Book Blogger Remedial Class

Posted 27 January, 2012 by Amanda / 42 Comments

Twitter has a tendency to spawn humorous conversations that somehow turn into brilliant blogging ideas. When Ruby suggested that she needed a remedial class on how not to over commit, the rusty wheels of my brain began to turn. I can’t guarantee that this will turn into a real feature, but we’ll see how this goes.

Lesson #1: How Not to Over Commit

I think this is a common problem with a lot of book bloggers. We take review requests, sign onto book tours, host special events, write reviews, and attend to that other thing most of us call real life. I have three steps that should hopefully help to stop yourself from over-committing.

Step #1: Set priorities.

There are two levels to setting priorities. The first, and arguably most important, is how much time and energy you are willing to invest into book blogging. Give yourself a REALISTIC estimate of how much time you can devote to book blogging. The second level involves deciding how you want to divide the time you devote to book blogging. Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to decide what your blogging priorities are:

  • What is the purpose of my book blog?
  • If I were forced to choose only two or three different things to have on my blog (e.g., reviews, memes, features, events, read-alongs, bookish news, discussion posts), what would I choose? These should be your main priorities.
  • Which things on my blog take the most of my time?

For example, my reviews and features are most important to me. In this sense, I include Top Off Tuesday and Clock Rewinders as features. Before I accept or take on anything, I make sure that it does not interfere with my ability to post reviews or my features. Everything beyond that is fun. I also know that events take more time to plan and execute than say… read-alongs or discussion posts, so I am likely going to commit to things that take up less of my time first. Or, alternatively, if I sign up to do an event, I’ll be less likely to commit to anything else during that time.

Step #2: Before starting an endeavor (i.e., engaging in any of the above mentioned book blogging activities), make a mental list of what is already on your agenda and what said endeavor will require from you.

This is probably most important. The idea is to think critically about what you’re doing. You have to look past the excitement or desire of whatever it is and focus on what you are actually committing yourself to.

Ask yourself:

  • Does this fit into my priorities?
  • Do I have the time to devote to this endeavor?
  • Will the benefits outweigh the amount of work this will take?

Do not commit to anything until you can safely and realistically answer yes to the above questions. Don’t forget that whatever you commit to will likely take more time than you’ve allotted.

Step #3: Learn how to say, “No.”

If you CANNOT answer, “Yes,” to ALL the questions in Step #2, then you must decline. You must say, “No.” The good thing? You have a built in explanation: “I would love to, but I don’t have the time to commit to this. Thank you for thinking of me.”

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42 Responses to “Book Blogger Remedial Class”

  1. No is a fantastic word!

    Great Advice! I know that once I did my “what are my blog priorities and did some “no-ing” it became fun again! Amazing what being fun can make you have time for :)

    I am not sure I am ever going back to how it was last year!

    • I think deciding what your blog priorities are is probably the most important thing. I never really got that caught up in accepting review requests or requesting books on NetGalley, but that could just be pure luck on my part.

  2. I so suffer from the tendency to over commit. I’ve been working on it a lot lately, but there are still times where it seems like my hands are physically incapable of typing the word “no”, and then all of a sudden I wind up with 2039582093482093 books to read and interviews to conduct. Oops.

  3. I had a similar revelation a few months ago. I realized I was signing up for all of these NetGalleys and agreeing to read books authors sent me. And…it was kinda all I was reading. I had wandered away from my personal reading path. Lured by the promise of free and new books. Books that were already reviewed hundreds of times on other blogs.

    I made a deal with myself that I’d let go of the book hype. Let go of the rush an ARC gave me. And truly think about whether or not I wanted to read the book…Or had time to read the book. I’ve been much happier in the last few months because I’m actually reading what I want when I want rather than being tied to whats hot or available now ;)

    Great Post/Great Reminder!

    • I stopped accepting most review requests quite a few months ago, though that was because reading review books often negatively influenced how I felt. If I *had* to read it, it was more of a job than fun, and if it wasn’t fun, I probably wasn’t going to like it as much.

      There is something to be said about reading whatever book you want. For me, blogging isn’t about all the latest and greatest books, it is about talking BOOKS, no matter when they were published or who they are by. And even though I still often get caught up in what’s going on RIGHT NOW, it’s always my choice.

  4. I had a similar revelation. Like Sara, I greatly decreased my requests on NetGalley. I usually even wait till I’ve fulfilled my current obligations before I browse for what’s new. I’m also trying to honor the books I’ve bought that have been bullied to the bottom of the pile by the promise of the current book buzz. No more (well maybe, but I’ll keep reminding myself), because this is for fun ;)

    Thanks girl for helping keep things light & in perspective.

  5. This is a really great post. I only started my blog in September and I completely overwhelmed myself at first. I was excited to start getting review requests, and getting approved for ones I requested. It was really hard to keep up and still enjoy reading what I wanted to. I have gotten much better at it now. I hate to say no, I feel bad, but I need to do what is good for me and my blog. I am lucky that I never got to the point it was stressful. I want to love having my blog, and I do.

  6. It’s like you’re reading my mind! I feel like I’ve been caught in an endless loop of #2 and #3 for the past two months. I hate saying no (the downside to saying YES!!! so many times is that eventually you need to say no).

    “You have to look past the excitement or desire of whatever it is and focus on what you are actually committing yourself to.”

    That advice is SO perfect and spot on. I get super excited, but I need to pull back and take a minute to think about whether or not I actually can commit. Unfortunately the answer has been no. :(

    • Glad you enjoyed the post! #2 and #3 are probably the most difficult for people to do. It is so exciting to get asked to do things or review books, but you also have to make sure to maintain your sanity.

  7. Every once in a while I let myself over-commit and try something new just so I don’t get/feel boring. I’m doing good with the learning how to say “no” thing though. Not amazingly, but much better!

  8. This is exactly my problem and why I need to take a step back. I’ve gotten way better at saying no, but I also say yes more than my schedule can handle. It’s the pits. *sigh*

  9. This is the coolest class I’ve ever taken. I’ve found that the person I have the hardest time telling “no” is myself. It’s a work in progress.

  10. What fabulous advice! It can be so hard to say no and to take on too much. I am going to print out this post and keep it near my computer! Then maybe it will be a little easier to say no!

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. This is an awesome post! This is one reason why I’m reading so many review books right now — because I over-committed. Also, the same reason I took a break in May. Currently, I’m not working at all, so I can spend a lot of time on the blog, but once I actually start working again, my time is going to be cut. This will definitely be a post I remember!

    I think the things I like most on my blog are reviews and features, as well (which, to me, include discussions). I don’t have features all the time, but write them up when I have the time to. Instead of saying, “I’ll post this every single Monday!” I’ll do it the odd Monday. Doesn’t bog me down, then.

    I think the hardest part is when something really good comes up and then you have to say no … it’s okay to say no!!

    • I think the worst is when you start something that explodes and so what started as something simple becomes very time-involved. Bout of Books continues to be a good example. There were SO MANY PARTICIPANTS in 4.0 that my head spun. Having to be “responsible” for all those people is a job in and of itself, and few people realize how much work it takes. My Clock Rewinders post as a meme was that way, too, which was part of the reason why I had to scale it back.