I spent the majority of 2018 stressing and anxious over posting ARC reviews in a timely manner, trying to cover all the books sent my way to help those authors out, and every time I failed to meet that deadline I got a little more stressed, a little more anxious. My mental health went spiraling down the drain until the last couple months of the year when I all but shut down, stopped reading, stopped blogging for the most part. All of it.
I just. . . stopped.
Blogging lost its joy. Hell, reading did too. I’ve become so critical of everything I read that I can’t just sit down and enjoy something anymore.
It’s my fault. I let the pressure of ARCs weigh down on me and put me in this tizzy. And I love ARCs, I do. I love that I can read a book early and shout to the world about it because that’s publicity for the author. And when I don’t get to a book on time, I feel like I’ve let that author down. It’s not even about the publishers. Ultimately the author is writing the story and that’s the story I’m critiquing in my reviews, the one I’m either promoting or letting slide after a not-so-great read.
So. Much. Pressure.
Talking about it now, like this, has been the first time in a LONG time that I’ve been able to write a blog post without staring at a blank page. And that’s the feeling I want to get back to.
For months I’ve contemplated quitting the book blogging world altogether, sticking to social media and maybe even dropping a few of those pages too. But there’s a part of me that still loves doing this and wants to find that again, and a hiatus isn’t going to help that. A change will.
Or several changes.
Let’s just change ALL the things!
Not another re-design
Yes, my friends, another re-design. Because apparently I don’t get Branding.
I put the current theme into place about a month ago to see how I liked it and I think it suits. And yes, it’s yet another change in the ever-revolving door of NovelKnight themes. But this change has more to do with examining my reading habits and how I want to change and expand my reading moving forward.
My blog is not just about fantasy (and sci-fi) anymore. When I started NovelKnight, speculative fiction was my primary genre to read, review, and talk about. I have the word “knight” in my blog name as a nod to my fave, high fantasy. But I’ve been consuming romances like no other lately, and covering them on the blog. I’m damn determined to find more contemporary books that I like because right now the list can be counted on one hand. The blog has expanded and that’s a good thing but it means the dragons and castles and such just don’t encompass everything.
There’s also the new tagline.
NK has had a tagline for a while now but it was never in the banner and didn’t really show up anywhere, but now it has a new one to match my drive to read what I own.
Go read your shelf.
Combining my love for swearing and books all in one! But in all seriousness, I host a backlist reading challenge, I own far too many unread books, it’s time to focus on them before I get so backlogged I can’t dig myself back out. Which leads me to a bit of a dynamic change. . .
ARCs are no longer a priority
I can’t keep letting ARCs dictate my reading. I’m a mood reader and frankly, I’m busy. I just started a new job in September that takes up a lot of my time and when I get home, the last thing I want to do is more work which is what the blog has become in my mind.
I have books for review still, both ones I’ve requested and ones I haven’t. I’ll try to get to those in a timely manner but if I don’t, I’ll still post a review. It may be pre-release, it may be post-release. I’m not “scheduling” my reading anymore. All it’s done is made me enjoy books less when I try to read something I’m not in the mood for, and all that stress and whatnot.
I should have done this years ago. I regret not doing it years ago. I will still be reviewing ARCs here, and posting about them on social media. But they’re not taking reading priority just because they’re unreleased.
New rating format!
2019 also means I’m rolling out a new rating format. For years I’ve had this idea that I should write at least 500 words for a review. An arbitrary number that seems to work. Not too short, not too long. And it kind of sucks now. And my rating has to fit the star rating systems that you see a lot online. But it’s not working for me.
I’ll be doing things a bit differently.
I plan to start letting myself write shorter reviews when I just don’t have as much to say about a book and calling them “mini” reviews. Same format for everything, just a little header that says “Mini Review” vs “Review.”
The rating report will stay mostly the same but there won’t be any overall ratings anymore. I have to put stars in on Amazon and Goodreads but for the blog, it will be more general.
- Loved it! For those books that I recommend to everyone, highly enjoyable, definitely worth checking out.
- Liked it. It was a good book, it didn’t WOW me but it was decent and might be worth adding to your TBR if it’s of interest.
- Good, but not for me. I’ve found that a lot of books I’ve read lately have been good books that I would recommend to others, but not books I enjoyed myself. This happens a lot when I’m reading outside my usual genres and a low rating shouldn’t deter someone from reading these books because of one reader’s experience.
- Do not recommend. For the books that were a waste of time, the ones that I don’t think anyone should be reading, the ones that I didn’t finish and don’t think it was because of me, one final category.
I’m still finalizing the rating change since it requires altering a few things and coming up with graphics and all that jazz, but I hope to roll it out by the end of January at the latest (hopefully sooner)!
I’ve come to really hate the star rating system but it has its uses for quick viewing like on Goodreads and Amazon. But NovelKnight is neither of those sites so I want to write reviews that are addressing the fact that a 3-star rating does NOT mean a book is bad.
So Many New Weekly Blog Posts. . .
I basically slacked off big time on the blogging front this year, especially the last few months. Blogger burnout at its finest (or worst, I suppose) and I struggled to get out of that. But in my commitment to be more involved with the Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge and tackling more of my on-shelf books, I came up with a few ways to keep myself more accountable each week.
Each week, I’ll be sharing a round-up list of books based on a particular category AND THEY WILL ALL BE BACKLIST! Well, meaning they’ll have been published in 2018 or earlier for this year’s lists. I figured this would be a great way to promote books for the Beat the Backlist challenge as well as provide more recs for my fellow readers!
Previously on the Shelf (Saturdays)
I love pre-ordering books (which is why I’m in the TBR mess I’m in now. . . ) but sometimes the new releases get the hype and the previous books are just. . . there? It depends on the book. ANYWAY I want to feature an author’s backlist (relevant to their upcoming release) each week for some of my favorite books/series.
Booked for the Weekend
Now this is the big one. I’ve been telling myself for YEARS that I should start doing a wrap-up post each week/month with what I’m reading, new blog posts, and all that good stuff and it never happens. Which gives me the opportunity to slack off which is NOT GOOD. So. I will be attempting to post every Sunday to sum up my week in books (and blog stuff). I’m hoping it keeps me on top of things more as well since I’m putting all that info out into the book world.
Plus book reviews
Because. Yeah. That’s what I do!
And some other goals. . .
Earlier in December, I made a list of a bunch of goals I have for 2019. It’s kind of ridiculously long, I realize, but go big or go home, right?
. . . right?
You can check out all the details on the post but the super quick summary version is:
- read 100 books, hopefully at least half are backlist (published pre-2019)
- post regularly on the blog
- do some reading challenges
So. That was a lot. Not sure I’ve written a post this long in months. But I want to start this new year off right with transparency on what I’m trying to do here on the blog and what I want to accomplish moving forward!
Is there anything you’re hoping to accomplish in the new year?