Something I've wanted to blog about for a long time now is "relevance." What a loaded word that is nowadays. I hear the question asked time and again:
Are bloggers relevant? Has blogging lost its soul? Why is the number of bloggers shrinking (though I daresay this is NOT the case for book blogging)?
A simple Google search will turn up more articles than you can shake a stick at, but the gist is this:
Some people believe that with the rise of microblogging and varied social media platforms, namely Tumblr and Twitter, that blogging is no longer necessary or desirable to readers who want a quick snapshot of information.
I call BS. Twitter is a great place for a teaser, and it's a great place to exchange ideas and engage in conversation about a topic, but a landing space with more information is necessary. So, yeah, I dispensed with that part pretty quickly. Ha! Slaying the dragons, here.
But the inevitable next question is:
Are book bloggers relevant?
To which my response is always...to who (whom? whatevs)? This question is sooo multifaceted, so let's look at some varied scenarios where book bloggers might be relevant.
Relevance to the publishers and publicists:Book bloggers are relevant to the publishing industry because we are zealous sharers of information. We help publishers advertise. If we weren't relevant, there would be no ARCs flowing through the place. Believe that. If we want to stay relevant and respected, we also need to stay on top of issues like this one.
Relevance to the publishing industry and the decisions they make:Maybe. We can surely stir up a brouhaha of conversation about diversity and other timely topics. Only time will tell if our outpouring of opinions has a tangible effect on what gets published.
Relevance to authors:YES! Bloggers serve a similar function to authors as publishers and publicists. We're helping spread the word about their books! Many of them are also hella cool, nice people. We forge friendships. We're their fans!
Relevance to critics:Probably not. In general, they're too busy looking down their noses at bloggers and other mortals.
Relevance to advertisers outside of straightforward publishing:Hell yes. If we're doing their work, writing their sponsored posts, and sharing their paid content.
Relevance to other book bloggers:
I should damn well hope so. However, this is where our glorious similarities and differences come into play. I read mostly backlist books because reading ARCs feels like homework to me. I don't go above and beyond to foster relationships with publishers because I rarely read ARCs. The exception is for the Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. I occasionally reach out to authors to gush about their books or engage in conversation.
So am I irrelevant because I don't make a concerted effort to review the latest and greatest? That's not really the right question. The question is still WHO am I relevant to?
- I am MOST RELEVANT to other bloggers.
- I am MOST RELEVANT to bloggers who don't mind reading backlist, who enjoy literary and contemporary fiction, travel and foodie writing, memoirs, and graphic novels.
- I am MOST RELEVANT to bloggers who enjoy occasionally exchanging experiences beyond books including food, weight loss, decor, and other personal topics.
- I am MOST RELEVANT to bloggers who occasionally want an advice from an old-timer (9 years!).
- I am MOST RELEVANT to bloggers who value relationships and community since I like to "be friends" with the people who read here, and I like to foster community events and involvement.
Relevance is entirely a question of degrees and multiplicity. So maybe the question we should be asking is not "am I relevant?" Maybe we should be more focused on WHO we want to be relevant to! THAT is the question that shapes our individual blogs and blogging experiences and can ultimately bring us to a state of contentment with our blogs or drive us stark raving mad.
Be happy with your blog and your blogging practice. It all starts with you and what you want!