Book Blog Like Nobody’s Watching

20 January, 2016 Musing Musers 59 comments

We don’t do a lot of reactionary posts to book blogging drama these days because we tend to stay out of that. Just away. Far away.


But some people wrote a post about all the things that annoy them in the book blogging community. Which is fine. I think everyone should be able to say what they want and how they feel. And A LOT of people agreed with the post, adding that they felt the same way. Which was a little bit of a wake up call, not gonna lie. I tend to view this community with sparkling, rose-coloured glasses made out of pure love.

Remember, even if you didn’t agree with the post, there were a lot of people for whom it resonated with. And why is that? Well, maybe it’s partly because there are problems inherent with a lot of different people converging in an incestuous space and maybe it’s because there are problematic aspects of the community. I don’t think I’m smart enough to comment on which one it is.


But I just wanted to come here and say: Keep being you. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking. All kinds of stuff is going to annoy people. This is a community filled with complex individuals with their own thoughts and feelings. 100% guaranteed you can’t please everyone.

But there was one recurring theme in the confession post that I wanted to address.

I really hate when bloggers brag about their authors being their ‘friends’ or getting ARC’s from their author ‘friends.’

I cringe thinking about the possibility of bloggers being paid to review or or write sponsored posts someday.  If there is so much dishonesty and shadiness right now when it comes to a $15 or less book that will be out anyway, I’m scared to think what questionable methods bloggers may resort to when money is on the line.

I think there are so many bloggers out there who are blogging for publicists (in order to stay in their good graces, aka get more ARC’s).

Dear bloggers who won’t stop buttering up authors and talking to them on Twitter 24/7 and giving them nicknames, I can see through your bullshit ways. I can also tell you, I’m not the only one who knows that you’re doing it either for popularity or to snag ARCs from them. Just so you know, it’s tacky as hell.

There is this unkillable idea in the book blogging community that the only way to be legit is to get nothing, ask for nothing and accept nothing. This includes compensation for literally hundreds of hours of work and considerable money each year that goes into maintaining a blog, compensation for publicity and compensation in the form of professional relationships that could help our blogs.

There’s a push to rebuff any kind of money, free books or authorial/publishing friendships that we could have and I feel like this stems from the same kind of attitudes authors are fighting for, to be paid for the work they do/appearances they make. We have inherited this philosophy in the book blogging community that the promotion we get in terms of views is payment enough. We’ve inherited it from authors and publishers and from each other when the truth is, we’re worth so much more.


Okay, maybe we’re not quite ready for that…

Ask yourself this: do you expect the web developers to work for free? The web hosts? The authors? The publicists? The cleaners at the publishing houses?


Okay, not the best guy to be taking your advice from – granted.

And you know, if getting nothing is enough for you, then that’s great. If that’s the way you keep yourself honest then I applaud you. I’m not saying Cuddlebuggery gets paid or makes great contacts or anything. But I also recognise that this condition is unique to book blogging compared to other forms of blogging like beauty blogging, entertainment blogging, lifestyle blogging and general writing on the internet where perks and recompense are becoming common. So I also applaud people who are able to ask to be treated as a professional and to be paid as a professionals and as people who legitimately do work. Because what may be a hobby to some, is quickly becoming a professional venture to others – and that’s okay!

See, I respect a lot of different kind of bloggers. I respect loud bloggers who voice their opinions, and I respect quiet bloggers who work day-to-day reviewing books, just trying to get by. I respect bloggers who post paid content, so long as they disclose that, and I respect bloggers who refuse any paid content. And the good thing about choice and freewill is that you can choose to follow whichever kind of blogger you like.

Accepting that there are a lot of ways to book blog is the first step to a healthier, happier community. You don’t have to support everyone and everything. We’re getting bigger, and what it looks like to be a book blogger is quickly altering. But is this really a bad thing? We’re not all expected to be friends with each other. But we expect authors to respect our spaces and I don’t think we should expect any less of each other.

Author and publicist relationships are such a tricky subject. It’s hard to see from the outside why an author or publicist might be drawn to particular bloggers. You can be cynical and say it’s down to page views and a popularity contest, and I understand that. I, for one, treasure the few friendships I’ve made. I feel like they’re genuine and based on years of shared history and hard work to make them what they are. It’s hard to be new and come into a community where people already know and connect with each other, I get that. It’s like coming to a party late and finding no one at the door to greet you. It’s uncomfortable and confronting. As someone who struggles with social anxiety, I’m right there with you.

