Just over a year ago, two (somewhat tipsy) girls decided to start a book blog. Our reasoning? We read a lot and just have a lot of feelings and wanted to share them. Neither of us had any experience with the whole “business” aspect of branding/marketing, etc. We know absolutely nothing about SEO, and 99.9% of the time our Instagram promotions are denied (and we still have literally no idea why…if you know the secret to Insta, slide into our DMs and help a Shih Tzu out).
Because life sometimes gets in the way – and it’s hard to always find the words to describe the book that you’re reading, so reviews take more time to write than you expect – we wanted to share some of the things we learned from our (attempts at) book blogging!
1. It’s hard work.
It’s super easy to read for fun, but it’s much more difficult to read for professional purposes. Honestly, it makes it much more difficult to put down a book that you’re just not *in love with* when you feel obligated to read and review it… especially if there’s a deadline involved. Plus, it makes it harder to put down a thriller when you seriously need a detox by way of romantic comedy.
2. The thrill of getting an ARC never goes away.
Every request that we receive from publishers, publicity agents, and authors is honestly the coolest thing ever. Someone wants us to read their book and tell everyone what we think? How cool is that?! Seriously, we’re still geeking out over it. As much as we would love to read every book that comes across our path, we’ve realized how bad of an idea it is to say “YAAAAAS” to every request. Stupid day jobs, getting in the way of our dream jobs…
3. You have to find your own voice.
Looking back to our earlier posts, we were both copying the styles of some of our favorite book bloggers – and to be honest, you could tell. It wasn’t authentic, and it just didn’t feel like *us.* It’s honestly terrifying to use your own voice and personality, because it’s like sharing a part of your soul with the rest of the world. What if they don’t like it? What if they disagree? What if they think I sound stupid? Honestly, had we not had the support of such amazing book bloggers early in our journey, we probably would have pulled the plug on this whole operation.
Which brings us to…
4. Support your fellow blogging/bookstagramming babes.
Like we just said… it’s hard putting yourself out there. That’s why it’s been so amazing to meet and develop such a special bond with others that are doing the exact same thing. Honestly, we could probably do an entire post about these individuals and how they’ve helped us (maybe another time?), but for now, we’ll just say thank you so much to these individuals, and if anyone is in a similar boat to us, ask us anything! We love to share our opinions!
5. Reviewing a book that you like is infinitely harder than reviewing one that you absolutely love or absolutely despise.
Here’s a quick homework assignment. Think of a book that you liked. Write a quick blurb about it. Got it? Okay, now think about a book you absolutely adored. Write a quick blurb about it. From this exercise, you can easily see that it’s so much easier to express extreme emotions about a book.
6. Numbers suck.
No matter how many memoirs, non-fictions, or self help books we read that tell us otherwise, it’s hard to not get obsessed with the numbers. We’re living in a world where it’s easy to determine your worth by “followers” and “likes,” and honestly, it sucks when you poured your heart and soul into a review that no one seems to care about. If you feel the same, just know you’re not alone – but (channeling our inner inspirational speaker) you are more valuable than numbers on a social media site.
7. Staging bookstagram worthy pictures is way harder than it looks.
Okay, this is Kay speaking right now because Taylor is seriously amazing at this, but I have a confession: I have no sense of what’s aesthetically pleasing for a picture. Seriously, taking a picture of a book with flowers and a glass of wine should be easy, but for some reason I just can’t get the angles right. I actually send like 50 pictures to my husband for his opinion, and his selection is the picture that you all see because he has the bookstagram gene and I clearly don’t. *fingers crossed our future children take after him in that aspect, because ya girl struggles*
on that note…
8. Not every picture has to be perfect.
Scrolling through Instagram, you see these AMAZING accounts where their theme is consistent through their entire feed. The color schemes are perfectly aligned, they probably have a self-portrait in the foam of their latte, and the casually scattered flowers in the background look like they were individual placed by fairies. Seriously, HOW DO THEY DO IT?!
Seriously, more power to those individuals because we realize how hard they are working to maintain that look. Us? We don’t always have the time or creativity to move a pumpkin 15 times to get the angle right, or the memory to take the picture during the day so we can have natural sunlight, or the quantity of treats to get our pups to cooperate for that “completely staged, but the fur baby looks so comfy, it MUST be natural” photo.
9. You feel guilty when you don’t post fast enough, frequently enough, creatively enough.
True story: when we started this blog, we aimed to post reviews three times per week. LOL we’ve all seen how that worked out. Maybe it’s the perfectionists in us, but it’s hard when you set goals and deadlines for yourself and have to change because life gets in the way. And we wish we could give you some advice for overcoming it… but honestly, that’s something we struggle with every day. (Side note: wine, books, and Shih Tzu pups help curb the guilt).
10. It pushes you to grow and challenge yourself.
Before starting this book blogging journey, I very rarely challenged myself with my reading. I would pick up basically the same book every time I went to the library – then would inevitably complain that all books are predictable. It’s amazing to learn about new authors and unique story lines.
11. Your bookshelves will overflow, and your TBR will be out of control.
With great power comes great [number of books that you can’t wait, and struggle to decide which to read because they all sound so good]. Even so, this is our favorite problem to have, and we’re 100% certain that this will never change.
Thank you everyone for caring about what we have to say! It’s still so bizarre that we’ve been on this journey for over a year, and hopefully we’ll come back next year and say the exact same thing (and hopefully understand Instagram promotions better…*fingers crossed*)!
Shih Tzu Snugs and Kisses,