Confessions of a Jealous Book Blogger
With all the posts lately about the competition in book blogging, the inherent jealousy involved, and the ways bloggers will claw and stab their way to the top, I was left thinking about something…
I am a jealous book blogger.
Saying those words hurts, but it’s the truth. I look at people’s book hauls and their trips to conventions and their awesome trips to book signings and I think, “I wish I was them.” The truth of the matter is that I’m broke. I’m actually more broke than broke – I owe Uncle Sam a LOT of money because I wanted a piece of paper that says I’m a Master. It hasn’t helped me land a great job like I’d expected, or at least a low paying job with prestige. I’m actually starting a part time position soon that pays very poorly, just to get a foot in the door and experience. I still live with my parents. The only reason I can afford to go to ALA in Chicago this year is because I’m staying with my dear co-blogger, using frequent flier miles I incurred for school-related trips to Asia, and breaking into my inheritance for the rest.
The feeling of going to a book signing and knowing you won’t be able to buy any books is kind of panic-inducing. In fact, as I write this, I am trying to rationalize using money I’ve set aside for a loan payment just so I can buy three paperback books that I’ll just use for a giveaway. You want to know why? Because that giveaway could bring a lot of traffic to my blog, and in the end, that is what I care about. I want to build my blog and expand it at the expense of myself, because I feel deep inside me jealousy that others get free books and attention and Kindles and I don’t.
Why not me? Why do they get something but I don’t?
In the pursuit of my own jealousy, feeding my own jealousy with pictures of towering book hauls and boxes of books lined on doorsteps, I’ve said some snarky things, felt bad about a lot, and once cried because I knew I said the wrong thing and got my ass handed to me on a platter because of it. Luckily, the ass reattachment surgery worked, but it was touch and go there for awhile. And I got to keep the platter.
I’ve felt this my entire life, but no stronger than in college where I had to share my scholarship for international affairs – money that I would spend on a plane ticket to study abroad in Japan – with a girl who applied for it because she knew nobody else would apply. She didn’t care about international relations. She just knew that everyone would apply for the law scholarship and not the international affairs one. She later went on to beat me out for the Graduate of the Year honors – I received the runner up honors. I was fuming until I realized that it didn’t matter.
I struggle with jealousy, and I have for my entire life. Maybe because of that, blogging might not be the best thing for me. Every day I am bombarded by signed books and happy squees, even from bloggers I consider to be my friends. Hell, I got jealous of Andi once when she got an epic box of review books and I didn’t. At the end of the day, though, I love books, and I love to talk about books, and I love to tell others about books. It’s just that when I get books, it’s either thanks to scrimping and saving my pennies, buying used, borrowing money from my parents, searching the hell out of the internet for Swagbucks to get a gift card, or using the power of the internet to trade books – spending $6 on media mail for a box of 5 newer books is a good deal to me.
I’ve studied intricately the ways that bloggers get ahead, and I’ve tried – with better or worse results – to replicate them on Book Brats. I’ve had giveaways for signed books. Depending on the author, it didn’t really work out well. I’ve tried using GIFs in reviews and lying in reviews and sucking up hardcore in reviews. Turns out, not many people give a crap about reviews unless you attack something about the book and turn the review into mud flinging. I had giveaways for gift cards that I saved and saved and saved for. That, as it turns out, did work well, but when you switch from GFC to Networked Blogs thanks to moving to WordPress, all your hard work is for naught. Nobody cares about Networked Blogs. It wracked me when I realized that I had to start from scratch to rebuild my blog audience, and it still isn’t the same. I always think that if I had stayed on Blogger, I’d have enough followers now for more publicists to look at me and go, “She has a great audience!”
The publicists I work with now, by the way, are some of the most amazing people ever. And I know that the publicists I don’t work with are just as amazing. I just don’t know them… yet. I’ll just say yet, because I know that someday we’ll be BFFs. That day just probably isn’t today.
(But if you are a publicist and you think I’m adorable and sad, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org .)
Andi sometimes assures me that we have been doing a great job with the blog, that since I moved to WordPress we’ve more than doubled our hits. We have 1200 Facebook fans, I have 2360 Twitter followers, we have fans that love us! But I admit, I sit here at my computer anxiously tweeting, waiting for hits, biting my nails that maybe someone will reply. I sit here some days wondering why nobody will comment, or ask a question for an awesome activity, or reply to my tweets that I think are witty. I tell Andi, “I have 2360 followers and nobody ever replies to me.”
I’ve had anxiety attacks thanks to my Twitter feed. It’s not pretty.
I am a jealous blogger, but I want to change. I have probably said that before in one way, but I am coming to a realization now, finally, after almost two years of blogging. This is the point in the movie where the main character has an epiphany, so stay with me.
Why should I care that other bloggers are inundated with books they might not even ever read? Why should I be jealous of bloggers that are nothing like me? Why should I care that bloggers get to enjoy signed books? I don’t even care about signed books that much, except for my signed copy of Embassytown by China Mieville which I hid in my closet so that if the house is robbed nobody will touch it. I doubt a redneck robber even knows who he is, but better safe than sorry.
Ever since I started blogging, I’ve known that I wanted to appeal to a subset of readers that might enjoy the same books I read. Then again, that person is probably me. I’m my ideal reader – someone who enjoys science fiction more than anything else, someone who enjoys snark, an intellectual who likes to read Wikipedia for fun, an enjoyer of GIFs, a connoisseur of crap. I set out to be honest, to be blunt, and to learn from the industry and every book I’ve read. And I’ve done that. I’m not a blogger for everyone, but I do love when people tweet me or comment and tell me that I’ve done a great job.
And over the past 19 months, I think I have done a good job.
Don’t worry, this isn’t the part where I say I’m closing the blog down and retiring to a life of oblivion.
This is the part where I realize that yes, I’ve been a jealous blogger. And 95% of the time, it’s been silly. The other 5% of the time I still can’t fathom why a person has gotten books after they’ve plagiarized or written a two sentence review that amounted to, “SQUEE!” I put hours into my blog each day, mostly because I have no life outside of this blog and the few hours a week I go to work. I don’t have money to go see my best friends, living hours away – or more. I don’t have the money to go see movies or to buy new dresses and go on dates, if I even knew the first thing about attracting a boyfriend. I can, however, afford a few dollars a week to trade books with other bloggers or to go to the Goodwill and find a book that just came out two months ago (!!!!), or to trek to Ollie’s on my way home from work to buy a $3 remaindered copy of LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR. I can’t afford to go to conventions often, or to spend $100 a month on new books as much as I dream of it, or to have giveaways to remind my readers that I love them.
Hell, if you guys remember my attempts at donating to my library, you’ll remember that I’m not a big fan of them anymore for a multitude of reasons.
I like to do what I do – reviewing books honestly, the books I like to read, the books I want to read. I am never going to be a blogger who spouts off five star reviews willy nilly, even though I have before. Sometimes I can’t help but review with my heart, even when the head is screaming, “Megan, are you fucking stupid?!”
This confession was more like a chance to get things off my chest, and to let you guys know how it is to be “that random blogger”. I’m not a big blogger, I’m not a new blogger, I’m not a cute blogger, or a perky blogger, or a rich blogger, or a blogger that ever gets nominated for awards. I’m just the blogger that I am – forever honest to a fault, snarky, desperate for attention sometimes, sad others, and always Megan.