One way a blogger could judge their success could be access to ARCs. Let's be very honest: if you can access them, that means you've done a great job of building an audience, connecting with the industry, and are a fairly consistent and proficient reviewer. It's the reason Mari and I joined NetGalley. It's part of the blogging game.
I'm a massive failure on NetGalley, and honestly, that's because the titles I read there are not the ones I crave. I don't have access to those, and building my way up to those is something I'm not ready for any more. College shocked me with the complexity and the length of readings I had to do, and being the overachiever that I am, I read every one of them and wrote notes too. By the time I got around to leisurely reading, my brain was fried and my vision was blurry. It was probably also around 2am.
I had a goal to read 100 books this year. It's an arrestingly pedestrian amount compared to the 300 I did during high school that one year, but I'm extremely behind on account of reading too little during university. So, now that I'm enjoying my summer break, I'm looking to get back in the reading game (in which I'm like 25 books behind on my challenge!). I can read a book extremely quickly, but, as I've matured too, I've realized that I want to read books I'll love.
I think I'm going to retire being a reviewer and go back to being a reader. You may have noticed that my last few reviews are less technical. I've tried to emphasize creative writing and really write my opinion as honestly as I can. That's because I don't really want to judge books. I don't want to write about their merits or failures. I just want to write about books I enjoy.
When you're reviewing books that haven't come out, it's really like stabbing in the dark. Let's be very honest: judging a book by its cover or even synopsis does not always work, and it's a little bit tiring to continuously read books that aren't 'my type'. You read the book, not knowing what to expect, and you formulate an opinion. I've reviewed books I knew nothing about that I loved. I've also read a whole bunch of 'meh' books because I was excited that people were offering me stuff to review.
I don't want to do that. I don't want to spend my time arbitrarily deciding what is good or not. I want to read good things. I want to enjoy them. That means that unless I get my hands on an author I know I'll love (a Maggie Stiefvater, or Holly Black type book) or a series, or even a book I feel extremely excited for, I'm extremely comfortable letting it go. I'm okay with letting other brave readers try the pages and I love reading others' reviews before deciding if it's right for me. (As an aside, I might be one of the few bloggers that enjoys commenting on reviews the most.)
This way, I've been reading phenomenal books. I'm excited about everything I read and I'm always looking for hidden gems: books that are not publicized widely, but are dearly loved by the majority of readers. I always change my reading philosophy, so I can't definitively say that this is the best philosophy for me, but I'm in a point in my life where I feel this works.