Hey guys, Rose here. So this is the final set of questions from my brief series in the midst of #BloggerBlackout. This will address the roles I take on as a book blogger, the importance of that, and how I spent my time during the time I was off from posting new reviews on my blog.
Q: You’ve been a book/media blogger for many years now, how much has changed since you’ve been doing this?
Rose: Quite a bit, to put it in succinct terms. I think I came into it just as it was gaining the momentum to become what it is today. I started as a small blog, and even within the past few years, I think it’s grown exponentially (even then, I don’t have some of the same visual status as some blogs do – but I’ve met a ton of people, many of whom I admire and follow for their thoughts and expansions on what they read!). Thinking about it, that’s not surprising since social media has grown so much and many people want to engage in book talk online, whether it’s via book blogs or book communities like Goodreads, BookLikes, LibraryThing, Shelfari, Leafmarks among others.
Q: What would you say your role is as a book blogger specifically? What motivates you to do this?
Rose: I’ll start off by saying that it’s important to realize that those who blog about books (or any other media format, whether it’d be by reviews, reflections or what have you) don’t necessarily have the same motivations, definitions, or rationales for doing what they do. I think it’s important to respect our differences on those distinctions, no matter what they may be.
Having said that, I became a book blogger because I love to read and it’s a very passionate hobby that I enjoy. For me it’s about reading, reflecting on what I read, and sharing those thoughts with the community. People can use those thoughts to read the books I review and reflect on them as well, and even start a much larger conversation from my (and others’) talking points. I think my role is to be able to just start the conversation and let people take from that what they will. There are a lot of happy secondary benefits to starting book conversations by the reviews I write (i.e. author/book promotion). Regardless if it’s a postiive, critical, or happy medium between, my reflections start a dialogue, and can spark decisions for others as to whether they pick up the works I review or not. I’m happy to start that dialogue, I’m happy to interact with people, I’m even happy to have talking debate points on interpretations of a work. For me, it’s all about book discussion. That’s my motivation. I learn so much from the different people I follow and interact with on how they interpret the books they pick up, and it’s not only the joy of reading that keeps me motivated, but it’s also the value I get from the conversations I’m able to have with others on the books I read – whether I’ve met them over reading a certain set of books, or I read and value their input on something I’ve already read. It’s an awesome community and venture, and I’m happy to be a part of it.
I’m also happy when I get thanks from the writers/authors I promote and am able to converse in that regard with them. Granted, I don’t have a lot of interviews and promo snippets on my blog like others do, but I’m thinking of ways of expanding upon that in the future. I’m not using this blog space to spam people with constant promo because that’s not what my blog was created for, and I don’t feel comfortable doing that. I prefer to provide my space here with a more intimate setting for discussions and fun (sometimes completely random) things. I do want to open my blog space for more authors to interact here though. It’s just a matter of what I’m able to do with my time and energy.
Q: How much of what you read is based on what you buy versus the ARC copies that you get from various outlets?
Rose: These days it’s mostly ARCs, but I do end up reading quite a bit from the library and from books I purchase on my own as well. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to receive ARC copies of books from spaces like NetGalley and Edelweiss, from publishers and even SP authors who take the time to make requests for review. Many people don’t realize just how much I buy books from what I’m exposed to via those platforms from ARCs, even when I get free digital copies. I just bought 10-15 books in the past 3 weeks alone, and a good amount of those came from getting digital copies on NetGalley or Edelweiss or from independent requests. It sometimes takes me a while to catch up with my backlog (yeah, I have a *huge* backlog right now – understatement), but I read very fast. I read 365 books last year alone. This year, it’s been around the 150s range so far, but that’s a little abnormal for me because of the fact it’s been a tumultuous year, for personal and professional reasons.
I work a day job and yeah, book blogging is a side medium of what I do with my time. Reading takes up the majority of my spare time – I read on commutes to work, I read during lunch breaks, I read a couple of hours before I go to sleep, I whip out my phone and open my Kindle App or audiobook player if I’m standing in line waiting to get to somewhere – that’s just what I do. Then when I have time, I reflect on them on my blog and in the various book communities I’m a part of. I don’t get commissions from the books I promote on my blog (I am not a part of any affiliate programs). I don’t get paid to review, and that’s not something I’d ever expect out of this work – for me it’s a labor of love. So usually in addition to getting ARC copies of books digitally, if I really love a book (or I appreciate it well enough to say “Hey, I’ll read that a second time even if I didn’t completely love it”), I’ll buy it out of my own earnings.
