The Perils of Book Blogging with a Long Term Chronic Illness

Why did I get into book blogging?

Although my book blog is just a little over two years old I have been writing book reviews for almost every book I’ve read since 2012.

My own private bookstagram

I started out writing mini reviews in photo captions of books I was reading on Instagram… this was a private account with no followers so I didn’t even know bookstagram was a thing at the time! It was just a little visual diary for myself that I used to record what I was reading as most of the books I read were from the library and I have appalling memory (it’s a #spoonie thing) so it was a way for me to not accidentally re-borrow a library book!

Becoming a public book reviewer

Then in 2015 I started writing public reviews over on Goodreads because I wanted to rave about books I was really enjoying to someone. I was looking for bookish friends basically.

And that was great. I adored Goodreads in those days; I made a bunch of online friends, I joined a GR book group, and I found my review-writing voice.

As I became a daily user of Goodreads I noticed other reviewers getting ARC (advanced reader copies) of books and I wanted in on the action. Free books? Yes please!

Reading in exchange for a review

So I joined NetGalley in January 2017 and a whole other world of reading was opened up for me… I posted my ARC reviews to goodreads as usual and cross-posted to relevant retail sites as requested. And therefore the next logical step was to create a dedicated book blog. I wanted somewhere that I was in charge of my review space, where I wasn’t confined to a character limit, where I could talk about the books and the authors together …GR doesn’t like it if you talk about the authors even if it’s just to highlight their public stance on a variety of issues. I also wanted to write discussion posts about book related issues that were important to me such as the need for authentic chronic illness and disability representation in books.

And let’s be honest.

I wanted more ARCs. I’m a disabled, chronically ill woman who is unable to work. Free books are a huge windfall for someone like me on a tight budget.

So in summer 2019 A Little Haze Book Blog was born

And in the first year it was great. I found a new place for myself in the book community. I made fabulous friends. My follower count was super high and my stats were off the charts. And I got to talk about tonnes of books, both fantastic and very much not fantastic (I see you Abby Jimenez’ The Friend Zone …). I also got to write a bunch of discussion based posts. I put my heart and soul into this blog.

The realities of being chronically ill and trying to maintain posting content

But my health took a nose dive in late summer 2020. And I’ve been barely keeping my blog afloat since.

My chronic pain levels are at an all time high, I’m more fatigued than I have been for twenty years, and I’ve been dealing with recurring infections that are completely debilitating.

So in the last six to nine months I’ve blog-hopped sporadically at best. I’ve had to take a few months away from blogging during the past winter and even since my return I’ve posted infrequently. And yet all this while I’ve been getting more and more ARCs and review copies…

This year I’ve read just 32 books so far; a low number considering my average for a calendar year is 125. And of those 32 books just 3 have not been gifted review copies. On top of this I also have 28 review copies that still need to be read and reviewed.

And it’s simply become too much. Physically I’m exhausted. Mentally I’m exhausted.

Time for a change

So I’ve decided to make some changes.

  • I want to make a dent in my own bookshelves for a change.
  • I want to return to reading according to my mood rather than according to a publication date.

I will eventually read each of my outstanding ARCs as I was both given and accepted those copies in good faith, but I’m not giving myself a deadline. They will be read according to mood and excitement.

And once I’ve read all of those 28 books I think that’ll be it for me for ARC reviewing. My blog will be a place where I will still review what I read, but it will also return to being a place that will have more discussion posts as I won’t feel like I have to spend all my time reviewing ARCs.

I don’t know if this is what you’d term a case of blogger burnout, but in any case the root cause of my decision to give up my ARC life is because of the limitations my chronic illness places on me.

The future

I don’t know what the future holds. My chronic illness has ebbed and flowed like this before. There was a point in my life where I pretty much read nothing for five whole years as reading was too exhausting for me; I really hope I’m not going to return to those times. (However there is greater access to audiobooks these days so that’s a comfort.)

Perhaps I won’t always be as visible as I’d like. Perhaps my reviews will get shorter. Perhaps I’ll give up reviewing and just write opinion-based discussion posts.

However, in any case I will always keep some version of this blog. I love that I’ve found a place to express myself in this little corner of the bookworld that I’ve carved out for myself.

And I hope that I’ll still get to chat to all of the wonderful friends I’ve made along the way because you all mean a great deal to me. I live a very isolated life due to my chronic illness and therefore getting comments and notifications from people interacting with my posts always brings me such great joy.

I am so thankful for the connections I’ve made with other people because of our shared love for books and reading.

Long may that continue.

