[LET’S CHAT] Do We Have Influence As Book Bloggers?

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Okay, so, you guys really seemed to like my first ever edition of  Let’s Chat, which is awesome! I’m so glad to see you guys are pumped about this feature as much as I am! I was originally going to publish another Let’s Chat, but wanted to push it down later in favor of something else that I thought would be more interesting to talk about, and that’s the question in the title: do we really have that much influence as book bloggers?

This topic was mainly spurred by the huge announcement that Angie Thomas’s debut novel The Hate U Give hit number one on the New York Times’ Bestseller List twice (which she totally deserves;  you can check out my long, gushing review it here). Of course, even though I was very excited for her, I realized something: Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark was second. SECOND.

I’m sure you’ve already heard that Carve the Mark was revealed to be racist and ableist, and there have been a multitude of Twitter threads and reviews calling the book out for this. Basically, the book blogging community banded together against it, because we, as a community, don’t believe these harmful books need to continue being published. Yet, it seems to not have really worked that because her book is still number two on the NYT Bestseller’s List, and will probably continue to be on there for a while. Maybe it’s because she’s a popular author already, so it doesn’t really matter what the community does, but it really begs the question: are we really influencing the reading community in general?

Now, I guess I could specifically pertain this to problematic books, but I want this to be a bit more generalized as a statement. There have been multiple times where book bloggers on Twitter or authors and such talk about an important topic in the book community that “goes viral,” in a way and gets everyone talking…but does it really? Because, yes, we’re re-tweeting and, yes, we’re participating in this discussion, and, hell yes, it’s important, but the only people listening are other book bloggers, and there’s a chance that we’ve already heard the same thing said by someone else, and then we go share it…to our followers, who are usually other book bloggers who’ve already seen it pop up in their timeline, and the cycle goes on.

I think this really old discussion from Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner and the comments section (which I highly advise you to read because even though it might be irrelevant in some places, it’s still really interesting) really shows my point. Often times, on Goodreads or on Twitter or within our book blogging community, we talk about how a book is over-hyped and such because we seem to see it EVERYWHERE. But, from a regular old reader’s perspective, to someone who doesn’t know that book Twitter exists, or doesn’t use Goodreads, or doesn’t blog, they might have never heard of Caraval or The Hate U Give or The Raven Boys until they walked into the bookstore that day. Sometimes, only the fact that a book is becoming a movie is what pushes that author into incredible amounts of fame from “the outside,” much like what it did to John Green when The Fault in Our Stars movie adaptation was announced, and what it seems to be doing to Nicola Yoon and Everything, Everything (which is number three on the list, as you can see up there).

The Black Witch

And then back to the whole problematic books thing. Recently, The Black Witch has been called out for being racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist – you name it, the book probably has it. I’m going to leave some reviews here and here in case you want to read more in-depth about it. This recently started a conversation about how to deal with problematic books and how re-tweeting is never enough to spread the word, but then what is? Talking about it on my blog just alerts other bloggers who have probably already heard about the controversy and have sworn it off already. Talking about it on Goodreads just blasts the same thing to people who have already probably been exposed to it via their own circles. Sharing it on Twitter and Instagram is just sharing it to people who are already, in some way, inundated into the book community and have, again, probably heard the news. But what about people who just aren’t on any of those platforms? I’m sure a large majority of book bloggers aren’t going to read it and that’s cool and all, but that doesn’t stop a heck of a lot of readers who just occasionally go to a bookstore and pick up a book based off its pretty cover, who don’t look at outside influences, who aren’t part of the online book community. I mean, if Carve the Mark is sitting right next to an #ownvoices novel about the Black Lives Matter movement, have we really done anything at all? Will The Black Witch still be successful despite all the reviews and  Twitter threads?

And even talking about ARCs. Publishers give the most popular bloggers ARCs to get the word out there about their book. They’re out there to build up buzz and publicity. But, a large majority of the time, readers of blogs are usually other bloggers. Nine times out of ten, that book that popular blogger is advertising is one I’ve already seen popping up in my Reader or in my Twitter timeline or on my Instagram feed or even one I just tried to request on Netgalley, and there’s only so many times you can hear someone gush about a book before getting bored and skipping over every review of said book after reading just a couple of them. Are we really even generating buzz if that buzz is towards other bloggers?

