why people think book bloggers shouldn’t get paid

Since book Twitter’s most recent discourse about the ethics of paid reviews, I’ve been thinking a lot about WHY people don’t think that book bloggers should get paid. This discussion has happened over and over again, as has the discussion about book bloggers being undervalued, and I think it’s important to look at why this is.

Lately, I’ve been thinking back to one of the other things about book bloggers that has been discussed many times around conferences and conventions: book bloggers and ARCs. Book bloggers have a terrible reputation at cons because we’re seen as ARC hoarders. However, on the flip side, people tell us that we should be grateful to get a free copy of a book as compensation.

People have debated many solutions to the “ARC stealing” book blogger problem, including starting some sort of “professional” organization to prove your worth as a blogger. This suggestion came about one year because a YA writer who I will not name said that “anyone can be a blogger.” This made me super angry at the time and I think after many years have passed since then I’ve finally figured out why (and I promise it’s related to why people don’t think bloggers should be paid!):

Book blogging can, in fact, be done by ANYONE. It’s not like booktube or bookstagram, where you honestly do need lots of expensive equipment, millions of books, or at least photo editing skills that come with an access to software to learn it or advanced computer knowledge that people get from having computer access. Blogging, in contrast, is the most ACCESSIBLE form of book promotion that exists. All you need is a computer and the ability to write content. There are many free, user-friendly platforms to use to blog, even if you’re new at it. You don’t HAVE to put pretty photos of your own books on a blog. Blogging is FOR EVERYONE, and there needs to be a platform that you don’t have to be wealthy to use.

And I think that is the crux of the issue when it comes to paying bloggers. Because blogging is so accessible, people think it means it’s just a hobby and not worthy of being monetized. Some people don’t even have blogging expenses, so it’s easy to subconsciously think that because of that, bloggers don’t NEED to be paid like booktubers or bookstagrammers who require large numbers of physical copies of books, equipment, and video or photo editing software subscriptions.

So really, the issue of why people think book bloggers shouldn’t get paid comes down to elitism. Because book blogging is accessible, it’s not seen as “serious” or “professional.” Obviously, those things are not true, because blogging also takes a lot of time and effort to put out good content. People see platforms like booktube as more of a “job,” while blogging is seen as something less serious and therefore less valuable, even though that is certainly not the case.

Unfortunately, I do not have a solution to pose on how to make people see the value of bloggers. We have all said again and again that we are the reason the book community exists, but it often feels like shouting into the void. I also don’t know if I see things improving, because the book community seems to be turning to these more visual platforms as their primary means of book promotion. Still, I hope that one day, people from across book community platforms will realize we all want the same thing: to share and talk about books, and maybe, someday, we’ll ALL promote both books and each other.

why there’s no such thing as an unbiased review

Every now and then, the book community has discourse about the ethics of book bloggers being paid for reviews and the ethics of paid reviews. The fact that this argument is used to argue against book bloggers receiving payment while other parts of the book community (bookstagram and booktube) regularly receive payment to promote books is a whole separate issue, and today, I’m going to be telling you why there is no such thing as an unbiased review and why that aspect of the argument is ridiculous.

The thing is, BOOK REVIEWS ARE OPINIONS. It is not a report on a book, and any of the things reviewers say about the writing or characters or plot are OPINIONS. Opinions are inherently SUBJECTIVE, not objective. There would be no point in reading a book review that was just facts about the book, and honestly I don’t even know what that would look like–probably a synopsis and overview of characters?

People read reviews because they want to know if the reviewer liked or disliked the book. You can say in a review why you think other readers might like a book that you didn’t, but even that is still an opinion because reviewers are not mind readers for every single person who has read or might read a particular book.

Reviews also aren’t objective because you ALWAYS go into a book with some level of expectation. The only way you can go into a book with no expectations is if you don’t see the cover or synopsis. But honestly, even the title of a book can influence how you view what the book is going to be like or what you are going to think of it. Things like a cover and synopsis are SUPPOSED to make you have a pre-reading opinion of a book, because how else would you know you wanted to buy it? However, going into a book with expectations of any kind is already a “bias.”

