Is There Anybody There..?

Let’s be honest here, 2020 has been a challenging and emotional year for all of us. I didn’t realise the impact of Covid as I talked hopefully about going to New York for my 50th, or those wonderful weekend visits to my Dad in Wales, or the relaxing days out my husband and I would have together as our boys were in school.

C word aside, 2020 has been a year of reading and reflection for me like no other, especially about my whole online presence as Years Of Reading.

I have read more books than I have ever done this year (I’m not saying how many, reading is not a competition thank you!), attended virtual events with authors I would never normally had the chance to do in ‘real life’, and discovered novels and authors that might have usually passed me by.

This is the thing. I love shouting about books, nothing apart from The Real Housewives, almond magnums and The Queen’s Gambit brings me more joy, but I’m not sure what’s the best way to do it anymore..

Years Of Reading Selfishly started out purely as a blog in 2017, then with tentative tweets and random bookish Instagram posts (I don’t have the props, white duvet, patience or amazing creativity to do anything else other than post a picture of a book on a standard filter background), and that seemed to work. Once I realised setting all my accounts to private were also quite probably not helping me get the word out, there was nothing more I loved than writing a blog post about a brilliant book I wanted to tell you all about too.

It’s just right now, ironically writing a blog post, I don’t know the most effective way of communicating about books I have loved any more, and it’s playing on my mind.

If I get 50 views on a book review post that I’ve spent two hours writing (not including the time I’ve spent reading the book) then I’m lucky. On a side note, it also really frustrating if you’ve spent a long time writing it, posting it, tagging the publisher and author and then no one acknowledges it – because you love this book so much and want everyone to know about it.

Surprisingly it is the posts about general bookish things that get far more likes, which is interesting and shows that the right topic at the right time can definitely strike a chord with a lot of people too.

My Instagram posts get far more likes, but I wonder if that is a case of people just scrolling through and double clicking to like it because you know them? Are the people who like it reading my review and know why exactly this certain novel resonated so personally with me?

Tweets just don’t seem long enough to tell everyone how fabulous a book is – 280 characters is one heck of a concise review, and no edit button either. Plus you need to tag everyone in it, which takes up vital space. Don’t even get me started on those Fleets..

I’ve cut back on my video reviews because I don’t feel confident enough at the moment to do them, and worry that the Bookish world is heartily sick of my face. It’s also trying to find the time and place to do them when your other half currently works from home, your Springer spaniel is crazy, and you don’t live in a house with calm and beautifully organised bookshelves.

Ask any committed Blogger, we all know that reviews still need to be done – you can’t go round asking for books and then never review them just because you don’t feel heard. How is that fair to the author and publisher who have taken the time to send you a book? Anyone can take a picture of a book, but that doesn’t tell anyone what you thought of it, how it made you feel or why you think the people who take the time to follow you would love to read it too.

Which is where I am at the moment. Wondering what to do for the greater Bookish Good and for all those fabulous books that deserve to be shouted about as loudly and widely as possible.

I’ve talked with Amanda (BookishChat) numerous times as we have both been thinking about this a lot. I know that Janet was asking the very same question on her Twitter account too, to try and work out the best way forward with reviews.

Maybe the bookish world has shifted to a more double tap and scrolling culture, and my blogs are simply a way for me to have a written record of the books that I have loved and have shaped my reading journey. Perhaps I have to put aside the worries about not being heard, and instead recognise that talking about books in whatever way I want to is still sharing the Book Love – no matter how many or few people hear me do it.


Clare xx

35 thoughts on “Is There Anybody There..?

  1. claudiarachel says:

    Hi, just saw your post on email and want to hop on and say I haven’t been coming to wordpress much as have been feeling guilty about not keeping up with my own blog. I definitely think my concentration is down generally so I am perhaps more guilty of more scrolling and liking at the mo. But honestly what I love is a good review and recommendations from a safe pair of hands whose taste I enjoy so if you can keep blogging, I’d love that! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A Life in Books says:

    Your tweets are never anything but passionate about the books you’ve been reading, Claire, and that’s what gets my attention. Your enthusiasm is very infectious. I know you have a family and I’m amazed that you find the time to blog at all. I’m a lurking retweeter, much preferring to review on my blog. It’s a case of different strokes for different folks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you Clare for your blog and your enthusiasm about books. I began my book blog ten years ago and have also been through a phase of wondering whether anyone cared. But some time ago I decided it keep going for the joy it gives me. I think you should put aside worries about not being heard – you are definitely heard by the bookish world. Thank you for sharing the Book Love.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. David says:

    I completely understand where you are coming from with this. It’s not only that you basically cast your reviews on the wind, is it – at the same time you know there are more great blogs out there than you can keep up, and even if you could, they are all recommending more books that you have mental space for.

