The hardest and most frustrating lesson to learn as a book blogger is how many books you can realistically read.
Here’s how my first few months of book blogging went:
I didn’t have much going on outside of work, so I pretty much read from 7pm until the time I went to bed. I was reading a few books per week, but a lot were rereads since I couldn’t always afford to buy new books.
But then, omg!
I had my regular TBR pile. But then a few authors start asking me to review their books, and aaaah, they look good! And then I find out about tour companies, and whoa – suddenly I’m reading books by my favorite authors ahead of the release day and I feel fantastically special. And oh hey, NetGalley!
So I get a little carried away. And the girl that never had enough new books to read suddenly had too many.
Luckily, I learned my lesson quickly.
Don’t try to review more than you can read.
And the second hardest lesson? How to keep track of it all.
Trying to keep your book blogging schedule is impossible if you never know how much is on it.
If you sign up to read ARCs with hard review deadlines, you have no choice but to stay organized. You can’t risk signing up to read more books than you’ll have time to get to.
Then you either end up pulling all nighters and trying to squeeze in one page here and there to get things done on time, or you miss a review deadline. Not fun options.
So once you know those two things? Book blogging, even when the signups in your inbox make you feel like a kid in a candy shop, is pretty stress-free.
Here are a few tools that will help you get there.
Organizing your actual ARCs
First of all, you need to keep track of the actual books. I know there have been times when I went to read an ARC and couldn’t find it on my Kindle, for the life of me. Or when I realized that NetGalley title had already been archived. Suuucks.
So, to keep track of the actual books:
Create a Kindle folder
For ebooks, I’ve found the easiest way to keep ARCs organized is to create a Kindle folder/bookshelf for them. Any ARCs go there when they first make their way onto my Kindle, then get moved to the “Reviewed” bookshelf once I’m temporarily done with them. You could also just create a folder for all of them, read and unread.
Create a physical book pile
For physical ARCs, never, ever, ever put them with the rest of your books before you read them. Once they get mixed in with everything else, you’re a goner. I like to create a physical pile of books to read, ARCs included. If you have a “reading spot,” that’s a great spot for it. I keep my literal TBR pile on my nightstand, since I usually read in bed.
Organizing your book reviews
Once you’ve read your review copies, you need to make sure the reviews get published. Keep your reviews organized. Readers know how much I love talking about this, so we’re going to look at a bunch of options.
Pen and paper
Let’s start off old school. A blog planner or notebook can keep things simple. This is especially great if you don’t have a ton of books to keep track of. Or if, like me, you need to see everything laid out physically. A notepad or calendar with your list of due dates will serve you just fine.
Still in the land of “very, very simple” is Google Calendar. You’re probably using Google stuff for your blog already. If not, I’m still sure you have a Google account. So this is great because you wouldn’t need to create a new account anywhere. And if you’re already using GCal, you’re not even adding a new app into your tool belt.
I’m one of Trello’s biggest fans. You can use it for just about anything, but it works really great for tracking processes. You can drag a book’s card through the different steps of reviewing an ARC, from requesting the book to reading it and publishing the review.
For a book blogger, my Goodreads account is pretty abysmal. But I’ve seen other bloggers get crazy organized with their shelves. Keep track of what you’ve done with which books here to keep things together with your other shelves and to show your readers what’s in your queue.
Lastly, a spreadsheet could either be a simple and minimalist or comprehensive and epic blogging tool. For example, at one point my personal spreadsheet had 75 different columns of things I wanted/needed to know about each book review. That tracked everything from if I’d read an ARC yet to if I’d cross-posted the review on Goodreads. It could also be a list of book titles, due dates, and review URLs. It’s whatever you like.
I challenge you to get your ARC shit together. If you still get stressed out at how much you have to read, sit down and think about how many books you can realistically read each month. Then promise to sign yourself up for less than that amount.
Next, make a list of the ARCs you have around waiting to be read or reviewed. You have a responsibility to keep that updating if you’re taking a book for free.
I created my own book blogging planner to keep track of ARCs, and now’s your time to get it. Subscribe to Bumblings Blog Tips to win a copy. If you don’t win, you’ll still be emailed a special discount code!