I'm busy navel gazing.
In preparation for moving the Christmas tree into the living room, I went through most of my "TBR" pile -- the physical ones, that is. My piles of books are... out of control. Like, causing problems in my house.
I did a fairly ruthless sort and have a large box ready to go to a new home. And still, I have, conservatively guessing, about 200 mass market paperbacks that I am "planning" to read. Many of these came from the 2012 RT convention; some from the Borders' liquidation, and many from the various publishers and publicists I've been privileged to work with.
I've been really struggling to get reviews done (as you may have noticed). I keep waffling about maybe being Done with blogging, but I can't seem to quite give it up. It's one of those things where I get out of it what I put in, and it's been hard for me to muster up the Putting In energy -- my life is different than it was in 2007 when I started. I'm also looking forward like CRAZY to RT14 in New Orleans. This world still has something in it for me... but what exactly is it?
I had a moment of truth last week. There was a new release out; I had read an advance copy via Edelweiss, and was getting ready to knock out a review for it when I noticed something kind of odd. There was a lot of buzz about this title -- more than usual. Between my feed reader, Twitter, and a couple of related Facebook groups I'm on, I was seeing this title over and over. I checked the author's website and discovered that she had organized a blog tour of... SIXTY blogs. I commend her, I really do -- she is pushing all the right buttons and really leveraging the blog community.
Thing is, I don't want to be lost in a crowd like that. And honestly, who would want to read sixty reviews of the same book? Who has that kind of time?
What's the Mission?
The previous week, a minor kerfuffle came and went on Twitter and Facebook. The details aren't important, but Joyfully Jay caught my eye with this comment:
@dearauthor somewhat off topic but I find it so odd so many of bloggers who reply describe their mission as to support and promote authors
— Joyfully Jay (@jayhjay432) November 17, 2013
@dearauthor just find It odd they see themselves in the business of author marketing not book reviewing or sharing thoughts with readers etc
— Joyfully Jay (@jayhjay432) November 17, 2013
To me, this is super-obvious. With the exception of the professional review blogs like Smart Bitches and Dear Author, most book bloggers are also aspiring authors. They are building relationships with publishers and publicists, and when the time comes to submit a manuscript, their name is known and they have something of a reputation and a platform. (Do people still talk about having a platform? it was all the rage about 3 years ago.) Anyway... that's not my mission.
"Authors are My Rockstars"
There is also a certain celebrity factor to interacting with authors, especially the ones whose work you love. This can be pretty dazzling-- no really, it is. I hear you laughing out there as you juggle your copy edits in two-day yoga pants and feeding the kids PB&J so you can make your deadline... but really, it is. We recognize your talent and your skill and your hard work, and feeling a part of the writing and publishing world is flattering. Getting free books is great-- let's be honest here -- but there is also a bit of a prestige factor going on. The first time I got a bound galley, I wanted to shake it in front of everyone on the bus: DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS??? ISN'T IT AWESOME!! NOT EVERYBODY GETS THESE YOU KNOW I AM SPECIAL!! I mean, I didn't do that. That would make me just another crazy bus person. But still. I wanted to.
I think this was my mission for awhile. The interaction, the books, the feeling of prestige. But that was perhaps a couple hundred books ago...
Back to the Basics
I'm feeling bad about all the books I have received and not reviewed. Especially the ones I really liked! Some I even specially requested. I'm a terrible person. This guilt weighs on me and drags down my pleasure in reading other blogs and writing my own. Also, I hate when I get a book that I think is just so-so -- is there anything harder to write a review for than a "perfectly adequate but no more" genre book? I feel like I'm letting down the author or the publicists and not holding up my unwritten side of the bargain of free books for reviews-- and I am a huge fan of the genre so why wouldn't they expect/hope for positive reviews. So I think the time has come to change my review policy:
I'm going to read books I have. I'm going to read books that catch my eye, without much regard to the publication date. I will probably buy a few here and there. I will talk about the ones that give me something to talk about -- might be a review, or a rave, or just a chat.
I've already almost stopped requesting anything from NetGalley and Edelweiss. There are one or two places that send me unsolicited physical books -- I will be contacting them and letting them know that my policy has changed.
I plan to keep up with the Soup, and maybe go back to posting more of the Thursday Thirteen memes -- I always had fun with those.
I feel lighter already.