I’ve been blogging for a few years now, starting well before I published Shallow Waters in December last year. I wrote about my love of crime fiction and my journey towards my debut novel being released. Within those parameters, I wrote posts about books I’d been reading. The majority of which were naturally biased towards crime.
Over time, this has turned more and more into a proper reviewers role. As well as being a member of NetGalley, I’m also in contact with several publishing houses PRs who send me books before they’re released so I can review them. I know this is an honour. The publisher/author and reviewer relationship, as I know (because even though I publish myself, I still have to do all these roles myself) are symbiotic. The publisher/author can create a buzz for their book by getting advance readers talking about their upcoming release and the book blogger can get their hands on some great books free of charge and earlier than the buying public can get them. The problem is that being a book blogger is hectic work. Great books are coming out all the time and it can get overwhelming and it ends up with a situation where you’re no longer providing the buzz before the book comes out because your TBR pile is just so high, it’s impossible to get to the books in time when you’re reading them in the order you received them. And all the while you’re holding down your own job and personal life.
And that’s where I am right now. I’m so far behind with my books I’m not offering any kind of service and I’m just left feeling hassled and stressed. It’s not supposed to be that way. Reading is not supposed to be that way. I went into town shopping at the weekend with my daughter and bought three non-crime books specifically because I’m feeling burnt-out. A sure-fire sign that I shouldn’t be doing it. Reading should be fun. It should be relaxing.
Another reason I am stepping back from book reviewing is that I don’t want to just be known as a book reviewer. I’m an author. I was sharing books I’d read and enjoyed and it kind of spiralled into a reviewers role. I’ll still be reading and putting my reviews of books I’ve read on Goodreads if you want to see what I’m reading, you can find me on there. But I feel as though my identity is getting smudged. That it’s not clear. So now my focus will be on other things. Writing will be my main focus! But on the blog I’ll still be doing the First Draft series, the Policing series, I will start back up the Nottingham series (which is where my novels are set), the bite-sized interviews (I have a great one tomorrow with Caroline Mitchell on the supernatural in crime fiction!) and anything else that pops into my head.
I still have a lot of books on my TBR that were given to me as review books that I still need to read and review, so for a few months you will continue to see book reviews on here (if I enjoyed them). I will keep my NetGalley account open and will at times pick up at book, from a debut author maybe, and join in with creating a buzz for a great book, but I’m not going to get myself into the state I’m in now where I have far too many books, I’m stressed over them and I should really be more focused on my writing life. I’ll also keep reading – which is a given! – but it’ll be for me and will include a variety of books, not just crime. And these I might share with you if I’ve loved them, just because I love books and that’s what started all this. Below are the books I bought at the weekend!
I hope you understand my withdrawal and continue to come to the blog to read the other content that will be provided. Though the reviews will be here regularly for another few months as my list is that far behind!
If you review, how do you cope and strategise your reading time?
When did it all get to be so serious and out of control? Reading should always be fun so do what you have to do to find that joy again.
Rebecca Bradley says
It’s been a gradual build up Keishon. One of those things that happen without you quite noticing until recently when I’ve realised just how bad it’s got. And I completely agree. Reading should be fun. There are some great books in my list but I don’t get to choose books on my mood, they’re all sat there waiting for me demanding to be read.
Sounds like a good plan. It’s so easy for things to build up (I’m feeling that with just 3 books on the ‘official’ TBR review pile, and two reviews to write for books I’ve finished.).
Rebecca Bradley says
It’s so easy for things to build up. It’s hard to say no to things. I wish I only had 3 books to read! But I’ll get through them and then I’m looking forward to choosing my own books and reading what my mood chooses.
Fitting everything in has always been a problem, but there comes a time when quality becomes more important and dificult choices have to be made. Right now, I am concentrating on what makes me feel good. Things that don’t these days, I tend to leave alone…
Rebecca Bradley says
I think that’s a very simple but very good way to make decisions. Does it make me feel good. We should all do that.
Reblogged this on Anita & Jaye Dawes.
Marianne Wheelaghan says
I don’t review as such but i used to to teach various creative writing classes at the OU and Edinburgh University and for my own online writing school. I loved my classes and my students but they took up all my time and energy, so much so I had nothing left for my own writing. I eventually had to decide; write and not tutor or tutor and not write. It wasn’t easy but I resigned from the Uni courses, found tutors for my own school, who are brilliant, and have since written three novels and am on my fourth. Well done, you for making a tough decision. PS I’ve just started reading The Rosie Effect … so far so good 😉
Rebecca Bradley says
That must have been an incredibly difficult decision to make Marianne. Tutoring is a different kettle of fish to reviewing and I imagine brings with it doing something really worthwhile so even more difficult to give up. But it’s good to hear you saying you made the right decision. I know this is right for me, even though it was hard, and I’m looking forward to focusing more on my writing as you have.
Tina Collins (@tinacollins44) says
As a book reviewer, I’ve often had to take a break from it. It fast becomes a chore rather than a pleasure. But, I always come back to it. It’s got me on a very long chain!
Rebecca Bradley says
I can easily understand that Tina. I love reading books that are new out and that are exciting and fun and ones where you can join in conversations about but yes, when you get over run it is a chore and that’s not what reading should be. I know it’s right for me at the minute.
