When I asked about whether people wanted to see this post, I definitely didn’t understand just how much personal information it would involve.
I spent a while thinking about whether I wanted to share a lot of very real, very solid numbers, because there are a lot of ways people could react. (Also, I contemplated sharing everything in shape, but without numbers, but soon threw that idea out the window.)
For some, this post will be “Wow, she’s grown so much, and I’ve literally gained 5 followers in one year–she’s shoving her success in our faces, can she please stop?” and for others, it’ll be “That’s it? That’s all that’s happened in this period of time?”
And so a lot of people are going to have a lot of different reactions to my blog’s growth, but over the past few weeks as I write this post, I’ve realized that it’s okay. Some people might take sharing statistics and this post in general as bragging, and for those people, this truly was not my intention and I’m sorry that it came off that way.
But ultimately, I believe that the book community is a community in need of a lot more transparency. For authors and publishers, I know this is a lot more difficult, but for bloggers–we control our platforms. Not anyone else. In the end, my blog is my blog and I can give insight to other bloggers by sharing this information (even if it feels so awkward).
As a blog, everyone’s numbers are fuzzy to everyone else. There are all these preconceived notions by other people on bloggers’ success. For example, just a few weeks ago, I got a sweet email asking for advice on writing review requests, as I “seem to be able to get the books I request.”
And yes, I am very privileged to read a lot of ARCs–both physical and digital–but did you know that I have never sent an email to a publisher and within a few weeks received a reply and a book in the mail?
I’ll talk about this more in the ARC section, but my physical-ARC-requests-for-publicists success rate is shockingly low (like, 0 low).
The entire book community is largely crafted to show more success than “failure”, even though it’s not actually failing, it’s more like not succeeding. And in this post, I hope you’ll gain some insight on all the times I’ve tried and not succeeded.
I’ve sorted this post into Blog Statistics, Social Media Statistics, and ARCs so you can peruse the topic you’re interested in.
🌸 Please note–I ask that you’re all gentle with me. It’s hard to share statistics so very blatantly like this, especially when it’s something that I never see talked about and feels almost taboo, but this is something I think the community needs to see and something that I think would benefit bloggers new and old, and this is why I’m doing this.
I truly hope that I don’t make anyone feel bad with my stats, nor brushed off your hard work on your own platform. Everyone’s blog is different, and growth varies on a huge scale. There is no right way to do this, but I hope my experience will help you understand your own decisions better.
I am very proud of how my blog is grown, and it wouldn’t be without readers like you that this has happened. I am in no way ungrateful–if anything, I’m extremely shocked at how things have progressed recently, and am always flooded with gratitude when I see people enjoy my content or when I’m introduced to new opportunities. I could not be more content with my platform and am so thankful for the opportunity to support the book community in this way.
Lastly, keep in mind that
- I’m a US based blogger, and I obviously have a lot of advantages because of this. I am a lot more likely to receive ARCs and be approved for Netgalley requests and am awake when the publishing community is awake. I have a built-in advantage because of this.
- This is largely in terms of YA traditional publishing in the United States. Obviously, these numbers would be different in a different branch of publishing.
Stats are so weird, and from the little I’ve heard from other people, they vary a lot. Below is a sample showing how my blog has grown from its inception in mid-July to now (October 18th).
Some people I know have bunches of followers, but not a lot of views. Other people, like me, have not-even-500 but a solid amount of views. It’s all very different, and greatly depends on how you interact in the community and what & how often you post.
I’m a heavy poster–I don’t post once a week, I post usually 4+ times a week, which is definitely why I’m view-heavy. Recommendations and discussions bring in the most traffic (100-400 views usually), while reviews (which, ironically, are what let publishers send me books) are the least clicked on (12-100, usually).
Similarly, I’m unfortunately not very social on other blogs. It’s just the truth, and after somewhat negative experiences on other platforms (Wattpad) with interacting and supporting other people very blatantly, I stay kind of low-key.
It’s largely for personal reasons–I don’t want to fall into the mentality of implied required reciprocation and I don’t think that’s a good way for me personally to make friends. I don’t want friends based off what we can do for each other, I want friends who like me and I like them.
And this definitely does not mean don’t support other people!!! I just personally have had bad experiences with support-heavy types of friendships, and I kind of stray away from them. I’m also a terrible person not for commenting on blogs as much as I should be, but I know my flaws. So if you ever want to send me links, like seriously, feel free, because I’m terrible at keeping up with my reader *sobs quietly*
But back to the graph. You can see growth sort of happens in spurts, and here’s an explanation for some of them:
- January – I think a recommendation post blew up for me! I guess I wrote some good recs? I honestly don’t remember much.
- February – Partial hiatus month. less posts = less views, which I expected.
- June – Privilege in Publishing, Blogging, & the Book Community blew up on Twitter and a lot of people started interacting with me from it! Which is cool because I love seeing positive discourse bring people together.
- August – I had a tweet go viral(ish), hehe!
To be honest, I’m not sure how much I have to say on this because I don’t have
a lot anything to compare it to, but I’m sure y’all can make your deductions based on the info given!
