Today is my ten year blogaversary. That’s right! Ten years of book blogging!
As it’s a special occasion, I thought that today would be the perfect day to launch my new project. But first, let’s rewind a little, as I want to talk about the last ten years.
It’s been amazing.
I’ve received tonnes of books to review and gone to amazing events at publishers’ offices, cocktail bars, and stately homes. I’ve met so many famous authors now that I’ve started to forget how cool it is that I’ve met famous authors and get a bit flustered and awkward when non-blogger/booktuber friends find out:
‘OH MY GOD, So-and-so follows you on Twitter?’
‘Errr…yeah, I mean, it would be a bit weird if they didn’t, we see each other all the time…’
‘Wait, you ACTUALLY KNOW THEM?’
‘Yeah, I guess…’ *decides not to mention that we’ve drunk together several times, in case friend explodes*
But the best parts are not the free stuff or the meeting authors or even the open bars.
I’ve found a community.
When I started blogging, I didn’t know anyone who read anywhere near as much as I did, who loved books with the same passion. My family weren’t big readers, and at uni, most people did the required reading and little else.
When I discovered the internet and the UKYA book blogging community, my life was forever changed. Over the last ten years I’ve met so many amazing book enthusiasts that now I find myself feeling spoilt for bookworm friends. Outside publishers’ events, I get to meet other book bloggers and booktubers, as well as publishers, at the #drinkYA/#picnicYA events I run with Jim and the #bookclubYA events I run with Chloe. Then of course there are the big events, like YALC, where I get to catch up with all my long-time book blogger friends from outside London.
Being in this community is so inspiring and exciting, but I know that newcomers can find it intimidating and overwhelming, which brings me almost all the way back to my project. But first…
Being part of this community has led me to discover many wonderful books that I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. Over the last decade, books have received less and less coverage in mainstream media, bookshops have closed, and libraries have had their funding slashed, so the internet has become ever more important.
There have been a lot of discussions on Twitter about what we can do to get more people reading. Publishers have tried different initiatives, and shops have worked with celebrities to promote certain titles. Authors beg readers to review their books on Amazon and Waterstones and as many other sites as they can manage.
The focus is largely on individual titles. It makes sense, of course – publishers and authors want to increase sales of their new and backlist titles. Shops have only so much space on their shelves.
But few of these promotional activities do much to get new people reading. They’re fighting over the same shrinking audience, trying to sell books to people whose tastes they already know. They can’t reach out to individual people and make personalised recommendations and suggestions to help them find books they love.
We expect readers to know their own tastes, to have found their favourite genre. We expect them to be able to do their own research and find reviews and recommendations. But what if they can’t, because no-one’s ever shown them how? What if they have absolutely no idea about the communities they could get involved with?
The internet is an amazing tool for finding recommendations and discovering books, but researching is a skill, and someone needs to teach it.
The more I thought about this, the more I became convinced that I should give it a go. And so, today, on my ten-year blogaversary, I present my gift back to the book community, Ignite Your Passion for Reading: Fall in Love with Books.
It’s a online course with just over a half-hour of video content, in which I cover the absolute basics of finding book recommendations and getting involved in the online and offline book communities. I talk students through releasing their hangups over books they think they ‘should’ be reading, and tell them about all the amazing resources that are out there for them to explore.
And it really is a gift. It’s free.
Of course, I don’t think I’m going to single-handedly save publishing, far from it. But if I can get a few more people to discover, or rediscover, a love of reading, than all the effort I’ve put into this will have been worthwhile. So please share the link with your friends, family and colleagues, and help me see if I can make a difference.
While you’re here:
I’m also launching another course today, Start and Run a Book Club, which does exactly what it says on the tin. I’ve set the price at $15 for the next two weeks, so if you’ve ever wanted to start your own book club, check it out now! You get lifetime access so if you don’t have time to organise a book club right now you can save it for later.
Thank you for reading, and for sharing your love of books with me. Whether you’ve been here from the start, or if we’ve found each other along the way, this community means the world to me, and I don’t know who we’d be without it.