The Green Eyed Monster: Blogging and Jealousy
The blogging community is a wonderful thing. Who wouldn't love having a group of people as obsessed as you are about books and wanting nothing more than to chat about them? But what about when your best bloggy friend gets that ARC you've been dying to read? Or when someone comes up with an incredible feature or meme that gets them loads of visitors and accolades? You're happy for them, of course, but is delight your only emotion? Do you ever feel a twinge of envy, a pinprick of jealousy?
I freely admit to being jealous of my fellow bloggers. Jealousy is not a positive emotion, but it is a natural one. I'm going to posit that every one of you book bloggers have been jealous about something blog or book related at some point. I think it's impossible not to be if you're really invested in blogging and reading, as most of us are.
If you don't think that you've ever been jealous, I'd guess you are (a) a saint; (b) delusional; or (c) lying. I'm not delusional, I'm not lying (at the moment), and I am definitely not a saint.
The Benefits of Jealousy
Despite being petty, I don't think jealousy is inherently bad. It depends on how you react to it.
Bad: Leaving nasty comments on someone's blog in a fit of jealous rage. Allowing envy to stop you from blogging.
Good: Using jealousy to inspire. If you don't want more, you're not going to work for more. Transform your envy into energy. Figure out what bugs you and fix it.
(thanks to Black Nailed Reviews and About To Read for helping me with this point)
Here are a few things that bring out my inner green-eyed monsters...and I'm guessing I'm not alone...and a few ideas of how to move past jealousy.
1) ARCs: This is one of the most obvious ones. Am I the only person whose stomach twists and eyes burn when I see a dozen bloggers get a review copy of a book I want during the weekly IMM posts? In my more immature moments, I'll grumble that a person has less followers than I do and still got a review copy. It's not like I don't have enough books to read. Every week, I'm overflowing with new books that I picked up at the library or the bookstore. But the idea of ARCs is so alluring! The ironic thing is that I love In My Mailbox. With the exception of Follow Friday, it is my favorite meme. I love seeing what books people got and am honestly happy for them.
Here's the thing about ARCs...Consider it a twist on the Field of Dreams saying: "If you don't ask, they won't come." And I don't ask, hardly at all. Partly because of my perceived notions that my blog isn't big enough yet or simply because I'm too lazy to type up e-mails to publishers. People do get unsolicited review copies. But unless you're a mega-blogger who has been doing this for years, unsolicited copies are probably few and far between.
If you're jealous about not getting ARCs, do something about it! E-mail publishers to introduce yourself and ask for a review copy. Go to conferences like BEA or ALA and get your name out. Work on growing your blog, so you'll be more likely to garner attention. And if you still don't receive ARCS...oh well...at least you did what you could.
*Numbers 2 and 3 are similar, but distinct enough that I'm giving them separate categories
2) I'm Not The Story Siren: Kristi is one of my favorite bloggers. She's nice, funny, smart, and obviously well-read. It's hard to argue that she is the queen of YA book blogging. Oh how I wish I was her! I wish I had started blogging three and a half years ago, that I had thought up In My Mailbox and the Debut Author Challenge, that I had established relationships with authors and publishers, that I had loads of followers and made even a little money off blogging, and all the other things that makes Kristi fantastic.
Yeah, that one's kinda petty. But instead of envying Kristi, I try to use her as inspiration. She reminds me that the longer you blog, the more respected you're likely to be. Same with the value of making contacts with authors and publishers. And of course, having consistently good content.
*On another note...I really wish I could be 11 in 2011 and be as fabulous as Melina at Reading Vacation. I wish I'd read as much and written as well as she does when I was her age. That's not jealousy...that's admiration.
3) Blank's Blog is Better Than Mine: Ah yes...let's bring up my inherent insecurities. I read a lot of blogs. Some are better than others. Many, I think, are better than mine. I love reading the posts, but I often chide myself for not being as good as the respective blogger. For example, I love the thorough and well-written reviews at Supernatural Snark and the hilarious Cover Critiques. I love Small Review's ingenious Review Comparison and her Blogging Tips and Tricks. I think the frequency and consistency of Books With Bite's reviews are highly admirable. Why can't I be that good?
Let's take a step back here...If you ever think like me, do two things. First, think of the positives about your blog. I've been blogging for over a year, have a respectable number of followers, and make a lot of efforts to reach out to the blogging community. I write consistently and my reviews are reasonably well-written (if perhaps a tad bit wordy - as this parenthetical is). Ah, I'm feeling a little better now. Once you've picked yourself out of the mud, use the blogs you admire to better your blog. If you want to improve your writing, check out some books on writing and style. Or read other people's reviews to find a style you want to emulate (not copy!). If you want better features, look around the blogging community. What element of books or blogging is missing? What things are you passionate about? Think outside the box for a bit and come up with something that others haven't yet done.