Reviews are also not meant to be editorial critiques, which should be more on the unbiased side of things than a review. When you’re editing and looking for how to improve the book, you’re looking at how to enhance the work that’s already there, not necessarily adding or taking away things willy nilly that you personally like or don’t like. In an editorial critique, there needs to be more of a level of objectivity and it’s less about your personal likes and dislikes. However, editorial critiques are meant for writers, and reviews are for readers (as much as some authors like to ignore that fact), which means a personal opinion is important.

I think what this debate also comes down to is that people don’t want to see that REVIEWS ARE FOR READERS. The point of a review is not, at its heart, promotion. That is a side benefit that can come from a review, but I guarantee people are not posting one-star reviews on Amazon or Goodreads because they’re trying to get you to read it. The true purpose of a review is to help readers decide if they want to read a book. They are not an editorial critique for authors or promotion for authors: they are for readers.

october goals & good readance wrap up

Hello friends, and welcome to the most glorious month, aka OCTOBER! October is a month I always get excited for because it means it’s definitely fall, my favorite season, and when I’m at peak witchiness. Hopefully, that will be good motivation to actually meet my goals this month. So, without further ado, let’s recap my September goals & Good Readance tasks:

good readance wrap up

Here was what I hoped to accomplish for Good Readance at the start of the event:

  • Cull my books owned shelf. !! I did this, but tbh I’m probably going to put a lot back. I like owning books.
  • Remove tags by year on GR. !! I did this.
  • Update my ratings. !! Did this.
  • Make a professional GR account. !! I did this but…I don’t know if I’m actually going to use it or keep it. I might want to keep a written record of books I read for work/professional development.
  • Delete my eARCs shelves on GR. !! Did this, but honestly, I think it was helpful to have even though I didn’t always update it.
  • Create a catalog/database of eARCs. X! Started doing this on Notion. I have done my eARCs for 2020.
  • Delete all eARCs from before 2019. ?? I can’t remember if I did this. I did a few books, but can’t remember why or from what year.
  • Delete titles I don’t remember the author, title, or plot. X! Kind of started doing this.

september goals

  • Read 4-5 September releases. !! YES I killed this goal.
  • Drink less Diet Coke. !X um…I had less than normal during the weeks I worked so…does that count?
  • Try to reconnect with witchcraft. !! I did try to do this, but I think I’m still feeling disconnected because my tarot readings are all over the place.
  • Celebrate Mabon. !! I did this! I cleansed my tarot deck and tried to start redoing my digital grimoire on Notion.

october goals

  • Make time to do one relaxing thing per day. I took a webinar on Covid-related stress and anxiety, and one thing that the presenters suggested was taking time out of every day to schedule in something that you know calms you. I plan to make a list of things that relax me and make some kind of tracker to make sure I stick to this goal.
  • Read more picture books and MG. I want to do this both for my current job and to further my future career in publishing. I have been reading a lot more of those genres this year, but during lockdown that project fell to the wayside so I need to pick it back up again.
  • Read 3-4 October releases. I’m going to be posting my October TBR, which will include books actually being released this month, so I hope to read 3-4+ of these books because I felt super proud of myself last month for actually reading new releases on time.
  • Read Mexican Gothic!!! Lol @ me for making reading this book its own goal. I keep meaning to read it AND I got it as an add-on book with Book of the Month last month, so I really need to read it.
  • Celebrate Samhain. AKA the best witch holiday. This Samhain, I’m hoping I’ll actually be off to celebrate, which means a WHOLE DAY of witchy things are ahead!!
  • Participate in Dewey’s 24-hr readathon! I tried to participate in the summer reverseathon but only got a couple hours in. To be honest, I prefer the normal readathons in October and April and am very pumped. They’re also doing pre-readathon challenges this year that I hope to participate in, so expect a TBR post for those and the readathon soon!

