An Experiment in ‘Can your friends and family cut it as review bloggers?’

December 14, 2014 Discussion 36

I wa wa wa wa wanderrrrr.

Seriously though, many of you visitors that stop by Not Yet Read are book bloggers / reviewers just like myself. So writing reviews of pretty much almost all the books we read is just something that we do.

Earlier this year because I felt I needed the occasional help…

cant concentrate

I decided to RUN AN EXPERIMENT using my friends and family!


Did you always write reviews? I know that before I got into book blogging I didn’t. I frequently rated books and now and then if I really liked a book or didn’t I would write a very short couple of sentences in the review spaces of either goodreads or Amazon as to what I thought. I wouldn’t however write the long drawn out reviews that are for the most part the norm for a book blogger.

Based on the folks that I follow I see that a book bloggers review generally ranges from 300 to 800 words (That’s a freaking lot being said about the book).

Then what tipped you over into the world of writing reviews? Well hey access to early copies and complimentary copies might have had much to do with it. But also the interaction with the community is so much fun. It’s just a mentality thing I think being a blogger, wanting that social outlet to gush about our beloved hobby.

As some of you might have noticed I’ve tried to get some of my local book loving friends into book blogging. Not many of my friends or family “get me” when it comes to the whole blogging thing. My husband doesn’t read except when he travels and my sister who is my absolute best friend loves to read but she doesn’t feel the need to read on a daily basis like I do, and my father loves to read but he can sometimes go months and months without touching a book. Some of the folks I know get these spurts of wanting to read a lot and will do a ton of reading for a few months then won’t touch another book for a year. I don’t “get” people like that! LOL

Anyways so I did this little experiment over the past few months of asking IRL friends and family if they wanted to read and review some books for my blog. I had hit a major backlog because of my pregnancy and illness and some of them seemed keen to give it a try.

Or maybe my forceful insistence that they read might have had something to do with it *wink*

read the book

These have been the results. (Hopefully no one gets offended of me sharing the info – some names I’ll leave out since they were people that never even appeared). Some folks took to it really well, some weren’t interested at all but I have to say that many of the people that did give it a try it was like pulling teeth to get the reviews out of them.

*brandishes a nail studded club and a jar of leeches at said people* – or even better threaten them with attack from a man eating spider….come on this won’t hurt a bit!!

spider attack


Maggie – A Whopping Success – 37 reviews completed

As everyone knows Maggie took rather well to writing reviews. She doesn’t mind doing it but she isn’t as “into” blogging as I am but enjoys it as a hobby and she knows and appreciates how important it is to me. She says she sometimes has to take breaks in between the “review” books to read her cozy mysteries and romance novels that she doesn’t want to write reviews for. Love my Maggers

Kat – Total Success – 21 reviews completed, 4 discussion posts

Technically Kat wasn’t part of the experiment since she’s a friend I made via goodreads but she has worked out very nicely as a part time reviewer. She was already used to writing reviews and posting them on goodreads so it was an easy transition for her to start doing that on a blog instead.

Tina – Success – 15 reviews completed – likely on permanent hiatus

Tina has also done nicely writing reviews, she doesn’t mind doing it but sometimes finds she has a hard time deciding what to say and seems to be more of an “occasional reviewer”. I think folks like that don’t want to say much on a review – just that they liked it. I consider that to be a normal readers thoughts that say someone (not a blogger) would just throw up on goodreads or Amazon if they didn’t have a blog. Tina has way more responsibilities and very pressing concerns now a days that make review blogging impossible for her for the most part. Though I don’t believe we’ve seen the last of her on Not Yet Read.

Richelle (my sister) – Experiment ongoing -The jury is still out, I have high hopes! -1 review completed

It wasn’t a teeth pulling experience to get the review out of her but I admit I pestered her a bit and threatened her with jars of leeches haha.  I think or I hope that she ends up taking to it =)

Gosia (my cousin) – Experiment ongoing, I have high hopes! -2 reviews completed

She’s got a very busy life between work and 2 kids but she’s a pretty ravenous reader, mostly where urban fantasy is concerned. I tell her I’ll keep her well stocked on the good books if she writes me a few reviews. So far I’ve gotten two fabulous reviews from her and I really got a kick out of reading them since they were on the high (5 star) and low (1 star) ends of the spectrum!

