Blog Birthday & Giveaway: 3 debunked book blogging myths from a 3-year blogger

Hello there, wonderful readers!

After a blogging hiatus that started way, way back in October, I am very ecstatic to announce that ya girl has finally resurrected and is ready to get back into the blogging game! Well, sort of.

Initially, my semester was set to end on the 18th of December, which would have been ideal since it’s a day after my blog’s birthday. I scheduled my glorious return to the world of books and blogging accordingly. But alas! (Please tell me you read “alas” with an accent.) The universe wanted to mess up with my planning and my semester was suddenly extended to the 20th. Despite this unforeseen inconvenience, I decided to bleep it and announce my return anyway (me @ the universe: BITCH HA U THOUGHT.).

Which brings us to the crux of the matter. Aside from throwing myself back into blogging (um, after I submit my last requirement, that is), this December 17th also marks my three – yes, three – years as a book blogger! Cue overwhelmed tears.

Because I am such an ✨ extra ✨ individual, I’ve decided to celebrate my three years of blogging in three different ways! Specifically, this post consists of three parts, namely, (1) 3 debunked book blogging myths I’ve learned in the past 3 years; (2) Project 14 Lists, which is a personal endeavor I’ve decided to share with all of you; and, (3) a huge, international giveaway that, of course, involves receiving amazingly written books!

Okay, wow, that was a lot of threes. I hope they end there because it’d be awful to find more threes when my grades are out. Ha, cue nervous chuckling and fiercely knocking on wood. But I digress!

Part I. Shealea debunks 3 book blogging myths!

I hardly ever write blogging tips or share blogging advice on my platform. This is mainly because, despite stumbling my way around this virtual realm for three long years now, I still feel like I lack the credibility and expertise to help guide other wandering bloggers.

I mean, for one thing, up until now, I still have the most bizarre fear of sending ARC requests to the email inboxes of publishers. It’s something I very rarely do, and every single time, I freak out and feel genuinely terrified of making a fool out of myself. Don’t we all, right? But what I’m really trying to say is: I don’t do a lot of things that other book bloggers seem to do, and relatedly, a bulk of what I do with my blog is mainly experimental.

Simply put: I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t think I’m particularly great at what I do. If anything, I do things just so I can learn.

With all that said, I’m very, very hesitant when it comes to sharing my ✨ personal nuggets of wisdom ✨ when it comes to blogging (should I have any). I just don’t think I’m qualified for that sort of thing. BUT as a student from the college of mass communication, I take misinformation very, very seriously. Plus, on a personal note, I consider myself to be an honest and transparent person – hence, why I’m stretching the limits of my comfort zone and addressing some things about blogging.

1. You can’t earn money from book blogging.

In my three years of blogging, the stigma attached to blogging about books to generate extra income is still very much alive. Money made through book blogging often carries a negative connotation and puts the blogger’s credibility in question. But that’s an entirely different discussion that I’ll postpone for another day.

I’ve observed that book bloggers are typically discouraged from attempting to earn from their craft. This discouragement occasionally stems from the attached stigma I mentioned earlier. However, sometimes the discouragement stems from this notion that although there are ethical ways of earning money from book blogging, these methods are highly ineffective. In evidence of this, in one of her older posts, Ashley said that “book-related affiliate links give you almost nothing.”

This is partially true. I’ve seen numerous bloggers share stories of never being able to cash out from affiliate programs like Amazon, Book Depository, and Barnes & Noble. Some are lucky enough to receive $5 to $10 dollars after a year’s worth of membership to the program. Likewise, other methods of income generation for book bloggers seem to be equally futile. Most book bloggers do not get enough page views to generate interests from advertisers or benefits from advertisement programs. There is also a limited number of companies that are willing to hire book bloggers to aid in their business.

All of this is, as I’ve said earlier, partially true. Substantially earning from a book blog is incredibly difficult to do, but it is not altogether impossible to achieve. And, honestly, the distinction between ‘difficult’ and ‘impossible’ makes all the difference.

I’ll be extremely transparent with all of you here. In this year alone, I’ve earned a gross total of $836.00, which roughly converts to 44,350.00 in Philippine pesos. Needless to say, this is quite an impressive sum of money (I mean, it’s helped pay for my college tuition fee, after all). Additionally, I registered for Amazon’s associate program last July, and in less than half a year, my account has already generated $106 in advertisement fees and bounties (that is, 5,650.00 in Philippine pesos).

For today, I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of how-to’s, but rest assured, I don’t get paid to write book reviews. Instead, I offer services (such as beta reading) and use my platform to direct potential customers and interested parties towards these services. It should be noted, however, that my blog only started substantially earning this year – which, quite frankly, only emphasizes my point: it is difficult but not altogether impossible.