If you take anything away from this post. Make friends with as many bloggers, authors and publicists as you can/want to. Connect, have fun, live life big and don’t worry about anyone else. Your blogging style can look like anything you want it to. And that’s a beauty that nobody can take away from you.

moral support

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy

59 Responses to “Book Blog Like Nobody’s Watching”

  1. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I saw that post yesterday and, while I was nodding my head with some of it (the whole popularity thing…but then, I’ve never been one of the “cool kids”, so it doesn’t really bother me), that recurring theme struck a dissonant chord. Personally, I think that, if you want to just do cover reveals and promo posts, have at it. If you want to be friends with authors (and they want to be friends with you), do it. If you want to buddy up with publicists, you do you. And if you get paid for your post and/or content, be sure you say so.

    Just don’t plagiarize or steal content. Because then you suck.
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Tuesday Book Tweets: Do It In 140 (28)My Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      It is simple advice to “do you” but also hard to follow. I too love all kinds of bloggers and their blogs though. I think the diversity of different kinds of bloggers is what I love best.

  2. Kerri

    I think you have a lot of good points here! I do agree that the community needs to listen to those who spoke up – I hate the idea that there are people feeling left out and unhappy. I saw a lot of snark and anger and that always makes me sad.

    There were a couple of points that I didn’t agree with, though. Criticizing those who are ‘in it for the ARCs’, for example. Now, I do a mix of both ARCs and regular books so maybe I’m biased, but I just found myself wondering why it was being seen as *bad* to want ARCs or get a lot of them. Obviously people shouldn’t be dishonest or do unsavoury things to get them, but if their readers like reading about them and they have the relationship to get them, why shouldn’t they be excited to get them? Like you said, on makeup videos etc it’s pretty common for people to get stuff sent to them for reviews and publicity. Heck, the same thing happens with planners of all things! Most people like free stuff and that’s okay.

    I think everyone has a different way of finding their niche in the book blogging community, and that’s okay too. I just want to say to anyone out there that there are friendly people out here, I promise! I like meeting new people. I’ve actually found most of the ‘bigger names’ out there to be pretty friendly, too, though obviously I don’t know everyone.

    I think sometimes it can be overwhelming for newbies and easy to start feeling as though they have to do certain things and review certain books and if you don’t do that, then nobody cares. But I think there’s a space for everyone! It can be hard not to get caught up in all the competition but if we all support each other then we can have a lot of fun and discover new books along the way.
    Kerri recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #2:My Profile

    • Kerri

      Just want to add that of course I’m talking about the other post, obviously, not this one. I just thought of it because of the whole point about ‘bloggers shouldn’t accept or want anything’.

    • Kat Kennedy

      Great comment. I agree that a lot of newbies and smaller bloggers are feeling the burn of trying to enter such a large community. I just wish there was something more I could do to help!

  3. looloolooweez

    Yeah, I have mixed feelings about those “confessions”… on the one hand, it’s helpful to be able to rant about annoyances or community issues, especially anonymously. On the other hand, too much negativity becomes a kind of poison that makes taking part in those kinds of discussions way less fun. Confessionals are like a nice wine: a bit here and there is pleasurable and healthy, but too much all at once makes a person sick.

    Sometimes the book blogosphere seems like an echo chamber with all these arguments about payments, ARCs, author/publisher interactions, and such. Like you said, other forms of blogging don’t seem to have these kinds of ongoing issues. Alas!
    looloolooweez recently posted…Book Review | The Circle by Dave EggersMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      Well, I think it’s good for people to air grievances and try to get things off their chest. I just always seek to find ways to make it more in an effort to effect change.

      • looloolooweez

        Yes, that’s an eloquent way of putting it — airing grievances can be healthy, of course. It’s finding that line between healthy + helpful vs. ineffective or harmful that’s the challenge!

  4. Rosie

    I completely agree with you. It’s bizarre that it’s seen as ‘dirty’ to accept any kind of compensation for the amount of effort and time that book bloggers put into a blog post. And it’s not just the blog post, there’s social media as well. The only compensation those people might get is a book, and that’s enough for some people. But I really don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to charge or make money. If you were an author’s publicist, you’d make money, so what’s the different really?

    You get people in it for the money / freebies in all blogging circles, it’s nothing unique to book bloggers.
    Rosie recently posted…Rosy Cheeks | LUSH Fresh Face MaskMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      Yup! It seems to be a condition mostly unique to book blogging though you see it a bit in the gamer blogging side of things as well. The whole “dirty money” aspect really bothers me though because book bloggers do so much work. SO MUCH. And why not get paid for it? Confusing.

  5. J.

    I actually hadn’t seen that other post, but I can see how it would feel both liberating and discouraging. This was a lovely post, thank you 🙂

  6. Hebe

    I think, for me, the issue with paying book bloggers for posts isn’t about the money per se, it’s about looking at who is paying for them. It’s not an issue for, say, the Times or the Guardian to pay reviewers for what they write, because (in theory at least) the Times and the Guardian don’t have vested interests in selling books. I see it as an issue for Penguin or HarperCollins to pay reviewers for what they write, because they do have vested interests in selling books, and that can only mean pressure on reviewers to generate sales for the companies who are paying them. (Because that’s why publishing companies pay web developers and cleaners, right? Because, ultimately, they’re helping the company generate sales.) Which is not good for cultural discussion, because it limits the kinds of discussion you can have.
    Hebe recently posted…Review: Bleeding EdgeMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      Well, I think there’s a lot of ways for book bloggers to make money that doesn’t include money coming directly from publishers. But even if it did – many publications had ad money from publishers but still give informed, unbiased book reviews. I would just hate for book bloggers to be barred from earning any money in any way because of some perceived dirtiness about it.

  7. Savannah

    Wow, had to go look at the other post after seeing the strong emotions brought up in this one. It’s important that people feel like their feelings are being validated, and I think that was definitely accomplished in the other post; however, there has to be room for some kind of response, and I think you did it very well! It seemed like an awful lot of buildup over some very strong opinions that needed to be expressed, but even if it wasn’t done in the best manner, I’m glad they got it out of their system. Now we can focus on learning from the experience as a community! 🙂
    Savannah recently posted…You Know You’re an English Major When…My Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      Exactly, Savannah. I’m glad people were able to get stuff off their chest and hopefully we can effect some kind of change to help people more enjoy the blogging community.

  8. Erin Burns

    I find the whole, you’re only friends because they are authors thing kind of weird. Everyone is always only friends with given individuals because X, because X is how you found them. I don’t know if I am making that make sense.

    In any event, when it comes to pubic interactions, I appreciate that people disclose things like them feeling they are friends with the author. It is something I would like to know and I take it into account when I read their reviews. And heck, nowadays I can look online and see their interactions and decide for myself what might be influencing the level of squee.

    What I am morbidly curious about when it comes to those not so friendly bloggers, is how would they have responded if they read a review by blogger/author friends and that relationship wasn’t disclosed and then they wandered across chummy Facebook or Twitter conversations. Somehow I think there would be an epic blow-up.

    I also think the idea of not having certain levels of favorites ridiculous. How can MY rating system impact yours. The only person who has the power to ruin YOUR system is you. And if I were somehow that powerful, I wish someone would have told me, because nefarious plotting is hard work when you don’t think you have superpowers.
    Erin Burns recently posted…January TBR Challenge 2016 – Review B Cubed by Jenna McCormickMy Profile

  9. Cait @ Paper Fury

    I LOVED THIS POST OMG THANK YOU. That’s actually what hit me the hardest in that post too was the hate on people who might make money off their blog. And tbh, it sounds like bitterness? Like maybe they couldn’t make money on their blog and it’s a sore spot for them?
    I think it’s rubbish that book bloggers don’t get paid. I LOVE blogging and I wouldn’t quit for anything because it personally gives me happiness…but gosh, ANY OTHER KIND OF BLOGGER actually can work to get paid. They’ll be paid to advertise a product and given the product for free.
    I don’t think book blogging is ever going to change and that we’ll miraculously get paid. But I can only think good on you to bloggers who do make a bit of income through their passion and hobby.
    (What makes me really sad about the people who started the blogging confessions is that I feel like they’re very bitter and tired about blogging. I wonder why anyone would blog if it was so stressful for them?)
    (And it’s horribly cruel to say bloggers “kiss ass” to authors and publicists. That makes me so sad. ????)

