Non (1)

Some people are just, by nature, good at turning down things they aren’t interested in, don’t have time for, whatever. I am not one of those people. And as it turns out, I am even worse at doing it while blogging than I am in real life, which I didn’t even think was possible. But good news! I have gotten better since my newbie days. 

But like anything, it’s a process. So let’s talk about that process for me, and then you know, quiz time! 

The Extreme Newbie Phase

In this phase, I thought I had to say yes to everything, just so I could get somewhere. That meant that even the most off the wall review requests, I said yes to my first few months of blogging. I had exactly zero followers, and well, I figured I had to start somewhere! In those first two months I accepted an adult memoir about a dude with cancer, and some kind of adult space opera. Eventually, I realized that I was basically ending up reading books I had no interest in, and that this behavior had to stop immediately.ezgif-4101114777

The “How Can I Say No, it’s in My Preferred Genre?” Phase

Seriously, this was a long phase for me.  I felt like if I said I liked Young Adult, and someone had sent me an email about reviewing a Young Adult book, how could I even say no? Because likely, the reason I would have said no was that I was not interested and that seemed like it would hurt someone’s feelings. So, I said yes. Which only hurt my feelings when I felt like I was stuck reading a bunch of books I wasn’t that interested in. This lasted so much longer than it should have. In fact, this lasted until I finally allowed myself to stop being afraid to request

The Can’t Say No to Finishing the Book Phase

Now, I have requested things. And maybe have even been approved for a thing or two. What is one to do when that book that sounded good bombs? Well, a normal-ish person would probably put the book down, explain why in the review, and move on. But not the “can’t say no” blogger. Instead, I suffered through books just because I felt like I had to, when in truth, I was the only one who had decided it. Now, I know better. Sometimes.


The Joining in Every Bookish Event Ever Phase

See, once you’ve gotten over your newbie ways, you start to make friends, and contacts, and whatever. And when you like to say yes to all the things, you certainly want to say yes to the people you like. The problem is, maybe you like a lot of people. And maybe you don’t have time for every event, chat, tour, promo, whatever, that comes down the line. Because maybe you’re human. Maybe you even have small humans who use your small reserve of energy as their lifefuel. Point is, you cannot do all the things, as much as you’d like. But is that something I admitted and prioritized for? NOPE. I just did everything, and wondered why I could barely keep my eyes open. It was a fabulous life choice. Zooey-Deschanel-Terrible-Idea

The Avoidance Phase

This one is easy, but awful. You just pretend you never heard anyone ask for anything, and run away before they catch on. I don’t recommend this phase. Though it can lead to some fun Twitter conversations.

FireShot Capture 3 - Vlora on Twitter_ _@S_ - https___twitter.com_vloralia_status_637209006025613312

The Balanced Phase

I don’t know what this one is yet. I am getting there, slowly. I have actually turned things down because I simply didn’t have time. I have sadly had to say no to things because I had no energy left for them. And I have even said no to things because I really just wasn’t interested. This is progress, people! But, I have a long way to go.ezgif-2378255382

Bonus: The Crotchety Old Man Phase

Hopefully I have several decades before I get there, but this is the person who unabashedly does not care who he or she says no to. Little kid in tears?? “NOPE!” Nun collecting money for an orphanage? “Pass, lady.” These people are also prone to stealing sugar packets from restaurants and ketchup packets during hospital stays.ezgif-467326055

Now… let’s see if you can say no!

 Are you good at being able to turn things down when necessary? What did the quiz sayeth?

