I must’ve written a “Being an International Book Blogger” post like three times since I started blogging in May 2016. I never published it because I felt like it wasn’t important or useful or good enough to be published. I was just complaining without reason, right? I also usually keep my opinions and ranting on my Tumblr, but with everything going on, I thought I’d make an exception. I’m absolutely devastated by the recent developments (or rather steps backwards) by Goodreads and Netgalley. I don’t think I’ll be able to say anything that hasn’t been said yet, but I wanted to share my view nonetheless.
Blogging Internationally Isn’t Always A Choice
When I started blogging, I was barely reading any Dutch books. I didn’t buy them, they didn’t interest me, I usually couldn’t afford them… English all the way! Dutch or English? wasn’t really a choice for me. It was quite obvious I was going to start my book blog in English. Then I had to find an internship to graduate college, and by some miracle, I was lucky enough to get an internship at a wonderful Dutch publisher. I think that was the moment I started to regret my “decision” to blog in English. All the opportunities I missing out on! For that moment on, I thought of blogging in English as a choice. Anyway, recently events and conversations on Twitter brought me back to my previous opinion: It wasn’t a choice. Why on Earth would I have blogged in Dutch when I didn’t read Dutch books?! I understand how for some people it is a choice, when they read both English and their native language. For a lot of us, however, it’s not a choice.
It’s Not About The ARCs
You’ve heard this before, I’m sure, but I’m saying it again. I’ve heard of people saying they’re going to quit blogging because they won’t be able to get ARCs, but I think that’s ridiculous. To be quite honest, those kind of people don’t deserve their ARCs anyways. Not being able to get them as an international reader sucks. When you spend countless hours on your blog, work your butt off and do the very best you can to promote the books you love without getting anything, while an American OR UK blogger does the same but get’s the ARC, it’s heartbreaking. It’s even worse when people in your own country get an ARC or press package while they’re simply making them unavailable for YOU. The truth is: it’s about numbers. So yeah, sure, if the other blogger has better stats, they’re more likely to receive something than you are. It still doesn’t really make sense, though.
It’s about being included, and feeling like you matter. When services and publishers (continue to) ignore you, while hooking your US/UK friends up with the latest releases, preorder incentives and the most awesome book swag, it hurts. Honestly, I’m often discouraged when I request an ARC on Netgalley and don’t get it, and then see another blogger get a physical copy. It’s even worse when that blogger is from my own country. It stings. What am I doing this blogging thing for anyway, if it’s not even appreciated?
I feel like there’s a lot of controversy when it comes to distributing (e)ARCs and rights. The truth is: I don’t know anything about these things, but usually whenever I did see a complaint even before all this happened, I’d be like *sigh* “It’s probably a rights issue.” Because I really think that’s the biggest part of the problem. No matter how silly, rights still cause problems even though we’re in the digital age and it should be better by now. Who knows what kind of deals US/UK publishers make with international publishers? Who knows what caused Netgalley to restrict international requests so much? Maybe it comes from publishers? Ot maybe Netgalley is just trying to help them by doing this? We can only speculate. But I really don’t think we should say it’s “Bullshit” when talking about rights.
The issue with Goodreads is entirely different from Netgalley, although we mostly talk about them as if they’re one. Yes, they’re connected, but still very different. Goodreads’ new service is absolutely bonkers. First of all, they’re charging for their giveaways, making it nearly impossible for indies and small publishers to host them. Second: you can only win a giveaway if you’re US-based. International publishers and authors can still host giveaways (as long as they pay the ridiculous fee), but they’d have to send it to a winner in the US. This is all on Goodreads, not publishers and authors. But who ships the books once the giveaways end? Right, not Goodreads. GR simply made this decision for the people who use their service. And the fees for extra/better marketing? I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s a joke. One of the features is that a book will be automatically be added to your TBR, so it’ll show up on friends’ feeds. If I don’t like a book, I’ll still ignore it. It’ll only annoy people and I seriously doubt it’ll generate any additional sales. I’m sure many feel the same way.
So what does this have to do with ME as a blogger?
I’ve been so upset over the last few days, I actually had to take a day off Twitter. Why? Well, that’s the weird part – and also a bit selfish. I’m strangely not all that upset about the Goodreads giveaways because I didn’t participate in many to begin with. I was also pretty much never approved for any of the ARCs from big publishers, so nothing much changed for me (at this moment). I’m upset for my fellow international bloggers who are affected by this. I’m upset for the people who always used to enter (and win) giveaways, and for those who did get the ARCs they requested regardless of what country their based in. I’m upset because the only way for some people to get books, was through those giveaways or ARC requests. I’m upset because so many others are upset. We all expected steps forward; more international giveaways (from publishers), easier ways and better chances to get ARCs, more involvement in the community… Instead, we’ve taken massive steps backwards.
I was looking forward to the day my stats were good enough to be approved for ARCs of the “big” upcoming releases, for the day I’d be able to participate in blog tours and maybe even for the day I’d be able to get a physical ARC or two. Now I just don’t know anymore. I’m never going to stop blogging. I’ve managed just fine without the ARCs and the giveaways. But just the idea of being “pushed aside” hurts. I feel as if there’s now a rift between US and International bloggers, which is so unfair. US bloggers aren’t to blame, and why aren’t we thinking of the UK? I mean, my Twitter timeline is more “UK Only” than “US Only” at the moment. I’m not attacking anyone! It’s just something I’ve noticed. We should be united by our love for books and blogging, yet it feels as if we’re all being torn apart.
Feel free to discuss all of this in the comments. Honestly, I just had to get this off my chest. There’s so much more I want to say, but I’m going to leave it at this. So much has been said already and we should try to move on and take steps forward ourselves. With, or without publishers and services that make blogging for us internationals so difficult.
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