Book Blogging: Letting go

Coming to terms with giving up on a creative project.

 

This article is part of a series of articles on blogging. Click here to access Bookstacked’s guide to book blogging. »

Months before I hit “publish” on Bookstacked’s first article, I spent hours crawling through Google, trying to find the biggest and most successful book blogs of 2013.

I imagine this isn’t uncommon for anyone who’s eager to start a new passion project. If you’re like me, you’ll want to get a sense of the playing field. Who are the big players? What are they doing well? What could they improve? How can you incorporate those things into your project?

I can’t remember the name of the website, but I’ve never forgotten the small blog post at the top of the queue. It was a post announcing the blog’s closure.

Reviewing books began to feel more like a job than a hobby.

“At some point, reviewing books began to feel more like a job than a hobby,” the author said. Because of this, her love for reading was fading.

I re-read those words multiple times, trying to place myself in her shoes. There I was on the opposite side of the spectrum, brimming with excitement and big dreams, ready to launch my own book website. For a small, terrifying moment, I wondered if that would be me some day.

Spoiler Warning: Yes.

There are several reasons Bookstacked is closing, but most of them all lead back to the fact that running this website doesn’t feel like a hobby anymore. It’s become something much larger, which has been both a blessing and a curse.

As the website has grown, I’ve felt more and more like I have a second job. And, actually, I do. Keeping up with new releases and authors. Writing lists. Writing blog posts. Marketing on social media. Maintaining relationships with publishers. Reading and responding to emails (so so so many emails). It’s a lot.

I hope I don’t come off as ungrateful. This has actually been the hardest thing for me to grasp as I’ve prepared to close the site: I don’t dislike any of those things, so why am I giving them up?

As I mentioned before, I wanted this. I wanted to be involved in author interviews. I wanted a podcast. I wanted to get books early. I love to create and run websites — with news, reviews, opinion pieces, journalistic reporting.

This isn’t a story about “being careful for what you wish for.” I’m happy I wished for those things. I’m grateful those wishes came true.

But I have to be honest. I’m burnt out.

Finishing a day in the office only to come home and spend several more hours in front of a computer screen for Bookstacked has taken a toll. And, unfortunately, these things that I love, risk becoming things that I dread. I don’t want that. Like the book blogger I encountered 10 years ago, I can feel that it’s time to move on.

Maybe if Bookstacked was my full time job rather than my side gig. Maybe if we could better monetize our content, things would be easier. Maybe if we shifted strategies or changed up our offerings or maybe if I delegated more… Maybe.

I’ve run through all the maybes. I’ve tried to make some of them work. The reality is that they just don’t work right now. For a long time, realizing this made me feel like I was failing. Did I fail to create something lasting? Have I failed the members of the Bookstacked Team? Is Bookstacked a failure?

There’s nothing wrong with letting go.

Those thoughts creep in sometimes. When they do, I remember the incredible and rich experiences that came from running this website. The last decade of my life would have been so dull without Bookstacked. Yes, the site is closing. But for nine years I read some amazing books, spoke to some of my favorite authors, attended some memorable events and — most importantly — made some incredible friends.

Doesn’t sound like failure to me. (Stay back negative thoughts! ⚔️)

It’s simply time to move on, and that’s okay. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is that there’s nothing wrong with letting go.

Creating and running Bookstacked has been — and I think always will be — one of the most enriching experiences of my life. For that, I count myself incredibly blessed and fortunate.

All of that to say this: If you’re at the cusp of beginning your own blogging journey (or any creative project for that matter), then, yes, there may be a day when you realize it’s time to say goodbye. But rather than worrying about that day looming along the horizon, I say make the most of now. Tap into the excitement of diving into a new passion. Embrace the opportunities that are about to come your way. Take chances. Have fun.

You’ll know when it’s time to let go. When it arrives, you’ll find there’s no reason to think about failure so long as you made the most of the journey.

Saul Marquez founded Bookstacked in 2014 and serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief. He primarily covers news for Bookstacked. He also co-hosts Bookmarked: A YA Book Podcast.

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