Posted September 25, 2015 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 75 Comments


75 responses to “Learning to Say “No”

  1. Lol this is so much fun Shannon! Like you, I accepted heaps of review copies at the start of my blogging career. I’m pretty sure there are a few space operas and memoirs in there somewhere. But i simply don’t have time anymore so I’m more old man now than anything

    • That is so true- there is absolutely NO time for any of that! I am glad that you did it too- I think of you as a pretty logical and sound person, so if you also had a weakness for the ridiculous in the beginning, there may still be a modicum of hope for me yet 😉

  2. I said no to EVERYTHING at first. The thought of being a new blogger and accepting review requests scared the crap out of me. I had no idea what I was really doing (I still don’t, sometimes). I hate saying no, though. I feel like I am hurting people’s feelings. When in reality, I know that they sent a very similar email to countless other people, and my one no isn’t going to be a deal breaker. I actually just accepted my very first review request recently. It was (for once) a book I had on my Goodreads “to-read” shelf, so of course I said yes. I was extremely terrified that I would end up hating it and having to tell the author. Thankfully, I ended up loving. Phew. In real life I say no often, too. I think I am just a big scaredy-cat, and the thought of saying yes and possibly getting myself out there makes me nervous.

    • Aww! You have the opposite problem, basically! But seriously, it’s better that way. This way you don’t have the awkwardness of HATING some random book, and then having to figure out how to deal with it. (My very first book I’d accepted, I didn’t love, so I just did a super basic review and didn’t give it a star rating hahha)

      I am SO glad you ended up loving it- because seriously, that is the worst feeling ever. I had to DNF one once, it was just THAT bad, and I felt horrible!

  3. I used to be unable to say no, in life or with my blog. In real life, I learned the trick of “I’ll think about it” instead of answering right away as a reflex (then wondering afterward what the hell I had agreed to !!). Ever since, I’ve begun to say no, and even if sometimes it makes me uncomfortable, I feel liberated. Now I have one more step to feel really free : learn that not liking a book you had to review doesn’t have to make me feel guilty – after all, I never agreed to praise it at first ! Ah, the more I’ll do it, the more it will become easier 😉

  4. I love that I am the Nancy Regaen of NO. I for one have in my review policy that I will only respond if I am accepting the review so I kind of don’t have to say no a lot in that sense. In real life I totally can say no. I think I may be in the crotchety old man phase a little bit!!

    • Bwhahah I love it! I didn’t think that many people would end up as Nancy! I should probably take the silly thing myself! I was thinking of adding that in my review policy, but I didn’t know if that was something people did! Now that I know this, I am definitely adding that- THANK YOU!! You have saved me lots of time and worry 🙂 I am impressed at your crotchety old man status. I strive to obtain it one day 😉

  5. Apparently I am Nancy Reagan. (Although I was able to guess which answer corresponded to which one … so.) But then again, my ability to say no has extended to me not even bothering to join in the ARC and review request side of book blogging — I just write discussion posts, ahaha. But if someone really asked me? I think I’d waver easily.

  6. Such a fun post Shannon! 😀 I went through the Newbie Phase where I literally accepted EVERY request that went through my inbox, and I remember at one point, I suddenly had to review 5 books all at once. It was so overwhelming that I had to take a hiatus because those books had LITTLE OR NO INTEREST to me whatsoever. I even accepted an erotic novel for review once (because I HAD NO idea it was erotica since the publicist never said so *cringe*). Those were such dark days….

    But I’m glad to say I improved over the year! I accept requests I’m only interested in, and I’m actually not *that* afraid to say no. So it’s going pretty well 🙂 Lovely post!!!!

  7. Haha, awesome post Shannon. These were so eerily accurate LOL. I’ve been that person who says yes to all arcs just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Fortunately I’ve come to be way more selective since then. All blog newbies should read this post 😀

  8. Great post and cute quiz! I used to have a big problem with saying “no.” I thought that I should be honored that any author would ask me to review a book. I took on way too many commitments, some that I still have not fulfilled even over a year later–bad, bad me! I’m not afraid to hurt anyone’s feelings anymore. If I am not interested or I don’t have time, that isn’t a personal offense to the author. I’m not sure that they all understand that, but I try to be as tactful as possible when I turn people down. I still have the problem, though, of biting off more than I can chew. I’m working on it 🙂

    • Aw thank you so much!! And I was (am?) exactly the same way- I thought the same way, also took on way too much, and just like you, there ARE a few books floating around that I never got to (I DID try at least 90%, but some I got bored and said I’d “get back to”… which, well, you know 😉 )

      I still bite off WAY more than I can chew, but at least it’s my own fault, I asked and didn’t feel obligated to say yes 😀

  9. I had this phase, it last a few months when I started blogging now I feel like I am worse cause I just ignore them or don’t see the e-mail with the amount I get each day. I have like 100 other things I do outside of blogging so honestly writing a No email to everyone isn’t something high on my priority list anymore.