september rewind \\ it lasted a minute

Wow, um…where did September go? Most months during the pandemic have gone by at a snail’s pace but for some reason August and September went by in a snap. Let’s take a look at what I did and read during September.

books read

1. Who I Was With Her – Nita Tyndall
2. Charming as a Verb – Ben Philippe
3. Horrid – Katrina Leno
4. Early Departures – Justin A. Reynolds
5. One to Watch – Kate Stayman-London
6. The Summer of Everything – Julian Winters
7. Head Over Heels – Hannah Orenstein

Honestly, I’m super impressed with my reading in September. Other than July, where I read 9 books, this is my best reading month in 2020 so far. I’m also impressed because unlike in July, my reads were all regular novels instead of graphic novels, which usually take me much longer to read than a graphic novel.

My favorite book was definitely Charming as a Verb, which featured a low-key con involving dogs, a feisty female love interest, and a wonderfully flawed but ultimately soft hero. I loved this book so much and am definitely going to be recommending it to everyone I know.

My least favorite book was probably Who I Was With Her by Nita Tyndall. This book would for sure appeal to some readers, but for me, the way the narrative about coming out was written just hit me the wrong way, especially after all the Becky Albertalli stuff. It just didn’t make sense to me that the MC’s secret girlfriend was pressuring her to come out so much when she had just figured out she was bi. I think the pressure to come out has to be handled really carefully in books, and this one just hit wrong.

book haul

Book of the Month books:
1. Mexican Gothic – Sylvia Moreno-Garcia
2. Bringing Down the Duke – Evie Dunmore
3. One to Watch – Kate Stayman-London

NetGalley:
4. With You All the Way – Cynthia Hand
5. The Key to You and Me – Jaye Robin Brown

Edelweiss:
6. House of Hollow – Krystal Sutherland
7. The Dark Tide – Alicia Jasinka
8. A Taste for Love – Jennifer Yu
9. The Wide Starlight – Nicole Lesperance

I hauled a lot of great books this month. The one I’m most excited for is Krystal Sutherland’s House of Hollow, a mystery about two odd girls who went missing as children and returned a few months later. I’m actually also pretty pumped for The Wide Starlight, which I hadn’t heard about before but was comped to THE HAZEL WOOD and THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER, so I’m expecting both magic and a lot of emotions.

life updates

Nothing really happened this month of note. We added a Saturday schedule at the library, threw around a possible reopening date, seem to have forgotten the possible reopening date, and patrons were…patrons. The most exciting thing that happened was that book Twitter discovered Notion, a digital planning/note-taking app, that I knew about and had been using for my digital grimoire but had no concept of how to use, and am now going to be using forever because its so efficient and pretty. I also hit 400 followers on Twitter, which I am very proud of.

blogging

Here are some of my favorite posts from this blog from the past month:

  • I recommended books to read with autumn colors
  • I discussed why I don’t feel represented by portrayals of fat characters
  • I gushed about why you should read CHARMING AS A VERB
  • I reviewed WHO I WAS WITH HER
  • I talked about reconnecting with witchcraft

Here are my favorite posts from around the blogosphere from September:

  • Cande wrote about why they use the term Latinx
  • Clo discussed how her formatting system has changed
  • Sumedha interviewed me for her series Blogletters and wrote about why she doesn’t like comment back culture
  • Veronika recommended books with yearning
  • Tasya hyped some of her anticipated 2021 releases
  • Liv made a mood board for the FURIA blog tour, effectively adding it to my TBR
  • Caro spotlighted three amazing books
  • Fadwa discussed how the #ownvoices label has lost its way
  • Sofia highlighted upcoming books by Latinx authors
  • Tracy wrote about how to have a healthier relationship with reading

How was your September? Tell me all about it!

blogger spotlight: fall time fun posts

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of Blogger Spotlight, a new feature here on Cotton Candy Book Witch. I came up with this feature because I wanted to give back to the community and support fellow book bloggers by highlighting the excellent content being put out.

The theme of this post is featuring blog posts themed around fall. This round up will include fall book recs, tags, and more!

Spooks and tea readathon

Lauren @ Northern Plunder announced the perfect fall-time readathon, which is a readathon dedicated to reading HORROR for the month of October. The prompts are as follows:

A book with autumnal vibes
A horror book that was recommended to you
A book with paranormal creatures
Reread a spooky old favourite
A book featuring witches
A LGBTQ+ horror book
A horror book by an author of colour
A horror book you love the cover of
A book featuring something you’re afraid of

the pumpkin spice latte book tag

I saw Caro @ Bookcheshire Cat do this tag themed around the best fall drink, pumpkin spice lattes. I love all things fall and am definitely planning to do this tag.

on seasonal reading

Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books has a great discussion post on seasonal reading. She discusses what makes a “fall” book, what she reads in other seasons, and holiday reading. The post is part of the Let’s Talk Bookish feature created by  Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion.

fall time tbrs

I loved reading all the fall tbrs this week, including these from Alison and Kristin. From their lists, I am super excited to read A DEADLY EDUCATION, MEXICAN GOTHIC, THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE, and CEMETERY BOYS. I need to join a fall themed readathon STAT so I can read these amazing-sounding books!

announcing #hallowreadathon

Asha @ A book. a cat. and a cup of tea. announced the Hallowreadathon and three prompts. This readathon is for three days from October 31-November 1.

weekly rewind // 9-18-20

weekly happenings

This week was honestly an emotional rollercoaster. I had something SUPER GOOD happen that I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about, but it is publishing career related and I have never felt more validated in my pursuit of a career in that industry.

However, I was also really stressed for most of the week and have been feeling that way since the library where I work announced we’re considering reopening again. I did manage to get more information about what our procedures will be, which made me feel somewhat better.

on the blog

what i’ve read & currently reading

This week I mostly read picture books. I’m also still in the middle of ONE TO WATCH, but I’m not going to share thoughts just yet because I’m a little over halfway through and EVERY TIME I say I’m enjoying a book in a post I then immediately stop liking it so we are beating that trend.

Good Readance 2020 sign up

Today I am announcing my intent to participate in Shealea’s event, Good Readance 2020, aka Spring cleaning in September for your books. I am very excited about this event, because I have been wanting to attend to all sorts of bookish related organizing and need to get my bookish sh*t together.

Throughout the month of September, I hope to accomplish the following goals:

unhauling

I have posted on Twitter a lot lately that I really want to unhaul most of my books. I have two shelves currently, one of read books and one of unread books. The unread books shelf has three full shelves and I want to really try to pare that down. I have books and ARCs from years ago that I know I’m never going to read, but I’ve been afraid to get rid of for various reasons. It is now time.

I also want to cull my books read shelf. Ideally, this shelf would only be reserved for collections and absolute favorites. If I have the book as an ebook, I will also consider getting rid of the physical copy. If I could halve my read books shelf, that would be fantastic. This may seem extreme, but as the time for my partner and I to move approaches, I am getting increasingly concerned about transporting so many books and it’s just not practical. Also, I want my shelves to start reflecting my bookish interests now, not from when I was a kid.

goodreads

There are multiple things on GR I want to do. Here is a list:

  • Remove tags by year. I have tried keeping track of books by tagging by year, but in addition to already being able to search that way without year by year shelves, I also grouped everything by “YA-year” which doesn’t include a lot of what I read now.
  • Update my ratings. I have always rated books really harshly, so I do want to go back on past reads and update my ratings
  • Make a professional GR account? I do want to keep track of the children’s books and picture books I read/want to read, but I don’t want that to be intermixed with my personal reading because I likely won’t review those on this blog. Having 2 separate accounts will make finding the books I want easier and not mess up my stats for the GR challenge since I don’t count my picture books.
  • Delete my eARCs shelves. These are also by year, but honestly that has proven not to be helpful. I think I’d rather have one shelf for NetGalley and one shelf for Edelweiss, or just one eARCs shelf.
  • Remove titles I’m no longer interested in. I would LOVE to cull my TBR to 100-200 books. It’s currently at 398, after a lot of previous deleting of titles. If I haven’t read the book 4 years later, it is probably not going to get read.

