What ever happened to originality in book blogging?

I was planning on writing a book review today, since I’ve been flying through the review books, but the book I finished this morning was that good to warrant a review here. It did teach me a new way to curse — God’s balls! — but that’s about it. Sweet story, not worth the amount of thought for a review.

SO I figured I’d talk about something I saw on Twitter the other day. I can’t remember who had posted it, but it was something along the lines of WordPress deleting blogs that were just posting book blasts, blitzes, cover reveals, giveaways, etc. and it got me thinking:

What ever happened to originality in book blogging? 

When I first started blogging 5 years ago, there were very few book blogs I could find. Mostly they dealt with reviews, so that’s how I started, writing up reviews of the books I had read. Not so much “reviews” but my general thoughts — spoilers included — of the books I was reading. Then I started to get more creative with the blog and wrote up discussions, personal posts, songs about books and so on.

These days, there have been so many blogs that I wanted to follow, so many bloggers I wanted to get to know, but then I realize all they post are promotional posts. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with a promotional post, really. I’ve done them once in a while, but I try to stick to things like cover reveals for books I’m really, really excited for, or writing up a post about my favourite books or series. I do get review books from publishers, but not in the double digits each month like other book bloggers might.

I wonder when book blogging turned into a promotional tool. I’ve always been of the thought that to be a book blogger means you share your love of books. If you get review books from publishers, you share your thoughts — good or bad — of those books. Personally, I love going to a blog where there’s MORE than just reviews, more than just promo posts. To me, seeing the same promo posts on each and every blog gets tiring. Heck, even seeing the same review of a book on all the blogs is tiring (one reason I tend to stray from posting around release dates — that, and sheer laziness).

There are a few blogs out there that actually think outside of the box when it comes to posting and I love that. Share your bookish stories in real life, or make a list of books you’d take with you on a desert island, or have a discussion on why you never lend out your books or what makes you a crazy book person. Be unique and just write something outside of the norm. I swear, your readers will thank you because if they’re like me, they want to hear the voice of the person behind the blog, not just see tons of posts that they will eventually just gloss over.

These days, there are hundreds upon hundreds of book blogs and a good portion of them do tons of promo posts. Is there a reason for this? Have we lost our ability to be creative when it comes to writing a blog post? Have we forgotten what blogging is all about? 

I decided to look up the definition of blogging and found this:

blog definition

See how it says “new material” or to “write about” something in a blog? It’s not just about pasting generic posts that will be the same on every other blog. If your reason to blog is to just post these things so that you get free stuff from publishers, maybe you should rethink your ideas. Make your blog stand out and write your blog for YOU. When you look back at all the time you spent blogging, will you be happy with it? Will it document that time of your life how you want it to? 

I think this is one of the reasons I stepped back from what I had previously been doing when it came to blogging. I wasn’t being unique. I wasn’t letting myself tell stories about myself before book reviews anymore and I wasn’t letting myself write posts at the spur of the moment anymore. It became a job to me where I thought about the reader first and me second. While readers are indeed awesome — and I thank every single one of you who reads this blog and have read this far — I have to think of me first. These days, having a family and a house and other priorities to take care of, I want to make my blogging time matter, whether I’m writing a review, or a discussion, or sharing a song with my readers.

In the end, shouldn’t we be doing things that make us happy? Shouldn’t we be letting our creative wings fly and let our blog be a reflection of our life, rather than a dumping pot for promotional vomit? 

I can only hope that more book bloggers start to be more creative and unique in their posts — it makes me happy as a blogger to see that kind of material!

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51 thoughts on “What ever happened to originality in book blogging?

  1. I’ve always refused to take part in blog tours that don’t offer original content. I think it harms your blog in more ways than one…BUT this week I have seen some bloggers than genuinely enjoy taking part in these organised things and have been upset by WP’s decision. Although the problem seems to be that even those who do post original content in between are being targeted too.