All of this is very expected, but as you can see, through 1 year and 3 months I went from nothing to a very comfortable place, which I like and would very much enjoy staying at.
Blog growths happen differently (I assume) and what you see here is probably nothing like what your own blog is like. It depends on what you do.
And this isn’t a how-to guide–I’m not saying “post more to get better stats”; these are just the facts that I have and am sharing with you as I slowly stress myself out.
One of the things I like to note is how cyclical my stats look, like in this photo:
I mean–the curve is almost good enough to graph a sin or cosine curve on top, just because.
And it’s not even in 7 day intervals that a peak is on a certain day of the week–it’s more like 4-5 day intervals to a peak or trough, which I still can’t really explain (but I’m working on that).
So I don’t know what’s up with that, but I hope you gained something from this?
It’s all really awkward writing this, but I know this is a post that would have been super helpful when I started out (still would be helpful now if I could see this from someone else).
I’m also taking any questions about this stuff, so if you want really specific numbers, ask (politely). I’ll probably tell you.
Social Media Statistics
Honestly, as I write this I realize I don’t have a lot to say on this. You could check all of this out on my social profiles, and I’ve only been recording monthly growth since May, so obviously that’s not a lot of time for you to watch growth. But here are some numbers all in one place so you can see how my social sites perform follower-wise.
(I also don’t have insights on Instagram because I switched back to a personal account.)
Note: Goodreads counts includes friends. It’s technically “anyone I’m associated with who might theoretically get my posts in their feed.” Also note that I don’t really want to be Goodreads famous (or any famous). That site’s A MESS sometimes.
I think the only thing I have to say about my social stats is that you should note the peak on the 2-Jul date, which is a result of my Privilege in Publishing, Blogging, & the Book Community post as I said before, as well as a peak in the end of August that I can’t really explain, but I think is because of my viral(ish) tweet–all of this which is most easily seen on Twitter.
Things that blow up = Stats blowing up. BOOM. Magical logic, am I right?
Growth happens in a lot of ways, and I think one of the biggest things about social media is that everyone does it differently, and it usually doesn’t pay to imitate (or copy) other people.
Neither I or you are Cait @ Paper Fury. I don’t write tweets about keeping dragons in dresses with pockets, and I never really will.
I’m me, but you aren’t. I write a lot of bookish opinion posts and opinion threads and really I’m just one big walking talking opinion with a moderate-ish stance and too many books under my belt.
And you’re you. You might be figuring out your platform, and that’s okay.
This isn’t to say you can’t write cute list-y tweets or opinion threads. You can do that if you wish, especially if it comes to you in a fit of genius and you’re passionate about it. But forcing content that’s not you to gain more followers (honestly, doing anything with a main goal of gaining followers) is probably not going to work out.
Your followers want to see your content, not your watered down version of a successful person’s content. Obviously if your content is similar, but you’re passionate about it, go for it. But don’t do it for the follows or likes, because it’s honestly not going to work out.
I’m sure this is a very intriguing section for a lot of you and the content you’re really here for, so I’ll try and make it worth your while with a lot of concrete numbers.
Throughout my 1 year and 3 months of blogging, I’ve gotten access to 202 review copies through a multitude of methods. Here’s how they break up by type:
Netgalley (requested): 54
Edelweiss (requested): 32
First to Read (random): 8
Netgalley (read now): 3
Blog Tour Digital (non-pub): 14
Blog Tour Digital (pub): 1
Digital (through author): 6
Book Con: 28
Giveaway (random): 19
Bookish First (random): 4
Blog Tour Physical (non-pub): 11
Blog Tour Physical (pub): 2
Publisher Expecting Review (random): 3
Publisher Expecting Review (reached out to me): 3
Physical (through author): 4
Library (ARC): 8
Surprise (from pub): 1
Kind People (ARC): 3
This count is very much NOT 100% accurate & the totals do not match, but it’s close to the actual numbers. There are some duplicates (i.e. I got something in a giveaway AND on Netgalley) and I probably missed a few numbers too, but overall, this is a pretty accurate count of how many ARCs I’ve gotten and through what method.
As you can see, a majority of the ARCs I read are digital copies, and a large chunk of the physical copies I’ve gotten are because my family was privileged enough to go to Book Con and pick up some ARCs there.
A Note on ARCs from Authors
99% of the time, you should not ask authors directly for ARCs of any kind on social media etc. Check an author’s website’s contact page for if there’s an ARC form or if there’s a publicist to reach out to or what the proper procedure is.
A lot of the ARCs I receive through this method are because I have established good relationships and they have reached out to me. Reaching out this way can be fine for some people, but for a lot of others it puts authors in really awkward positions, and it’s just a good situation to avoid. There are a lot of other ways to try and review something instead of cornering an author into it.
More stats on digital copies…
Most of these are obviously from Netgalley and Edelweiss. Also, please don’t take me talking about denials or not usually being approved as unhappy or ungrateful. These are honestly just facts, and I’m not salty about it or anything because I know the publishers are trying to do what’s best for the book. I’m thrilled to be able to review anything early, but I think it’s good for people to know that everyone gets denied, hence why I’m writing this post.
