Two years ago on January 13, I officially launched The Mad Reviewer into the world. When I say that I’ve been blogging for two years it feels pretty crazy. It doesn’t feel like that long, to be honest. It doesn’t seem like all that long ago I had no idea what a pingback was and thought spam was a semi-edible form of meat. Looking back at how little I knew, it’s amazing that on my 2nd blog birthday I have 665 followers. You guys are awesome for sticking with me.
So what have I learned about blogging in two years? A lot of technical stuff, to be sure, but also a lot about people and the book community as a whole. Here are just some of the things I’ve learned:
1. Teenagers are lazy. Like, really lazy.
This is a complete generalization (and as we all know, all generalizations are false) but you would not believe how many times I’ve deleted comments from teenagers that say “Can u send me a summarie of the bok?” I know that my article on The Hunger Games and Ancient Rome is really popular because The Hunger Games is an uber-popular novel study book. I get comments like that all the time on that article. But I also get dozens of comments on my reviews of Alex Rider books to the same tune. Honestly, people? Reading a novel study book won’t kill you. Literally millions of children and teens have done it before you and millions of children and teens will do it after you and still survive. Just read the damn book.
2. Most self-published authors are awesome.
Throughout the year when I’ve made announcements on the status of my review request system I’ve been shocked at the kind comments directed toward me. I know so many indie authors follow this blog not only because of the content but because they’re also hoping for a review from me when I reopen my requests. It’s flattering that people are willing to wait like that, but it’s also nice that they support my decision to keep requests closed because of my health.
Not only are self-published authors (for the most part) kind, they are also some of the hardest working writers out there. For example, awesome/slightly crazy author Diantha Jones is planning on releasing at least 3 books this year. She’s hoping to also release a fourth. There are pretty much no traditionally published authors that attempt this crazy schedule and guess what? Her books are at the very least on par with traditionally published novels, usually surpassing them. And Diantha isn’t the only self-published author that works on an insane schedule like this. Even though I’ve criticized you guys in the past, let me say that this year I’ve learned to have a lot of respect for self-published authors. You guys work hard.
3. WordPress loves making arbitrary changes that only annoy users.
Don’t get me wrong here: I love WordPress for the most part. It has awesome themes, decent technical support and a really user-friendly platform. Yet some changes this year have made me facepalm to no end. The first change I hated was the hideous thick blue taskbar in the ‘My Stats’ section. It’s less functional than the slim black one they use everywhere else.
But the most annoying change is the change to the reader. I know not all of you use WordPress so bear with me here. The reader used to be a great way to look at all the blogs I follow in a nice list. If I clicked on a title to go to a post it took me there immediately and I could read the post on that blog. Yet now if you click on a title in the reader it takes you to an idiotic, slow-loading pop up that forces you to make yet another click to go to the actual post. Of course you could read the post in the reader if you don’t care at all about formatting or pictures, but it just so happens that I do. So now I make two clicks where I used to make one. Great job, WordPress.
4. NetGalley is one of the best things that happened to book blogging.
In case you don’t know, NetGalley is an online catalog where publishers can list titles they would like reviewed. You make a profile, request a review copy and if you’re accepted you can download an ebook in a variety of formats. In return for the free ebook, all you have to do is provide an honest review of it and send it to the publisher through NetGalley as well as post it on your review site.
The thing about NetGalley is that although it seems like a remote process, I’ve had contact with so many authors and publishers through it. Thanks to NetGalley, I learned that a certain review in which I absolutely gushed about a book (a rare thing for me) made the author cry when her editor showed it to her. You don’t usually hear stuff like that if an author stumbles across your review on your blog. It’s stories like that that make book blogging worth it and NetGalley has facilitated so many other opportunities for me in the book community. Why, just a few days after Christmas I got some swag from Wayzgoose Press as a way to say thank you for reviewing our books. The three wineglass charms pictured above are of the three books I reviewed for that press.
5. My readers are pretty loyal.
This is one of the things I love most about blogging: you guys, my readers. I love how I have a community of regular commentors that have some awesome discussions. I love knowing that when I post a review I’m pretty likely to get at least one comment and, failing that, will get several ‘likes’ from people. That shows that people don’t only read my rants or articles, they read the day-to-day stuff like reviews and that means a lot to me. I like ranting and researching for an article on occasion but reading books and writing reviews takes the most time. Seeing that people read them is validating.