Rachael – Didn’t take to it – 2 reviews completed

Rachael isn’t a huge reader but every once in a while she’ll go through a big spurt of reading. She tried writing a few reviews, after I twisted her arm and pulled a few teeth to get them from her and she decided that writing out her thoughts on the books just wasn’t for her so she won’t be writing anymore. But kudos to her for being willing to give it a try!

Angie – Didn’t take to it – 2 reviews completed

She’s not as obsessive of a reader as I am and I think writing reviews just wasn’t for her since it was like pulling teeth to get them from her.

Alan (Mag’s husband) – Not so much and only When he feels like it – 4 reviews completed

Alan started dipping into the stack of review books that Maggie had and so we insisted he give us his thoughts. He definitely loves to read (that’s even how him and Maggie met in a bookstore) but he only reads occasionally. At least whenever he grabs from our review stack we know he’s willing to give us a paragraph of his thoughts.

Dad + Male friends 1, 2, 3,4  – fail

I asked several of my book reading male friends if they’d be interested and unfortunately none of them were. My dad did write something but never finished writing it and I got tired of pestering him. The guy friends all were interested in ‘free books’ but not at all in writing anything about their thoughts. And hey nothing is free buddies.

Female friend 1 – absolute fail!

Unfortunately this was a big disappointment to me because the person took a huge stack of books saying she could totally write the reviews no problem, read every single one of the books and doesn’t want to write anything about them.n I think it boiled down to it wasn’t a priority for her and not important so when that happens folks can just shrug it off as not necessary. It probably seemed more like “work” then “fun” and that I can totally understand. Lesson learned test people out with one book only lol.

There you have it. Book review writing is definitely not for everyone. And I’ve learned –

bellatrix lestrange i dont like to be kept waiting

I know some bloggers keep their blog life completely separate from their personal lives and don’t like people IRL to even know they have a blog. But I just can’t do that – its one of my biggest hobbies next to art and what do we do with the things we love? Usually, we want to share them and talk about them to the people in our lives. so I can’t help but want to talk to people about it (even if they think I’m slightly odd because of it).

Stalk me!

Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
Stalk me!

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36 Responses to “An Experiment in ‘Can your friends and family cut it as review bloggers?’”

  1. Nathan (@reviewbarn)

    I am one of those that few know about my blog. No one at work, only a few family members (none of whom every actually read it) and even on some forums I keep it on the down low.

    But it is one of my biggest hobbies as well, so I am not ashamed, it just never comes up.

    Couldn’t imagine having family take over my space like you did though. Well, maybe some day I will have the little man start dictating reviews of his favorite kid books when he is a bit older.
    Nathan (@reviewbarn) recently posted…Review: ‘Annihilation’ by Jeff VanderMeerMy Profile

  2. Litha Nelle

    I would love to have my family and friends interested in reviewing books… but my brothers rarely read (and don’t particularly strike me as having opinions about what they do read), my mom only reads self-help, and the few friends that read are currently overloaded with college. I have a total of three-four IRL peeps who know about my blog, and I they’ve only visited maybe four times.
    So I consider your experiment a huge success! I probably couldn’t convince ANY of my IRL people to write more than a paragraph.
    ~Litha Nelle

  3. Cait @ Paper Fury

    I always have reviewed books. xD I reviewed them for school and then I never stopped because I have a TERRIBLE MEMORY and I wanted to try and remember what I read. I found my old review-notebooks the other day. I rated backwards. o.O Seriously I don’t even know why. But 1-star was like the best-of-ever and 5-stars was awful. THAT IS SO CONFUSING. Ergh.
    Well my sister is a book reviewer but she doesn’t do it now that she doesn’t write. The rest of my family? HA. They probably wouldn’t know what reviewing was. -_-
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…The Heroine TagMy Profile

  4. Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy

    I’m just imprested that you had so many people who were willing to try reviewing! Honestly, if I weren’t a blogger and someone asked me to read a book and write a review on it, and post it for PEOPLE TO READ, I would freak out. Plus, I am really picky about editing and another person’s review would have to be well written, because it’s my blog those words are going on. Just thinking about rewriting other reviews gives me a headache:D
    Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy recently posted…It’s All About the Characters: BROKEN MONSTERS by Lauren Beukes – ReviewMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I know I was pretty impressed as well (but hey it really was like pulling teeth to get some of them to actually WRITE the reviews.)

