Thursday, 4 May 2017

Blogging on a Budget

We've all seen them, the popular bloggers and booktubers who we look up to posting monthly book hauls. How do they do it? How can we ever be like them? Unfortunately it just isn't a reality for a lot of us lesser known bloggers. We don't get a constant stream of book mail from publishers, and we just don't have a spare £50 to spend on books every month. But don't despair, those book hauls can still be a reality! Although I can't give you advice on how to get hold of the latest shiny new ARC's, I can share my experiences of running a book blog for the past five years on little to no money!
Charity Shops
So one of the main places I get my books from are charity shops! For the past three years, I have been volunteering at my local Cancer Research charity shop, and although it is one of your generic charity shops that mostly sells clothes and bric-a-brac, it does also have a small selection of books. Every time I volunteer, I go and look at the the bookshelves to see if anything catches my eye! As I get a staff discount, I frequently get books for extremely cheap prices, but even without the discount, the majority of our paperbacks are under £2, which is about a quarter of the price that you would pay for the same book in a book shop! Now I know that when you think of second hand books, you're probably thinking of bent spines and ripped pages, but I've found that this is rarely the case. Although the books might have a few creases in the spine, quite a lot of them are in great condition! Charity shops will rarely put books out if they're in a terrible condition, and I've sadly had to recycle a few books that were donated that just weren't in a condition that they could be sold. Generous people are constantly donating books, so even if you've visited your local charity shop and found nothing that interests you, it's always worth visiting every so often. Charity shops are everywhere, so it's very likely there will be at least one or two in your town! If you live in one of the bigger cities in the UK, there are a few Oxfam Bookshops. That's right, charity shops that are completely dedicated to books!


So this one is probably a no brainer, but it's also a great option, particularly if you're looking for a certain book. Although charity shops are great, they're rarely any good if you're looking for a specific book. The truth is that new releases can be expensive, particularly in the case that some books are published in hardback months before the paperbacks are released. Paying £10 for a hardback just isn't realistic for some of us. But how are we meant to read that new book that all our blogger friends are talking about when we can't afford to buy it? Well that's where libraries come in! Libraries are constantly updating their stock, and will often buy more copies of the same book once they realise that it's popular. Although you sadly can't keep the book, library loans are usually for a period of
three weeks, which should give you plenty of time to read it and take aesthetic instagram pictures! Of course, libraries often allow you to renew books as long as no one else has requested it. If you discover that your library doesn't have the book you're looking for, it's often worth asking the librarian if they could order a copy in. With new releases, libraries are sometimes unaware of how popular a book will be, and either don't order any copies, or only order a  single copy. Making your librarian aware of the situation will actually improve the service, and you'll be doing other readers a favour by requesting a book! When I was reading The Raven Cycle series, I was devastated to discover my library didn't have any copies of The Raven King. However, after sending a couple of emails, I was happily holding a brand new copy in my hands, and the best thing was I didn't have to pay a penny! Libraries will usually let you loan ten books or more, so start reserving those books and do your very own book haul!

Online Book Stores and Supermarkets

Although this isn't the perfect option, you'll often find that shopping on websites like Amazon and The Book Depository will give you a better deal on books. Going into your local Waterstones will end with you paying full retail price for a book, but shopping online will often get you a bit of a discount. There are currently a few YA books on Amazon that cost £4 or less, which would probably cost £7 or more from high street book stores. However the one downside to Amazon is that you have to pay for postage unless you buy £10 worth of books. My personal recommendation would be The Book Depository. The prices are usually around the same as Amazon, and best of all, postage is free to all countries! The books also come with some pretty adorable bookmarks that you can colour in yourself!

Price comparison. Waterstones and Book Depo

Another great option is Supermarkets. Although the range of books available will obviously be a lot more limited to high street book stores, Supermarkets often stock books that are currently popular. If you're looking for a lesser known author, then Supermarkets probably won't be the best place to look, but if you're looking to buy a new copy of The Fault in Our Stars because you've dissolved your current copy with your tears, then check out your local Tesco or Asda (Or possibly Walmart for my American friends!)

There are also a few discount book shops, such as The Works, or independently owned shops. If you are looking to buy a popular box set such as The Mortal Instruments or A Song of Ice and Fire, then I would definitely recommend The Works.

Authors and Publishers

I know it seems daunting, but don't be afraid to contact publishers! The worst thing that can happen is that they say no, and then at least you've tried. Most publishers will have contact information on their website on how to get in touch regarding proof copies, so don't be scared to get in touch! Although I'm clearly not an expert on getting proof copies, and have been rejected more times than I care to remember, my advice would be not to ask to be on their mailing list straight away. On a couple of occasions after requesting some books, the publisher has actually approached me to ask if I want to be on their mailing list. Even if this doesn't happen, if you are consistent with your reviews, publishers are more likely to want to work with you again.