On Netgalley I’ve been approved for 80 books (some of these are from download links from authors + blog tours, a few are Read Now titles), and I’ve been declined for 42 books. (Some are also left perpetually pending.)
If we’re going to break Netgalley down even more, I am almost always approved for Random House & Sourcebooks titles, occasionally approved for smaller Macmillan and Simon & Schuster titles, occasionally approved for seemingly random HMH Teen titles, and very rarely approved for Disney-Hyperion titles.
(Also, if you’re a publicist reading this, know that I appreciate all the work you do and that I’m very much hoping not to get blacklisted for this post. I have no salt, truly, and I’m incredibly thankful to be able to review titles early. No one is entitled to ARCs, not me or anyone else.)
Obviously my I’m approved a lot more than I’m denied on Netgalley, but I also try and request titles from publishers I know are likely to approve me (although I do go out on a limb sometimes) which is largely why it’s skewed this way.
On Edelweiss I’ve been approved for 36 books (a few of these are from blog tour widgets) and I’ve been declined for 8 books (and a few more are left perpetually pending).
But, this is also because Harper Collins (excluding the Blink and Harlequin Teen Imprint occasionally) always approves me. So a very large majority of the books I request there are Harper Collins titles.
I am also a terrible person and I test out the system by writing a bunch of requests at once (~6) and then picking one in the middle to request without a description, and all of them still get approved. So take that as you will.
All the other publishers on Edelweiss very rarely approve me, and I don’t really know much about their policies on there. Edelweiss is still very confusing sometimes, haha, but I appreciate my ability to review Harper Collins titles through that site.
More stats on physical copies…
I only started getting physical copies at the 5-6 month mark in my blogging time. You can find my stats on that month (January) in one of the earlier sections, but this was because of a giveaway! A month or two later, I started getting a couple publisher-affiliated ARCs (although most were indirect).
There is no right time to request ARCs. I probably didn’t start requesting until later that month at the exact 6 month mark, but I know other people got it earlier than that. I didn’t request earlier both out of fear, and out of the fact that I hadn’t told my parents about blogging yet. (You can read about my experience doing that here!)
Throughout the time I have blogged, I’ve written 6 review request emails to publicists, and here’s what happened:
- 3 did not reply at all, and nothing came of it.
- 1 did not reply, but asked me to the blog tour a couple months later.
- 1 replied with a form I had already filled out, and nothing came of it.
- 1 replied yes, but nothing has come of it yet (but the book publishes next year, so maybe something will happen).
So, if we’re being really generous, I have a 33% success rate, even though nothing has come of 83% of them and the other 17% might not have even been as a result of my request. If we’re not generous, it’s a 0% success rate.
And honestly? I don’t really mind. I’ve stopped writing review requests. Even though I’ve never actually written many in the first place, I find there are so many easier ways to obtain ARCs of books I want to read, and I’m almost never passionate enough about a book to go and harass a publicist to read it or write a really lengthy email that has a very slim chance of showing results, when I could just wait a few more months to read the final.
I find it’s just not worth my time and effort to chase ARCs down this way, and probably not worth the publicist’s time and effort either to decide whether to send an ARC or not.
This is obviously my take on this, but you can definitely go through this route (especially if you’re international and a lot of other resources aren’t available) if it’s something you like to do! I just like other programs more and the amount of effort that goes into these types of requests could be diverted elsewhere in my case.
I’m not really going to elaborate more on ARCs, but if you have questions about this section or what the different methods I listed above mean, drop a comment and I’ll do my best to answer!
In the end, blogging is a mixture of successes and not successes, and honestly, I’m super happy where I am.
I know everyone struggles. Bloggers with bigger followings are still thankful that they are part of a specific opportunity, like a blog tour, and even they still get denied from time to time.
If my blog stayed at the exact same size and stats for the rest of my life, I’d be a happy camper. Growing would mean more opportunities, and I don’t really have time for that. And I hate saying no to people. Right now I have a good balance between what I’m able to do and what opportunities I’m presented with, and I wouldn’t wish for thousands of thousands of followers, because it wouldn’t really make me any happier.
With regards to ARCs, I think the best method of thinking that I stick to is that denials are just saying you’re not the best fit for promoting a specific book and that their decision is doing what’s best for the novel. Because that’s what it is, and part of my goal is to support authors, not to get access to whatever book I want.
Don’t take it personally. A lot of this stuff is up to chance, and you’re not defined by your stats. Everyone’s stats are different and nobody’s got a perfect platform that every single publisher wants to work with.
So you do you, and know that you’re showing your best you and that’s enough.
Let me know how this was! I really hope I didn’t come off as bragging, because that was not my intention.
Also, if you have any pressing or even personal questions about my stats, now’s the time to ask! I’ll try to answer them all.
I really hope this was helpful for y’all and gave a lot of transparency for how things are for (one) blogger’s experience. I honestly have no idea what other bloggers stats + interactions are really like because no one talks about these things 🙃 So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