I am sharing these numbers not to gloat or to brag, but to provide cold, hard evidence to debunk the myth that trying to earn through book blogging won’t get you anywhere. Trust me when I say: it can! Definitely not right away or immediately, but in time and through persistent effort, it can.

I think it is important to shed light on this possibility that it can work out, instead of immediately discouraging book bloggers from trying in the first place. So hey, listen, I can’t promise you that you can make a living out of book blogging. But if you want to make money from your craft, I believe it is worth trying!

2. Negative reviews will hurt your chances of getting ARCs.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you would know that, as my blog name suggests, I can be a bit of a bitch when I discuss my thoughts on some books. And I don’t think that’s something to be ashamed of, if I’m being honest. So as long as I don’t tag authors on my negative reviews or send negative feedback via email, I think I’m doing okay. On more than one occasion, though, I’ve been asked if I was worried that my not-quite-positive reviews would eventually hurt my chances of getting ARCs; if I was worried that my occasional snark and unapologetic call-outs would scare all the publishers away.

I think my top three meanest reviews were for Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell, She Felt Like Feeling Nothing by R.H. Sin, and That Thing Between Eli & Gwen by J.J. McAvoy. In all three cases, I received the ARC from NetGalley. And so far, these reviews (or any of my other negative reviews for that matter) have not made a significant dent on my approval rate.

Yep, you’ve read that right. My negative reviews have not gotten in the way of receiving ARCs or having authors wanting to send me their books and/or to work with me. At present, I’ve been approved for 200 titles on NetGalley, and I’ve received an even higher number of review requests via email. So far, I haven’t received any emails or messages from people telling me that my reviews have discouraged them from reading my content, wanting to collaborate with me, or supporting my blog.

This is not to encourage anyone to freely take a shit on authors’ books. The constitutional freedom of speech is not absolute, after all (and I would know because I just took Media Law this semester). There is a clear, visible line between free speech and hate speech, the latter being unprotected by our rights to expression.

My only point here is: do not let your fears – be it the fear of hurting your chances at receiving ARCs or the fear of receiving less support from people – stop you from being honest with your words, with your opinions, and most of all, with yourself. You are allowed to dislike something, and you are also allowed to express that dislike (in a way that doesn’t involve hate speech).

3. The more ARCs I receive, the more successful I am as a book blogger!

Once upon a time, I fell into that same rabbit hole, too. I used to think that the ultimate indicator of “making it” in the book blogging community is receiving a mountain-high pile of ARCs from authors and publishers. For a time, ARCs became a goal of mine. Thankfully, I am pleased to say that I know better now.

As a research major who prefers quantitative methods over qualitative methods, allow me to introduce the notion of measurement validity. It pertains to the extent to which an indicator or instrument actually measures what it claims to measure. For instance, a well-calibrated calorimeter can validly measure the amount of heat involved in a chemical reaction. Considering this concept, are ARCs a valid indicator of a blog’s success? Um, definitely not.

It is actually invalid to use receiving ARCs as a yardstick for book blogging success. In fact, in plenty of situations, the two aren’t even correlated. Why? Well, for one thing, the definition of success changes from person to person. Nonetheless, even in a situation wherein success is defined as having a high-quality blog, the number of ARCs a book blogger receives doesn’t necessarily indicate the level of quality their blog has!

Personally, a lot of the book bloggers I greatly admire don’t receive piles and piles of ARCs on a monthly basis. Similarly – and I don’t want to be that bitch but – I’ve also seen a couple of book bloggers who receive so many from international publishers but actually write pretty bland content (I’m objectively speaking) and occasionally unintelligible reviews (oh oops, tea 🔥). Now, I’m not trying to demonize bloggers who receive ARCs – I mean, I receive a fair share of ARCs as well – but what I’m really trying to portray here is the reality that the ARC distribution system, in its current form, does not play fair.

One of the most observable manifestations of this unfairness is how a lot of diverse books bypass the hands of diverse readers and fall into the laps of more privileged readers – privileged due to factors like location, race, class, and ties to the publishing industry. Even among book bloggers in less privileged areas (e.g. Philippines), the ones with the most connections to publishers reap the most benefits. Hence, it becomes evident that the system is not explicitly based on content quality or blog statistics; rather, the distribution of ARCs is a game of privilege.

There are definitely tons to unpack here, but I hope that at this point, you’ve begun to understand why ARCs don’t validly measure quality or success. Not receiving ARCs is less about you (or the quality of your platform); instead, it speaks more about the prevailing flaws in the current system. Hence, we should really veer away from associating our success to the number of review copies we own.

Part II. Shealea invites you to join #Project14Lists!