Of course, this discussion seems to be super depressing and might imply that book bloggers are useless, but we aren’t (at least, I like to think we aren’t). I mean, authors think we’re cool enough to contact us if they need a boost or if they’re self-published. Publishers are nice enough to give us ARCs that are a lot of work to make, and that relationship didn’t come out of nowhere. We get to meet other bloggers and maybe gain new readers at places like Bookcon or Yallfest/Yallwest. We start important conversations that can take the blogging community by storm. We’ve been pushing for diversity and #ownvoices. We’ve managed to make some incredibly underrated authors/books popular. In some ways, our hard work is definitely paying off, and it shows me why I started my blog in the first place.

let's chat

For my fellow book bloggers, do you think you have a lot of influence in the reader community? For anyone who reads my blog and isn’t a book blogger (I don’t know if you guys exist lol), who influences you? For everyone, where do you get most of your bookish news or how do you hear about new books?

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26 thoughts on “[LET’S CHAT] Do We Have Influence As Book Bloggers?

  1. Honestly, I don’t think we really have too much influence because it’s like you said, we all sort of move in the same circles and the information never really breaks out. The thing with Veronica Roth is in part because of her famed Divergent series and also because of readers ignorance. Anyone can read a negative review and find out that a book is homophobic or racist but so many readers will still want to read it to “see for themsleves”.
    This is something that’s defintely been popping up a lot with CTM and TBW, in fact there’s this conversation on Goodreads I’ve been following (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1945801183?comment=164153727#comment_164153727) which I think really demonstrates what I’m trying to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, basically that! I have a totally different discussion asking if the book blogging community is too clique-y that’s not coming out until April, but it sort of highlights the same thing. This time last year, I didn’t even know book blogging was a thing, and now here I am, so I think that says a lot! And most of the stuff that went down on Book Twitter around that time didn’t even reach the Goodreads community, where I used to mostly hang out! And, yes, I’ve seen that A LOT, which annoys me. 😬 If someone hated the book b/c it had insta-love and you don’t care, fine, but it’s a totally different thing when people are faced with actual evidence and still ignore it.

      And, ah, I’ll try to check it out once I get to my computer so I can copy the link! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m going to come back to discuss this since I don’t have time at the moment, but excellent post and I do think it’s a half and half. I think bloggers tend to get overwhelmed with the hype that normal people don’t see, but other platforms such as goodreads do give extra exposure to regular readers. Great post dear!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I saw the same thing around Goodreads! So many books would be labeled as overhyped, and would be like, “I’ve never heard of this book ever before coming onto this site.” 😂 We do get extra exposure since we’re just inundated in book culture.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think this is a really interesting discussion! In some ways, bloggers absolutely do have influence because, like you said, were important enough to get sent Arcs and stuff. But the problem is, getting the attention/engaging people who don’t look at reviews/tweets/blogs :s hmm it’s definitely something to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, definitely! I do think it’s interesting since there seems to be a shift where huge bookstagram accounts or book Twitter accounts can also get physical ARCs. You don’t even have to have a book blog to get those anymore! It is tough to get non-blogging people to engage. I have so many WordPress followers, but only one e-mail follower. 😂 I think that says a lot.

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  4. This is a really interesting discussion. As depressing as it is to admit that maybe the book community doesn’t have that much influence (particularly over problematic books), but it was honestly really enlightening for me to hear you say all of this.

    I consider myself a pretty “new” book blogger in that I don’t have even 100 followers, and a lot of what I do on Twitter is read and retweet and occasionally add to a conversation if I feel I have a good point. I’m, in many ways, pretty invisible, and I’ve somewhat made my peace with that. I can rest knowing that there are so many of you guys spreading the word to more people than I could hope to reach, at least right now. I blog because I enjoy it, and because I care about the issue of what gets published, what gets hyped, and what needs to change when it comes to racist, ableist, sexist, etc. books.

    I think what it comes down to is that, as many have pointed out particularly in the past week, there are still (white) folks who will read every negative review about a racist/ableist/homophobic book and still go “that’s ok, I’m going to read for myself.” Whether they realize their privilege in making those statements or not, that’s what it comes down to. As a white person, I recognize that I have privilege in that way, but I also carefully choose what books I buy and who I’m supporting.