4) Book Blogger Appreciation Week: This is actually what inspired this post and it is the hardest, most shameful part of this post for me to write. Book Blogger Appreciation Week is one of the most enjoyable blogging events of the year. It's one time where we can all sit back and celebrate the joy of blogging. Where we can step away from the detailed reviews and enjoy our community.
But...there's the awards. Do you sit in school/work awards ceremonies with anticipation? Hoping that when they announce the Best Math Student award or the Top Sales award, your name will be called, even though you suck at math or completely missed the quarterly sales goals? I do. I want to be the one running up to the stage in my fancy ball gown, tears running down my cheeks, and joking about how heavy the Oscar statue is. And while I know it is petty and childish, the fact that I didn't make the awards list dampens my Book Blogger Appreciation Week spirit. I hate that it does. I don't honestly think I deserve any of the awards. Well, maybe I do a little bit, but I am completely honest when I say that the blogs nominated are as good as and likely better than mine (especially the ones I nominated).
My best advice about dealing with not being nominated? Grow up and get over it. I'm being particularly harsh about this one, because it's the advice I most need to hear right now. Look at the blogs that were nominated. What can you learn from them? Maybe even approach them and ask them for advice to improve your blog. But if you've done all you can do, don't worry about it too much. A celebration of the excellence of someone else's blog doesn't mean that yours is bad. Be grateful for the opportunity to blog. Don't let your hurt feelings keep you from participating in Book Blogger Appreciation Week. I was stupid enough to make that mistake last year and want to be a big girl this year. I may not be able to participate as much as I'd like because I'll have just moved to California, but I definitely want to participate in some fashion.
5) Blank's Blog Has More Followers/More Comments Than Mine: Do you feel like you spend loads of time on your blog, but no one's reading it? Does it seem like everyone in the blogging community has their established group of friends and you can't break in? It's hard to start blogging when there are so many other blogs that have been doing this for years. And it's also hard to watch other blogs grow and grow while yours stays stagnate. We all know that the number of followers does not inherently correlate to the quality of the blog or even the loyalty of those followers. Still, you're a lot more likely to have 1000 loyal readers and frequent commenters, if you have 1000 followers than if you have 100. And while the numbers game isn't that important, it's a lot more fun to blog if you are part of the community rather than knocking at the door trying to get in. Besides, who doesn't love seeing those little numbers climb in the GFC widget?
I've written quite a bit about how to gain followers. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my advice of How To Gain Followers. Like most things, there's a strategy to gaining followers. How? The answers never vary that much. (1) Good, consistent content: Duh. Have decently written reviews. I've written a post on How to Write a Review. It's pretty flexible. As long as you put some effort into it, I'm sure it'll be good. And make sure you post relatively frequently. At least a few times a week. (2) Network: Regardless of the quality of your reviews, if no one knows about your blog, no one is going to read it. Participate in the weekly blog hops: Friday Follow and Crazy for Books’ Hops and in In My Mailbox. And perhaps another popular meme. Connect with bloggers through Twitter. Participate in author blog tours through Teen Book Scene. (3) Time: Few blogs gain followers rapidly. Getting and keeping followers is a lot of work. It took me about a year to hit 1000 followers, and I devoted hours every weekend to networking. If you want a large blog, prepare to spend lots of time. I average 15 to 20 hours per week on blogging. Granted, that's because I think it's fun and don't have anything better to do. But you're not going to have a big blog without a lot of work.
As for comments...If you give, ye shall receive. The blogs who get the most comments are the ones who comment on other blogs the most. The number of comments is not inherently tied to the number of followers. Some blogs with only a few hundred followers get tons of comments, because those bloggers are so dedicated to commenting on other blogs. In contrast, some of the blogs with 2000+ followers don't get that many comments, because the blogger doesn't comment often. We all have limited time and commenting on other people's blogs is really hard. I know I don't do it nearly enough, but if you want lots of comments on your blog, make commenting on other blogs a priority. And, surprise, surprise, I also have a post about How to Comment. The comments to the post are a lot more interesting than what I wrote, so be sure to read them.
There you have the basic elements of my form of blogger jealousy. And now that you've seen a bit of my not-so-great side, it's your turn.
Have you been a jealous blogger? What have you done about it?