      As for putting another person’s reviews on my site, I DO struggle with that. They’ve all agreed that I can edit their reviews of like typos, and grammar or repetitive lines and I’ve asked them all not to get inflammatory and mean/nasty or cuss because I find that unprofessional. The oddball “strong word” now and then is cool but I don’t like reading reviews that are hate filled and I really don’t want my site to become a target in anyway for inflammatory drama between reviewers and authors or other bloggers so I’ve asked them to steer clear of that sort of review.

      I have a few times sent a review back to them saying it needed more “this or that” or justification and they are usually cool with adding more. Though Tina had a big issue with adding more cause she just didn’t know what she wanted to say she felt like anything she said would ruin the reading experience for someone so always didn’t say hardly much at all lol.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…The Twelve Nightmares Before Christmas: Nightmare 3 & GiveawayMy Profile

  5. Dragana

    I think it’s great how you share books with friends and family and offer them an opportunity to write a review for your blog. You are lucky. I especially like it when you when you got male and female review of same book. 🙂

    Most of my friends don’t read books, so my blog is not interesting to them. That’s why I started a blog – to find people to discuss books I have read.
    My husband does read books but is super busy and reads only 5-6 books per year. So not much help in writing reviews…
    Dragana recently posted…Book Review: The Knife’s Edge by Matthew WolfMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yeah I liked that too! I was hoping another male friend of mine would write up his thoughts on The Magicians Trilogy since Maggie hated it and he loved it – but he still hasn’t done it yet and I don’t think he will at this point which makes me sad. I like those “review rebuttals”.

      Ultimately it’s still my space and the folks that have agreed to write reviews I can’t really “count” on them to do it because it isn’t their responsibility and its not really important to them. Maggie totally understands how obsessed I am with it and she’s so marvelous and diligent about reviewing all of the review books she borrows from me which I am SO lucky for.

      I think this is pretty much the end of my experiment, I’m not going to seek out any more additional people in my life to rope into reviewing and blogging because most really just don’t take to it and don’t find it important. I’ll still be happy to have my sister Richelle, cousin Gosia and friends Maggie and Kat post reviews whenever they have one but I’ve made it a point to try not to pressure them. (Ok except for a few times I admit I did employ the leeches….)

      My husband only reads when he travels! he would never write me a review ever! haha
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…The Twelve Nightmares Before Christmas: Nightmare 3 & GiveawayMy Profile

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I would love to have family and friends who would review books. A lot of people in my life know I have a book blog, but then it’s so hard to find anyone passionate enough about reading to want to write a whole review for it afterward! So I think you’re lucky 🙂 I wish my husband would pitch in with a guest post once in a while, he’s a good writer. He said he would but I’ve given up on waiting.
    Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum recently posted…Book Review: The Genome by Sergei LukyanenkoMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yeah my husband would totally never write a review. He’s read a few of the books I’ve read over the past few years since I started reviewing and some of them because they were becoming movies or because some of his coworkers raved about them as well.

      I am very lucky to have a few people in my life who were willing to try. I think it’s probably because I definitely click more in real life with people that share my reading passion. Since it’s such a big part of what I want to talk about when socializing.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…The Twelve Nightmares Before Christmas: Nightmare 3 & GiveawayMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yeah I was pretty impressed with the # of people that were willing to give it a try after I finished typing up the post I was like “wow” not bad. I’m pretty much done with trying to ask friends or family to review books though – at least any new ones. So when the current ones that contribute get bored of it, which I’m sure they will, it’ll go back to just being me. But that’s fine I prefer this blog as “my space” anyway lol.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…The Twelve Nightmares Before Christmas: Nightmare 3 & GiveawayMy Profile

  7. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I’m so impressed with the number of friends and family you have that you could feasibly ask if they were interested. I started writing reviews to help out a forum friend that started a blog and wanted contributors. I never saw myself actually starting my own blog, and when I did, I actually didn’t plan on doing much with it, I just wanted somewhere to easily link my reviews from a couple of sites I contributed reviews for. But, I liked it, so I now I guess I have a blog. But, I don’t share my blog with IRL people. I have one good friend that knows about (but probably not the url), but that’s about it (well, except my husband, but he doesn’t count since knows all my deep dark secrets). I think I don’t share it because no one in my real life reads the books I enjoy, so I don’t really see the point in sharing.
    Lisa (@TenaciousReader) recently posted…The Shining Girls By Lauren BeukesMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I totally tell my friends and family about my blog and even give them the little bookmarks I had made for it to the ones that I know enjoy reading. It’s been such a big part of my life for the past 3 years that I can’t even think about not talking about my biggest hobby. As for other IRL people like coworkers and such yeah I don’t share this with them because it’s PERSONAL you know and I don’t want them here. Only a few people I know IRL read my content. My sister and cousin Gosia being the main ones and then a few random friends on facebook that “liked” my page and get the update each day.