Glynis Smy says
I understand your decision. I did exactly the same and stepped away from reviewing books around two years ago. My writing became my focus. I had to stop the stress and guilt from letting folk down.
Rebecca Bradley says
There is a massive guilt Glynis and it’s a perpetual cycle. It’s not been an easy decision. I’ve been back and forth with it but ultimately I know this is the right one for me.
Alex J. Cavanaugh (@AlexJCavanaugh) says
I think it’s a wise decision. You’re not a book blogger. And you don’t want to burn out on books.
Awesome you bought something outside of your genre!
I think your decision is one that many bloggers have come to over the years. It is so, so easy to get massively behind and then feel you are letting people down if you don’t read those books that have been so generously given to you for review. I do know bloggers that seem to be able to to manage this balancing act, but for myself, not so much. I want to be able to read what I want when I want without my own guilt being the driving force. So, good for you. I’ll keep coming by to see what you’ve been up to and what you are sharing. And Rebecca, enjoy your new books. I love crime fiction, but we all have to take a break sometimes. 🙂
Margot Kinberg says
I can’t say I blame you one bit, Rebecca. There are only so many hours in a day, and writers have to write. In fact, it’s one reason that I don’t do book reviews on my blog. I think you’re wise to focus your efforts, so that you can really enjoy both reading and writing.
I totally understand, Rebecca! I felt the pressure this month and almost stopped reviewing.
Tracey Book Lover says
It’s the “other content” that keeps me coming back to your blog, Rebecca.
I understand you’re decision on reviews – I’m taking a break for at least the rest of the year, reading the books I want to read & reviewing if I feel like it. As you & others have said reading should be a pleasure not a chore. x
I know exactly what you mean about getting stressed by being behind with the books you’ve taken for review. Though I intend to go on reviewiing I’ve been deliberately cutting back on taking new releases for review, though like you I’ve still got a big backlog to clear. To be honest, as a reader of reviews as well as a reviewer, I get a bit tired of the ‘buzz’ – reading umpteen review of the same book within a couple of weeks of each other. Concentrating on what you enjoy doing is always a good idea… 🙂
I really, really get this because I’m in the same situation. I love being able to spread the word about books and know how important reviews are, but I’ve taken in more books than I have time for. I haven’t read a book I just wanted to pick up and read for fun since May, and I have a stack of books to read and review for authors. It’s not that I don’t want to read them or don’t think I’ll enjoy them, but sometimes it becomes a chore, and like you said, reading should be fun, so I’m in this limbo state of what to do because I do want to read them, but I also want to read something I just want to read just because.
Jacqui Murray says
I have to say, your reviews have made a big difference at times in my reading habits. If not for you, I never would have met amazing writers like Mari Hannah. Which doesn’t change the fact that I completely understand. I review about a book a week (which I don’t always post) for Amazon Vine and find that about all I can handle. It’s a different sort of writing than the other, innit?
Rachel Hall says
To be honest I am surprised that you have been able to keep it up for so long. Although I don’t have a blog I write a fair number of reviews and these can rack up pretty quickly and become overwhelming. I am thinking about my first attempts at writing and between reading and reviewing I am just not managing to find the time. Something has got to go as reviewing can become a full time job and whether one is a reader or a writer, the principle emphasis should be on enjoyment and satisfaction.
I can understand your frustrations. Unless you can devote a lot of time to it reviewing can feel like a losing battle – always more books than you can ever read! When you have something that is more important to you (like your writing) then that’s where you should be spending your time – and it’s not as if that stops you reading and sharing your thoughts in the future if you want to.
Blogging /reviewing can get hectic – I think August/September must be the busiest months of the year for publishers – the pre Christmas push maybe? Have noticed things are just starting to ease back a little – hope you enjoy A Man Called Ove it is fab! Can also highly recommend his new book – My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologies .
Graeme Cumming says
Rebecca, in many respects doing this is a brave thing. We can all get sucked into doing things, initially with good intentions, that can start to feel like an obligation. In the process, we end up being dragged away from what we really want to do, but we don’t want to let others down.
So well done. Now I’ve just got to figure out how I can extricate myself from paid employment…
Hi, completely agree with everyone else reading should always first and foremost be enjoyable. I probably only review about a quarter of what I read due to time restraints and the fact that the reading is still the best bit for me.
On a different note, the Rosie effect is a great book so hope you enjoy it.
You are right to step back for a while at least. Things can so easily become a chore otherwise. Enjoy the break from it all. Life is out there too.
Very familiar feeling, and I completely understand (although I do enjoy your reviews). I also feel the need to take occasional breaks – it’s a defence mechanism, otherwise we all burn out!
Good luck with all your own writing.
A tough decision for you to make but the right one for the right reasons. Life is too short to be doing something you don’t enjoy when you don’t have to. Good luck whichever way you turn your focus to. .
Totally agree with you. Besides, I’m waiting on Hannah 2 so I think it’s a great idea! Love the new “policing” series. You’re so imaginative with your posts.
Rebecca Bradley says
Thank you! It’s really lovely of you to say so. It can be difficult blogging. Wondering if you’re talking to yourself. And yes, I need to dedicate more time to Hannah 2 🙂