This is a post that I’ve wanted to write for a very long time. It seems like every week, something else happens that gets me thinking about this topic again, making me want to write this post more and more. I’ve put it off for a long time because, quite frankly, I’m not really sure how to write this well enough that my thoughts on this are clear. But I’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and do my best to articulate my thoughts on the subject.
I’ve been planning to share this post for quite awhile, but have struggled to put my thoughts into words. As I’m sure many of you know, there are many people in the YA book community who push for greater diversity within publishing. What I’ve noticed is that there are certain advocacy methods that are often valued more than others and individuals who try to advocate in different ways are sometimes made to feel as though their efforts are not as helpful or worthwhile and that they, therefore, are “bad” activists. So I wanted to talk a bit about different advocacy methods and kind of reassure people that it’s okay if what you do to stand up for your beliefs are different from what others do.
Some of you may have noticed one of my usual monthly posts is missing: my monthly TBR. Although I’ve found TBRs to be really helpful in keeping me on track with books I need to review, they can also be kind of stressful to keep up with. I wanted to discuss the reasons why I decided to skip the TBR this month and just kind of read what I want for the last few weeks of 2017.
How many times have you read a book, thought it was great, and then realized a few weeks or months later that it actually wasn’t very good? Or you find yourself initially disappointed by a book only to later find yourself constantly looking back on it fondly? The truth is that our opinions of books can change over time and this can make it kind of difficult to review books as a blogger.
Do: interact with other bloggers
Don’t: just comment and tell them to check out your blog
One of the staple pieces of advice given to pretty much every newbie is to interact with other bloggers in your community. This is a great way to drive traffic to your blog, but it also makes the experience much more fun! Being a true part of the community makes everything much more enjoyable. However, make sure you’re leaving meaningful comments and not just throwing links in people’s comment sections. Bloggers already have plenty of blogs they read, so if it’s obvious that you haven’t read their post and you just want to get your own page views, then there’s really no incentive for them to interact with you. You couldn’t be bothered to read their post, so why should they read yours?
Do: use social media to promote your blog
Don’t: contact random people with links
This is a similar point to my last one, but it is somewhat different. Social media can be a great way to promote your blog while building another community for yourself. But you shouldn’t just tweet a link to your blog to some random person who you’ve never interacted with before. (The exception to this being if they asked for links to blogs.) It’s quite rude and presumptuous, frankly. If you build meaningful connections with people on social media, then chances are they’ll give your blog a look.
Do: post regularly
Don’t: post random, two sentence posts just for the sake of posting
Another common piece of advice given to new bloggers is that they should post frequently. Some people, however, take this a little too far, posting pretty meaningless things just to have something new go up on their blog. While it is true that posting frequently/regularly is important when trying to build your blog’s following, you also want to make sure that you’re posting high-quality content. Don’t just post two sentences saying, “I started a reread of Harry Potter today! So excited to revisit this series.” That’s great for a tweet, but not for a blog post. If you really want to update your blog followers on your reread, maybe write a few paragraphs about why you’re rereading it or what your favorite parts so far have been. You want to make sure people have something interesting to read. That’s far more important than making sure there’s something new every day.
What other things can you think of that bloggers building their following may want to keep in mind?
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Those of you who have followed me for awhile have probably heard me talk about my experience with social anxiety. For those of you who haven’t, to make a long story short, I’ve had pretty bad social anxiety since I was around 12 or 13 years old (and I’m now 22). So I have plenty of experience with anxiety: what it feels like, how it impacts my life, etc. As a result, I understandably get very happy when books have good anxiety representation. It feels great to see a part of yourself that can be really difficult to deal with reflected in a book you’re reading. But often, I’ll connect with an anxious character and then I see reviewers say some things about that character that really makes me upset. I doubt these people are saying these things to make anxious people feel bad, but regardless of intent, that’s exactly what it does.
So I thought I’d put together a post about some things that you should avoid saying about characters with anxiety. This isn’t really meant to be a complete list, but these are things that I have seen before in reviews that have really upset me and, therefore, are things that I thought to include. Please feel free to leave more suggestions/advice in the comments and if you’d like, I can update my post to include your comments (with credit to you, of course). I might also end up doing a part two sometime in the future if I end up thinking of other things to say or I notice more problems in reviews of books with anxiety representation.
Without further hesitation, here are some things you should avoid saying in a review when discussing a character’s anxiety.
If you had asked me a year ago or even a month ago if I liked character-driven books, you would’ve gotten a very quick and very strong “NO” in response. I’ve always been the type of reader that likes action-filled plots and suspense to keep me turning the pages. Character-driven novels? Isn’t that just a nicer way of saying boring?