The Treatment of Book Influencers – A Little Rant

I’ve always wondered why the book niche doesn’t get as much love as some other niches like beauty or travel or food get. And it’s not just because I’m a bookish content creator that I wonder this. I can be oblivious sometimes, yes, but when I observe, I OBSERVE and I can’t get them out of my head.

Throughout my life, I’ve watched different people react to me saying that I love reading books. These reactions vary, right from, “Oh I don’t read at all! I can’t!” to “How do you pay so much attention to books?” to “I find reading to be a waste of time” – it’s been the whole gamut. But one thing remains a constant when you tell people that you’ve written a book, as I found out: they praise you to high heavens and are in awe that you wrote a full book, something that must have taken so much time and effort. It’s a very validating experience, honestly, and I’m always giddy when I listen to positive comments like this. This trickles down to the other facets of my life, too.

This, however, is a subset but as against what you might think, it is generally representative of the larger demographic. If you write a book, people will show their awe for you. And fittingly so, because writing a book is no mean feat. It doesn’t matter that the reviews for the book aren’t what you thought they would be. Completing a book and putting it out into the world is a huge thing, an achievement in itself. And who knows, maybe years down the line, this very story might age well and catch on? So that isn’t something that you should worry your storytelling brain about.

When the public is this supportive of the world of books, I wonder why every person in this world doesn’t get the same amount of respect.

For every industry to work, every cog must function smoothly, both on its own as well as in tandem with other cogs. If one fumbles, the whole thing comes crashing down. And especially in this age of social media, influencers hold a power like no other, especially because they give to the people an opinion and review that’s closer to what the people think and not to what the companies want the people to think. This has given rise to so many influencers who make their living being influencers, because they love what they do and give the people what they’re looking for and many times, what they didn’t even know they were looking for.

And yet, this isn’t a worldwide, inter-industry phenomenon.

This kind of treatment is unfortunately limited and only covers industries like beauty, food, and travel. Talk about bookish influencers receiving this same treatment and we are accused of being ‘money-minded’ and ‘sellouts.’ Because apparently, if you get paid for a review, you can’t be objective. If you get paid for a review, you will only say good things about it, because you know, you got paid and all. If you get paid for a review, you don’t love books and you’re a shame on the bookish community. I had one author tell me that if I charged money to review their books, they should also charge money for writing the books in the first place. I was gobsmacked at how tone deaf and out of touch they were, how their concepts of marketing were so twisted in a narcissistic haze that they lost track of the whole point.

Photo by Valentin Angel Fernandez:

Nobody bats an eye if you say you work in the marketing department of a corporate. They’d be looking at you with stars and hearts in their eyes. But do this on your own, for books, and it’s apocalypse time. It’s a bit of a paradox, really, because times are such that on one hand, millions and millions are dollars are being spent in one part of the world on marketing, and on the other hand, people still expect the people (here, influencers) who put in the work to work for free. And then they’ll have the audacity to say things like, “In my time, we bought a house by the time we were 25.” Well, Karen, things were different in your time. You could work for a year and buy a house then because they weren’t that expensive. But thanks to everything that’s gone down since then, you can’t afford a spacious rental now unless you make millions, let alone buying a house. So please. Shush.

My point is, if you agree that cosmetics, apparel, food, and travel needs marketing, then what’s your problem with books? We already are a small niche as it is. Let us be, why don’t you? Let’s take apparel, for instance. You think the people who design clothes think that, ‘Oh, I don’t need marketing, I can do this on my own,’ when they want to get onto the market? Given, word-of-mouth is a thing. Given, it helps A LOT. But what until it gets traction? What of the people who are willing to push it forward so that the word-of-mouth happens? Why such disgust, such disdain for those who want to bring books to the forefront?

Another thing that ruffles my feathers is how books are seen as just another checkbox to be ticked off. So many celebrities, after having done whatever they’ve done, decide to write books telling their story. We never see them talk about books until one day, their book is about to release and to sell it, they move the world upside down and talk about everything they think is bookish. You expect people to pick up your book when you’ve done nothing for books your whole life? You expect to open up a whole new fan base by writing a book? I have no problem with people writing books. I’m no gatekeeper. I have no right to be doing that. But at least build up to it, won’t you? Don’t use books as just another prop in your career. They don’t deserve such treatment.

This is why I have massive respect for celebrities who talk about books and those who maintain book clubs. Given, there are problems of different kinds there, too. No place is devoid of them. But the fact that they’ve taken these steps elevates them just a little bit. Also, not to say that people who don’t read are bad people or that they are worse than people who do. That’s in no way true. I know people who don’t read who are 100x better people than me. I’m just asking for the world to look at books the way they deserve to be looked at. It’s a whole industry. It is life for so many people. Don’t belittle it.

If you want to enter the bookish world, you are welcome to. We love that you’re here. We love that more people want to find out more about this magical place of imagination and intrigue and adventure and love. We love that. Really, we do. But books are always looked at as an afterthought, as if everything important lies outside of it and you can come here only at the end, after you’ve done everything you’ve deemed was important and now, you want to pass time lazily. Yes. You can do that, of course, but we’re more than just that. We’re tired of being an afterthought, especially those of us trying to talk about books on the Internet and being treated by the platforms themselves as something less than. Publishing is a huge industry in itself and the fact that we feel this despite it, is saying something.

The bottom line is: Give books the respect they deserve. Give the bookish industry – authors, editors, publishers, book influencers (Bookstagrammers, Booktubers, book bloggers, Booktokers) – the respect they deserve. For internal issues, like authors commenting on influencers’ review policies saying it’s a lot or that they don’t deserve it – your time will come. You will then understand us better. Until then, take a deep breath. And don’t belittle book influencers who are doing it on their own time to get your book out for the world to see. Have some respect.

I got this thought a few weeks ago, which was when I went off all social media. My disillusionment began in parallel, because suddenly, everything was pressing down on me. The lack of respect, the expectation to do everything at nominal prices, the utter disdain – everything had me packing up my emotions and leaving. I’m still not back because of a number of reasons, but I felt like I had to put these thoughts out there before I imploded from the sheer weight of them.

What did you think of this article? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Do you think there needs to be an overhaul in how the world looks at book influencers like I do? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

I’ll see you in the next blog post.

Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life! ❤

2 thoughts on “The Treatment of Book Influencers – A Little Rant

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: