Once upon a time, many moons ago, I took a four day weekend off work. It was the first real long weekend I’d had in a couple of years, and I was excited for free time and relaxing in the lovely spring weather (because spring came stupid early that year).
But once the long weekend finally arrived, and my partner took off for work, I found myself bored. I hadn’t had this much free time in ages, and I had no idea what to do with myself. I’d been writing book reviews for a while on Goodreads, and had been reading a lot of blogs and watching a lot of BookTube, so I decided to start my own blog for books.
Now, I’d run a couple of blogs before, but they’d never really been successful. Maybe a couple of followers, maybe a few posts, but I’d always give up on them. So I wasn’t really expecting it to go anywhere or last particularly long. It was just something to do over the weekend while everyone else was busy.
And a year later, here we are. So that’s fun.
It’s been a great year, actually. I’ve discovered a lot of great books I may not have bothered to read otherwise. I’ve read some incredible posts that made me think about what I was reading. I had the chance to read some books before they were even released, which is a bookworm’s dream. I’ve gotten to work with authors and publishers to promote books. I’ve met some great people. And I’ve bought way more books than I actually need.
To celebrate surviving my first full year with Songs Wrote My Story, I’ve compiled a list of 10 confessions I have after a year of this! (I debating doing a giveaway, but I think I’m going to wait for something a little bigger to celebrate – maybe *insert number of* blog followers or something like that. You’ll have to stick around and see!)
So here goes nothing!
1. I don’t pay attention to character descriptions, and so I just make up my own.
I read them, and then promptly forget them. And then my mind just decides what it thinks the person should look for. Since I live in a super multicultural city, it’s not uncommon for me to imagine characters as a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, skin colours, attire preferences, etc, because that’s what I see day to day. Which is fine, until someone points out that some books are all white characters, or a character isn’t supposed to have brown skin, or isn’t supposed to be wearing a hijab, and I get super confused. (Recent example – lots of comments about how Maas’ books are all white characters. I’d always pictured Dorian with brown skin, and a couple other characters of different skin tones. Insert tonnes of confusion here. Whoops.)
2. Hype is more likely to ruin a book for me than it is to make me excited about it.
I’ve never been good at following a crowd. And sometimes a book is hyped up and I get my hands on a copy right away and read it and love it. But more often than not, I get my hands on a book, and don’t touch it, because I’ve heard so much about it, I’ve lost interest in it.
Some examples of this include: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, The Serpent King by Jeff Zetner, among a few others. All on my shelf. All completely untouched.
3. People who review books and just rephrase the summary drive me bonkers.
I already read the summary! Why are you repeating that? I don’t need that information. I need to know if it’s good, how the characters are, can this book be read without previous books, how’s the pacing or the plot? Don’t just write three paragraphs about what the book is about, and then say it was great and nothing else!
4. I turn down any review request I receive in which it is clear that the person contacting me didn’t read my review policy, no matter how good the book looks.
This is obviously an entirely different thing than if someone I worked with before emails me, or it it’s from someone I emailed first, and they saved my contact info. In that case, fine, because you’re coming from a different place.
But if it’s clear you got my contact information from my blog, and you didn’t bother to read my review policy, even though it’s rather concise and simple, I will say no to you. Even if it looks like the best book I’ve seen in ages. The number of people who ask about reviewing historical or romance books, even though I say in my policy I don’t accept either of these, is baffling.
If you can’t be bothered to read what I’ve written, I can’t be bothered to read what you’ve written.
On the other hand, if you send me a nice, even a little bit personalized email (even if it’s something as simple as ‘you include music in your blog, and my book includes a lot of music!’) will get me to consider your book a bit more, even if it doesn’t sound super interesting.
5. I write in my books.
In pencil (incase I decide I want to get rid of it later), but still.
Books give you thoughts. Thoughts are kinda useless if you don’t remember them later on, so it’s idea that you write them down. If a book gave you the thought, why not write the thought in the book, and keep everything together?
6. I love reading negative reviews of books I love, and positive review for books I hate.
Multiple perspective are always interesting.
7. I hate hardcovers.
I know that they look nice and are more hardwearing and all that stuff. But they’re just so darn heavy and uncomfortable to read.
I will actually special order paperbacks from other countries, since Canada has a thing where they don’t release the paperback until a year after the book is released in hardcover, and wait weeks on end for delivery, rather than buying a hard cover.
I have 118 books currently (excluding ARCs and picture books). 15 are hardcover, and most have never been read. I only have them because of mega sales, or getting free copies.
8. With the exception of Saturday Song posts, all my posts are written in advance.
Weekly stuff (such as Top Ten Tuesday or Waiting on Wednesday) are usually done the weekend before, sometimes earlier. Discussion posts are a minimum of two weeks. Book reviews are usually 4-6 weeks ahead (the book reviews I have going up this week were read and written a month ago right now).
I don’t know how people just post stuff. Could not do that. Would have a heart attack.
9. Books I love are the hardest ones to review.
Because it’s harder to critique books I really enjoyed.
10. Acknowledging that book bloggers basically provide free marketing for publishers and authors has changed how I approach my blog.
There are no ‘free books’ from authors and publishers. They’re sending them to you because they want you to advertise that title for them. You can consider that copy your payment, if you want, but it’s not free.
With this knowledge in mind, I started approaching review copies and ARCs differently.
First, I don’t take on books I wouldn’t want to promote.
Second, I give priority to the books and authors I want to support the most (I give Canadian books and authors some extra consideration, as one example), because if I’m putting my name in line with that book, I want it to be something I believe in.
Third, I never take on so many review copies that it ruins my own reading. Sometimes I get great review books I’m stoked to read, and it’s not a hassle to read them. Sometimes it is, and so I don’t read them, and choose something I’m more interested in. If I’m not enjoying it, I’m not doing it.
As this blog does not contribute to my income, it remains a hobby for me. I knew what I was getting into when I started taking on review copies, and I don’t mind being a free marketing tool – I would be talking about books anyway, and I get more people to talk to here than in real life. But you better bet that my work for your book is going to be on my terms.
So there we have it! Any confessions of your own you’d like to share in the comments below?