    I don’t know if you guys saw the huge argument on goodreads/twitter between people who were 1-starring The Black Witch without bothering to read it – because why do we need to read it when Shauna wrote up that amazingly in depth review – and the folks who were saying that’s somehow “cheating.” To which I said, look, I didn’t mark the book as read. I have a separate shelf for Did Not Finish, which doubles as a shelf for problematic books that I will avoid. And like you said, Carve the Mark is still on the bestseller list – clearly if you’re a well-liked author, you can do no wrong as far as the majority of readers are concerned.

    I don’t really have an answer to your overall question but I think it’s worth considering: where are we putting our time/energy in the online book community and is that the place that it’s most useful?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you so much; I’m glad I could be enlightening, in a way! 😄

      I guess I’m a newbie blogger as well??? What makes one an established blogger, really; I couldn’t even begin to tell you. I also prefer to stay invisible, but that probably bleeds into the fact that I’m socially anxious in real life, and I don’t think I’d do better online in a heated discussion. I don’t like debate in real life too much either. 😝

      Yes, I saw that a lot on bookstagram, mostly from people I don’t follow. So many people saying they would read it to find out for themselves, even though the info is right there in a long blog post.

      I didn’t see that! I’m not on Goodreads, so I don’t really keep up with what goes on there anymore, tbh. I personally don’t rate books I don’t plan on reading, but I can see how that helps for a book that’s problematic. Just not for some random book though that nobody’s read yet or because you don’t like the author. Yeah, that’s why I’m curious about TBW! I’m pretty sure the author is a debut one, and if it goes through to publication, I’m interested in what will happen! I can understand Veronica Roth because she’s popular and well-known, but it makes me wonder what’ll happen with a new one.

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  5. This is a really interesting discussion Mikaela, and I kind of both agree and disagree with it in parts. I guess as book bloggers out influence is limited, simply because of all the points you mentioned in your post. When I talk about books with my friends outside of WordPress and who aren’t as involved in the bookish communities on social media I can sometimes be surprised by how they haven’t heard of certain books. In fact I’m pretty sure one of the only reasons one of my friends knows about Caraval was because I read it, she saw it on my GR profile, read the blurb, thought it sounded interesting and added it herself. That was literally it.
    But at the same time I think the bookish community is a big place. When I first started out blogging I was a fantasy reader and that was it, but being part of this community has persuaded me to start other genres and other books I may not have picked up before. I also wouldn’t have known about the controversy surrounding Carve the Mark.
    I guess yes our influence may be limited but I guess what I’m trying to say is we may still have more influence than we think, even if it is just on other book bloggers out there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, same, before I joined Goodreads, I didn’t know about so many books! Like, I’d never heard of Maggie Stiefvater or V.E. Schwab in my life. 😂 Some people would say they’re overrated, but who knows what their sales are like in the real world? We never know how much authors really make, and I feel like we sort of assume they get a lot, even though they might not.

      And, yes, I feel like I’ve learned a lot since joining the blogging community! There’s such a big distinction between blogging and GR, and I’m sure different things go on there that I don’t know about! I definitely do think we have great influence over other bloggers! ❤

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      • I had heard of both of them before blogging but I know what you mean, it was only after I started blogging that I was convinced to pick up some of Maggie Stiefvater’s books, and the same with Jandy Nelson’s and Kasie West’s as well. I think it takes a lot for authors to kind of make it in a way that they can earn a living off their books, but I don’t know much about that side of things at all. 🙂

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      • Yeah, exactly! I do think there are some authors who have a lot of money, mostly authors who have TV/movie adaptations because they get paid for those! I remember this author came to our school (he wasn’t a popular or anything), and he said he only made about a couple or so dollars for every book sale he had, and the rest went to his publishers. I don’t know if it’s true for all authors, but I remember being shocked, especially since I’ve complained about books being too expensive before.

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  6. I’m sort of a book blogger? A majority of my posts are book- or writing- related, but I do have some life-y posts. 😄 Not a lot though, because BOOKS. I think book bloggers have a huge influence on the community, at least others influence ME. For example, when I learned of how many people liked ADSOM, I was like, “I’ve got to read this.” And I did! And a lot of other books I’m reading now are because I’ve seen it around in the book blogging community.

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    • Haha, I count that as being a book blogger! I’ve seen some book bloggers who mix things up a bit, which is always nice! And, yeah, I can relate to that! A large majority of my favorite authors are ones I cane to know from hanging around Goodreads so much! I would’ve never heard of them if it weren’t for the fact that they were “overhyped” in the book community.