    I’d argue that the blogger’s voice can come through in reviews though. There’s no way to come up with completely original discussion posts these days either. I’d rather not participate in click-bait style posts so mostly I keep my mouth shut when the drama llama rears its head. There’s room for all sorts of bloggers in this world, there’s a lot of pressure to be doing new stuff all the time and that’s not always fun either.

    • Oh, I definitely think that the blogger’s voice can come through on reviews! I’ve been trying to do that more in my reviews because I felt like I was just writing about the book when I could intersperse personal things. Some people don’t like that, but I always like getting to know the blogger.

      I think pressure is a big thing — a lot of bloggers feel like they must have a post a day and it has to be new, regardless if that’s their new or someone else’s. Me personally, I’d rather see a variety of posts, including reviews. Or even promote books in some other way than generic publisher posts.

  2. Okay, so I’m sure you don’t want to call anyone out. But I’ve seen this sentiment before, and I don’t really know what blast or blitz means? Is that like a book tour? Maybe this is more prevalent in YA or other genres but I don’t see a lot of it in “literary” (big quotes around that, lol) blogs.

    I like how you mention “telling stories.” That’s what I look for in blogs too. Whether it’s in a book review or any kind of post, or across many posts, I love it when there’s a layer on top of the book reviews and info, something personal to the blogger.

    • I think it’s a book tour thing? I just see the header saying “Book Blast” or “Book Blitz” and I scroll on by. I don’t mind memes such as Waiting on Wednesday, but when every single post on blogs is the same, it’s annoying. I do think it’s more prevalent in YA blogs, though.

      And yes! I know some people hate seeing that other layer on reviews, but I like it. It’s fun finding bits of myself in a story and sharing that!

    • A book blast/blitz is just a promotional post about a book. It usually only includes:

      * Book cover
      * Synopsis
      * Other details (publication date, title, author, etc.)
      * Usually a giveaway

      Some people take the extra step to actually add in their own comments about the book, but a lot of bloggers just copy and paste pre-formatted HTML posts and publish them on their blog without additional comments.

      • Thanks Ashley. I googled this last night and found lots of these posts. I don’t get it. They’re ads. Interesting that WordPress is cracking down – anyone write about this yet?

  3. Yes, yes, yes! I’ve only been a book blogger since earlier this year, and I’m already sick of all the repetitiveness that goes on. I was actually thinking about doing a purge on my bloglovin feed list and get rid of the blogs that seem to only focus on promotional posts. Once in a while is fine, but there’s blogs out there that do 2-3 a day sheesh!

    • I’ve done that so many times! And you’re right, it’s always those blogs that do it 2-3 times a day where I’m like, “Enough already!” I kind of felt that’s how I was in the past few months, but I was just trying to purge all of my posts to begin again! Honestly, I ignore all the emails about tours these days. Seeing all the same posts on blogs is so exhausting!

  4. I love this! I’ve been trying to find more blogs that post real thoughts on books (part of how I found your blog). I like to read why someone does or does not like a particular book- it helps me determines whether it is a book I would want to read or not.

    I really don’t care about the book blasts. I’m pretty good about browsing around on book websites to see what books I might be interested in or not. The blasts don’t affect my decision one way or another.

    These same reasons are why I try to incorporate something a bit more personal in my book review posts. Why I was even interested in the blog or something else about the topic. Then I give my honest opinion on the novel. I hope people who find my site find it interesting and helpful.

    • I love reviews where it’s more of a personal discussion on the book, rather than a straight out review. And if the blogger interjects some personality, I’m more likely to add the book to my TBR. I’d rather a reviewer be downright honest in a review, then read something that only lists the good.

      And yeah, I find a lot of the blasts are for indie books, which doesn’t really interest me unless I know the author (usually through Twitter), so I tend to ignore those.

      Personally, I like to write the review for me first.

  5. This is a fantastic post! I feel the same way when I look at book blogs – a lot of people nowadays only participate in promo posts or memes (though sometimes memes can end up pretty unique to the blogger, so I like them).

