What is our role as book bloggers? BookTubers? Bookstagrammers?
It’s a question I ask myself more and more lately. What kind of impact do we make on the book world? What is our place? Is our work worth it?
I can only speak about blogging and marginally about bookstagram so my thoughts are more centered around those but blogging is hard. Much harder than just reading books to read. Not only do you read the books but then you’re writing reviews and analyzing them, posting discussions (like this one) about the books or the community or some other related topic. You have to come up with post ideas and think critically about what you’re reading.
Before I started reviewing, I read books for pure entertainment and was far less critical. Far less harsh. Books I loved years ago I’ve re-read and wondered how I could possibly have liked it (looking at you, Divergent).
Now, when I read a book, even for fun, no obligations to post a review, I’m thinking about all the elements. The plot, the characters, the writing, is it a good representation of the cultures and peoples included, etc. Especially that last one, I’m learning about reading books with good rep versus bad, learning to recognize that bad rep so that I can talk about it even though I may not be a part of the group represented. I talk about this briefly in my (very) recent review of The Black Witch. It’s an education that I was sorely in need of and am constantly expanding on.
I mention this because I have been reviewing books for over 6 years now and the reviews have become more critical — both the ones I write myself as well as the ones I’m reading from other bloggers.
We write these thought-out reviews to share with the world and it takes effort. We’re reading books we may not normally read, books that may be harmful and hard to get through, so that others can learn and make their decisions about whether to read a book or not.
No, I don’t know what our impact is on book sales or the general success of marketing. But there are a few things I do know.
- Reviewers receive ARCs of books early and post those early reviews before the masses get to read the book themselves. That means that we, as reviewers, are the ones sharing those initial thoughts that might determine whether someone buys a book or not, especially when it comes to debut authors who don’t have an established fan base yet.
- Last year, the discussion in this small community ended with a book release being pushed back an entire year. The book was found to contain problematic and harmful elements that were found during early reviews and was sent back for extensive revisions.
- We are small, but we have a big voice. Do I think every reader out there reads our reviews or watches the videos or follows in instagram? Absolutely not. Do I still think we make an impact pre-release? Yes.
When I started blogging, I saw myself as just another book lover sharing that passion with the world through my reviews and other posts. Now I feel like it’s also a part of my role as a reviewer to be critical about what I’m reading so that there can be discussion, so that problematic books can be labeled as such and that amazing books can be promoted like no other.
I hear the word “gatekeepers” tossed around in regards to publishing and sometimes I wonder if we aren’t gatekeepers in our own right. I definitely don’t think that reviewers like ourselves have a LOT of power but we do have some. We have a role in this community.