Random Thoughts: Originality

Book bloggers often talk about how important it is to be original. To have a blog with original content, original ideas, an original design, a unique voice. But it’s often easier said than done.

With thousands upon thousands of book blogs in the blogosphere it’s hard to be a standout from the crowd. It’s hard to be unique when you’re discussing the same thing as everyone else – books. It’s hard not to follow the trend when everyone’s talking about the hottest genres, the sexiest covers, the best “team,” the latest drama, the newest releases.

It’s a challenge to try and say the same thing as everyone else in a different way when you may feel the exact same way they do. It’s difficult to follow your own path when the path that everyone else seems to be on is one that works. And it’s even harder still not to jump on the latest bandwagon when everyone seems to be having fun doing just that.

And yet the consensus seems to be that “original” is the way to go. The way to achieve success. The way to be recognized.

But the ways in which book bloggers can be original is finite. Readers have expectations that need to be met in order for them to be repeat visitors. They expect to see posts that relate to the subject they are interested in. They expect consistency in the blogger’s voice, the blog’s content, the blog’s features, the blog’s layout. They expect to see some combination of reviews, author and blogger guest posts and interviews, giveaways, discussion posts, and promotional posts such as cover reveals, blog tours, trailer reveals, new release posts, spotlight posts and teasers.

With all those “requirements,” finding a way to be original becomes even more of a challenge. Even if one chooses to define originality as “the ability to think independently and creatively” versus “the quality of being novel and unusual.” (Source: Google)

While every blogger has their very own thoughts and ideas and voice, not every blogger has the same level of creativity. Some bloggers can simply pick new ideas from the aether and run with them, to great success. Others wrack their brains, put their thinking caps on and struggle to come up with something and still not achieve that level of success.

And while independent thought is a great thing to have, it’s not always the case that those thoughts are unique, relevant to the blog’s readership, interesting. Further, being an independent thinker doesn’t always lend itself well to being a part of a community. And the book blogosphere is very much a community.

Of course if one chooses to define “originality” according to the second definition, being original is either nearly impossible or undesirable. While one wants to be “novel” it’s less likely that they want to be “unusual,” which is synonymous with odd, abnormal and weird.

And even if they strive to be an original, to have a wholly unique idea, it’s not likely they’ll be the first. The first to tease a book’s passages. The first to spotlight an author. The first to give advice. The first to offer an opinion. Whether in the book blogosphere or outside of it, chances are the type of post has already been done.

So why even bother? If, as some say, “originality is overrated,” why bother trying? If it’s already a “been there, done that” situation, why not just follow the crowd? And if different isn’t always better then what’s the sense?

Because when all is said and done, most people want to be noticed. They want their voice to be heard. They want to be thought of as unique. They want to set the trend. They want to be special. They don’t want to be just a number. They don’t want to get lost in the crowd. They want to be the leader and not the follower. They want to be respected, admired, revered.

But is that really possible in an already established and crowded community?

I say yes. Because it’s not the post type or feature that gives a blog an original feel. It’s not the obscurity of the books being reviewed. It’s not the layout or design that makes readers come back time and time again.

It’s the blogger’s voice. It’s what the blogger adds to each post that makes it a little bit different. That makes it unique. That makes it original.

It’s the blogger’s opinion about the subject being discussed. The types of questions the blogger asks in their interviews. The views the blogger has about the book being reviewed. The little something extra they add to those “unique” features they have or memes they participate in.

While those bloggers may review the same books, spotlight the same authors, books, covers, trailers, participate in the same memes or book tours or events, it’s the way they prepare each post, the information they share, the opinions they give that make even those posts that are by their very name meant to be an “imitation” feel like an original.

It’s their voice that makes readers visit them and not someone else. It’s their style. Their finesse. It’s what they bring to each and every post that makes people notice them. Draws them in. Makes them want to return. Makes them original.

It’s what makes me visit the blogs that I do. What about you?


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