Case in point:
This is just some of the books I’ve bought that were provided to me as ARCs (some of them I’ve read, and some I have not – and even a couple of them I didn’t give glowing reviews to, but I still bought them). And this isn’t even including the stack I have on my bookshelves. Don’t get me started on how many physical and digital books I own…heh. 🙂
Q: Are your policies going to change with respect to ARC copies with respect to the events that recently occurred with the author Kathleen Hale against a book blogger? And if so, why?
Rose: Yes. I won’t be requesting physical ARCs from people I don’t know anymore (this is a permanent change), and I’m not going to host or take part in any formal book tours at all (this is temporary, and I think this is in my best interests for now.). I think Kathleen Hale’s actions broke a lot of the book community’s trust and boundaries for personal safety and privacy. I – myself – am a private person. I use a penname for my writing pursuits as well as book blogging and reflection because I do prefer to keep private in this venture – and that’s my personal choice. I know there are a lot of people who respect that boundary and don’t wish to cross it, but I feel very concerned over those who don’t choose to respect it or, in Hale’s case, would use deceptive means to acquire private details and use that to undermine or belittle people who are consumers in this industry.
I’ve said this many times over the past several days, I feel for the blogger who was targeted in this, because she was not only someone whose reviews I respected for quite some time, but I enjoyed her company – she’s a fun, sweet person. It saddens me that she’s no longer blogging as of this date.
Q: You took part in #BloggerBlackout for about a week and a half in support for book bloggers in the community and in honor of the blogger who was targeted by Hale – what was your motivation for taking part and what did you do during this time?
Rose: I thought #BloggerBlackout was a great idea from the first point I heard about it, because I saw it as a way to take a step back from reviewing to get back to my roots as a book blogger, interact with those who are in the book blogging community, and find a positive and personal reflection in the face of such horrific events. It angered me that there were people who thought of it as a way of “punishing” authors who had nothing to do with what Hale did (or would even condemn Hale’s actions), but I never saw it as such a punishment. It was far more of a personal decision and time for reflection.
There are people who thought of it as a way of silencing reviews or book talk, but I’m going to refute that on two counts because of what I personally chose to do during the week and a half I participated. I hosted this questionnaire during my time in #BloggerBlackout to talk about things that mattered to me as a book blogger and also let people know the roots of where I came from in this measure. I wanted people to know what my passions were with regard to books and how I got into book blogging. So in that measure, I was never silent about talking about books or the community at large – instead I chose to do personal reflections and interacted with fellow book bloggers on Twitter about the events that happened. I also provided constructive dialogue about how to move forward from here. It was also a time for me to catch up on doing what I love: to read. I’ve read a total of about ten books since my time in the blackout, so I’m going to upload reviews on those starting November 1st (which is when this post will be live). I may end up doing more “old” book reviews versus new ones starting out, or ones that I haven’t been given as ARCs to work myself back into this, but I’m still getting back to basics following this time out.
I’ve learned quite a bit during my time in #BloggerBlackout, that I miss having more interactions with other blogs and reading more reviews and reflections from other bloggers and their thoughts about what they read – whether it may be those who have covergasms over new releases, those who may rage over that highly anticipated title that ends up sinking like a rock in water, or those who provide talking points that make me think about a title that I may have never heard of before – old or new. I miss that interaction and I know moving forward, I’m going to be taking more steps to bring myself even closer to this community and continue to do what I’ve been doing.
I just hope that people will recognize more on how to respect that space and the people who are within them. I hate that this is occurring in such a horrific set of events, and to someone whose voice I’ve appreciated for a long time who’s no longer here to share that joy, among others who have stopped blogging as a result of the fear and confusion. But if there’s something to be said, I think #BloggerBlackout had a very constructive role to play in the aftermath. I think it showed even more for the people behind the reviews and reflections we provide on books on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis (or however a blogger may schedule their time to commit to talking in the community). Authors/writers and even other book reviewers have to recognize them as very passionate and pertinent parts of getting the word out about something that they love doing (even if they don’t love everything they pick up). If that voice is silenced, it would take away such a dynamic, fruitful, intelligent, and functional part of the book community. And I’d never want to live in a place where any in this community should feel the need to be silenced for fear of their personal boundaries being compromised.
Until next entry,