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.