Coping with Bookstagram Frustration

Coping with Bookstagram Frustration

I’m writing this post at a time when my frustration is fresh. In fact, I’m frustrated right now. My engagement over the last two weeks on bookstagram has been incredibly low compared to what it normally is. I’ve tried posting popular books, unpopular books, staged photos, casual photos, indoor photos, outdoor photos… and nothing has performed in my favor. My follower growth has also all but become stagnant and, admittedly, sometimes I really let it get to me.

When times like these come around, and they do fairly frequently, it’s really hard for me to not take it personally. I’ve gotten better at it in my 2 years on bookstagram, but it’s still incredibly easy to fall into that mind vortex of thinking you’ve lost your touch or people no longer care what you post or have to say.

I wanted to write this post for those of you who also struggle with this frustration and as a reminder to myself now and in the future. I am hopeful that this post will help more than just me when the bookstagram frustration sets in. So, here are a few reminders and lessons learned that I hope we can all use as a source of comfort:

This too shall pass.

The truth is that this time of poor engagement will pass. There have been endless cycles of poor engagement to stellar engagement for me. It’s the bookstagram “circle of life.” We can’t pressure ourselves to fight against it because it’s out of our control. Hang tight, the circle is on the upswing, love.

Bookstagram is for fun. Nobody else is judging you.

One thing I’ve been trying to come to terms with is that there is no one out there keeping an eye on how many likes or comments your posts get except you. Nobody is judging you for that post that is totally bombing. It’s frustrating for us, but we’ve all had bad days on bookstagram. We don’t judge you!

Posting what makes you happy is more important than likes.

Me posting a book that made me smile or even just posting book photos that feature my dogs, places I’ve traveled, and yummy food I am eating is fun for me and makes me smile when I look back on the photos after posting. Curating a space that fills me with joy is more important to me than the less than ONE second it takes someone to double click on my photo to pop up that heart icon and add another tic mark to the  number below my photo. This is really hard for me to remember. You want people to care about what you’re posting and find what you are doing entertaining enough to engage and keep following. But imagine that, in 30+ years from now, one of your loved ones (or even your older self) finds your account. What would your account say about you? Is it filled with what you love and does it stay true to who you are? Does it contain memories of the reality of things that were going on in your life? Being able to get a clear picture of YOU during this time in your life is going to mean more than how many likes your posts got.

Book popularity falters and what’s popular changes faster than light.

Trying to keep up with the newest releases and posting the latest books people are talking about is impossible. Like with most things in life, things move fast, especially trends and what’s hot on social media. Staying true to your reading taste and what you want to read is so much easier. Not to mention, it will make you feel more genuine and connecting with your followers and friends will be easier and more natural because they will know exactly who you are!

Being genuine and kind is more important than being popular.

I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Life is more meaningful in the land of kindness!

I know a lot of this stuff is kind of easier said than done. Like I said, this is supposed to act as a reminder to you AND to me. But maybe, as we spend more time on this platform, we will get better and better at remembering them, allowing them to become a natural habit and state of mind. We got this!

Do you get frustrated every once in awhile when it comes to social media/bookstagram? What helps you feel more positive? Let me know and I will add it to the list! 🙂

Oh! And don’t forget to follow me on @worldswithinpages on Instagram! 🙂

The Major Do’s and Don’ts of Bookstagram

The Major Do’s and Don’ts of Bookstagram

We’ve all been there, right? Someone on bookstagram does or says something that makes you roll your eyes to the back of your head and say “How did they not know that doing this was a faux pas?! So rude! Ugh!” If I had a dollar for every single time I got that overwhelming feeling, I would have many dollars.

In the grand scheme of things, there are worse things going on in the world than people doing or saying relatively harmless things on bookstagram. Truly, it’s just an app that features “fake” realities. However, because I spend so much time on bookstagram, as a lot of us do, I feel like we owe it to one another to be honest about the things we are saying behind closed doors about things within the community that just aren’t working and that drive us BONKERS (and in some cases, drive us to quit the app all together).

With that in mind, I wanted to put together a list of a few Do’s and Don’ts that I personally adhere to and I would hope that others would adhere to as well so that we can all live in bookish harmony and happiness. As a disclaimer, doing or not doing any of these things doesn’t make you a bad person, these are all just topics we can use to start a discussion about how we interact with one another on the bookstagram platform.

Let’s start with the Do’s!