If you're quite new to the blogging world, then my advice is to get yourselves out there! There are quite a few websites where you can advertise your blog to publishers and authors, but the one I would recommend is Tweet your Books. It's completely free to sign up, and it allows authors and publishers to easily find you. I get authors emailing me quite frequently requesting reviews, and telling me that this is where they found my blog. Working your way up is a must. Creating a blog and then requesting a book from Penguin on the same day just isn't going to work. Start out by accepting reviews from self published authors, or try to work with smaller publishing companies. There are some bloggers who turn their noses up at self published books, but let me tell you that some of the self published books that I've read are better than books I've read by big publishers! Don't automatically dismiss a book just because it's self published, as you could just find yourself a hidden gem!

Ebooks are your friends!

I know we all prefer to have a good paperback in our hands, but think of all the books you could read by turning to ebooks! Services like Netgalley are a wonderful place to get free ebooks, and you just might get yourself a popular ARC! Publishers are a lot more lenient when it comes to handing out ebooks, so just because a publisher rejected you for a physical copy of a book you're desperate to read, they may just accept you if you request a galley. I know if, like me, you adore physical books, but isn't it better to read an ebook than not get to read the book at all?  I'm personally always using
Netgalley, and I know I wouldn't get to read so many amazing books without it, so I'm extremely thankful that it exists! The one downside to Netgalley is the Feedback Ratio. Basically your ratio goes down with each book that you request, so requesting multiple books at one time becomes increasingly difficult until you start posting reviews. Although I do understand they do this to try to guarantee reviews, it is a little annoying when you want to pile up a few books before they disappear off the website.

On the topic of ebooks, there are so many ebooks on Amazon that you can download for free! This is especially great if you enjoy classics, as many classics are now in the public domain. This means that you can get plenty of great classics downloaded straight to your kindle for free! I've taken advantage

of this multiple times, as I have a segment on my blog where I review classics. Even if classics aren't your thing, there's still plenty of free ebooks out there. Ebooks can also be a lot cheaper than physical books, so before you dismiss a book as being too expensive, make sure you check out the price of the ebook first.

As I mentioned earlier, getting physical books for free can be freaking hard! Especially if you are a new blogger, it's going to be almost impossible for you to get enough free physical books to maintain your blog. However, even when I was just starting out, I would get requests from self published authors asking me if I would review their ebook. Obviously you should only accept these requests if the book interests you, but if you only accept physical books, then blogging is going to be a real struggle for you! Self published authors often don't have the funds to send you a physical copy, so unless they specifically ask you if you want a physical copy, please don't ask them for one! I personally love helping self published authors get noticed. Although we all love joining in with talking about the latest books on the New York Times bestseller list, these authors never truly need you to join in with the promotion. Their marketing team is extremely good, that one blogger with nine thousand twitter followers is talking about it, and they're currently on a tour. Meanwhile, a review on a book by a self published author could make a huge difference to them, and they will be extremely grateful, while the author with one of the big publishers won't even notice that you've wrote a review! One thing that I love the most about blogging is seeing how happy and grateful authors are when they read a positive review from me, and that is something I only ever see from either self published authors, or authors with a smaller publishing company. I love when authors come back to me again and again, excited to share their new book with me! 

One thing that I can't stress enough is not to start a blog simply because it will get you free books. It won't work out as well as you think it will. When I started blogging, I was completely clueless. The reason I started my blog was because as a child, I was weirdly obsessed with writing book reviews. In year 4, we would have our own little notebook to use to review books, and where the other kids would write a simple sentence, I would write a whole paragraph on why I loved the book! Reviewing books is just something that's always been enjoyable to me, and I honestly didn't even realise it was possible to receive books from authors and publishers for free in exchange for a review! I'm honestly still completely baffled as to why anyone cares about my opinion, and I'm so grateful for each and every book I receive. Basically if you don't enjoy writing blog posts, don't do it! It's only too easy to tell when someone is passionate about what they do, and those who are doing it for free things.

Giveaways and Competitions

So this is the least definite way to get books, but I just thought I would tag it on the end, as I have actually been lucky enough to win a few giveaways over the years! If you follow enough book bloggers on twitter, you will constantly be coming across amazing giveaways! Publishers will also
occasionally do giveaways, so make sure you're following as many as you can. One that I would like to recommend is @MaximumPopBooks, who are constantly doing amazing giveaways for YA books. They will often do giveaways for 10 of the same book at a time, giving you more of a chance to win. I've won quite a few books from them over the years, including a pile of six books, Yes six! A lot of giveaways only require you to retweet the post, so get entering!

I hope this post has been somewhat helpful to some of you! I'd also just like to say that you should never feel bad for not being able to afford to buy a book at full price. I unfortunately saw a popular blogger telling people that they should buy books at full price to help the author. However, I have seen many authors advertising their books while they are on sale, so I honestly don't think authors mind too much if you happen to find their books at a bargain price! When it comes down to it, your quality of life and being able to buy necessities is a lot more important than owning the latest best seller. I also find that bloggers who do their own thing instead of following the crowd are more interesting, so don't feel pressured to buy books just because everyone else is reading it!

 If you have any other ideas on how to blog on a budget, then please feel free to leave a comment!

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