Something, all of us are faced with, no matter how big or small a blog we are, is our TBR pile.
Our To Be Read pile, usually called, the TBR, is often a source of stress for book bloggers. No matter how much of a conservative you are as far as accepting reviews, or purchasing books, there are always so many good books out there that our TBR gets the best of us. And as those books pile up, with the thought that we have to read faster and faster, reading can become a stressful act, not a relaxing past-time. No one wants this. We started book blogging for the love of reading. Proper organization of our review books and better discretion as far as accepting review copies could easily reduce stress and make book blogging more enjoyable.
Here are a few suggestions as far as prioritizing and organizing your TBR.
Join a Book Social Site
The biggest suggestion is managing your list through online book sites such as goodreads.com or Librarything.com. My TBR has grown so exponentially since the last TBR post that I’ve even given to creating a goodreads.com account just to manage my TBR books in my possession. My main Goodreads account is currently used to manage my read pile and to-be-reviewed area along with marking books that I want to read, but have not purchased or received for review. To separate books that are in my possession I’ve set up a new account (I’ve used my gaming Facebook account as login) and I only mark books that I plan to review. It is a quick way to check release dates, publishers and I can label them how I received them, whether a purchase, unsolicited, solicited etc.
This list can also be exported as an Excel spreadsheet and imported into your local programs or even into Google Docs (which is what I use). In my document I keep track of reading dates, publication contacts or author contacts (whomever sent the book) and the email I need to forward the review link. I can also prioritize within this document (without being seen in a social site) and mark notes.
Prioritize Your List
Now that all the books are in a document, or at least marked in a book site, my second suggestion is to prioritize. There is one thing you have to realize, the bigger your contact list expands, the more review requests you will receive, not to mention, more and more unsolicited review copies will come in. You have to decide which of these books have priority.
I personally place the books that I say “Yes” to as top priority. These authors or publishers took the time to email me with the request and the synopsis was something that I believed I would enjoy, therefor they take the top spot. Second on the list will be the unsolicited books that I wanted to read. They are like little gifts of joy in the mailbox, those, even thought I probably want to read them first, will be second on the priority list. Next, book club, feature, or purchased books that I am reading for a reason. (Chasing a series for a review copy etc) Next, NetGalley request (and now you are realizing why I don’t request many via NetGalley), because no one is waiting on those with my name attached to them. Finally, it would be books I purchased or collected via a convention. All this would be noted in my spreadsheet or book site.
Now that you’ve organized your list and prioritized who you should read first…the next step is setting up your editorial calendar. I found a beautiful plugin for this (search editorial calendar), but those of you who don’t self-host, might utilize Google Calendar, or even a simple desk calendar. I always note release dates of the books in my possession. Then I check the calendar a month before release date and that is the round about time I should be posting my review. Give myself a week to read and another week to write the review (always better to over estimate time), this puts a month and a half before release date to start reading. I can always read before then, but usually if I don’t get to the book a month and a half before release date, it usually isn’t happening in time.
Digitally organized and prioritized? Time to organize your shelves. Never mix your TBR books with your read books on your bookshelves. It is a good way to loose them. Even if you don’t have an actual shelf and it turns into a stack on your floor, keep the separated and easy to locate.
Do this for your eBooks also, place them in folders, separated from your read or bought piles.
Shelves in order? Now for a priority check for you. If you are stressed out right now, there might also be other things besides organization that is getting you in this predicament.
First thing to remember. You can’t read them all. There is no way that I can, my intake is way larger than my output. Literally, I probably “agree” to a review once or twice a month and put in a request from review catalogs every now and again. It usually breaks down to 4 or 5 books a month that are actually planned. Unsolicited will usually double if not triple my intake. If I could read a book every other day this would be perfect. But, life and work and writing reviews and posts don’t allow for a book every other day. So, accept it that not all will be read on time. Then if it gets so bad, I again might have to call an “All-Stop” to accepting review copies at all. When it gets out of hand you have to say no – no – no. No matter how good the book looks.
I hope you learned something from this post, this of course is my way of doing things and you have to find what works for you and be consistent in everything you do. The main thing is to stay organized and on top of things. I let things slip about six months ago and I still have reined everything in. I’m just now getting comfortable again. Some find solace in switching to only reviewing books they request. Others have jumped out of the “free books” completely and have gone to only reviewing their purchased copies. Some just go to cons and stock up on the latest and greatest which hold them over for months. Find what works for you and move it along. It’ll even out eventually — or at least I hope.
Thank you to Heather & Diayll for posing the questions that started this discussion.
Questions for my Readers:
Do you have any tips on how to manage your TBR? What works for you?
Happy Thursday. Talk Less. Read More. Blog with Integrity.Have a question? Fill out the form by clicking on the button to the left. This will go into a spreadsheet to be looked over at a later date and hopefully answered on this blog. This is completely anonymous, you do not have to leave your real name. Urls will not be included in your question unless it pertains to the question.
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