  10. Great post! All these stages, brilliant. This is abotu exactly what I went through. That first phase is the worst and lasted pretty long, i had a hard time sayign no as long as it sounded sort of interesting, I still have some unread books from a few years back I haven’t read yet because of that. I also had that phase were I just foudn out about blgo tours and it was glorious and I did lots of tours and then realized I wanted more than to do tours for books that sounded mildly interest. Nowadays I am better at saying no, although it’s still hard sometimes. And I only join tours for books that sound really good or for an author I know and like.

    The quiz says my motto is just say no, I think that pretty accurate. At this point I have become good at saying no, but there are a few of those review requests that sort of sound good, but not barely or just barely not good enough and then I can’t decide. I have difficulties deciding and then weeks later I remember I still haven’t replied and feel even worse as I always make a point to reply, ugh it’s the worst.

    • Aw thanks 😀 I agree with you, it lasted SO long for me too. And like you, I also have those unread books, which I feel SO bad about when I see them on my review shelf.

      I am the same now with tours- there were too many where I ended up being disappointed in the book, and then even though the hosts were super nice about it, I KNEW the author would find out when my post type changed and UGH too much stress!

      Good for you for saying no more often! It’s healthier, I think. I also have a BIG problem deciding, and then forgetting. I feel so guilty about that too! I should really modify that somehow. It’s always something! 😉

  11. I am your IDOL.

    This was a fun post. I don’t know if I really had yes phases when I started blogging. I pretty much didn’t care about “getting anywhere”. Well, I did, but I didn’t say yes to anything I didn’t really want to do…minus my first two review requests, which I have since ignored (sorry, authors). When it comes to review requests, my blog says I am specifically not even taking requests so if people still email me about that, I’ll glance at their summary then proceed to ignore it. Oops.

    • Aw thanks 😀 That is REALLY good- only two ignored requests, and only two unwanted yeses is awesome. You ARE my idol 😉

      And I think it is FINE to ignore requests if you stated you aren’t taking them! That is not YOUR fault! You tried to preemptively stop them from wasting their time! I need to modify my review policy… somehow? I have no idea. But I don’t want to have to respond to emails, basically 😉

  12. I am balanced, according to the quiz, which I agree with. But for me the problem is getting out of things I said I’d do. Not that I want to ruin someone’s event, but if it wasn’t what I signed up for I don’t want to do it. I am in the middle of one right now that I am embarrassed to be part of and can’t figure out how to get out!

    • YESSSS that is so true. That is the WORST thing. And wow, talk about a bad situation- being embarrassed is definitely not good AT. ALL. Maybe just like, email the host and say that you have just taken on too much and you’re sorry, but you need to back out? I mean, that’s better than you being miserable, for sure!

  13. I’m a balancing act, which I do mostly agree with…I don’t think I always was and sometimes I do have a hard time telling people no, but for the most part, I’ve gotten better with that (at least with the blogging thing! LOL I’ve gotten better at declining offers, etc. but I just know I won’t get to it).

  14. I also am not great at saying no… but it’s usually non-book related and because people are just so inefficient it’s faster for me to just do it myself. HAHAH! But yeah, totally get the “I’m-just-starting-so-therefore-I need-to-agree-to-everything” deal.

  15. No thank you, please! Hahaha!
    I have become really good at ignoring emails. I hate when people contact me for my site and ask something ridiculous, that my readers will appreciate, *wink*. I am half way between The Balancing Phase and The Crotchety Old Man Phase.