In getting back into blogging, I really wanted to come up with a personal project that would challenge me into being productive while simultaneously encouraging me to be creative with my posts. This led to the conceptualization of #Project14Lists, which I tweeted about earlier this month.

The mechanics for #Project14Lists is pretty simple. The goal is to write and post a bookish list every day from December 18th to December 31st, leading to a total of 14 lists! It’s a very ambitious endeavor, but that’s what makes it a good challenge, yeah?

Luckily, I was able to find amazing book bloggers who want to participate in my spur-of-the-moment, haphazardly put-together project. I am so happy that I get to experience this journey alongside friends! Here is a list of the first ever #Project14Lists participants:

🌷 Fanna @ F A N N A

🌷 Bianca @ The Ultimate Fangirl

🌷 Etinosa @ Uwadis

🌷 Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams

🌷 Taiwo @ A Lifestyle Nerd

🌷 Tiffany @ Read by Tiffany

🌷 Gretel @ Books and Book Crumbs

🌷 Jamie @ Books and Ladders

🌷 Gel @ Whimsy Wanders

🌷 Nelo @ Booked Unicorn

🌷 Destiny @ Howling Library

🌷 Ella @ The Bookish Goddess

🌷 Rain @ Bookdragonism

🌷 Saugustine928 @ Books in the Skye

🌷 Salwa @ Reading Solace

🌷 Espita @ This Bookish Life of Mine

🌷 Kate @ The Backwards Bookshelf

🌷 Tiffany @ String of Pages

🌷 Kelly @ Just Another Book in the Wall

🌷 Aradhna @ Folded Between the Pages of Books

🌷 Megan @ Under the Book Cover

🌷 Belle @ My Book Castle

🌷 Your Name @ Your Blog

Check these fantastic people out and support their work!

If you’re feeling like you’re too late to the party, you’re not. You can join in the #Project14Lists fun at any time before 2019 ends, and as a fun incentive, #Project14Lists participants are all eligible for an exclusive giveaway where the prize is a pre-order of a 2019 release.

Read the guidelines and details to learn how you can participate!

Part III. Shealea thanks everyone with a huge, bookish giveaway!

I think it’s safe to say that everyone’s favorite part of a celebratory blog post is the giveaway that comes with it. Oops, tea (just kidding!). Don’t worry, y’all, I’m occasionally guilty of the same thing!

Of course, as happy as I am about making it this far, I know for a fact that I would not have reached this 3-year milestone without the consistent support I’ve received and the incredible friendships I’ve made. In other words, I would have given up on blogging somewhere along the way, had it not been for all of you! Thank you for keeping me going, for supporting what I write and what I do, and for reassuring me that y’all aren’t going to disappear even if I post inconsistently (because let’s be real here, that’s an insecurity and fear I’ll always have).

Obviously (I mean, pfft), I have to dedicate at least one paragraph of this blog post to my main girls, Kate @ The Backwards Bookshelf and Cara @ The Little Miss Bookworm, for putting up with me and my enabler ways. A surprise is waiting for the two of you, by the way!

From the bottom of my spreadsheet-loving, diversity-seeking heart, thank you all so much for every page view, every comment, every like and share, and every interaction! As a small token of my endless gratitude, I am conducting an international giveaway! This is open wherever Book Depository ships and will run until February 2019. One very lucky person will receive a pre-order of a 2019 release written by an Asian author of their choice, not limited to the gorgeous books featured in the photo below:

Image not working? Click here to enter.

And that’s it! Since the season of gift-giving is upon us, I’m leaving both my Amazon wishlist and Book Depository wishlist here in case any of you are feeling particularly generous this month. I would love to have more diverse books on my shelf, as most releases aren’t sold in our local bookstores. You can also easily make my month a whole lot more wonderful by sending a cup of coffee my way!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays so far! I’m off to finish my last requirement and finally respond to the hundreds of blog comments that I’ve missed throughout my blogging hiatus.

Twitter: @shutupshealeaInstagramPinterestGoodreadsBloglovin’

117 thoughts on “Blog Birthday & Giveaway: 3 debunked book blogging myths from a 3-year blogger

  1. Happy Blogversary! That’s amazing! As a relatively-new blogger, I really enjoyed reading this. It was a lot of encouraging and helpful information. Thanks for the chance with the giveaway, too! Several of those books are on my TBR. – Cait


  2. happy blogversary, shealea! you’re such a great person and i love the look of your new blog! i wish i could’ve joined #Project14Lists, but it just didn’t work out :(( Oh well, next time I guess (if there’s a next time?)

    there are going to be so many amazing asian releases, and it makes me so happy ahhhh! and it doesn’t hurt all of them are gorgeous 😉

    happy reading and blogging!


Your two cents?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s