I feel, sometimes, like I’m perhaps the missing link between the lit blogs of yore and the book blogs of now. (Not that the former have died out, but rather that book blogs have been making a splash.) Let me explain.
Lit blogs, as they coined themselves, mainly started years ago and were birthed out of a journalistic tradition. They don’t write personal, revealing posts but rather focus on maintaining a certain level of professionalism.
Book blogs are a more recent incarnation. Some book bloggers flaunt their amateur status and enjoy not having to fit any pre-conceived mold for what they do and how they present themselves.
[Many words have been used to attempt to differentiate between the two. First wave, second wave. Serious or not. Journalistic or chatty. Journalistic or conversation-driven. Professional vs. amateur. If you don’t know yet what I’m talking about, read the blog posts linked at the bottom of this post.]
• I started my blog 2+ years ago. That’s certainly not a long enough track record for me to fit into the first wave of online book reviewing (aka lit blogs). It’s certainly on the front end of book blogs, though.
• I came out of a journalistic tradition. I have a journalism degree, and I’ve held various newspaper jobs, including writer and editor.
• I don’t (and never have, really) write much about me personally on this blog. My voice tends toward the journalistic. Now, I recognize I’m not writing for a newspaper (and I’m not getting paid, either), so I’ve made some efforts to inject some of the new media voice into my writing, since I’m not writing for an old media.
• As much as journalism is a part of me and my blog, I never wrote reviews for a newspaper (or any traditional media outlet).
• I really enjoy the community aspect of book blogging, something lit bloggers don’t participate in at all (to my knowledge).
• I enjoy reading genre books (mysteries, particularly), something I’ve rarely seen mentioned with anything but disdain in the lit blogs I follow (and I follow more than a few, in addition to tons of book blogs).
• I love conversing about books. There’s no way I’ll ever (past or future) have the comments turned off here. I don’t think conversation, give and take, is contrary to a journalistic style, though. In my experience with journalism, there’s always been a way for readers to respond to content. Letters to the editor is one of the most-read sections of every newspaper (after obituaries), if I remember my stats correctly. Any newspaper with a website worth anything allows comments on its individual articles.
• I find it odd that one way of determining whether a site fits into the first or second wave is by word count of reviews. It’s strange to me that those of the journalistic side are insisting that a review is not a review if it’s not long; journalism is at least in part about boiling things down! Extracting the essence! My own reviews are not long (500 or 1,000 words plus), but I don’t want them to be; I don’t read reviews that long because they’re too long. (And if it’s that long, they’re likely to reveal too much of the story, something I’ve promised to never do!)
With all the recent controversy and hurt feelings between the two groups, I feel somewhat torn. In some ways, neither label fits me. In others, I could wear both. Is there a way for me to bridge this gap? How do you see me?
Notes on a distinction/controversy:
• The Book Publicity Blog: Book bloggers — the old and new “waves” and what you need to know about both
• My Friend Amy: This Social Media Thing
• GalleySmith: Who’s Your Target