    • Kat Kennedy

      Thank you so much for your comment, Cait. I love blogging too, and even though I actually spend money to blog, rather than get paid – I have all the respect for people able to make a living off of it!

  10. Carina Olsen

    Such a gorgeous post Kat. <3 Thank you the most for sharing. Hugs. I must be honest, I didn't read all of this. As I'm trying not to read about the drama.. so I haven't read the other blog post either. I'm a very sensitive person, so I would take it all personally, I'm sure :\ Like.. I read this part of your post, where they talk about people being tacky for talking to authors etc on twitter. That feels personal to me, for me. Sigh. I shall stay away from this drama, lol 😀 But you are awesome. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #223My Profile

  11. Katie @ ShelfishlyAddicted

    I found the original post you referred to interesting, telling, and yes, a little sad. I think I even RT’d it yesterday to see if anyone wanted to engage in conversation. No dice.

    I’m glad you posted this, Kat.

    Way back when, I ran a forum, news blog, and “watchdog” site that focused on an internet business niche. After a year of hard work, we started accepting advertisers and sponsors, for which we received some flack. This post reminded me of that time, and I think I may have a post on my own blog soon about this topic.

    This discussion may become the next “great debate” in the book blogging community, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes – as long as we can all remain respectful!

    • Kat Kennedy

      Hi Katie. I’m sorry you didn’t get to engage in conversation 🙁 I always think things should be hashed out and every side listened to. I hear what those girls in the post was saying, I just wanted to offer a differing perspective! As for Watchdog, I’m sorry you received flack for that. That’s not fair.

  12. Rachana @ Addicted to YA

    I was initially kind of happy to see the blogger confessions post because it seemed great that people could get things off their chest but I only really skim read the post and I didn’t realize how negative alot of the things they were saying were. And anyway, it turned out there were quite a few points I didn’t agree with…
    I always assumed that book bloggers not getting paid was something that people were happy with but I mean, it sucks that bloggers can’t monetize their book blog without getting flack for it. I feel like these bloggers have kind of lost their faith in the community in general because, before reading this post, I wouldn’t assume that bloggers would do shady things just to “get money.” I think this is the kind of post I really needed to read to remind me that it’s okay to blog how you want to. <3
    Rachana @ Addicted to YA recently posted…beautiful people // writerly resolutions & goalsMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      I’m always happy to see people express themselves. I was initially taken aback by the post but after talking to some other bloggers who felt like it represented them, I was able to see it much more for what it was. I disagreed with a lot of it, but that’s okay. I’m glad this post at least reminded you to blog how you want to!

  13. Natalie Monroe

    THIS POST. I confess I’m guilty of some of things the other blogger stated, like rating a book higher because I love the author. But it’s MY review. My space. I don’t stop loving an artist because she releases a mediocre song. *eyes Taylor Swift’s All You Had To Do Was Stay* I usually mention it in the review, but even if I don’t, I’m glad to have spread the word about the author’s work.

  14. Kelly

    ‘Keep being you. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking.’

    That’s what struck a chord with me with the confessions post. I feel as though these were two girls who took concerns of the wider community and ended up a whipping post for those who felt personally victimised. I’ll be honest, I was angry seeing the uproar and that the girls are being referred to as bitter. I know Nick and I know the intention was never to single any one blogger out and I think we need to remember that these aren’t the words of two girls, but a lot of bloggers chimed in and echo the same voices of the wider community. With any community online or otherwise, there will always be cliques or groups of close knit friends of a better word, but these issues are rampant and generally the ‘little guy’ won’t speak up for fear of being ridiculed or the victim of a pack mentality sadly.

    We love blogging, we wouldn’t do it otherwise and if a blogger can turn that passion for blogging into a viable source of income then I’m all in favour. I personally only class my blogging as a hobby and wouldn’t want that added pressure, but promotional posts, guest spots or even showcasing products or book spotlights, why not get paid for it. I hope it would never come to being paid for reviews though. That’s just my outdated, old fashioned viewpoint that books are treasures and we read for the love of reading and not payment.

