I have a little confession to make – I love book bloggers. And it’s not just because I did that for a while when I was first in college (but as the community wasn’t so big and awesome as it is now and I didn’t have anyone to interact with, I stopped again when my work-load increased.) Especially now that I write for publication, I actually live vicariously through them because they are much more allowed to tell the truth, even in exaggerated and comedic form. I can’t that do anymore (*hem* except very very rarely and with very famous books). These days, I don’t post reviews on my blog except for book tours and when I’m specifically asked to, and in my goodreads account I tend to just not rate / not review the ones that would cause me to say some not so great things. It just feels tacky and self-motivated and I will be the first to admit that I read books differently now that I am published.
So yes, I haunt book blogs. I love them and I also am someone who takes their advice seriously (once I establish a similar-ish taste) and I’ve bought quite a few books based on recommendations. I don’t like gratuitous and vicious author-flogging (you know when you get the feeling a book was read knowing you’d hate it just so you can hate on it), but I value that book bloggers call out stuff like slut-shaming and “bad boys” that really are just abusive assholes, cases of plagiarism and other problematic things us more casual readers don’t notice.
Especially for me as a writer, they are also an amazing resource because they read more in one year than I do in five. Check out some of their goodreads reading challenges, they can go over 200 books a year. They see common tropes, repeating patterns and the difference between a well-done topic and a not-so-well-done one better than anyone outside the industry. And yes, they are outside the industry – they don’t have to think about whether something will sell – but really, purely whether they are enjoyable. And even if you don’t agree with everything they like or dislike, it helps you to gauge how those things will be received.
Especially nice are blog hops or memes that allow you to check out sometimes hundreds of opinions on something. The Broke and the Bookish have a very popular weekly meme, for example but there are so many.
Last week, they asked bloggers to name their Top 10 Book Turn-offs, and further back in the archive you can find themes that make people pick up books or avoid them. It’s not just great fun to click through all the different blogs who post their answers, it gives you a nice over-view about how people really feel about what we write. So check those out.