cataloguing

  • Create catalog/database of eARCs. My eARC situation is always out of control, and I want to do a better job at keeping up with them. I find I don’t actually use my eARC shelves on GR, so I want to try to come up with an updatable spreadsheet and/or bullet journal spread for my eARCs.

eARCs

Like I just said, my eARC situation is out of control. I have books from 2014 that I haven’t read. I have been hanging on to the ecopies for a long time because I always *think* I’m going to read them, but obviously I never am. Plus, if these books are available from the library or to buy, I don’t really need to hang on to them. I want to delete all eARCs from before 2019 on my Kindle, and keep a rule not to keep eARCs past a full year after their release date. If I really want to read the books after they’re released, I can buy it or check it out. I also want to delete eARCs from my Kindle that I can’t remember the author or title. Unfortunately, there are a few of these.

september readathon round up

Because there were so many readathons taking place in August, I did a readathon round up highlighting a few of them. I wasn’t originally planning on making this a monthly feature, but I did really enjoy researching all the upcoming events and getting hyped for them, so I am at least going to do it for another month.

So, here we have some of the readathons happening in September! If I miss one you’d like to see included, you are more than welcome to let me know in the comments and I can edit them in later on 🙂

short readathons

queer lit readathon–9/26-27

This readathon is hosted by @shan_no_nosays and @kathytrithardt. It is a weekend-long readathon with the goal of reading intersectional queer lit. Queer Lit Readathon is also hosted several times a year, so if you can’t make this one, never fear! Another event will be just around the corner.

sapphic saturday–9/12-13

Arin from Tomes of our Lives is hosting this sapphic (wlw) readathon in mid-September! You can check out her announcement post here. Sapphic Saturday (&Sunday) is a low-key readathon focused on consuming whatever sapphic media your heart desires. You can also check out this readathon on Twitter at  sapphicsaturday and post about it using #sapphicsaturdays!

nancy drew readathon–9/27-10/10

Nancy Drew Readathon is, you guessed it, a Nancy Drew themed readathon with prompts and task lists based on different Nancy Drew books/cases. It is hosted by @backinbookshelf. There are a lot of fun prompts, with about 4 “tasks” to complete for each case.

latinx readathon–9/15-24

Latinx Readathon is focusing on reading Latinx-authored literature! There are 5 prompts to help inspire your reading, which you can find here.

longer readathons

latinx book bingo–9/15-10/15

This is another Latinx Heritage Month inspired readathon hosted from mid-September into October! This readathon uses a bingo board for book prompts to inspire your reading. You can find more information on Twitter.

not safe for workathon–9/1-30

NSFWathon uses prompts based on some very fun but very not safe for work themes. You can find the prompts here. I’m also pretty pumped about the group book, which I’ve seen around on book Twitter a lot.

stranger things readathon

I just discovered this readathon and am highly considering adding it to my ambitious readathon schedule because I love ST (even though I never finished season 3). For this readathon, you pick a team and read books based on the prompts for that team. You can find more info here.

here & queerathon–ALL YEAR

Hello, shameless plug for my own readathon, the Here & Queerathon, which runs until December 31, 2020! The goal is to read books by queer authors and/or featuring queer rep. You can find more info on the Here & Queerathon tab on my main menu.

a touch of whimsy

A Touch of Whimsy is an Alice in Wonderland-inspired readathon that you can find more info about here. The prompts are all based on different elements of the Alice in Wonderland story for this round. A Touch of Whimsy is a middle grade book club.

august 2020 \\ wrap up

August felt like it went by in a flash, which is probably the only time a month has felt like that in all of 2020 so far. Hopefully that means things are picking up and feeling normal-ish and not as scary. Maybe.

what happened

This month went really fast for some reason and I can’t figure out why, though I guess maybe it was a bit busier than normal. I was also eagerly anticipating my trip home for my birthday, which I celebrated last week. I spent a long trip with my parents, which was nice and relaxing and a good change of pace from being stuck at home half the time.

