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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Restructuring the Ruins for a New Year

This year I watched as several friends and colleagues either pulled back from their review commitments, or closed their book blogs altogether. In almost every case, burnout was cited as a primary reason, with the heavy burden of review obligations getting in the way of their reading pleasures.

As much as I've taken steps to lessen my own feeling of being burdened, I know I still took on more books than I should have this past year. There were too many books I raced through in pursuit of a looming release date, and too few that I took the time to enjoy. In addition, for every shiny new must-review title that caught my eye, another want-to-read title gathered a bit more dust on the shelves.

I can certainly see how some bloggers begin to feel like it's a job (and an unpaid one, at that). It's very easy to get sucked into the hype around new releases, to buy into the very same excitement we work so hard to generate ourselves. At the same time, it can be tough to turn authors away, to quash their hopes and decline to generate the same excitement around their latest releases.

So, for 2016, I'm going to take some preemptive measures to read less and enjoy more:
  1. Be far more selective in stacking the shelves, only requesting/accepting those titles that I would have eagerly purchased for myself before I began blogging.
  2. Strive for a better balance between those shiny new releases begging for reviews and those dusty shelves of books that I want to read for my own entertainment.
  3. Offer more opportunities for guest posts or interviews to those authors with review requests I don't have time to read, but who have me excited enough to host and share.
  4. Embrace my inner weirdness, engage my fellow freaks, and really let loose with my WTF Friday theme of twisted, bizarre, or otherwise odd reads.
  5. Share more news of my own writing, and use the blog as a means of holding myself accountable for making progress and moving from hoarding those pages to actually submitting them.
Reviews of new releases will continue to appear on release date Tuesdays; I'll keep featuring upcoming releases on Waiting on Wednesday; and the weirdness will once again lurk on WTF Fridays. Beyond that, I'm leaving things wide open for whatever catches my eye and excites me enough to share.

Hardly earth-shattering news, I know, but if I set expectations and put my thoughts out there, I can hopefully keep myself on track and look back this time next year on a successful 12 months. :)

18 comments:

  1. Me would be the prude one :PP
    Yep, I sometimes wanna take a break too, especially since Blogger has been messing with me annoyingly in last couple of month and you feel like the smallest of speckles in their self-serving system in which they can do to you anything they want.
    Hope you have many nice books to read in the upcoming year, Bobson.

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  2. When it starts to feel like a job, then it's no fun anymore. While I might not be up to your level of weirdness, you read what you enjoy. That's what it's all about.

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  3. Sounds like a good plan. I think I am going the same route. I feel burned out and I have been only at this for a year, and am no where as in demand as you. Good luck for 2016!

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    1. I think my first year was my worst for burnout, so trust that it will get better. :)

      Seriously, my biggest issue was learning to say 'no' to the flood of requests. Once I put my review request form into place, and set the expectation that I'd only follow-up if I wanted to read the book, it's helped a lot.

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  4. Sounds like some great New Year's resolutions. It really isn't fun being overloaded with "work" when you're trying to entertain yourself with your "hobby." Hope it lightens the load and makes it all fun again. :)

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  5. only requesting/accepting those titles that I would have eagerly purchased for myself before I began blogging.

    I've been endeavouring to do the same! Especially as so often, they've been disappointing if I just randomly accept whatever, and I don't get round to them in reasonable time anyway.

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    1. Same here, and I feel ridiculously guilty when books sit there for months, waiting for a read.

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  6. I've been reviewing indie books for 6 years now, and I'm just about spent. My blogmates have almost completely fallen by the wayside. I've had the submissions window closed for several months now, but I still have a backlog for the TBR pile to carry me into 2016. I read a couple of books because I felt bad for the authors, but I regretted it as finishing them became a chore. It's interesting to see this sentiment echoed through the book reviewer community.

    I resolve to be more picky in 2016, not just because I want to diminish that chore feeling, but because I feel like I've missed out on too many good traditionally published books.

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    1. Yeah, I still have a TBR pile of indie/self-published titles toppling over into the new year. One thing I won't do is finish something if it's a chore - I have no problem politely declining the review and abandoning the book as DNF.

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  7. I for one am excited about more whacky messed up WTF Fridays. Whenever you put one up, I always check it out :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. WooHoo! Glad somebody else enjoys my dark wanderings. :)

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  8. Pretty much every blogger I know has had to look at their review committments this year or change things for next year. Back in 2013 I was reviewing up to 30 books a month for authors and it became too much about deadlines and all the books I bought myself were just sitting gathering dust! In 2014 and 2015 I removed myself from the Goodreads groups I was in for that, and reviewed only authors I knew with a new release. Next year I hope to take on maybe a couple of review books each month but mostly read all the interesting stuff I'm finding for myself!

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    1. 30 a month? Wow, that kind of boggles the mind. I averaged about 11 per month this year, and I'd like to bring that down closer to 8. I think 2 books a week is a comfortable pace that allows for some enjoyment.

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  9. I was one of those. I cant believe I was reading three books a week, let alone reviewing them. Avoid that burnout my friend, it is hard to get back from once it hits (though to be fair it was a job change that killed my blogging time and not true burnout).

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    1. Yeah, my job certainly hasn't made things any easier, but I'm determined to find a balance.

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  10. I know the feeling too. It is impossible to handle all the review requests properly. It took me some time to find a proper way for me. Nowadays I'm really picky when it comes to review requests. I'm not dependant on getting books for review. I buy the books I like.
    Reading and blogging should be fun. Therefore I also had to accept that it is not possible for me to deliver reviews regularly. I write reviews whenever I find time and I'm in the right mood for it. For the rest of the books I write short comments which I post on my blog and on GOODREADS.

    Good luck with your plan.

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    1. I like that idea. I've always felt guilty about doing those short comment posts, but I think they have their place. At the end of the day, a positive few lines is better than frustrated silence.

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  11. I have been working on being more selective as well. It's so hard! But, really, I can NOT read ALL the books! And I hate accepting books and then not reading them. This should be about sharing our enjoyment, not "working" or "stressing". Definitely wish you well and hope you set yourself up to continue in a way that you enjoy :)

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