Backlist. Indies. For the Kids. | NovelKnight is Changing Directions!

POSTED ON March 31, 2018 BY Austine IN Discussion

For the last 3 months, I have been waging an internal war against myself and this blog.

I couldn’t figure out why. Something has been wrong, something my subconscious picked up on but the rest of my brain hadn’t yet figured out. And this morning it all fell into place. Why I wasn’t happy with the blog, why I’ve lost motivation to read and review, why I’ve been at a mental standstill.

I lost my direction.

I blog for myself. But I don’t write book reviews for me. I don’t write discussions, tips & tricks, lists. . . none of that is for me. It’s for you. The reader. I’m choosing to put those thoughts and ideas into a post and share it with you. I blog as much for my readers as for myself.

So what’s all this about changing directions?

I started student teaching at the beginning of January and I love it. Truly, this experience has been amazing and I can’t believe it’s ending in a month. During these months and those near the end of 2017, I requested books to read/review, I received unsolicited titles for coverage, and had other stuff going on in-between.

Combined with a lack of free time, the blog has become primarily book reviews of titles that haven’t released and whatever else I put out there. Which, ultimately, isn’t a bad thing but not exactly what I want either. So I broke it down and reflected on where I started as a blogger back in January 2011 to where I am now to see what changed.

Bring Back the Backlist!

My first order of business is bringing back backlist book reviews here on NovelKnight. I started with simply reviewing what I had on my shelves or got from the library and I want to return to that (at least to an extent).

Lately, I’ve taken on so many (e)ARC titles and they take up all my reading time, but I would like to get to a point where I have the time to read other books beyond the new releases. There are so many books out there and it doesn’t matter when they were published. Plus, it’s nice when you can talk about a book and if it makes someone excited to read it, they can go out and borrow/buy a copy instead of having to wait.

Let’s Talk About Books that Teens are Reading

When my student teaching started, I would often look at the books my students brought with them to class. We didn’t talk about them in class because it was science so that wasn’t on the agenda, but I was curious so I looked anyway.

The other day I saw Mitali of Alley of Books tweet this:

And from what I’m seeing, it’s true! The books I see my students bring to class are rarely new releases. Often they’re books that have been out for a few years. Which makes sense to me because a school librarian would need to make sure a book is suitable to be added to the collection first. There would need to be funding available to purchase new books. And students might also be assigned to read from different genres, and likely at different reading levels.

Then I look at the online book community and the books I see talked about the most. Often, they’re new or unreleased titles. The genres aren’t that varied (though that could be because of who I follow and what I’m seeing from them). This community talks about being for teens and I want to start reflecting that more in the books featured here on NovelKnight.

I remember not having much money as a teen. I was a blogger at sixteen but before (and after) that, I borrowed a lot from the library or picked up books at yard sales and the like. I couldn’t afford new releases and my library rarely had the funding to get new books for the young adult section. So I want to talk about backlist titles in general but also more specifically because there’s likely better access to those books for more people. 

Indies (Self-Published/Small Press)

My very first review requests were from authors who had self-published or published with a small press. For years, those were the only requests that I took on and I read a LOT of indie books compared to what I do now.

Lately, my time has been consumed by the obligations I’ve made to titles I received from Big 5 publishing houses. And when I get a request from an indie author I end up having to decline most often because I don’t have the time to take on more books for review.

Much like the shift toward more backlist books, I want to start reading more indie titles as well. My Kindle and Nook are both overflowing with them, and I’d love to feature more indie authors on the blog too.

I forgot where I started as a blogger.

I became so wrapped up in knowing what books people were talking about and what the latest titles were that my blog and my reading became all about those books. And there’s nothing wrong with reading new/unreleased books. Really, there isn’t. But needed something more. I forgot where I started and why I loved sharing my reviews. It was so awesome when someone could say they read the book too because it was already out on the shelves (possibly for years at that point). Right now, I can read an ARC but only so many people have it. There’s less of a chance of having that kind of conversation. I want to change that.

And I want to start promoting books that you might not find in every bookstore, the ones that need a little extra coverage, extra love, and for no fault of the author. There are some AMAZING indie books out there as well as some not-so-great traditionally published books. How a book is published shouldn’t matter, so I want to change what books I talk about too.


