A Brief History of my Journey From Book Reviewer to Aniblogger
I’ve only been an aniblogger for 2 years now, but I’ve been blogging on and off since I was a teenager. When I started university, I became a book review blogger for a few years. It was a very exciting time. I loved being in direct contact with published authors, agents and publishers. I used a different name back then, so you won’t find a trace of my past as a book reviewer under the name Arria Cross. Back then I showed my face on the Internet as a book reviewer because I thought it would be more professional that way. Long story short, it wasn’t the wisest thing to do. I attracted creeps who forced me to delete almost all my online accounts and start anew—PRIVATELY. That’s why I refuse to show my face now to the web without good reason.
Now back to my past as a book reviewer. As much as I loved all the freebies—signed copies, ARCs, free non-obligatory books, invites to events, bookmarks and other cool stuff—I just suddenly felt exhausted. Back then I decided to become a book reviewer because I love books. I still love books; that fact would never change. But when blogging gradually stopped feeling fun and became a “chore”, I made the painful decision to retire from the book blogging world.
This post may sound like I’m ranting—well yeah, it’s a rant—but please understand that I treasure my past experience as a book reviewer. I learned a lot during that time. My brain rewired so that I read faster and more efficiently. While reading a book, I was already mentally writing a review. I read to critique. I created my own format of writing reviews that I followed to a T, and let me tell you it was rigid as hell.
At first, I only reviewed books that I liked; books from my own shelf. Then I gradually made myself open to review requests. Authors, agents, and publishers would e-mail me and send me copies of their books to review. I hosted virtual book tours and facilitated giveaways for the authors. I received a lot of free stuff, and I was also able to make requests that were granted. My name was added to various groups of beta-readers. It was awesome, not to mention profitable.
My Misadventures as a Book Reviewer
But things gradually turned sour. In order to build a reputation as an honest book reviewer, I had to, well, be honest. And of course that didn’t sit well with the authors. They expected me to praise their books like they were the greatest masterpieces ever written in the universe, to sing hallelujah whenever I mentioned their works. So imagine the hostility I received whenever I said a negative thing about their books. Granted, some of them were nice and polite. They would e-mail, requesting me to alter my phrasing and make it less harsher. Sometimes depending on the one asking and especially if I had a longer history with that person, I would heed the request. But please note that I never changed my reviews from negative to positive, I just altered them a bit to be gentler. Other than these exceptions, my reviews were non-negotiable.
It was quite interesting dealing with different kinds of authors as a book reviewer on the web. Some were very nice—too nice, in fact. They would readily agree to whatever I said. They would beg me for critiques, and I had to remind them that I was a book reviewer, not their editor. Some treated me like I was a literary prostitute who they thought they could pay to give them the pleasure of glowing reviews. For the record, I never accepted payment from anyone to write positive reviews. I would rather run around the neighbourhood naked than write a fake review for a book. A girl gotta have some pride for her literary passions, y’know. Many gave me the cold-shoulder after a negative review. Some were openly hostile. I had the feeling that if they could only reach out into their computer monitors, they would already have done so they could strangle me and spit on my face. Fortunately, most were professional, usually when I dealt with the agents or publishers instead of dealing with the authors directly. They understood that book review bloggers are independent entities. We don’t work for them, so they technically have no control or whatsoever to the things we choose to say about their books unless there’s a contract involved.
Blogging ceased to be fun.
I became busier and busier as a book reviewer that I had to start denying requests, but even then I still received free books. My backlog was so long, that I had no time to read books for pleasure. I was constantly stressed out and burned out. I began to question why I started blogging in the first place. Blogging ceased to be fun. I began to resent it. It not only became a source of stress, but it also endangered my safety and privacy, especially since I made the mistake of showing what my face looked like.
I longed for freedom, for a stress-free environment where my creativity was not caged by requests from others who had expectations of me.
However, these were not the main reasons why I finally quit being a book review blogger. I quit because I felt that focusing solely on writing book reviews following a rigid format was severely limiting my creativity. I began to hate it, even when I was the one who constructed that blasted review format. I longed for freedom, for a stress-free environment where my creativity was not caged by requests from others who had expectations of me. So I decided that enough was enough and I just left everything I built as a book reviewer. At first I panicked. I was like, “Oh shoot! What the eff did I just freaking do?!!” But I forced myself to remember the endless stress I endured, and I was able to harden my resolve and not regret quitting as a book review blogger.
The conception of Fujinsei
Even when I quit as a book reviewer, I realized that I still love blogging. But I didn’t want to return to book blogging and I would rather jump hoops of fire than blog about my personal life again (cough cough). I thought long and hard about what I should blog about next. . .and I had a eureka moment. What about anime?! Yes!!! I LOVE anime, next only to reading books and writing. And so I spent a couple of months planning my next blog and writing posts like a madwoman. And yeah baby, that’s how Fujinsei was born.
I want to write for MYSELF first and foremost, and not feel stressed out fulfilling requests by others.
Coming from the stressful, high-pace book reviewing landscape, I decided to forego writing anime reviews. . .or more specifically writing anime reviews following a rigid format. I decided that I want to blog as freely and as creatively as I can. I want to write whatever the heck I want about anime. I want to write for MYSELF first and foremost, and not feel stressed out fulfilling requests by others. As a result, Fujinsei is a hodgepodge of writing styles from lists of recommendations and opinion pieces to humour posts to brief commentaries, even translations and so much more.
No more will I be a slave when it comes to blogging.
Rules? Pffft! I create the rules here, and I’ll bend or break them as I see fit. No more will I be a slave when it comes to blogging. Now I’m the boss of my own blog, or at least I work hard to feel like a boss. I was a former Book Review Blogger. Now I’m an Aniblogger, and I’m loving every second of it.
Having Fun Aniblogging With My Awesome Aniblogging Buddies
Aniblogging is not as profitable compared to being a book reviewer (at least for now), but I realized that I value my sanity and happiness more than I value material perks. I’m happier, saner, more peaceful and more free. I don’t have “colleagues” and “clients”, I now have genuine FRIENDS who freely share my passions with anime and blogging without veiling ulterior motives with superficial praises.
Do I miss book review blogging? You bet! Do I miss the stress associated with it? Hell no! I envy my former book blogger acquaintances who are still going strong. They are definitely tougher than me for surviving this long. I sincerely wish them more power. I will continue to support the literary industry as a reader this time, but not as a book blogger. Now I’m having a blast as an aniblogger. I still have a long way to go, but with the help of my amazing aniblogging buddies, I know that I can develop as a blogger in a healthier way.
I feel that I’m a better blogger now than I was before Fujinsei. I’m not perfect, far from it, but I do my best to become a better blogger than I was the day before. To my amazing subscribers, thank you very much for putting up with my craziness and frequent unannounced breaks, and also for taking pity on me and commenting regularly on my posts. You’re all awesome! And of course special shout-out to my wonderful Friends of Fujinsei, fellow members of the cuckoo Lyndere Club, and the newly formed NinjaPirateers that I’m captaining. My big thanks also to my Fujinsei Team for sharing your talents with my humble blog. Please continue to join me in this insanely fun journey of aniblogging. Once again, thank you very much for all of your support.
Now you know a little bit more about my blogging history. How about you? What’s your blogging history?
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