    • Bwhaha I LOVE that! I am glad that I am not the only one who ignores the ridiculous crap (and honestly, I do NOT feel bad about that!) I got one today from some dude with a book completely outside of my genre, and he addressed me as “Hi, It Starts At Midnight”. For real? You couldn’t even put my NAME? Ignore.

  16. I got Balancing Act! I have to admit, when I started blogging I approved every request sent my way in my preferred genre. Now, I rarely accept any review request. And my requesting books from Netgalley and Edelweiss have gone down. I’m now being super selective. Lately what I do is right-click to open in a new tab the books that seem interesting then I read their descriptions carefuly and then start closing the tabs until I’m left with at least one or two and then decide if I should request or not. This has helped a lot!

    • Same!! That is exactly what I do now. It is just too hard to keep up with books that I may not even end up liking. I accept almost zero. I should really probably just put that I don’t accept them but… I worry that I could miss some real gem, you know? The struggle!

  17. OMG I GOT “just say no is your life motto”. XDXD Um…which is awkwardly correct. XD I always say no. I’m like a no pro. When I started blogging I wasn’t, and I said yes to a lot of stuff I wasn’t even keen about, because I thought it was a privilege for me to be asked. Little did I know that most Self-published authors would send this requests without even caring what your blog was about. -_- It’s not a privilege to be asked to review a book, I don’t believe anymore. MAYBE THIS MAKES ME AN AWFUL PERSON?! But I think you gotta blog for yourself and do what you want to do. *nods*

    • Hahah this is GOOD! I mean, it’s better to say no than to drive yourself insane. I used to think the SAME exact thing- that just being ASKED was an honor, and I should say yes to ALL the things. And then, after a lot of emails where I realized that they were probably just being mass-sent… I was being ridiculous. Do you say no to them all, or do you ignore some? I ummm ignore a lot. I feel bad, but you know, TIME.

  18. Love this post Shannon! I’ve definitely been through all these phases – especially the “can’t say no to finishing a book” phase. Thank god that’s over! The quiz says I’m in the “balancing act” phase, but honestly I feel like I’m in the crotchety old man phase xD

  19. Haha! Love this! I was the same way when I first started blogging, I wanted to read every book possible! I used to be the Can’t Say No blogger, but now I’ve probably DNF’d a lot of books, especially this year. There are still things I need to work on though, like the YES TO THIS BOOK, ADDING IT TO MY TBR. Now I’ve got 1700+ worth of books on my TBR shelf on Goodreads. Yippee yay!


    I am so sorry. You’re probably one of those that have tons of ARCs from 1994, aren’t you? *pats on back* IT’S OK. You are definitely improving when it comes to all the books. Especially when there are just SO MANY ARCs on EW and NG. I BELIEVE IN YOUR SELF RESTRAINT. Kind of.

    Yeah. That’s really the only advice I can give. First, look at the book. Look it up on GR. Is it something you would want to read, like TRULY????? How many books do you have to read for that day? Do you HAVE to post the review days in advance? No? Yes?


    • BWHAHAH basically. Well, no, if I had ARCs from 1994, I could probably trade those for a Hunger Games one 😉 I have… really ridiculous books that were free on Amazon probably, yet I couldn’t say no to reviewing it. I basically just got rid of them and started over. That’s awful, no?

      And I HAVE gotten better. I mean, let’s be honest, I am still not great at it. The problem is, I will request books, never hear anything, think I’ve been denied, move on… and then every so often, I’ll end up approved, but like, 2 seconds before the book is being published. So that’s hard. But I have made progress. Maybe. Kind of?

  21. Your quiz says I’m a balancing act. *grins*

    When I first started my blog, I got an e-mail from an author in the first week I’d been blogging. The book was in my genres I’d listed as liking, and it sounded like it might be good. So I accepted. It was okay, I liked some bits and didn’t like others. But after reading it and looking at other people’s review policies, I decided not to accept more self-published authors unless -I- was the one requesting the books. There were too many typos and things that didn’t make sense, etc. And they were a chore to read.

