Warning – Long rant ahead!
I normally don’t feed fuel to Internet Drama, but I’ve had just a bad enough run of luck over the last two weeks that I can’t let this go unremarked. Spending a weekend taking care of your sick dog, and then spending the next weekend sitting by your boyfriend’s hospital bed after a medical emergency landed him in ICU will shorten your patience, so here goes.
There have been a couple of internet “incidences,” I’ll call them, over the past few weeks, that have really gotten my craw. I will address them and then leave the floor open for comments.
First up is the no bad reviews fear that is swirling around the blogsphere. This happened because some agents said that they would not represent aspiring authors if they have ever posted negative reviews of their clients’ books on their book review blogs. Aspiring authors all over the internet suddenly began closing their blogs. Or changing how they rate and review books. Or going on hiatus.
Now, I’m not about to change how I run my blog because I am afraid that some agent in the future is going to ostracize me because of reviews I have written in the past. I would hope that the agent I submit my work to would be enough of a business person to not let a few reviews they didn’t agree with get in the way of making some money for themselves. Not being open to signing the “next big thing” because of something an unpublished author posted on their book review blog doesn’t seem very intelligent to me, and I would hope that an agent would be savvier than that. I don’t see what a review, written in the past, has anything to do with an author’s future selling power or marketability. The logic defies my comprehension. I guess that at this point, if I ever did decide to pursue a career as an author, I would submit my work under a pseudonym before throwing my bait in the water. I can certainly understand published authors refraining from writing reviews of any kind, but at that stage of the game, there is a whole different level of accountability for what you say and do.
I also disagree that negative book reviews are a bad thing and have no place on book blogs. I have purchased many books after reading an intelligently written review that isn’t favorable to a title. Some aspects of the plot or the writing style may not appeal to the reviewer, but they may appeal to me, so I will still give the book a go. Now, if everyone is in agreement that a book is just not enjoyable, that’s a different story, and it doesn’t matter how many bad reviews it has gotten. If a book is that universally unappealing, odds are that I will cross that off of my list of books to spend time with.
Next up is the sudden animosity that certain authors seem to be directing at bloggers. I missed the #YAlitchat on Twitter that got this going, so I don’t know all of the background, but I did get to witness one misguided author vent her frustrations, very publicly, against two book blogs because she disagreed with their reviews of her book. She then edited her post so it didn’t look so inflammatory, and then deleted all of the comments. Unfortunately, those actions won’t make the mess go away, because there are cached versions of it all over the place. Anyhoo….
Let me share with you why I blog. It’s not to get free books, which I do receive, and I am always overwhelmed by publisher generosity when they provide me with review copies. I don’t do this for swag (I don’t get any of that!), and I certainly don’t do this for the pay, because the pay sucks. It is hard to exchange a free book for a loaf of bread or a package of ramen noodles, even.
I have always been a reader. It’s what I do. Some people watch TV, others play video games – I read. I read more books in one week than most people read in their entire lives. Over five years ago, I decided to try blogging, just so I could share my enthusiasm for books with others. That’s why all of this started, and after all of these years, I can’t imagine NOT blogging. What would I do with my free time??
Some authors don’t feel that bloggers are helping to sell their books. That may be true, but I don’t buy into it. When I post reviews and covers, other readers leave comments on my blog about how much they want to read those books. They order them. They add them to their wishlists. They check them out of the library. My mom will even call me, full of excitement, because she discovered a new author to love because of my blog. In the past, she wouldn’t have considered reading YA books; now she is consuming as many titles as she can get her hands on.
I work 60 hours a week. I also have a family and pets that I enjoy spending time with. My free time is very precious to me, and if I spend it with a book, I want to enjoy that time. I can’t ever get it back. There are so many books out there (and there are other ways to spend my free time, too!), but there is only so much time to read them all. Believe me when I say I make an honest effort to read everything that I get. I just don’t have time, though, because I have yet to win the lottery.
Now here is what I don’t understand, so maybe one of the authors in the “bloggers don’t help sell my books” camp can comment here. I post about 7 reviews a week, and I also chat about upcoming releases that I want to read. I interview authors. I have contests, most of which I pay for myself. What part of my free marketing of your titles doesn’t help you, or get the cover and title of your book out there? Are my efforts really that worthless to you?
Blogging is a lot of work. It’s also occasionally stressful, especially when a publisher provides a review copy to me. I have a commitment to get a review up there quickly, even given the constraints on my free time. But you know what? I still love doing this, years after I started. You know what else? Ultimately, I am a reader, and even if I didn’t receive review books, I would still read and blog about books. I would get them from the library or purchase them. I currently visit the library several days a week, and I still place orders with Amazon. I would still write reviews. I would still share how I feel about books and covers online, on Twitter, on GoodReads.
The bottom line is this – book bloggers are still book buyers, and they are still book readers, and they are still your target market. It is very discouraging to think that the publishing industry, and some authors in particular, think so little of what book bloggers do.