The blog angst bug bit me, too
Hmm, should I look for a lolcat to lighten things up? Anyway, a couple of things which may or may not make sense to anyone but me:
1) I’ve seen a couple of posts elsewhere about blogging and ARCs and authors offering books to bloggers and maybe because I just came back from a short trip and haven’t blogged in over a week, it’s made me think about some of these issues. So feel free to skip this if you’d rather read about actual YA books, but I think it’s only fair that I discuss these things openly here.
2) A while back, I jokingly considered creating something along the lines of a quiz from a teen magazine for authors/publishers/publicists to take before offering me books, though I didn’t get too far past four or five scenarios because it was getting harder and harder to think of anything clever. Um, I’m mentioning it now because I’ll return to this topic later. Way later.
3) I do plan to continue to blog about and review YA books. However, and keeping in mind that this applies only to me, not Gayle or Jolene, I have decided that once I finish the last batch of ARCs I accepted, my reading priority will be books I personally have borrowed from the library or bought. In other words, books I have made an effort to get my hands on. I borrow a ton of YA books from the library because I love to read them, but I also have come to feel that my non-YA reading has declined because of the blog. I think I still read the same amount of YA books as I have in the past, but as worthwhile as I find blogging and participating in the Cybils, they’ve eaten into my non-YA reading time, and there are so many adult books I want to read that I’ve missed or skipped over the last couple of years.
4) This said, I’m not sure my decision will have a noticeable effect on my frequency (or not) of blogging and which books I blog about. Being part of a statewide library system means that I can get my hands on most of the YA books I want to read, even if it’s a couple of months after others have read/blogged about certain books. It’s more of a philosophical change in the way I view my reading material. Through more than two years of blogging, I have never been one of those people who blogs about everything she reads. I mostly limit myself to those books about which I have something to say, whether positive or negative. Or both. (Which probably explains why, although I wish I could review more succinctly, most of my reviews and what I call not-really-a reviews are on the lengthy side.) And though I’ve said from the start that I won’t guarantee reviews, there is still a part of me that feels guilty when I don’t review a book I’ve accepted, even when people say they know about this policy as part of their initial email. It’s a feeling of obligation related to the part of me that feels that since I did say, “Yes, send me the book,” I must give it priority over non-YA books. Yes, it is awesome and exciting when ARCs show up in the mail, especially when you only get them sporadically, but I’m starting to wonder if the burden I feel is inherent in receiving them *as a book blogger, not for collection development purposes as a YA librarian* outweighs the feelings of excitement.
Here’s the thing (for this point, anyway): I don’t think I’m explaining this very well, but my new reading plan just *feels* different to me, more liberating, somehow. An acknowledgment, even if it’s only to myself, that my non-YA reading is just as important as my YA reading, though I’ll probably be taking home and reading and blogging about roughly the same number of YA books. And while I’ll probably never be able to read every book I want to read, there are that many of them, this way it at least feels like I have a better chance of getting to more of them.
5) Others have mentioned that these book offers can be a great way of finding out about books you weren’t aware of, or finding out that you loved a book you hadn’t previously considered reading. Which is true. So, while I’m still technically open to YA book offers, unless I’ve specifically mentioned your book in one of my Waiting on Wednesday posts or the 2009 books I’m looking forward to, chances are very slim that I will accept your offer. Because those are the books I really, really want to read personally, not only for professional reasons. Although you never know unless you try, right? (And, uh, if you’ve made an effort to personalize your email, I’ll also try to do a better job of responding promptly, even if it’s only a “Thanks, but no thanks” message.)
…you take the following quiz and your book, which I have never mentioned before, scores more than five (5) points in any one section. Then I’ll say, “Oh my god, your book exists for real? Seriously, it’s an actual YA book and not just something I made up? Send it my way! Please?”
Is your book non-fiction? If yes, give yourself 1 point.
Is your non-fiction book about history? If yes, give yourself 1 more point.
Is your non-fiction book about science? If yes, give yourself 1 more point.
Is your non-fiction book about science and history? If yes, give yourself 4 more points.
Is your non-fiction book about some kind of epidemic? If yes, give yourself 50 points.
Is your novel a romance for older teens? If yes, give yourself 4 points.
Is your novel really a romance for older teens? Has a happy-for-now ending, no romance-(and-breakup)-as-part-of-coming-of-age or gee-I-finally-decided-twenty-pages-from-the-end-that-the-guy-I-was-crushing-on-is-a-jerk-and-I-actually-really-like-that-other-guy? If yes, give yourself 100 points.
Is your novel about teen spies? If yes, give yourself 100 points.
Is your novel about Asian-American teen(s) who just happen to be Asian-American? In other words, race or ethnicity is not a big deal? If yes, give yourself 100 points.
Does your teen spy novel feature Asian-American teens on the good side? (Okay, race or ethnicity can be a big deal in this one.) If yes, give yourself 1,000 points.