    I also decided early on not to do blog tours or cover reveals because they sounded like things I wasn’t interested in. A year later, I’m still not doing either one. I still get authors/publishers e-mailing to ask if I’d review a book. And if it looks good and I have time and it’s gotten good reviews already, I may accept. But mostly I don’t have time so I tell them politely ‘no.’ Unless I can tell it’s a mass mailing where they haven’t bothered to even find out my name or what genres I read, in which case I just delete.

    I’m also not afraid to DNF. I did it with a NetGalley book earlier this year. And while I feel a little bad if it was an ARC, I explain in the review how far I got in the book, and why I decided to DNF it. Trying to include good points in the review if possible. But I have way too many books on my TBR to waste time with one I’m going to rate 2 stars or less.

    • I agree with you SO much. That is exactly what happened to me. Now, there are some absolute gems that are self-pubbed, and I will champion them forever, but like you said, I need to be the interested party most of the time.

      As for blog tour and cover reveals, I am right there with you! I will do cover reveals ONLY for like, authors or series that I am just in love with. Same now with blog tours. At first, I thought it was fun to do blog tours, and I was too nervous to request books, so it was a good way to start, but then I noticed myself having to back out because I HATED the book, and then I felt so guilty and… yeah, not worth it at all!

      And I agree about the mass-emails. I got one today, it went right to the delete folder. Honestly, you aren’t taking the time to treat me with respect, so I can delete guilt free 😉

      I am SO bad at DNFing, but ironically EVERY book I have DNFed in my life has been a review book. How weird is that!? Now, I have only DNFed four books ever, but all four were for review- 3 from Netgalley, and one from an author.

      Thanks so much for sharing this, it makes me feel MUCH better about saying no to stuff to know I am not alone 😀

  22. LOVE THIS!
    I went through every one of those phases and it was so so hard to say no at first. I was in an even weirder position when I disliked the story and didn’t know how to review them without hurting the author’s feelings.
    I’m at the balancing phase right now … I think although I have a problem with not being able to stop myself from clicking that Request button on NG and EW. I’m working towards that though because I’ve realized just how many older books I’ve not read that I really want to read now.
    Great post, Shannon!

    • YES, that is the worst part, when you HATED the book but… the author! I actually DNFed a book that was SOOOO bad, that the author had sent. I never sent her my review, but I did post it, as nicely as possible, on Goodreads. THEN, about a year later, she asked me if I’d help with the sequel promotion. Like, ohhh honey, no.

      If you can figure out how to stop hitting the request button, PLEASE share. I feel like it’s almost a compulsion at this point 😉

  23. Great post and quiz. Growing up I was literally one of those people who couldn’t say no. It wasn’t until I realised that other people knew I wouldn’t deny their request and take advantage of it that I began to be firm in my decisions and would deny requests.
    I think now I’m in that balancing stage and that’s a lot more refreshing. However, because I’m fairly new to blogging I do have that internal argument on what I should/shouldn’t do. It’s definitely a balancing act and hopefully I’ll get the swing of it one day.

    • Aw thank you so much! You have hit the nail on the head- I have absolutely become that person that people take advantage of. Somehow, I managed to surround myself with a lot of “takers”, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. I am STILL working on saying no, it’s just this impulse! Especially with friends and family.

      I am really glad you’ve been doing so well with it! It’s so impressive that you didn’t just recognize the problem, but you actually remedied it! As for blogging, just keep those same principles in mind, and you should do JUST fine. You don’t have to accept anything from anyone! Unless it sounds like you really WANT to read it/participate in it, then of course, have at it! 😀

  24. Balancing act here! 🙂

    Great post, Shannon. I have definitely keyed into other bloggers posts about review requests and overdosing on NetGalley. I have, for the most part, avoided going overboard and I’m not afraid to say no. Now that I have a pretty involved Review Policy, I’m not afraid to respond to random requests with…Have you checked out my review policy? Usually it scares them away.