      After hearing about how everyone else’s friends and families aren’t much interested either in their blogs it makes me feel nice that I have a few people who are but for the most part yeah those normies in our lives that aren’t readers don’t really care and think I’m odd with this whole ‘blogging thing’. LOL
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…The Twelve Nightmares Before Christmas: Nightmare 3 & GiveawayMy Profile

  8. Valerie

    THIS IS SO COOL. Also were these reviews on your blog? I DON’T REMEMBER THEM. But anyways, I think it’s really cool that you ran an experiment. Maybe you actually convinced someone to take up blogging? It looks like you did with Maggie haha!
    Valerie recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #15My Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yep all of their reviews got posted to my blog. Some people don’t notice as much I guess because for the most part I’m still the main one that posts blog posts on a daily basis with maybe one or two posts the rest of the week from one of the other ladies…though lately, probably because of the holidays its been really just me. So it’s still “my blog” LOL. Maggie, Tina and Kat are the ones that have written the most reviews for the blog though Tina won’t be reviewing anymore. And now my sister Richelle and Gosia literally just started.

      Gosia reviewed The Accidental Highwayman this month and Richelle reviewed The Vault of Dreamers this month. Gosia has another review coming up this week Dear Killer. Maggie has for the most part taken all of December off from reviewing because of holidays.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…The Twelve Nightmares Before Christmas: Nightmare 3 & GiveawayMy Profile

  9. Richelle Nicole

    I LOVES to read!! Yes yes, you know it’s true. Books are my first love and I am a self diagnosed bibliophile 🙂 though I do believe your condition to be quite more pronounced than mine. Lol.

    This post freakin cracked me up! Please don’t threaten me with the leeches, sweet sister, I shall, as ever, do my best to do your bidding. You are one hellishly demanding Mistress Muse 🙂
    Richelle Nicole recently posted…Puppy Love-PortraitsMy Profile

  10. Alise

    I was the exact same, I only rated and wrote a sentence or two on Goodreads before blogging. LOL, none of my friends or family read but maybe I would be able to convince them with some Tabitha approved… persuasion 😉

    Sounds like you had some success though, that’s great! I definitely agree not everyone can write reviews, before Bec I had four people I tried out on the blog.
    Alise recently posted…Review: The Distance Between Us – Kasie WestMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      That’s right coercion, blackmail, entrapment, direct threats to their errr…yeah

      It was actually more difficult to get my friends and family to review then I make it sound. This was the work of an entire year pretty much. Maggie I’m sure will always stick with me and give me some reviews from time to time but I know none of them will ever get into blogging. But I’m ok with that. I like this blog being “my space” with my one or two friends being a weekly contributor. That way I can still do whatever I darn well please *evil laughter*
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…The Twelve Nightmares Before Christmas: Nightmare 3 & GiveawayMy Profile

  11. Joséphine @ Word Revel

    HAHAHA! I love this! I love how you made an all out experiment out of this and recorded all your observations 😀 The furthest I’ve manage to push anyone into writing reviews is my sister but she only does so for herself on Goodreads when the fancy strikes her.

    My dad loves to read but I can’t picture him writing reviews. For me though it’s enough that he and my grandmother instilled the love of reading in me. He knows I’m into book blogging but I doubt he visits my blog. Same goes for my sister. She loves reading but doesn’t do it as obsessively as I do and she knows I blog but doesn’t visit my blog as far as I can tell.
    Joséphine @ Word Revel recently posted…FREE TO FALL by Lauren MillerMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yeah I think that is the norm for a reader. We bloggers are the extreme I think. Hence no wonder we connect and click so well with other review bloggers because we GET eachother where as most other people think I’m odd when it comes to how much I read and the “blogging thing”.

      I’m lucky that my sister and father both enjoy reading as well it helped encourage my love of reading at a young age…I just took it to a whole new level of obsession haha.