My Socials

26 thoughts on “The Perils of Book Blogging with a Long Term Chronic Illness

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry that you’re going through all of this. In the end, you have to do what’s best for you. Your true followers and friends will stay by your side and support you no matter what you do. Remember that. I look forward to what you have in store for us!

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  2. At the end of the day, what matters most is that you have fun blogging, so I completely understand where you’re coming from, Éimhear! I’ve always been very impressed by how many books you manage to write detailled reviews for, so I can imagine that it could get overwhelming, especially if your health has taken a turn for the worse lately. I really hope things look better soon, and am sending you lots of good vibes and strength! ❤ I’m already excited what you have in store for us, and Ioved learning more about how your journey to book blogging began! I know wherever it goes from here, what you write will always be worth reading! And to be honest, I actually prefer reading discussions or reviews for older books to ARC reviews anyway because then there’s a higher chance I might actually have read the book in question and can spam your comments with all my opinions 😁😅

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    1. Ah thank you my dear friend. The review writing comes from practice and that of itself is not draining. It’s the pressure to read to a deadline that I can no longer maintain unfortunately. I’m so so fatigued these days… but hopefully in a few weeks with arcs on the back burner I will regain my footing again.
      And I’m with you, I love reading reviews for older books too. Especially if I’ve read them and I completely disagree lol! So much fun to debate books then 😊😊😊😊💜💖💜💖💜

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  3. Blogger burnout is real. I only felt burnt out reading when I started this blog and wanted to read all the arcs to build up my blog in order to get approved for more arcs. 😏 Picking what you want to read is the way to go, I’ve cut down a lot on requesting arcs and definitely only read what appeals to me. I’m so sorry your pain levels have been so high Emer – hugs to you and I hope things get better!

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  4. I get the whole arc thing. It can be very overwhelming! I have been requesting less because of it and don’t do blog tours very often because I want to focus on the books I own as well. I’m sorry to hear your health is still not doing well. I’m glad you will continue to be here though. ❤

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    1. Thanks Joanna. Sometimes you find yourself going along with the arc juggernaut and it’s just not for me. Not when my energy is so limited. I love books. Really love reviewing books… but there’s a pressure to promote etc when it’s an arc isn’t there. I’d even put a note in my NetGalley bio to say please don’t approve any outstanding requests… guess what. Still got approved lol😂 Because technically my review ratio is still high at 90% I guess 🤷🏼‍♀️ But hopefully allowing myself to step back from arcs will allow me to get back to what I love about the book community which is chatting with friends like you. 💜💜💜💜

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      1. Arcs are a double-edged sword. They are enticing but do take time to promote etc. Haha, Netgalley never makes sense to me. I wish they were decline more than just letting them sit until after their pub date….I have 29 requests and some of those requests were from months ago…That also makes it hard to keep up when you are bombarded by 5 at time. I love the book community and I’m so glad I found you through it! 💕💕

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        1. Yes! Very much a double edged sword. I love getting free books… but sometimes it doesn’t feel like a fair exchange because there’s so much involved in promoting on blog, twitter, cross posting to retail sites etc etc. It can take a good two to three hours for me to write up the review and get all the relevant related work done… and I don’t have the energy to keep up with all that. It’s meant that I’ve not chatted with fellow bloggers because the time I’d allot for blogging and social media during the day goes towards creating posts and promotion! So I’m sorry to the publishers and authors for whom I still have arcs to read but I need to get off this fast moving train and get back to being just bonkers about books in a non pressurised manner 😊💜💜💜

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  5. I always enjoy what you write, you have an amazing writing voice – just so you know!
    I loved reading how you baby stepped your way into the bookish world. It must be tough to have to take a step back from the blog, but you gotta do what’s best for you. I’ll be here to support you as your friend! ❤️😊

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    1. Thank you so much Meghan. That’s such a kind thing to say.
      And I have to say thank you again because you are the one who inspired me and gave me the freedom to decide that book blogging doesn’t always have to be about arcs etc. I can’t remember how long ago it is now but we had a comment conversation on some post somewhere about how you didn’t take review requests… and it stayed in my brain. It’s been brewing for quite a while now. So as I got sicker I kept thinking about how you have this brilliant blog that perfectly expresses who you are through your thoughts on books and other interests… and I was sort of jealous..jealous is the wrong word. I just deeply admired your attitude to reading. I love your read Canada challenge for instance. You’re not adhering to anything that’s currently trending in the book world, you’re just reading for you. And I miss that. That’s how I was the most of my life. And I want to go back and read old books! Or I want to read super popular books that I’d have no chance to get as an arc because I’m small fry… basically I just want to mood read again. So you are pretty much the one who gave me the encouragement I needed to kick the arc habit that has been getting me down…even if you were unaware of your role 😂😂😂💖💖💖💖 and I’m not gonna step back from the blog too much. I reckon I’ll still have a similar sort of post frequency as I do now for a while. It’s just that freedom to say to myself I can read X author next because I want to instead of this arc that’s publishing next week 😊😊😊