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  7. THIS WAS SUCH AN INTERESTING POST MIKAELA OMG! I believe I have an influence as a blogger over people who read my blog and I feel every blogger does too. When someone reads something, they remember that this person enjoyed this book or this book wasn’t that great or has mixed reviews or whatever they remember, they remember something about the book. However for non-blogging people, hype isn’t really a thing because they don’t have others telling them what to and what not to read as they are not part of that community and are not exposed. When it comes to books like Carve The Mark being supported by bloggers who know about it’s problematic aspects and still ignore them, that’s not okay, but when it comes to normal people who may not know, you can’t really blame them because they haven’t heard these discussions. All you can do is then encourage publishers to not publish those kinds of books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thank you so much Anisha! Yeah, definitely! I remember I took a very long break from reading, and when I came back to it and Goodreads, I was so overwhelmed with all these popular series I’d probably missed out on. 😂 Even now, I’m still catching up on all these author:book recommendations I’ve received over the last year. And, yeah, I can definitely see that, especially since Veronica Roth has already become a household name, so I’m pretty sure no matter what, people were going to buy her books.

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  8. What a lovely discussion post! 🙂 I really do think that bloggers have an influence, they can make other bloggers – and other people just as well completely outside of the blogging community, aware of more books, or problematic books. Hype and big bookish discussions definitely aren’t a thing outside of the community though, and a non-blogger would be, in my opinion, totally unaware of the hype until they start searching a book online and stumble upon crazy screaming book bloggers hahaha.

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    • Thank you so much, Marie! Yeah, it’s definitely true! Some of the parts of the community that are talked about a lot in regards to blogging aren’t really talked about too much on places like Goodreads, and vice versa. Same, sometimes, with bookstagram and Book Twitter dealing with different issues. I find it very interesting how I belong to three of the communities, and we all won’t be talking about the same things!

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  9. That’s a pretty interesting idea. I have to agree that our influence is pretty limited because we all move in the same circles, so most of the people who hear our ideas are book bloggers. That being said, we do reach the outside world sometimes, but by pure chance I think. Like if someone is looking up a book and our review happens to pop up or if we tell our friends and the word gets spread that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, exactly! And even then, sometimes book bloggers are in their own circles within the circle of book blogging, so that can also get a bit confusing. 😂 That’s actually funny, because I installed this Google Analytics thing that shows you what people are searching to find your website! It’s really interesting to see how I’m mostly found through searches of less popular books!

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      • Yes that’s so interesting but I think it’s because the popular books are talked about everywhere, but the less popular books aren’t. I know I still search less popular books that I love in google just to find other sources on what they think, because the commentary is much less in the open.

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      • Yeah, I mean, it definitely depends! If I reviewed ACOMAF, I probably wouldn’t be found too much because I’d be burrowed on the second or third page when I’m searched on Google, but when people search for “Frost” and “Boy Robot” (both books I reviewed and loved), I’m more likely to pop up on the front page because those don’t have an influx of reviews. I still get surprised at the fact that my website is up there on Google, though??? I’m found a lot through web searches, which I find to be really awesome. 😄

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  10. This is a really good point and I’ve thought about this a lot! I truly don’t think we book bloggers have as much influence as we maybe think we do?? And like this is coming from someone who has has a mildly large audience. But like maybe 50 people read my blog post and leave a comment, but that’s like ONLY 50 people, compared to the millions out there. I think authors’ successes more lie in publicity in actual bookstores and on tours and in schools and things. So I think book bloggers do great things and hey I’ve been influenced to go buy books thanks to reading blogs! So that definitely all contributes! And I’ve had so many people tell me they’ve bought a book because of me. So I will never say that book blogging is pointless. Pfft, no. It’s important and it’s awesome. But I think you’re right when you say we’re mostly just influencing each other.

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    • Yes, I’ve never thought about that before! I know that in terms of stats numbers, blogs are definitely on the lower side, compared to fashion or food blogs. I mean, I can just hang around Bloglovin to see that. 😂 Compared to how many people are out there, that’s such a tiny amount. And, yep, definitely; publicity is really what pushes authors into the spotlight! Yeah, I definitely don’t think book blogging is pointless, but it’s so hard to know who’s being influenced.

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