So I know the last thing the book blogging community needs right now is yet *another* discussion of this topic, but, well, I need to write a blog post and it’s what’s on my mind right now, mainly because of Archer’s great post yesterday on Cuddlebuggery, which you can read here.
Archer’s post is mainly about how we all need to calm down, get over the drama, and get back to reading/reviewing/writing/whatever it is we do, because book blogging is supposed to be something people do for FUN. I totally agree with what Archer’s saying, and I was very surprised to see on twitter that there was apparently some anger/backlash/controversy about Archer’s post, when the post itself was all about how we should stop focusing on the controversies! I didn’t read all the blog post comments, so I’m not entirely clear on what people were so upset about, but, well…the whole thing is just a bit ironic. It really made me want to share my own opinions on the reviewer/author relationship, so that’s what I’m going to do here. This is NOT a direct response to Archer’s article—I’m just using it as a jumping-off point.
I’m always happy when people want to get over the drama and get back to the books—the books are what’s really interesting, after all! The one part of Archer’s article that did make me sad was his mentioning that he (and the rest of Cuddlebuggery) no longer review indie authors they don’t have a prior relationship with. Many other book bloggers are doing the same. While I have an agent and am pursuing traditional publication for my next book, I’m an indie author right now, and of course I’m disappointed that certain blogs aren’t considering my work. However, I COMPLETELY understand why these bloggers made the decision they did. Blogging is a hobby, not a job, and a blogger has the absolute right to choose what they read and review and what they say about it. Bloggers can decide not to read a book for any damn reason they want—could be b/c the cover’s pink, and they hate pink, for instance. Even if a blogger receives a review copy from the author or publisher, I still believe they have no obligation to read or review the book. In addition, there are so many books being published today, both by indies and traditional pubs, that bloggers couldn’t read everything even if they wanted to! There are hundreds of indie and traditional books I’ve owned for years and still haven’t had time to read—and I’m not even a blogger. So if a blogger chooses to limit the books they consider for review, that makes perfect sense to me.
Moving on to the review themselves, since authors getting upset about reviews is what started this whole thing…
My book hasn’t been out long, but so far the best part of the experience by far has been the reviews—including the mixed ones (I haven’t received a completely negative one yet, but I’m sure I will soon!). As a writer, I’ve been receiving feedback, including plenty of negative comments, for years from agents, editors, and students and teachers in writing programs. Hearing directly from readers is different, though. People in writing programs are often coming from a very literary perspective, which isn’t always useful to a more commercial writer, and students are often trying to look smart/impress the teacher as much as help make your work better (sorry, but it’s true!). As for agents and editors, while their comments are invaluable, they’re focused on whether they can sell the work and whether it can appeal to a large number of readers. Reader reviews, on the other hand, don’t have an agenda beyond describing how the reviewer personally felt about, understood and experienced the book, whether they enjoyed it, and perhaps whether or not they think others will enjoy it. This is AMAZING stuff for a writer to read about his or her own work, and every time I read a review I enter this super happy/mind-blowing state. It’s like getting to see my book through someone else’s head, and it’s making me a much better writer—ESPECIALLY the critical comments. So I say, bring it on!
In addition, I have to add that I don’t expect or even want everyone to like my book. If everyone was giving 5-star reviews, that would mean either there’s some scary Stepford thing going on, or people are being nice to avoid hurting feelings. And, obviously, neither of those is what I want!
So, that’s my two cents, for those of you who made it this far…now I’m going to go stalk my book’s goodreads page again! Kidding!!!...sort of…not really…I should probably stop while I’m ahead, huh?
Thanks for reading!