Do…

  • Treat people on the platform how you would treat a stranger standing in front of you. Would you ask intrusive, overly personal questions to someone you just happened to run into on the sidewalk? Hopefully not. Even though we internet folks share a lot of our lives with you, that doesn’t mean that you have unlimited access to poke and prod at us like science experiments. Basically, don’t make this weird by asking really personal questions to people you don’t know and who do not know you!
  • Make time to support other creators. It’s hard to look away from your own content sometimes to take a step back, scroll through your feed/stories, and interact with others. But supporting other people by commenting, liking, and replying to stories in a genuine way is what makes an online community a COMMUNITY. Sure, you answer comments on your own posts and reply to DM’s, but that isn’t the same as giving other people “snaps” for the hard work they are putting into their content.
  • Read what brings you joy. It can be easy to fall into the hurricane of wanting to read what everyone else is reading and posting about. But for me, personally, I find more joy in reading whatever I want based on my own personal moods and interests. It also shows in my content when I feel passionate about a book/genre and when I don’t. People can tell when you’re not being genuine about a book and that usually hurts you more than not reading the hottest and latest titles. Trust me!
  • Follow people whose feeds and lives don’t look like yours. There is more strength in the community you build if it is dedicated to being a diverse platform of incredible people who can learn from and support one another versus a totally monotone grouping of people.
  • Tag authors and publishers in reviews of books you loved! It seems like an easy and no-brainer thing to do, but I can’t tell you how many times an author has thanked me for a positive review on my feed. It means more to them than you know!
  • Feel free to reach out to people, regardless of following size, and tell them you appreciate their work/love their feed, want to talk about a book they read that you also loved, or to share something with them that made you think of them. A lot of people feel intimidated by people with large followings, but they are just people who love talking about books, just like you. Starting conversations can be awkward, but the friendships you form because of the awkwardness are so worth it!

And now, for a list of the Don’ts… buckle up people, it’s a long one!

Don’t…

  • Message someone asking them something you are physically capable of finding the answer for on Google/Goodreads/etc. I know that it’s super easy just to ask someone for an answer to something. It’s less work for you to do so, I assume. But there is so much information out there already available to you for free. If you’re already great friends with the person you’re asking OR if you are truly incapable of Googling it yourself, I totally understand. However, for those of us privileged enough to be able to do our own research, stretch those Google muscles and do it up!
  • A few examples of these types of questions (which I have received multiples times each) are:
    • “Hey, is that book a part of a series?”
  • Message someone with spoilers for a book they haven’t even started yet OR tell them “oh my gosh I hated that book/it was so bad/it’s garbage.” People get really excited about the books they want to read and/or just bought and it can be really disheartening to have someone barge in and say negative things about it before you even have the chance to form your own opinion. Once they have read it, sure, feel free to discuss if the person you are messaging is willing. But don’t be mean and make someone feel disappointed about something they were excited for.
  • Ask for shout outs. Oh my goodness, just please don’t do it. It’s never going to go over well and you will look greedy and like a follower leech. Just. Don’t. Do it.
  • Ask someone to send you free books (even if you offer to pay for shipping). Again, treat people on the internet like strangers. Would you ask a stranger on a bus to give you something of theirs they had in their hands for free? Probably (hopefully) not! Again, if you have a good relationship with that person, they may be more open to it and probably won’t take it poorly, but be respectful of the fact that people may not be willing to give their book away (and that is okay).
  • Steal other people’s photos or photo ideas without their consent. It’s hard to take TRULY original photos of books (I mean, how many books and coffee mug pictures are out there?! I have at least 57 on my own feed lol). But, it’s not okay to totally ripoff someone’s work without prior permission OR without recreating it to be totally your own and tagging them to let them know they inspired you. Just be kind and respectful!
  • Get discouraged on bad engagement days. They’re tough. They make you question yourself and your platform’s worth like no other. But those days will come and go in a cyclical fashion and no matter what, you can’t always win. There’s no way to guarantee that every post you make is going to absolutely kill it. We are not Beyonce, we are going to have bad days on instagram and they will pass. And then they will come back… and then they will pass… and then they will come back… and then they…

 

All of these Do’s and Don’ts are, of course, my opinions, but I think that I speak for a lot of us on most of these. This platform is “what we make it, so let’s make it rock!” – Hannah Montana.

What are some of your Do’s and Don’ts? Do you have any you agree with or disagree with me about? Let me know!