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      1. Éimhear!! You’ve made me cry 😭 omg wow, I am at a loss for words – first off thank you, I had no idea! I honestly just like having a place where I can read what I want at the pace at which I want to. I knew that if I caved into the pressure of ARCs it just wouldn’t be fun for me any more; it would get stressful and my anxiety would skyrocket and then I’d come to hate my blog and I didn’t want that.
        I also have an obsession with starting projects haha so that’s how I end up reading books no one has heard of, recently my Canada Reads project that you mentioned, but I’m having fun with it!
        I’m really happy that I could inspire you and I hope to maybe continue to inspire you to read what you want, post what you want because it’s your blog, you shouldn’t feel pressure to (it almost feels like performing) push out these ARCs for other people’s agendas. Read what you want to read and be free!
        ❤️❤️❤️😊

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        1. See you were the wise one. Knowing all these things beforehand… and then there’s greedy free book guzzling me in the corner lmaoooo 😂😂😂😂 It’s nice though. Telling my arcs to suck it…. says she who’s still actually reading arcs 🙃 I have 2 commitments that I feel obliged to keep but after that I’m a free spirit like you my wise and wonderful friend 💜💜💜💜

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          1. Ha! You know, I never thought how I was being wise at the time – I just never saw that for me, requesting arcs. I just wanted a small place to share my thoughts and call it a day. The fact that anyone wants to follow and read those thoughts still amazes me, but it’s been a fun journey and one where I can honestly say that I don’t regret getting on the arc train.
            I’m happy to see that you’re starting to read what you want, (and telling the arcs to suck it sounds pretty liberating too! 😂) it’s definitely such a nice feeling! Happy reading my, also wise (even if she doesn’t think so, but I do) and beautiful friend! 😊❤️

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    1. Thank you so much Sabrina 💚💚 I’ll still probably post a fairly similar amount now, but this will also free me up to blog hop once more. And I can actually check out what everyone else is up to. It’s basically giving myself freedom to breathe again 😊😊😊✨💚✨💚✨

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  6. I’m just going to comment now, because otherwise my brain will overthink it, create some sort of essay that I’ll need to re-read your post a bunch of times to remember what I’m referring to – anddd other things will come up. I know I don’t really know you, but I relate a lot. And I admire the consistency you’ve created here, even if at this time it is not sustainable. I share that because it’s something I’ve longed for with my own blog – and, I’m so appreciative of you sharing this process of choosing to shift based on what you need. Saying it and sharing it pushes against the constant pressure & loops of our icky institutions. Sending leisure and ease vibes your way 🙂

    (Annnd, still ended up longer than expected 😅)

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    1. Haha thank you so so much Elizabeth. I’m the queen of essay comments so I love reading every word you have to say 💖💖💖
      Thank you for your kindness and compliments, you’re making me bashful ☺️
      It’s funny how you mention my blogging consistency. I’m a very organised and thorough person. I have always taken pride in being reliable, responsible, safe pair of hands etc etc. I’m quite a perfectionist in some ways. And my blogging consistency comes from that… and over the years having to let go of that narrow idea of being perfect has been something I’ve struggled with in my personal life, and in my professional one. Being chronically ill doesn’t allow me to be reliable, to be perfect… my body dictates, not my mind or my heart. And I thought I’d made my peace with that aspect of my personality being compromised by my illness and yet here it showed up again in my hobby! I’ve been wanting to ditch ARCs since last Christmas. But I couldn’t do it. I liked the idea of being someone that was auto approved for multiple publishers on NetGalley, that got invited to read review copies… I liked that I was trusted… So it’s been a difficult few months of coming to a place where I could accept that things had to chance yet again due to my illness.
      But I’m so glad I finally made the decision. There’s a relief now that I’ve made it official. And I know it doesn’t make me any less of a book reviewer / blogger / bookworm etc. It’s just about finding the right fit for me ☺️☺️☺️
      Sending you all the gentle vibes 💜💜💜💜

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Madeline! You are just so kind and understanding. It means a lot. I’m hoping this freedom means I’ll start back reading more blog posts (because I won’t be feeling guilty I’m not reading arc books instead!) I’m just happy to give myself the freedom back to being the mood reader I’ve always been. ☺️💖💜✨

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