I’ve been postponing this discussion post for a very long time, but today seemed the right time to post it (think : I finally dared to). At this point, I have no idea what you guys think about that, and perhaps I’m yelling in a void…. Anyway, I needed to let it out.
So, likes. I’m going to be honest here : I don’t know any blogger or Goodreads reviewer who :
1) doesn’t feel the need to say that they’re not important, thank you very much
and at the same time
2) truly doesn’t care about them
(that’s usually when you chime in and tell me you really don’t care. Go ahead. Good for you)
And that’s okay! We are humans, we put time into our posts and reviews. Likes are a validation, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to care about them in my opinion.
However, things get messed-up when the hunt for likes takes the precedence over what reviewing should be about, reading and recommending books. Until the whole experience blows up in our face, making us stop blogging altogether, as it did for me.
What? I can’t be the only one who :
– checked the ranking lists every Wednesday on Goodreads ;
– made a little dance when I first entered the global list of best reviewers ;
– anxiously followed my journey to the top 10 ;
… Until without even realizing it, I ended up caring more about the number of likes I got than the pleasure of reading, influencing then my reading choices.
The thing is, likes are addicting. Many bloggers won’t admit it, but when we reach an average of 30/50/100 (whatever!) likes per review, we tend to expect them – and when they don’t come? We doubt ourselves. What was different in my review? What did I mess-up? Is this book not popular enough to get attention? WHAT DID I MESS-UP, DAMN IT?
In my experience, likes on Goodreads depend on several parameters, in that order :
1) The popularity of the book, especially in YA ;
2) The popularity of the reviewer ;
3) The level of activity of the reviewer : do you like other people’s reviews? How many time are you spending on Goodreads, reading and liking your friends’ reviews?
4) The number of times you post your review – in my opinion 2 or 3 times are okay, do it more without adding anything and I’ll side-eye you ;
5) The review itself.
Literally no one will talk about it, but yes, that’s a thing, and honestly? This pattern contributes to over-hyping bland but popular novels over diverse ones, in my opinion. And that sucks.
Last year, I lost my voice. Of course likes weren’t the sole reason for it : as I said in my 2016 review on Goodreads, trolls and politics got to me as well. Because that’s something that few people realize : when you start getting more and more likes – hence more exposure, the number of trolls you’ll get is exponential. Your notifications fill up with adorable comments like you suck, you are such a cunt, this is a terrible review, you didn’t get it, congrats for ruining my childhood, asshole (true story – I got this on a children novel I reviewed for my class), who the fuck do you think you are, go fuck yourself and so on. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, publishers couldn’t care less about your Goodreads ranking. They literally do not care. Only blog views count, alright?
To this day, I’m still ridiculously proud of the reviews I posted on Goodreads in 2015, and nobody will take that feeling from me – they were original, they were mine. But when I started feeling like reviewing was beginning to become a chore, another work for me to do, when I couldn’t catch up with the 4+ reviews a week I made myself writing…. I put the brakes on.
I stopped caring about rankings, likes, and what book should I read to interest people?
I started caring about myself again, what I wanted to say, what I wanted to read, what I did not want to read, and the hell with everything else.
I still have to catch myself sometimes, but all in all, I’m happy. I’m immensely happy that I could be passionate about reading again, and in the end, that’s what I wanted to say today.