I also feel like I’ve gotten used to sidewalk service at the library, and even though things are slow, I actually kind of like doing phone service because I feel a lot more confident about it now. I also finally got approval to change my name on my email and have it announced to people at work so I don’t keep getting deadnamed in emails, so that’s good. I also was invited to work on a project creating a training on how to be more LGBT friendly toward coworkers and customers that I am both excited and nervous for.

what i read

  1. kingdom of the wicked – kerri maniscalco
  2. two dark reigns – kendare blake
  3. now that i’ve found you – kristina forest
  4. grown – tiffany jackson

I did not read much this month even though my goal was reading 5 novels. My favorite book was definitely GROWN, even though pretty much everything I read this month was really good. NOW THAT I’VE FOUND YOU was my most disappointing read because the romance really fell flat for me and there wasn’t enough of a character arc, but it was still a 3 star read for me.

blogging highlights

On this blog:

Around the blogosphere:

  • Tessi wrote about book piracy, price, and privilege
  • Arin introduced a new event, Sapphic Saturdays, that I am very pumped for
  • Mieke ranted and wrote an extremely awesome and detailed review of MIDNIGHT SUN
  • Marta announced her booktube channel!
  • Meg discussed adults reviewing YA
  • Clo celebrated her blogoversary
  • Emme took a week away from social media and talked about the results
  • Sofia announced Latinx Book Bingo
  • Kay wrote about reviewing #ownvoices books from a biracial perspective
  • Tracy recommended books based on book twitter drama
  • Cielo announced the Diverse Clan, an exciting new initiative

how was your August? what did you read? how are you all doing during these strange times?

shiny new content plans!

Hello, bookish friends! Today, I’m going to be sharing some new content plans that I’ve been cooking up. I’ve been thinking about starting a few new features here on Cotton Candy Book Witch, and I would like to share them with you all.

bookish news is good news

This is going to be a news feature sharing good news in the book community. The current plan is to share information such as new features by book bloggers, exciting book deals, releases to keep an eye out for, upcoming readathons, virtual book events that are happening, and other book-related happy news that is announced. This feature was originally going to focus more on explaining what people were subtweeting about on book Twitter in a given week because half of my TL is people subtweeting and the other half is people asking what is going on, but I realized I really want to focus on bringing more positivity to the book community, at least on my blog. I still might do a kind of “ICYMI” Twitter account for that, but for now this feature is going to focus on good news in the book community.

I’m also debating doing a bookstagram featuring this news. I really like the format of another bookish news related instagram, Bookish You Should Know, and I’d like to do something similar with Bookish News is Good News. I did start a Twitter account for Bookish News is Good News, @NewsBookish, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to maintain it because I’m focusing on growing my own Twitter following.

Please let me know in the comments if you would be more interested in a Bookish News IGN Twitter account or Instagram.

book blogger highlights

I’m not sure about the name of this feature yet (if you have ideas, feel free to share in the comments!) but I’ve really liked discovering new book blogs and blog hopping lately and want to give back to the community. This feature will spotlight new book blogs, other blogs I discover, posts I like, and cool blogger features.

weekly wrap

I had been doing the Sunday Post for a long while now as a weekly wrap up, but stopped doing it because I wasn’t sure if the host blog was even still active, didn’t see others still doing it, and didn’t like posting on Sundays. If I do another wrap up post every week, I’d prefer to do it on a Friday or Saturday, so I can include books read on a previous weekend and have that be my weekend post.

anticipated schedule

As for the first two features, Bookish News is Good News and Book Blogger Highlights, I want to make those biweekly features, so every other week I’ll do one of them. I could probably do Bookish News weekly, but I want to have room for other content and the posts would have more to feature if I used newsworthy items every two weeks, so that remains the current plan.

Anyway, those are some exciting new features to look forward to on Cotton Candy Book Witch! I am really excited to begin putting these together and am confident I have a lot of great content to share for both.