Before I officially joined the book blogging community, I was a 16-year-old Mexican reader who had no idea that there was such a thing as book blogging or book reviewing. I didn’t know that book reviews were more than two lines worth of praise usually found on book-selling websites or the cover of a novel, least of all that there were people who actually dedicated their free time (and money!) to review and promote books. Heck, I didn’t even know that young adult literature existed, except for Harry Potter and classics such as Romeo & Juliet and Don Quixote. My bookish world back then was terribly small, and it wasn’t until my parents gifted me an iPod touch and I downloaded an app called Kobo that I found out the bookish world was not so small after all.
I started downloading as many free books as I could, devouring one after the other. I discovered “indie” books and I loved them. I loved them so much that I researched more about them, which led me to Goodreads and author Facebook pages. It was then that I came across with the term “book blogger.” Authors and publishers(indies too) would thank book bloggers for a good review of one of their books and they would link back to their book blogs.
I can’t remember which book blog was the first I ever visited, but I do remember that it was one Harlequin Teen linked to, and I remember that I fell in love with the idea. I fell in love with the possibility of learning more about books and being part of a community that shared the same love and appreciation for the written word.
However, I didn’t become a book reviewer or blogger right away. I was happy to be a reader, and to be honest, it was extremely daunting for me to open up my own book blog. For starters, I didn’t know HOW to start my own blog. Looking back, it wasn’t such a difficult thing to do because to set up a book blog, you only needed three things:
– A blog hosted in Blogger, WordPress or Tumblr with a catchy name and design
– A Facebook page
– And lots of books to review
And to get readers for your blog, like now, you had to socialize by visiting blogs and commenting (leaving a link back to your blog) and hanging around Goodreads or Facebook pages. Twitter was also a great option.
But the thing that was really holding me back from opening my own blog was that fact that I was an international reader. The idea of trying to give an opinion about a book (and other things) when it is not in your original language and/or from your own country was terrifying. You feel that you are stepping foot into something that doesn’t belong to you (even though that’s a silly thought). I was terribly afraid of making a mistake. Of embarrassing myself when writing book reviews. Of not finding my voice in a foreign written word despite my knowledge of the language.
It was a bit challenging to be an international blogger back then, to find your footing, but the amazing thing about the online community now is that lines and territories have blurred and we all have become one entity. Sure, it is still hard to attend bookish events if you are on the other side of the world or even to get physical ARCs, but it’s not something that stops a reader from become a book blogger. It didn’t stop me.
There are many resources like Netgalley or Edelweiss where publishers and authors offer digital review copies in exchange for an honest opinion. Book selling sites like Book Depository and Wordery where international shipping is free. And of course, many excellent indie authors looking for book bloggers to review their books and even book bloggers willing to offer blogging/reviewing advice.
To be an international book blogger, or just book blogger (because it’s a matter of perspective), you only need two things: Love for books and the need to share your thoughts about them to the world.
Everything else will follow suit.