    I admit that I myself participate in blitzes and book tours, but not too often. I only participate in promotional posts when I like or am really interested in the books featured. I would never sign up for a promo post just for the heck of it – I’d have to honestly want to promote the book involved.

    That being said, I really would love to start posting more “original” content. As you said, it’s hard to find “original” things to discuss about books, since it seems to have all been done before, but it really is more about the blogger than the topic, as everyone has a unique voice to offer.

    My biggest love (more so than books) is music, and sometimes I just hear a song so good that I want to share it with the world, but I’ve been too worried that my readers wouldn’t care for non-bookish posts like that. I think I’m about ready to take the plunge anyway, though. Music is just another form of storytelling, and I think I can find a way to incorporate it into my blog in a way that will mesh well with my bookish theme.

    Thank you for getting me thinking – I think I may write a response post on this, since I have too much to say about the subject…

    • Agreed! Memes can definitely be fun, but is sure seems like promo posts clog up a blog! And you’re like me, it only makes sense to sign up for a blitz or tour if you’re interested in the book. If you’re just looking to fill up a day on your blog with any content, then it just doesn’t make sense.

      And you’re so right, everyone has a unique voice! Even if the topic has been discussed before, you can always spin it your own way. I’m sure all of the discussions on my blog have been done before, but I have my own opinions on them!

      You should share your music! I’ve been trying to share more on the blog, mainly my own music, but I do want to share some of the songs I listen to. It’s a huge part of my life, so why not?

      Let me know if you write a response! I’d love to read it. 🙂

  6. Honestly, this is pretty much why I only follow a handful of book blogs anymore. If I’m not getting to know the person behind the reviews and if all they post are the same posts as the next book blogger, then it’s a waste of my time. Life is short and reading boring blogs is like never DNFing a book (something I’m bad at, but you get my point). I’m also not saying that all if your content has to be unique (there are some good memes out there), but I definitely want to see personality behind the posts. As far as reviews go, the ones that pull in personal experience or thoughts are way more fun to read.

    • Yes. It’s when you don’t see the personality of the blogger that really irks me. Even in reviews, you can add a bit of yourself. It’s definitely hard to come up with original content all the time, but you can always try to not be like everyone else!

      And yeah, in the last week I DNF-Ed two books! Clearly, I’m trying to enjoy my time!

  7. I love original material on blogs. I haven’t been able to keep up on reading blogs lately, so I’m really picky about what I read and comment on. I just don’t have the time it seems. I’m not at all a fan of blogs that just post promotional stuff and memes, all the time. It’s just not interesting. So I tend to gravitate toward blogs that have discussion posts, since it’s more interesting to me.

    • I agree! I have 85 posts in my reader which wouldn’t have seemed daunting in the past, but since I only have so much time to comment, I’m more likely to comment on posts that are more original or personal. I’m okay with memes sometimes, but the promo stuff just annoys me!

  8. Kristilyn, I understand. I had to embrace that I am a Thriller, Mystery, Crime reader first and all others if I am in the mood but realising this helped me realise I had to be picky with the blogging world. I think YA has taken over and sometimes it is hard to figure it all out. I have enjoyed my 4 years and getting to know bloggers and what they bring to the networking of blogging. I appreciate more, the consistent bloggers commenting and understanding each other more than the infrequent comment who you don’t know, unless it is a meme.

    I don’t read the blasts posts. I try my best to read reviews but them have to be books in my favourite genre or at least have intrigued me, even if its just the cover.

    Blogging has changed within my 4 years here.

  9. I could rant on this topic all day (and I have lol). So I’ll try to keep it brief.

    I think blogging became a land of copycats and promotional pieces when the publishing companies actually started to care about blogs. The day a company first sent a review copy to a blogger, it was all downhill from there. The blogger had officially become part of the machine, so to speak. I’m actually all for advanced copies, as long as the blogger is honest about what he/she thought about it. But advance copies brought bloggers into the promotional cycle, and that’s why we now have cover reveals and blasts and blitzs and whatever the hell else people do.