    I’m getting too old for all this and only months away from telling all you hooligans to get off my lawn 😀
    Kelly recently posted…Breathtaking… Swallow The AirMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      Oh noes! Please don’t tell me to get off your lawn! I like it here! I hope that it comes through in my post that I respect people for bringing up their issues in the community. I certainly have no desire to turn anyone into whipping girls.

      I certainly want “the little guy” in our community to feel free to be able to speak up about anything they want.

      • Kelly

        Sorry Katnip, I wasn’t implying that you meant for them to shut their cake holes, I was speaking as a community as a whole feeling like it isn’t accepted to speak out. I seen a throwaway remark yesterday by someone who loved your stance on bloggers blogging for themselves and every voice is just as valid as the last (and rightly so, I agree wholeheartedly too), but only a day earlier, this same person was hurling real insults at the girls who posted. Makes me wonder if the post would have been accepted, discussed and even respected had a bigger or more influential blogger had posted instead.

        I’m generally not one for making waves, but something about this whole saga really quite upset me Kat 🙁
        Kelly recently posted…Breathtaking… Swallow The AirMy Profile

  15. Justine

    I’m not a blogger, just a reader, but it makes me sad to see everyone getting upset online 🙁

    Truth is, most of us who have been around reading as long as you all have been writing are savvy enough to sort out things like when ratings might be a tiny bit overstated by author love or friendships. If we feel like there is too much name dropping or promo stuff going on, and that’s not our thing, we’ll we just click on another page. The only thing that really makes me uncomfortable is when it seems like people are getting personal and feelings are getting hurt unnecessarily:(

  16. Francesca

    I feel like book blogging is going through what fashion blogging and beauty bloggin went through a couple of years ago with people moving to monetize their blogs. I dont have a problem with it as long as the integrity is there or that bloggers work with brands/sponsored posts that truly reflect their opinion. I kind of don’t get it though when people aren’t honest with reviews and such, at the end of the day you can’t eat a book and you cant pay your bills with ARC’s!

  17. Liz @ Out of Coffee, Out of Mind

    Thank you so much for writing this post. I was genuinely bothered by some of the attitudes in the post you referenced. I totally get that not everyone views the blogging and book blogging community as idealistically as I do, and clearly I do not read enough blogs to even understand why there has to be an issue. I have been extremely lucky with my following and the people I have stumbled across and chosen to follow. So I would never say those people who are voicing their grievances are wrong in doing so or wrong in having grievances. But some of those complaints bothered me because I feel they place blanket judgements on book bloggers. I like to make friends with authors because one of the most important aspects of book blogging, for me, is relationship. As someone who wants to be a published author, I feel it’s very valuable to cultivate friendships, to whatever level I can, with published authors. I even have one who has read and critiqued my book for me and given me advice over the years, and I would hate to be accused of kissing ass by cultivating that relationship. And I don’t want to be quick to point fingers or place blame or speculate about wrong motives, but sometimes I get the impress that people throw around accusations like that out of jealousy.

    Admittedly, there are some very big book bloggers out there, and they are intimidating and seem to have everything, and I think if I were to let that rankle me because by comparison I am so small, I would probably end up as someone who tries to dig up dirty reasons for why a book blogger has no right to the fame they have. But we’re a community, and I would like to think that our first motivation should be to cultivate a healthy community, no one that breaks apart through jealousy and pettiness. I don’t think it should matter whether other people earn money and others don’t. Each has made their choice, and each choice is perfectly fine, and problems seem to start pretty much only when we start comparing. So I’m so glad you weighed in with your voice on this. *nods*

    As my audience has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past few months, I’ve been introduced to new forms of stress because it is hard to maintain my product and my following and all that. So it was super discouraging to be reminded that the bigger I get, the more flack I’m going to draw just because I’m perceived as a threat by those who envy my supposed success. I wish that weren’t the case. I wish we could just all support each other and make this a positive environment.

    So anyway, this was a long comment and I maybe only made sense half the time? But all that to say, I appreciate this post and what you’ve said and just yeah. *nods* Thank you for speaking up. 🙂
    Liz @ Out of Coffee, Out of Mind recently posted…Why I RereadMy Profile

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