Content on NovelKnight is going to be changing to include more types of books. I want to start giving more blog space to backlist titles and indie books.

What that means for you, my lovely readers, is. . .

I will still be reviewing new releases and ARCs.

I will still be featuring books per usual.

I will still be featuring AUTHORS per usual.


These changes aren’t going to happen overnight. They likely won’t happen in a month. It could be several months to transition more completely, but I want to switch to wider collection of books promoted by the end of the year. If you come to NovelKnight for new/unreleased title reviews, DON’T PANIC! Those will still be here. I also don’t plan to stop reading and reviewing adult fiction (all of this still applies).


This isn’t necessarily a big change for y’all as it is for me, but I’d still like to hear from you!

Are there any particular books you want to see me talk about? Anything else that you want to see added/changed here on NovelKnight?

Your feedback matters. I’m blogging for y’all too!


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10 responses to “Backlist. Indies. For the Kids. | NovelKnight is Changing Directions!

  1. I love the new direction you’re going in! I am one of those bloggers who rarely gets ARCs, so when I see every other blogger talking about and reviewing books that haven’t been released yet, sometimes I feel a little left out, because I know I won’t be reading those books for at least a couple months, if ever. I like reading new releases, but I also love finding out about older books I’ve missed. And I would definitely be interested to find out what teens are ACTUALLY reading!

  2. So happy to hear you’ve focused on a direction that works for you! New releases are always fun but I love reading backlist reviews, so I’m looking forward to seeing what titles you pull off your shelves 🙂 Best of luck with the final month of student teaching…and with all the exciting changes ahead!

  3. I never thought of it before, but you are so right about kids rarely reading new releases, unless it’s part of a series. I’ve worked at an elementary school for two years but now I work with kids from k-12 and I find that most kids read “classic” kid lit (like books that were around when I was younger) and most teens read “modern classics” (like books that have been out in the past 5-10 years or so). I usually don’t seen teens reading–or even anticipating!–brand new releases. I’d definitely love to hear more about this on your blog!!

  4. That’s really awesome for you Austine! That is actually what I do on my blog. I love reviewing new and old. I review books I buy and books I’m asked to review. I think it helps create a good balance for the blog and for you mentally so that you don’t feel reading becomes a chore.

  5. I love your new directions! We are so focused on what’s going to hit the shelves in the future that we forget all the stories already waiting. Reviews I read are always for books yet to be released into the wild and at the time they are, I forgot why I wanted to read these books in the first place. I’d wish we focus less on new releases, that we are more balanced.

  6. I just started my book blog a few months ago and at first I was trying to keep up with all the other bloggers by going on NetGalley and requesting eARCs and trying to read those as fast as I can. Well, as someone who doesn’t like reading things I’m told to read, that go old really fast. I’m now back to reading what I want to read, mostly trying to get all the books off my TBR list and looking for new books and genres I may have not been exposed to in the past. I’ve found a few great book bloggers that I feel do the same thing as I want to. I still want to read the newer stuff, but I’m not pressuring myself to do it like I was when I was first trying to figure this whole book blogger thing out.

    Can’t wait to see what books are on your backlist and how many of the same ones I have on mine.


  7. I’m a new blog reader, so my opinion probably matters little, but I love the direction you’re taking, especially when it comes to reading older books. I often feel like I don’t have anyone to talk about books with because I rarely read new releases, and I don’t focus on YA books. And it’s always great to give some shine to the little guys and indie authors. I LOVE IT!

  8. What a great argument for why it’s important to review backlist books. Before I was asked to join my blog, I mostly read library books or borrowed books from my daughter. Good luck with your student teaching. I used to be a teacher, and I remember how much work my practicum was.

  9. Yes. I love this direction! And it’s so true. Teens don’t really read new releases. I know when I was in high school I was reading book series that were already published. I only bought a total of 2 new releases throughout high school. City of Fallen Angels & Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. But that stemmed from me starting The Mortal Instruments my senior year.

    The whole reason I signed up for Beat The Backlist this year is because I have so many books sitting on my shelves that have been there for YEARS! And the challenge is actually helping me read older books. I feel good finally reading them, and I’ve even put two back on peoples radars from my reviews! I feel so good about that. New releases are cool, but the older books still deserve lots of love too!