’t worry this post isn’t going to just focus on the negative, I want to highlight the good parts about book blogging too and please remember this post is filled with my honest and frank opinions that you may or may not agree with.
Here’s what nobody told me about book blogging both good and bad:
Social media stats are important
Social media by design is very competitive because everything is quantified. You are literally told in numerous different ways how many people like you, how many peopled like your posts even how many people said Happy Birthday to you. In social media world this literally all ads up to how many care about your existence and how many don’t or at least it can feel that way.
Everyone says book blogging isn’t about the likes BUT everyone gets down about lack of engagement and losing followers just as much as they get excited and celebrate hitting X amount of followers. Your social media stats can make you feel great or like crap and this can be hard to deal with everyday.
Social media stats matter in book blogging, the bigger your account the more likely you will receive arcs from publishers, be chosen as a rep for book boxes and get all the fun perks of a huge following that you see other accounts get on a DAILY basis.
I’m not going to tell you what to do with this information but it’s just a harsh truth of book blogging that you will care about how big your accounts are and you will feel pressured and sad when you don’t grow as fast as your friends or you start losing engagement because you couldn’t post for a while.
The FOMO is real
You will see people get amazing proof copies and special edition books and book boxes everyday and eventually you will want to be part of that. My bank account has taken a SERIOUS hit since I started book blogging and my advice is this:
Try not to get sucked in.
I am saying this as both a past rep for book boxes and someone who sells book merch. Merchandise and beautiful covers are GREAT but your bank account won’t think so try and limit yourself. Don’t think you need loads of book merchandise to be a book blogger because you don’t and DON’T think it will increase your following/engagement.
I’ve drastically cut down on the book boxes I buy this year because I find myself with drawers of stuff I’ve bought and no where to put it and honestly most of it is random stuff I don’t need. I have lip balms and hot chocolates and face masks and iron-on patches and tea towels that I am never going to use.
Don’t try and keep up with the accounts who are getting it for free. Try to be really discerning and focus on merchandise for books YOU LOVE.
ARCS are great but..
Don’t convince yourself you’re going to read them all and keep requesting more. You won’t. I don’t now. This relates to the FOMO because when I see a beautiful exciting new release available I want it too. But then it arrives and it sits on my shelf and I start feeling pressured because I KNOW I don’t have time to read them all but it doesn’t stop me from requesting more?
It’s vicious cycle and can be addictive to be recognised and rewarded for all your hard work with an ARC but if you feel like you have too many it’s time to re-evaluate.
I feel very lucky I made the friends I did
For a long time I felt very lonely book blogging. It felt like nobody really wanted to have a real conversation, comments were made just so I would return the favour. People only followed me so I would follow them. This changed last year when I was invited to a group chat and ended up meeting a few of the girls on there at YALC later that year. At YALC me and two of the girls really hit off and have spoken and met up in London since.
I think you do eventually manage to make friends but in the beginning it feels like you are sliding into people’s DMs and being like “Hey wanna be friends?”.
Location is everything
I am a book blogger in the UK and I know I am extremely PRIVILEGED to have access to the publishers, arcs, and amazing bookshops like Waterstones and Goldsboro that we have here. But even in the UK there is an extremely limited amount of ARCs to go around compared to the USA and when the majority of bloggers are American you start to notice.
Also I may live in the UK but most of the fantastic blogger events and signings happen in London during the week. I am a 4 hour train ride away from London and can’t exactly hop down that after getting home from work at 18:30. They friends I made on bookstagram can see each other once a month while I can manage about every 3-4 months. It’s hard not to feel left out.
You will definitely feel limited and frustrated by your geographical location.
The algorithm is god
I would love to be one of those accounts who can post once a week and get thousands of people liking and commenting but I’m just not that popular. So I have to post once a day or run the risk of disappearing altogether and that is a tremendous amount of pressure when like I said I’m out of the house for at least 12 hours everyday.
I often resort to re-posting old pictures. It sucks but it’s far better than the alternative and I can’t always make myself come home and spend half an hour taking one photo.
The only thing you can do is stop caring and focus more on your mental and physical health instead.
Meeting and speaking to authors you love is the best
I have tweeted at Jay Kristoff quite a few times now and when he’s responded or laughed at my bad jokes and I think this is unique to the publishing world. Writers take the time to speak to us, like our posts, share our artwork, appreciate our designs and laugh at our bad jokes.
Book blogging gives you the opportunity to speak to the people you admire most and crack banter with them. That makes it totally worth it.