      Really only my sister Richelle and cousin Gosia visit my blog. I don’t think any of my IRL friends do but some of them likely see my posts on facebook from having ‘liked’ my fanpage.

      I’m fine with this being my space with my internet book bloggy friends though. And it’s nice that some of them indulged me and were willing to write a few reviews.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…The Twelve Nightmares Before Christmas: Nightmare 3 & GiveawayMy Profile

  12. fishgirl182 @ nite lite

    Interesting experiment. I have found that most people, even those who like to read, don’t want to write reviews. I had one friend tell me once that she didn’t want to write a “book report.” O-kaaaay. I have a couple of friends who are listed as co-bloggers on my site but they really only post when they feel like it. Part of it is me, too. I don’t like to put a lot of pressure on blogging (for myself and others) so I just let them contribute when they want. Most of the responsibility still falls on me and I am fine with that since it’s really my baby.
    fishgirl182 @ nite lite recently posted…Stacked (132)My Profile

  13. Annie

    I’d never really reviewed books until I joined goodreads. Then it wasn’t so much a review as writing down what I liked or didn’t like so I would remember 🙂 Because I would think I read a book and have a general impression that I liked it but couldn’t really say why. Just saying out loud that the writing was great but I didn’t like this thing about that character was really gratifying.

    That’s such a fun experiment to have other people give reviewing a try. I think it would be really fun to see how some of my RL friends and family sort of integrated or connected to the book blogging community – but I don’t think most of them would take to it well. It’s hard enough getting them to read a book I like and then having a conversation about it 🙂

  14. Kat Stark @ Not Yet Read

    Wow Tabitha, I had no idea there was so many people trying it out, lol. >_> I still can’t believe someone took a stack of books, READ THEM, and didn’t bother to try. I mean you can write what you wanna say in a paragraph or two. It’d be a different case if you didn’t have time to read them, but not even review :/ bummer.
    Kat Stark @ Not Yet Read recently posted…Review: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. CareyMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

      Haha well it was a year long experiment in the making. Maggie was the true success who is still doing it after six months. Everyone else except her and Tina took books and didn’t seem to be interested and didn’t realize that it’s an important hobby to me. I don’t plan on offering anyone else to try. I’m fairly confident everyone except maybe Maggie and you will eventually grow tired of it and won’t review anymore. And I’m fine with that. Heck Even normal review bloggers on average only have a shelf life of a year i think before they stop blogging.

      I’m pretty happy with the way it is now. With the occasional review from someone else is kind of fun. (And gives me a day off) Richelle and Gosia don’t have enough time or fervor for writing reviews to do very many I’m thinking.
      Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. CareyMy Profile

  15. Danya @ Fine Print

    I talk about my blog all the time, especially at work. My co-workers like hearing about it because they’re all big readers (it is a library, after all!) but none of them read SFF. I don’t have any friends IRL who book blog, although many of them will do the 3-4 sentences review on goodreads that you mentioned. It can be pretty time consuming so I don’t think it’s for everyone, but I think it’s great that so many of your friends and family helped you out with the blog! You’ve got a good group of people around ya. 🙂
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Graphic Novel Reviews: Anya’s Ghost & Through The WoodsMy Profile

  16. Anya

    I’ve been trying to get people I know in real life to write reviews for me but they keep resisting! Or they come back months later with a review of a book that I already reviewed *headdesk*. I am right now leaning in the direction of thinking that I shouldn’t push too hard since if people don’t really want to, they’ll just end up disappointing me, ha. I’m also still trying to decide if I want guest reviewers to review in my style or let them do their own thing, so conflicted! Therefore I just make no decisions >.>
    Anya recently posted…Owl and the Japanese Circus {Cat Sitter Wanted + Giveaway!}My Profile

  17. Anne @ Lovely Literature

    Hmm, interesting experiment. Despite having majored in English in college with a lot of English major friends, I don’t think I could convince many others to review. Two of my close friends are a married couple that both teach high school English. They would be my only hope, but honestly they are probably too busy reading kids’ reviews. 🙂

    Also, love that first gif, haha. Ahh. That’s me!
    Anne @ Lovely Literature recently posted…Celebrating one year with three giveaways!!My Profile

  1. Retrospect #50: Dec 14 | Word Revel

    […] @ Not Yet Read engaged in a social experiment, trying to convince her loved ones to write book reviews. Her experiment bore mixed results, which she shared one her […]