Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Bookish Blog Hops' Autumn Hop Day 10: What Made You Start Your Book Blog?

Book blogging is not an easy thing.
Sometimes it's hard to generate content. Sometimes you just can't figure out what you want to say about a certain book. Sometimes it feels like no one is reading. (I know it isn't true, it just feels like it sometimes!) Sometimes it's hard to find out what exactly defines a "book blog." One book blog will look and feel different than another book blog.

One thing is certain, though: anyone who cares enough to start a book blog are generally very enthusiastic about the topic. Certainly, everyone in the Bookish Blog Hop fits that profile! Check out our stories below about why we started a book blog--who knows? Maybe by the end of it, if you don't have a blog yourself, you might be motivated to start one!

Leslie Conzatti (Me!)

Back in 2013, I had already decided that I wanted to become a writer. I had plenty of stories, but in order to share them with anybody, I’d have to physically print out 50+ page documents to distribute to friends--and even then, if the friends didn’t provide feedback, I had no idea how I was going to get better. I’d completed a manuscript of a story I had a lot of confidence in, so I let a friend of mine edit it and give me feedback--only to discover that I didn’t have a very good handle on the subject matter, and the story virtually crumbled to pieces at the slightest provocation.

I kept on writing, though--I couldn’t stop! I just needed an outlet.

I started The Upstream Writer a couple years after graduating college. Studying literature at that level had given me a very strong perspective on what qualifies good writing, in addition to stoking my passion for seeing that good literature come to the surface! I saw a distinct downward spiral in the literary trends, and I set out with my blog not only to have a platform to present a counter to the profusion of shallow, negative, trashy selection populating bookstore and library shelves--but also a way to support others who produce quality literature that follows what I believe to be the three main purposes of writing, and also fulfills the three major roles of a writer.

The name “Upstream Writer” comes from a story I heard of a man who traveled to a remote location in Southeast Asia (I think… don’t really remember exactly where) and he encountered a remote village built on the banks of a large river. Now, the people were remote enough that they used the river for just about everything: drinking, cleaning, bathing, travel, disposal--you name it. The man saw the heaps of trash along the river and he was horrified at the mess and the potential for disease. He set about a massive river cleaning project, attempting to pull all the trash out of the river there--but no matter how much he pulled out, it seemed that more was always floating down.

A local man stopped by and asked what he was doing.

“I’m trying to clean the river!” the man said.

“Oh, we do that every year,” said the local. “But we don’t do it like that.”

“Well then,” said the man, “how do you clean such a dirty and awful river?”

So the local man escorted the visiting foreigner to a spot further up the river, so far upstream, right to the river’s source. There, the water was fresh and clean. “Here is where we begin,” said the local man. “We start where the water is fresh, at the source, and we sweep from here, and as the clean water rushes into the dirty, polluted water, it pushes away the trash and debris, leaving a clean river behind it.”

When I heard this story, I realized that this was what I wanted to do in the world of literature: instead of complaining about how terrible were the fads and trends of the popular novels today, I wanted to be like that local man and start to change the quality of literature by helping at its source: the very writing of stories. I could do that by writing my own quality tales to share with readers--and also by bringing to their attention other authors who produce quality content, to give them an alternative to the lame, junky, “throw-away” books that sell merely because they pander to an audience who is used to passively receiving flashy entertainment pieces for their short attention spans. Instead of just adding to the heaping mass of showy productions that are here today and go out of style a few years later, I looked back to the classics of centuries and even millennia ago, that are still read today--and why is that? Does the secret lie within the nature of good quality literature? If we as writers (and book bloggers) earnestly pursue the answer to that question, I believe we can see a resurgence of literature that remains relevant and lasts far into the future.

That’s why I blog!

Robin Taylor 

I am going to be honest. I started a book blog because I wanted more galleys. I started noticing that certain publishers had preferences for reviewers with blogs. So just two months after I began reviewing, March, 2018, I set up my blog. By then I had already posted about 50 reviews on NetGalley and Goodreads. I spent about two days setting it up, and cutting and pasting each review into my new blog. I have never looked back and I am now at about 721 reviews. Between NetGalley and Edelweiss, I am now whitelisted by nearly two dozen publishers. Because I cannot say no to more books, I cannot get my Feedback ratio as high as I would like, so I still get declined by a couple of publishers. But by far, I get most of the ARCs that I request. 

Elizabeth Means

The main reason was and is that I love talking about books, sharing what ones I'm reading, and enabling others to give them a try, as well as making new friends. While getting to review ARCs before they come out to buy is a plus, for me it's all about talking about the books. Yes, I do review on Netgalley and have since 2015. I have over 500 and some reviews there and I have been invited to do book tours from publishers, but it's still just about reading, having fun doing it, and helping someone find their next favorite author.

Jo Linsdell 

I first decided to give blogging a try towards the end of 2005 when I was working on my first books. I had no idea what I was doing. It seemed like a fun way to connect with readers and start building my author platform… and it was. Over the years my blog has evolved and gone through some pretty major changes but the core is still the same. I want to spread the love of reading. Whether it’s my own books or books by others.

Over the years my passion for blogging, and marketing in general has grown too. This has meant even more changes for my site. It’s really a work in progress. 

How about you? If you have a book blog, why did you begin? What reason would you use to convince someone else to start blogging? Do you have any questions for us bloggers? Let us know in the comments and join the discussion! 

Don't forget, we're doing this all month long!


  1. Woah Leslie, awesome post. I really love your origin story!

  2. Great post. I love the story of the upstream writer.