    I don’t think I copy much of anyone when it comes to blogging, and I still feel like quitting sometimes because it feels like I’m part of a stupid system. Then I realize that’s ridiculous and calm down haha. But there’s a lot of crap out there and I definitely need to constantly reaffirm why I love blogging in the first place. Focusing on the bad really wears me down.

    But I get how it happens to people. It’s so easy to get caught up in page views and stats and all that jazz, especially if you’re a person who is dedicated to making your blog a good one. It can get competitive really easily, if you’re that type of person. And once you start to feel a bit of recognition, increasing your “fame” can become your focus. Which is fine I guess, it’s just not for me.

    You talk about the blog as a document of your life, which hits home for me. When I start to feel discouraged is when I do start to think of my blog like that. And if I don’t think it does a good enough job of capturing me, then I just want to scrap the whole thing. But some people probably don’t look at their blogs the same way.

    A good rule of thumb with a post might be “Could this post have been posted, exactly as it is, by someone else?” If so, then what’s the point. If not, then obviously you brought your own spin to it.

    So much for keeping this short and sweet lol. Thanks for the thought-inducing post, Kristilyn.

    • Yes! I know back in the day when I started, I didn’t even know you could get review books. I just assumed everyone read their own books or library books. That makes a lot of sense that all of a sudden publishers started paying attention. I get review books, but I’m happy to DNF a book and say why, or to tell you exactly why I hated a book. Alternately, I will also gush and gush and share my love of a book, whether it’s from a publisher or not. I just like books. I don’t work for the publishers. My blog is first and foremost for me.

      I dedicated to making my blog a good one, but more because I want to be proud of it. There was a time when I really paid attention to stats and now I don’t. I could say I could care less, but I love the readers I do have. It’s great to be at that point where I have dedicated readers and can actually have a conversation with them! I’ve fallen into the competitive nature of blogging and it sucks. All I can do is be me.

      When you inject the personal parts into your posts, there’s no way it can be copied exactly by someone. That’s what I love about original posts. Even a review can be an original post if you’re going to share a bit of you in it. If you’re just going to bullet point the good and bad, well, anyone could do that.

      I’m glad I could make you think! 🙂

  10. I definitely agree with this! I love seeing original content as well. It’s interesting and I also feel like it kinda showcases who the blogger is as a person a lot better. Blitzes and blasts are great promotional tools and I feel like the blogging community would be missing something without them but I do feel like sometimes there’s just a horde of them. Though I don’t think anything will ever be totally original because with so many bloggers now (or at least it feels like a lot more compared to 2 years ago) I feel like it’s almost a sure chance someone else will have already come up with that same idea or similar to it but I feel like even considering that, it’ll always be so much more unique if you’re coming out with fresh features and discussions etc because they at least give you an opportunity to show your personality! I feel like some promo posts can do the same but it’s very, very rare. Most of them are just copy and paste which is fine in a sense but after a while, it just feels like not enough.

    • I think if you’re just posting promo stuff and NOT doing things that show YOU as a blogger, then it’s easy to get lost in the mix, especially since there are SO MANY book blogs. And you’re right, nothing is truly original, but it’s always nice to attack a certain topic with your own point of view. Personally, I hate it when I see the same copy and paste posts on blog after blog … even if you have an interview or promo post provided to you, it’d be nice if they were ALL different.

  11. I agree with you! I’ve gotten away from reading YA blogs as much, but I hate going to a blog and only seeing the publisher’s promo material there. It doesn’t happen on the blogs I follow regularly, just occasionally if I click through on a link I see on Twitter or somewhere. I try to give my honest opinion about a book in a review, and only personally push ones I’m really passionate about, whether I got a review copy or not.

  12. This really struck a chord with me. I feel like lately I’m pumping out reviews but my passion isn’t there as it was when I started. I find my originality comes out when I’m writing like I’m talking to someone…like I’m writing this to you.

