Thursday, May 23, 2019

Musings on book blogging and how things change and evolve as time passes - a ReadItTorial

OK, this isn't really a post about starting your own book blog - but more a guide to what happens if you're 'in it for the long haul' and want to carry on writing a children's book blog as your children progress through their own various stages of reading and book interest.

In some ways I think I'm quite envious of book bloggers out there who have kids younger than the age of 10, particularly those who have very young kids who are just beginning their reading journies. For them there's the opportunity to discover a book world anew - and to find books of their own that perhaps one day may rank alongside the all-hallowed 'classics' that you may hear other booky folk banging on about constantly (is there anyone left on the planet who hasn't read "The Tiger Who Came to Tea" or "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"?)

We've been doing this for nearly 10 years, and I think the key thing that book blogging has taught me (yes, even an old dog can learn new tricks) is that very few bloggers will ever transition to writing about books professionally. For some, it's because they have a zillion and one other things that may take up their time - as well as a boring day job that pays the bills perhaps.

For others it's because to take on the task as a paying gig might actually rob them of the sheer enjoyment of reading for pleasure. Speaking from the experience of once taking something I enjoyed doing as a hobby and turning it into a profession (web coding), I fell completely and irrevocably out of love with that thing when I had to devote every single working hour to it (though it would be hard to imagine ever getting to the point where writing about books, reading books or enthusing about books with like-minded folk would ever get tiresome, even if it was a day job).

For C, our book blogging joint effort has changed to a point where we're reaching a fork in the road that I would imagine many other book bloggers will eventually have to stop and take stock. One of our fave book bloggers has reached that fork in the road with her daughter, and though I'd imagine Mum might still carry on writing about books, her daughter is now also taking her own first steps into writing about them completely independently of Mum.

C and I used to joke about what the blog would be called if we did the same. "Read it, C" would be the obvious choice - or something entirely new. Perhaps it wouldn't even be a blog at all, as most tweens and teens are less interested in writing long boring reams of text about a particular book or book-related subject, but would be all over taking a pretty stylised photo of that book's cover, perhaps with some flowers next to it - or more likely an 'intelligent' looking selfie of them holding up the book in a predetermined bookish pose for their Instagram feed.

Blogging is evolving, and the perception of bloggers is changing a little too - perhaps too little, too late as more and more publishers understand the worth of word of mouth, the worth of real human opinions vs a couple of incoherent lines and a 5 star review on Amazon and how a nicely written blog or article can help push sales along in a none too insignificant way.

"Influencing" is a weird thing though and one I don't feel I'm entirely happy with. We both love the thought that books we've recommended to people are bought and enjoyed by others, who wouldn't love that - but when it changes into something else, ie you pushing something that your heart really isn't in but doing so because you feel you owe some kind of a debt to the publisher / author / illustrator really doesn't feel like it has any worth at all, and you would hope that most people would see through a blog post or article like that pretty much instantly. Yet I wonder if that does happen? (at this point I should categorically state that we've never been paid for any articles here with anything other than a free copy of a book, perhaps the odd tote bag or sweet treat but not cash money).

Monetising your blog might be easier than ever before but again it always felt like a step too far. Shoving a ton of banner ads and clickables onto the blog just to make a few coins feels a bit of a weird side-step away from the purpose of the blog - to share new books with people, and hope that they love them as much as we do (I'm repeating myself here but sincerely, aside from the awesomeness of being sent things to review, the real purpose of this blog is, and always was to talk about brilliant books).

I wonder how other long-term book bloggers are faring. I know quite a few who started around the same time we did who have kids around the same age (or older) than C who have already chosen one path or the other when they got to the fork in the road - as ever, hit me up on twitter @readitdaddy to share your experiences as I'd love to know what happened with you too.