    I don’t know what to do! The only way I can rationalise it is, there’s the odd review where the author says you really got the book, or another blogger says “yes, you said just what I thought but couldn’t find the words” or whatever. They are rare and therefore precious moments. I don’t expect them, so they mean all the more, if that makes sense?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Fiona Wrisberg says:

    I think you’d be surprised at how many people enjoy your reviews, written or videos. I certainly love hearing you talk about your books, and in the videos you can really tell how passionate you are about a book xc

    Liked by 1 person

  6. thelotusreaders says:

    I really do hear you. I’m only a year in and see that there is a shift. That people who tweet, take a photo or something else more instant do seem to have more likes/clicks. Yet, for me it doesn’t say enough about why someone should read the book – its just more visible. So at the moment I’m at peace with the fact that I’m communicating in the way that’s feels right for me and that I feel celebrates the book best. I think the best way to think is at least we ARE still communicating and have probably gone some way towards helping the bookish world stay afloat. I love your recommendations and I will make an effort to comment more on people’s blogs in future. If we all do that, maybe we’ll feel there’s more impact. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Alison says:

    Thank you. I’m a reader. Always have been. I cannot remember not being able to read. I’ve enjoyed the bookstagram posts but feel unhappy to see the stacks some post each month. Numbers are meaningless. Pleasure and interest, knowledge and understanding are what I seek. Please keep blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Davida Chazan says:

    Instagram does nothing for my blog, Twitter hardly gets anything, Pinterest changes every 5 minutes I can’t keep track, but you know what? None of that bothers me. Do I get high traffic on my reviews – not really. 30-50 hits is about what I expect. I post them on Facebook on a page for my blog, which seems to get some views, and I also share them on my own timeline. Back when I was sharing and posting on the many, Many, MANY FB pages for books, I didn’t get more than a handful more hits. So, I’ve given up. I just don’t care anymore, and I think that’s freed me a great deal. I’m 63, retired, and I like writing book reviews even if no one ever sees them. Plus, I get ARCs of books to read before others, and I love doing that – giving my opinion before others have either hyped it or panned it. That’s what keeps me blogging. But that’s just me.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. rileyc says:

    I’m always buying books because of your reviews. As for writing them, I have to admit that I do it as much for me as for anyone else, to help keep track of what I’ve read. And I like authors to know how much I appreciate their hard work – and sometimes they read what I’ve written, which is nice!

    Liked by 2 people

      • rileyc says:

        It really is. Like you, I don’t review because of the reaction of the author, but it’s nice to be able to tell them that they’re doing a great job. I like being told I’m doing well at work, why shouldn’t they!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Emily Midorikawa says:

    I discovered you through Instagram and then recently signed up to receive your blog posts by email. I want you to know that I am thoroughly enjoying reading these fuller reviews of the books you love. In terms of going forward, you should make whatever decision feels right for you. But, just from a personal point of view, I hope that you keep blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      Thank you so much Emily for your really kind words. I am often wondering why I bother, so hearing something like that really does help. I think mixing my style of reviewing is the right way to go, but I do like stopping to think about what I’m doing and why occasionally, just to keep my interest going!


  11. NatterBlog says:

    In my not so infinite wisdom, only having been a book blogger for a couple of years I think probably the most appreciative audience for reviews is potential book purchasers (readers) on Amazon. Certainly as far as publishers go the most important thing you can do for a book and its author is post your review to Amazon so it would seem. I will always read reviews before buying a book, and if I’m really not liking a book I’ll go see if it’s just me or if others have thought the same before I give up on it. The majority of likes I receive on my blog are from other book bloggers, but there are a lot of us out there so that stands to reason. As for a facebook page…….well that is where I really do spend my time talking to myself 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jade @ Reading with Jade says:

    Interesting topic and one I think many in the book blogging world can relate to.

    My blog & social media definitely do not have the same reach as yours, but a good couple of years ago I felt the same and had a whole shift in mindset and approach to blogging – I no longer accept books for review or PR products and just blog for my own record and the love of books. Once I took that added element out of blogging I felt so much better… It felt more for me and the books than for other people, y’know. I’m not saying you should get rid of accepting review books etc, I just more mean that the focus, approach and how you see your online presence can really have a big impact – in particular how you see the numbers.

    Keeping blogging & sharing about all things bookish – those who love books & your content are here & listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Siobhan says:

    Such an interesting post Clare. I have to say I’m in awe of the bloggers out there, eloquently expressing their thoughts on the wide range of books being published. The time put in is a real testimony to your love of reading. As you know I’m on the Instagram side of the coin {I attempted a blog and lasted 2 months!}. I have to be honest, I find writing about a book very difficult for me, whereas taking a {hopefully!} attractive photo of a book I’ve enjoyed to try and tempt people to look further is what I can do. I wish there was a way that the work of bloggers like yourself could get more recognition though. 💛

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Carla says:

    I have been thinking the same thing lately Clare. I often wonder if those who click like, even read the review. Having said that, I will continue to review the books I read, for the same reasons you stated in this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Shaharee says:

    I believe that on the average only 10 % of the people who follow a blog are actually reading the posts. Most people follow way too many blogs to be able to read them. That’s why the quote blogs are so popular. Two lines and a nice picture: done. I use my blog as some kind of public artistic diary where I can keep track of things that draw my attention and my own evolution as an artist. I have like 180 followers, but I believe that there are only 15 of them who actually read it and, on a rare occasion, comment on it.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Sophia Lorena Benjamin says:

    there’s so much to ponder over within the comments posted in here, i stopped by and paused reading a few of them…so well said by everyone….all i’d like to say right now is just keep pushing forward everyone…..hard work always pays off….stay consistent and let your work do the rest….you just present it to the world through whatever platform or medium you are most comfortable with….and at times on avenues that are not that easy too….like i started off on wordpress many years ago but never knew how to increase reach until i decided to start connecting with people and actually reading what they write about and sharing a comment whenever possible….we can help each other….just take time out for someone else. it matters.


    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment Sophia, and you are absolutely right.
      It’s interesting to see how many people responded to me here and on twitter about this post, it’s clear that a lot of people feel the same way too, and as you say, connecting with other people is so important always.

      Liked by 1 person

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