    I’ve always avoided posting promos because it doesn’t feel like my true opinion of a book. If I put it up, I want to be proud of it. In my three years of blogging, it does feel like it’s transitioned into who has the most followers, promotional books, etc. There are so many amazing blogs who still retain their passion and write about what they love; those are the ones I LOVE to read.

    • Me, too! I have to admit, there was a time when I was so into stats and how many followers I was getting, but it’s more fun to just be me and post what I want and not worry about followers. I do love the people who read my blog and I find the comments are always better when I’m being myself and being more personal.

  13. Wow, this is a really interesting post Ellen and lots of people especially when they are starting out do promotional posts to get ARCs from indie publishers and stuff, because you get something in return. But it’s up to the individual blogger why they blog, whether it is to promote indie authors, share their love of books or to share other opinions. I learnt early on that book blitzes weren’t for me, they weren’t engaging for the reader either and they were the posts that I skipped over in my feed. I do enjoy some promotional posts though, if there is a guest post or something fun involved, but I do prefer original content.

    • Yes! If it’s a fun promo post, that’s great, but if it’s just cut and paste promo material, then I skip over it, too. But you are right, to each their own.

  14. I’m with you regarding original content. I love it when I get to see the personality and the person behind the blog. I become more connected with the blogger that way, and I only become more engaged and more inclined to follow their posts. As for blogs with promo posts all the time, personally, I don’t read them, but I don’t really feel annoyed because it’s their blog, and if that’s how they want to spread their love for books, then why not, right? Just don’t expect me to read it haha.

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

    • Exactly! I feel the same way and find myself skipping over those posts, too, but you’re right, if that’s how they want to do it, then so be it! I would just rather see more personality.

  15. This is a great post! I was actually getting ready to post something similar. I have this screenshot from Feedly that shows seven blogs in a row all posting the exact same cover reveal. You know what I do when I see something like that? Scroll past it. It’s not original! If six other people are posting the exact same thing, why should I read yours? You know?

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  17. I definitely tend toward blogs that have original content… or (since nothing is original anymore) at least their own spin. I want to see the person behind the blog. I also value interaction above all, and typically don’t follow bloggers who don’t respond to comments… and I think that in itself helps to filter out some of the promo-heavy blogs, since they’re typically not blogging to make connections… or rather, they’re more interested in industry connections than connecting with other readers.

    • I wish more blogs could notify readers of comments … I’m sure I’d go back more to interact, since now I never know where I commented and when. But yeah, I love it when a blogger takes the time to reply to comments, even if it takes a while!

  18. When I started blogging this was a fear my coblogger had. She doesn’t accept arcs specifically to stay out of the machine. And it is fair. There is a reason I review every book I read despite the hard work; I don’t want to just be a pure promoter and I never want my integrity questioned.

    It is a hard line at times, OF COURSE I am going to promote books I like. But I have caged myself with a few rules; no giveaways unless the book is actually reviewed on the site, no ‘spotlight’ posts just to get a free mention, etc.

    • That’s great to have some rules about what to promote! I’m the same way. I don’t want to promote a book unless I’m a fan of the author and/or the book. And I’d really rather promote it in my own way, rather than a cut and paste post.

  19. This is precisely why I don’t take part in blog tours and cover reveals. I hate checking my feeds only to see ten posts in a row that are identical. Sure, not everyone follows the same blogs, so casting your nets wide (especially as a self-published author) seems like a safe bet. Thing is, I’m with you on blogs and original content. In fact, if I see a book on a million blog tours, it actually has the opposite effect on me. I won’t read that book.

    If I want to check out promotional material, then I’ll check out publishers’ sites but when it comes to book blogs, I read them because I like reading people’s opinions and thoughts on books, which is grossly undermined by duplicate content.

    • Exactly. I find I’ll comment on the first post I see (if I’m interested in it or the author) but then I’ll see another post and another and by then I’m just not interested anymore. I find that I know what authors and books I want to read and am not usually swayed by a promo post, especially if I’m seeing it everywhere.

