When I started my blog two some odd years ago, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a blogosphere. I didn’t know there were things such as book blogs. I didn’t know there was a community to be a part of.
There was just me. My books. The thoughts in my head. And a platform on which to pour them out.
Every day – sometimes more than once a day – I’d rush to write down my ideas about the books I’d read, share my opinions about books coming soon and share my thoughts about things that loosely related to books. I didn’t really have an audience for any of these writings. I didn’t know there was a targeted audience to be found. I didn’t know there were people just like me who’d been doing this a lot longer and a lot better than I was.
All that knowledge came later. Not much later. But later nonetheless.
But I also didn’t know I had to approach my blogging like I would a battlefield. I didn’t know I had to come prepared for war. And maybe I didn’t. Not then anyway. But maybe I should have.
For some, it seems, blogging is a competition. A competition to see who can be the most popular, who can get the most attention from the publishers and authors, who can get the most friends, the most comments, the most pageviews.
For some blogging is more akin to a business. One in which to make a name for oneself. One in which to derive income. One in which to branch out ones skills into other, but related, areas.
And for some it’s a platform. To speak their voice the loudest. To be heard by the most. To be recognized, touted, revered.
While these may not be the majority of the bloggers in the book blogosphere, they tend to be the most visible because they’re looking for popularity, attention, compensation. And as there are so few spots at the top, whether or not they want to battle, they often have to. But that’s a choice they make. That’s an achievement they’re prepared to fight for. That’s a position they want to hold.
For some, these bloggers are representative of the ultimate goal. They are the icons, the pillars, the role models. Their behaviors and actions are closely watched and modeled after. If they approach blogging like it’s a competition, so will those who want to be like them. If they approach it, instead, with a gameplan or marketing strategy, so too will those who seek to find the same successes.
For others they represent an impossible to achieve status, yet one they strive for regardless. While these bloggers may not follow in their footsteps so closely, they do look to them to see how they too might succeed. They do look to them for guidance, for wisdom. And if they perceive competitiveness as the only way to achieve that status, they may adopt a similar approach.
And yet for others they are symbolic of all the things they dislike in the “real world” – elitism, popularity, unfair treatment, perceived arrogance – which sparks feelings of inferiority, jealousy, envy, hate. These bloggers may wait quietly in the wings for those at the top to fail, to fall, to disappear. Jumping on the “hate” bandwagon only after their decline. Or they may take action, looking for the cracks in their armor, trying to find a way to remove them from the spotlight they don’t feel these vaunted bloggers deserve to be in.
All of which serves to create an “interesting” dynamic in a community that is rather large but often feels rather small. Between those striving for number one and those envious of those at the top – the “chosen few” – a less than harmonic environment is created. And those caught in the crossfire are the bloggers who don’t wish to aim quite so high or don’t harbor feelings of ill will toward those who succeed.
These bloggers, who are perfectly content being somewhere in the middle, simply sharing their thoughts and ideas, being happy with the following they have, enjoying the praise and books they do receive, are the ones that often get dragged into the fight unwittingly.
And sadly they’re the ones who often become too battle weary to continue.
They’re the ones who are left scratching their heads wondering how the landscape became that of a battleground where they are forced to choose sides, forced to become sentinels for their original ideas, their posts, their voice. They’re the ones left wondering if it’s really worth it when their aim was never to battle for the top spot or to join the revolution against those who hold those positions.
And this “silent majority,” who are the staples in this community, are often overshadowed by the dramas that give the book blogging community a bad name. They’re the hard workers who do this day in and day out without recompense, without glory, without drama. They are the bloggers who put in the enormous amount of time and effort simply to share their voice with anyone who’ll listen. They are doing this simply for the love of books and authors and community. Nothing more.
They’re the ones who are ill prepared, ill equipped or unwilling to fight. And yet they often have to. To protect their ideas. To protect their content. To protect their integrity.
They’re the ones whose reviews most often get “lifted,” as the thieves think no one will notice. They’re the ones who feel kowtowed into silence when a wrong has been committed as they don’t feel anyone will believe them or that they won’t have help in their fight for what is right. They’re the ones who suffer when their reviews are attacked for being too positive/negative/fan-girly/critical.
And they’re the ones who have to decide, if they believe that blogging is a battleground, whether it’s all worth it.
When you put yourself out there and share your ideas in an open environment, there is always a risk. A risk of them going unnoticed. A risk of them being disliked. A risk of them being copied or stolen.
When joining a community there are also risks. Risks of not being accepted or liked, of being unnoticed, of getting drawn into situations you otherwise might not want to be a part of.
But there are also rewards. Of having your thoughts read. Of connecting with those who have similar thoughts and ideas. Of learning new things. Of meeting new people. Of finding new friends.
So, if having to be prepared to fight for your ideas, your friends, your place in the community is a part of being in this community, the question ultimately is whether you perceive the effort to do so worth the “reward” you receive.
And for me? Today I say yes.