In the meantime, feel free to follow me on instagram @worldswithinpages… but make sure you ACT RIGHT, OKAY??? NO NONSENSE!!!!! 😉

How To Write a (Positive) Negative Book Review

How To Write a (Positive) Negative Book Review

I think it goes without saying that most people don’t like being negative (unless they are just angry, cranky, not-hugged-enough-as-children people). This can make it extremely hard when you have to review a book, but you just really deeply disliked it. So the question is, how can you write a review for a book you really disliked without coming across as an angry, crank, not-hugged-enough-as-a-child person? I asked myself this same question yesterday night as I panicked over how I could pull it off tactfully. Because I am so incredibly lucky, I am surrounded by amazing book bloggers like @kathareads (Katharine), @booknerdnative (Hannah), @literberry (Mallory), @katyslibrary (Katy), and @ouija.doodle.reads (Audra) (GO FOLLOW THEM ON INSTAGRAM!!!!). I reached out to all of them and asked for advice on what I should do. Through their infinite wisdom, I was able to create a positive negative review that I was proud of. Thank you ladies!

Now it is my turn to pass some of that wisdom from my bookish pals on to you with a few bits of what I learned on my own along the way. Keep in mind that this is just how I approached the review and that this does not have to be the way you approach it. And as always, please remember that it is totally okay if you do not like a book for any reason at all. Books are art (subject to interpretation) and no two people ever read a book and come apart with the same exact thoughts and opinions about it. Don’t guilt yourself about it!
Here are the five steps I recommend for writing a (positive) negative review:

Step One (and quite honestly one of the most important steps):

Take a step back, take a deep breath, and really take some time to acknowledge and respect that what you are about to critique is a piece of work that someone put their heart and soul into. No matter how sloppy the plot, no matter how shallow the characters, an author put years of work into that book along with their best effort and that alone deserves respect. The time it took them to make their book happen versus the time it takes you to read it are entirely disproportionate. Once you are in that frame on mind, you are ready to write your review.

Step Two:

Do not use abusive language in your review. I have seen one too many reviews where people have just torn an author and a book to shreds over a character not doing what they would have liked them to do or killing off a character that was their favorite (I can’t even imagine what George R.R. Martin must put up with, come to think of it…). There are tactful ways of expressing exactly why you disliked a novel without making it personal. Was it that the plot was hard to follow? Were the characters unlikable? Did you feel that it was total bogus that Dumbledore died because he was supposed to be the symbol of good (I would say “spoiler alert”, but that movie came out in 2009 and the book in 2005, so you have had plenty of time and I don’t want to hear your whining)? Express that. Don’t just say “oh this book is terrible and the author is terrible and everything is horrible and boooo!!” If you can’t express your distaste tactfully, don’t do it because otherwise you’re just not being very nice!
Step Three:

Be ready to provide examples from the text as to why you did not like the book. What I have learned from posting negative reviews is that people ask more questions about why you DIDN’T like a book than they do if you say you DID like it. Be ready for that! It’s not only important so that you remain credible as a reviewer, but people appreciate in-depth analyses so they can decide whether or not they should read the book or never pick it up at all. You could also try and find a reviewer who had a similar opinion of a book as you and ask them for their input if you need help backing your opinion up with examples they found in the book as well.
Step Four:

If you did not finish a book (DNF), be sure to mention that in your review. It’s important to let people know that, while you didn’t like it so you put it down, that you can only speak for the portion of the book that you personally read. You can’t give a full review of a book that you didn’t finish. It may also give people a reason to pick up the book after all in hopes that there is a redeeming scene or action toward the end that you may have missed otherwise.

Step Five:

Because I have seen this request from numerous authors, I am going to pass this information on to you. If you are going to get down and dirty and drag someone’s work through the mud, please refrain from tagging them in it on social media. This step seems pretty “no duh” but I have seen it happen enough times (on Twitter especially) and it hurts my heart for the author every single time. Just don’t do it. If you have any further questions as to why this is wrong, please refer to Step One above. Now, if you are going to be tactful, provide extremely constructive criticism, correct a mistake they made in a book (i.e. misrepresentation of a person/place/thing/community) and you truly feel that bringing the topic to their attention is important, PLEASE do that. Offer them the chance to learn from a mistake they have made. For example, I once witnessed a reader tell an author that the way he portrayed a gay character in his book was offensive and prejudiced to the gay community. He explained why it was hurtful, tagged the author on Goodreads, and asked that the author try to do better with representation in the future. If you have an issue like this that should be brought up with an author, please do that. I highly encourage it. But please know the difference between this and “Hey, you really suck and I hate you. Here is a death threat.” because it seems like some people don’t and I have seen it numerous times. Yikes.

I hope that these steps and pieces of advice help you if and when you decide to post a review that is not that stellar. Let me know if you would do anything differently or if you have any other pieces of advice for reviewers.

Thanks for reading!

-Alisa