  20. I think I was out of town when all the hoopla about blogs being deleted happened. I did see something briefly on TLC’s page on FB but haven’t looked into it in more depth. I absolutely and completely agree with you Kristilyn! It seems that most of my followers have been the same followers for years and they’re the blogs I read as well. Every once in a while I’ll connect with a “new” blogger like you but honestly I don’t make much of an effort to meet “new” bloggers because it’s hard to sift through all of the junk that’s out there. And I mean, to each her own, but like you I would rather spend time connecting with the actual blogger and getting to know her rather than seeing the hottest books (especially since I don’t read YA very often–seems most bloggers these days are YA bloggers).

    I guess just know that there are some of us still out there who are trying to remain true to ourselves. I don’t like feeling like bloggers are just one big promotional tool.

    • And that’s so sad. I think blogging can be about promo, but we can be more origins about it, you know?

      I’ve tried to sift through the mass of book blogs and yeah, there are so many out there that it’s hard to find the blogs by people I could connect with. I find that I’m more likely to meet a blogger on Twitter and hit it off, then follow their blog. It’s just too hard to find them on my own.

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  22. YES! All of this has been going through my head for some time. I belong to a group of bloggers who are wonderfully helpful at guiding me through blogging questions that I have. Really, they are a lovely group of people. There does seem to be a constant complaint that it’s FB’s fault that they are not getting FB and blog traffic. Well, when I look at many of their posts in my feed, most of them are the SAME. It’s almost all promo. They are so worried about getting more people to follow them and I think they need to worry about entertaining (so to speak) the followers they have. We have a much smaller following but people seem to like us because we post a variety of things and if something isn’t well-received then we know that it’s something we need to change up for next time. We do this for fun. It’s about the books we love. I’ve heard that many bloggers only post reviews for books from tours and they don’t have time to post reviews for books they read for their own enjoyment. I want to scream, “WHAT?” Those are the ones you SHOULD post!

    I’ve decided very recently is that I’m going to stop signing up for blog tours. This means I’m always in the driver’s seat. There is not enough honesty out there and I’m afraid that free books tend to lend themselves to that. Not for everyone, of course, but for many. Too many 5 star reviews and not enough originality.

    • Yes! I find that there are so many bloggers who seem too concerned with getting more followers, when really they should be concentrating on the ones they have. You’re right! I’m thankful for each and every reader I have and write for them, and me, first. It just makes sense, you know?

      I also find that if I have something that isn’t commented on, then I might still do it again because it’s my blog and that’s what I want to post. Of course I do love it when I post something like this that gets lots of people commenting. Comments are my favourite thing! So much easier to comment on a post like this than a generic promo post.

      I’ve always reviewed every book I’ve read and have cut down on review books. I’ve even been on a historical romance kick and have no regrets about it! Sometimes I’ll go on a review book binge and that’s fun, too. The point is I like to post what I want, when I want. I want to, like you, be in the driver’s seat of what I promote!

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  24. I used to post more promotional stuff when I first started, but not to the point that it took over my entire blog. Now I don’t sign up for anything unless it’s an author I know and I get to do an original post or review of their book. Honestly I don’t like promotional posts because they’re all the same, I usually mark them as Read in Bloglovin. I once asked someone to recommend a blog to follow, and I go there and it’s 7 pages of promotional posts only, so of course I didn’t follow them. If we got to take our own spin on promo posts instead of copying and pasting what the author/publisher wanted it could be so much more fun and they would probably get way more feedback.
    I really like blogs that have original content, but I also think of it this way, that sometimes it’s really hard to even think of things to post. I know I sometimes have a hard time coming out of the box or thinking of new things to do.
    Great post! 🙂

    • Yes! I like it so much more when a blogger makes their own spin on promoting material. In fact, I kind of prefer it when it’s all the blogger’s doing and the publisher isn’t involved at all. If I like a book, I’m going to promote it!

      I definitely know it can be hard to think of what to post, but somewhere along the lines us bloggers figured that we must, must, must post every single day or our blog will fall off the face of the earth. It really doesn’t have to be that way!

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My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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