    • Yayyy good job, Terri! Thanks so much 🙂 I absolutely overdose, but with review books that I request, I feel like I am the one who requested them, so I finish them, and do so happily. But with saying no… I feel so guilty! I am off to look at your review policy, be right back!

      DAMN, girl! That is one fabulous and detailed policy! The good thing is, you’d know someone was serious if they filled it out. The even BETTER news is, you can delete all the mass emails without an ounce of guilt 😀 Mine is SO vague, which is probably why I end up so tortured! My goal this weekend is for a review policy overhaul!

      • Depending on the random request, I might delete them or just reply back with a quick “Please read my review policy at” Somewhere on someone’s blog I figured out you can setup “canned responses” in Google mail so if you type the same thing over and over again, you can create the canned response and just drop it in the message. Works pretty slick!

        There are some authors I have made a connection with through blog tours and other events that send me requests. If I enjoyed their previous book(s) and I can fit them in my schedule, I do consider each one of those.

  25. Great topic! I can’t say no and have decided to I need to stop because trying to keep up is not fun. I’ll still join events that I look forward to every year, but I won’t accept anymore review copies even though saying no to beautiful, shiny, new books is so hard!

    • Aw thanks 🙂 And seriously- I CANNOT keep up! Which is evidenced by my returning your comment DAYS later 😉 I have been getting better, and I think it’s all just part of the blogging process. The good news is, maybe it will help in life too!

  26. I took the quiz…apparently, I’m quite good at saying no.
    Of course, I already knew that…
    But I’ve always been pretty good at saying know to things I don’t have time for, or that don’t interest me.
    I’m also getting much better at DNFing books…my main issue is that often it has happened where I have loved the ending of a book, and every other book in a series, excepted strongly disliked the beginning of book 1…so I’m usually reluctant to DNF books just in case they get better.
    Although, sometimes the book is so bad I just can’t keep going.
    And I notice people are always talking about review requests…but I rarely/never get them, so it’s never really been an issue with me.

    • YAY good for you! I am glad that you’ve been able to do that- it really helps maintain sanity, I assume. I have to assume, since I clearly am not there yet 😉

      DNFing is HARD. Like you, I hold out hope that the end will get better, even though it usually doesn’t. And I agree, sometimes you just cannot read another WORD of some books.

      I think I signed up on some website ages ago that allowed my email to get on some mass review request list. The reason I think that is because it’s an email I no longer use, and only used when I first started blogging. So you know, just don’t sign up for anything weird, and you’ll be golden! 😀

  27. Love this! I’ve adopted an “everyone leave me alone” policy lol. Basically I don’t have time to deal with requests so I put up a note saying I don’t accept book review requests, done. And when people ask me to review their books, I just point them to the policy and to the guest post policy instead. Love that you do these quizzes!

    • Aw thanks 🙂 I LOVE your policy! That is such a good idea. I am like, so afraid I will “miss out” on something that I end up opening myself up to all kinds of shenanigans. But, after this post, I am making it my business to adjust my review policy ASAP!

  28. I got Balancing Act: “You understand that there are things you have to do sometimes. You also know that you CAN say no when you really can’t, or frankly, don’t want to do something. You may be my idol. Congrats on the winning ways, my friend!” lolol this is really funny. But also I do know how to say no when it comes to blogging. But IRL is a whole different ballgame.

  29. I am someone who can definitely agree with this. I don’t know where I am along the line, but I have learned how to say no. I am still trying to catch up from some of the copies I have accepted when I said yes to everything though… I just have such a hard time saying no. And not just in blogging, but in real life too. That’s basically why I do an awful lot and go to bed exhausted every evening… doing too much but I think I secretly love it anyway ^.^ But yes, seriously gotta stop agreeing to so many review copies…

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