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5 reasons I’m having a break from book blogging

I’ve been a book blogger for 18 months now and this week I hit a wall. My blogging mojo has disappeared and I’m taking a break for a while to see if I can find it again.

This is why…

Book blogging is a wonderful thing. It provides real readers access to the world of publishing: to preview copies of the latest books, to authors and editors, and to a real and digital community of fellow bookworms. It’s been a great comfort and creative lifeline to me, and has given me the chance to experience some brilliant things.

However, it’s also very hard. Here are the five reasons why I’m struggling:

No.1: Reality bites

You might see me posting glossy pictures of books and tea cups on Instagram or heading off to London to attend bookish events. What you don’t see is me lying on the kitchen floor (the vinyl makes a great backdrop for a flat lay) to get the best angle for the picture. You don’t see the bags under my eyes as I arrive at Newcastle Central Station at 5am to catch the train to the capital. You don’t see me getting up at 6am to write and schedule a book review before I leave the house because I didn’t get the chance to do it after being kept late at work the previous night.

No.2: Under pressure

As my profile as a blogger has grown, I’ve been given access to more and more ARCs by a wide range of big name and indie publishers. That’s an amazing opportunity but it’s equally a huge burden. Like many book bloggers, I have an extensive waiting list of digital titles on NetGalley that I struggle to get through by publication day, and a growing mountain of book post waiting to be read. The pressure to read everything is immense.

No.3: Value for money

Working with publishers and bookish organisations has been a highlight of my blogging experience. I had the chance to collaborate with some fabulous organisations and events and I love it. However, I’m increasingly feeling that bloggers are taken for granted by an industry that fails to recognise their full value. Book bloggers rarely get paid for what they do – only on one occasion have I received funds for providing a package of articles. Most of the time, a copy of the book is reimbursement for a review and that’s fine. But when bloggers are asked to contribute much more than that, I feel they should be compensated appropriately.

I recently got asked at short notice to blog at a literary event one Saturday. I would have to give up my entire day (I work full time so weekends are my only days off – in which I have to squeeze in cleaning my flat, food shopping, housework, visiting family, a social life and seeing my husband). I would have to attend four lectures, write about them and then post the articles on my blog. For free. To hire a freelance writer to do this level of work would cost hundreds of pounds. Not only do bloggers provide content of equal quality, they bring with them strong brands and avid followers that perfectly match the profile the commissioning organisation wants to reach. So why is that not worth paying for?

No. 4: Live and let live

I’m finding the book blogging community to be a frustrating place to be right now. I’m part of a number of online blogging groups that have been a real source of help and support when finding my feet as a newbie. Lately, though, those communities have become rather negative and the ongoing debates (some of them more polite than others) about how bloggers should operate are wearing me down.

I have always thought – and maintain the idea – that you need to find your own way in blogging. What works for you might not work for someone else, and someone else’s blogging schedule might not fit with your lifestyle. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing (in fact, I actively discourage it) and you must find your own path in order to sustain your blogging activity.

No.5: The joy of reading

When I left university, I’d spent five years (if you include my preceding A-Levels) studying literature. I was a speed reader who could whizz through a novel and then knock up a literary criticism essay by sundown. By the time the mortar board was on my head at graduation, I couldn’t bear the thought of reading a book again. I had to put myself on a summer diet of chick lit and Dan Brown novels to reboot my brain.

I’m starting to feel like that again. I have so much to read that I end up skimming through it and not appreciating the lovingly crafted words of the author. Yes, I can turn down opportunities to review books (and I have recently) but knowing you have to review a book after reading does affect your enjoyment of it. Always having one eye on your notebook instead of two on the page is not a productive or pleasurable way to read a book.

I appreciate that this may seem like I’m complaining about my diamond shoes being too tight. I’m not. I have a lot of love for the whole book blogging community but am feeling disillusioned with its practice right now.

My reading brain needs another reboot so I’m going to remove myself from the blogging world for a while. I will be finishing the back catalogue of Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart… series (books that have always helped me dive into distant places and glamorous lifestyles) until I can read a book simply for the sake of it again.

Happy reading,

Dawn x

15 thoughts on “5 reasons I’m having a break from book blogging

  1. We all need to ‘ reboot’ from time to time Dawn. It’s only the super bright and aware that realise and manage to do this. Well done you amazing woman.

  2. I think it shows great self-perception to recognize the need to take a break before blogging puts you off reading completely for life. I’m sure we all recognize the pressures you mention which, of course, are largely self-imposed. Ironically, it seems the better you are at this blogging lark, the bigger the pressures because you become in demand. Enjoy your blogging break.

  3. Dawn, you’ve been so busy this year (you didn’t even mention getting married and your honeymoon) so a break from blogging is well and truly deserved.
    And your comment re Dan Brown and Chick Lit reminded me of a talk that Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist, The Muse) gave, that she ‘needed’ to just read Dan Brown after finishing her Literature degree…the joy of not reading critically and just letting it wash over you is one we all need.
    Don’t feel guilty, and don’t feel the need to justify, just enjoy some you (and OH) time.
    But if you want to put pics on Insta (no comments necessary) it would be lovely to see what you’re doing with your R&R time.

  4. Have enjoyed reading your blogs immensely but recognise the time and effort that these must take. Your blog has been a source of literary inspiration for me as I’ve never followed another book blogger for me.
    Enjoy your blogging break and hopefully you’ll rediscover your reading mojo. After all, reading is to be treasured not endured.
    Kind regards

  5. I think any blogger will completely understand your reasons for taking a break. Try not to be so hard on yourself regarding deadlines and obligations – it’s fine to say no to things and you don’t always have to give reasons. After all, it’s more rewarding to be a reader who reviews, rather than a reviewer who reads. Hope you enjoy your blog break and find your reading mojo again! 🙂

  6. Wow! I found this honest and refreshing. I mysejf am taking a break from book publicity work for similar reasons. I do t have a book blog for the very reason that with my reviewing and social media publicity work I know how much goes into also blogging about books. I loved reading this Dawn and think it will resonate with many and hey! If you’d like to meet up I’d love to. Go you and enjoy your break. All that hard work deserves it.

  7. Definitely say no to more and read what ever you fancy! I love reading ‘proper literature’ but also love easy reads, and complete trash! Take care.

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