Bloggers Vs. Authors
  • Posted:
  • January 15, 2012
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  • Uncategorized

There has been a lot of bad behaviour online from bloggers AND authors alike. I have been trying to stay out of the drama because that’s largely what it is… drama. Tedious, eye rolling, middle school drama. However, on the subject of reviewing and of reacting to reviews I cannot stay mute. I have opinions about all of this that must be said.

Without naming names, or pointing fingers, I will tell you the cause behind this post. A few authors have been reacting to negative reviews of their books on such online websites as Goodreads and Amazon. These sites are designed where a reader may post a review of a book they either liked or disliked. Other people can then “like” reviews for whatever reasons they choose, whether they found the review helpful or not. What has been happening is that the negative reviews have been rising to the top of the pack. Some authors do not like to see the negative reviews at the top so they have been encouraging their friends (and fans alike) to “like” all of the positive reviews in order to bury the negative ones. This has caused a backlash in the blogger community where the bloggers have been boycotting said authors from their reading shelves and sites… and encouraging their readership to do this as well.

Now, which side do I fall on this debate? Well, I will just state here for the record… you are all behaving badly. Authors and bloggers alike. You are all in the wrong. And here’s why.

It is a blogger’s right as a reviewer to put your opinion of another’s work on the Internet. That’s what we do – we opine. We tear apart and we glorify equally. However, some bloggers think that they are without fault on the interwebs. They think that they can say purposely hurtful things that not only critique the book but also the author themselves. And they think that putting these thoughts into words makes them exempt from any negative backlash from the community or the authors themselves. I have never understood this train of thought within the blogging/online reviewing community: The idea that Authors are not allowed to defend their work or comment on negative reviews… The idea that authors simply cannot issue a rebuttal or challenge in defense of their art.

My thinking is this – an author spends time crafting a novel. They hone it and rework it and then they submit it for publication. In the event that they land a publishing contract they get an editor who also helps to hone and craft the book. The book then gets published for the world at large to read and critique. However, once this process is done, and the online critiques are written, the author is just supposed to stand back and take the brunt of the abuse from everyone. It is expected that the author will not react to negative feedback or be allowed to comment. I think that this is a flawed idea. Why can’t the author as an artist and creator take ownership of their work? Why can’t they defend themselves? They can’t even comment in their own defense online without the blogging community rearing back and arming themselves with an arsenal of insults towards said author. Why have we lost the right to defend our art from the online community?

Besides that, what makes you think that as blogger you are immune to negative criticism online? What makes you think that your shit doesn’t stink? In my opinion we are putting our writing (albeit critical and analytic) out there for the world to judge just as much as they are. It doesn’t matter that they are “professional” (i.e. paid for their words) vs. many bloggers and reviewers who are “non-professional” (i.e. no money has exchanged hands for services rendered). Our work is out there for all to view. I write this blog consistently and I regularly write reviews about books I do not like. I expect that people will (and do) disagree with me… and yet in all the time I have been reviewing books (and it has been a number of years now) I have never had an author come forward to me with an argument about a review I wrote. I’m sure it will happen. In fact, I firmly expect it to one day, but it hasn’t happened as of yet. Frankly, I have had more negative feedback from bloggers and reviewers about book reviews that I have written than the authors themselves.

The secret to writing a negative review is in how you say things, people. It’s in how you craft your argument. One of the books (and authors accused of behaving badly) is a book that I read last year. I gave the book fairly high praise though I did say in all honesty that I felt the book reminded me of another popular series. I devoted few lines to this criticism and moved on. The reviewer in question spent 2,000 words tearing the book a new one for the exact same point. Fine and good, but that’s an awfully long time to spend being snarky (for no reason) about a book. Now, I know I have written my share of negative reviews. I am culpable about this just as much as anyone. However, my arguments are thought out and precise and quick. I don’t linger over bad thoughts. I never spend that much time chopping someone up. I also do not write reviews that are only positive or only negative. You have to write reviews that show duality or you lose credibility as a reviewer. You cannot write only one or the other. No one will take you seriously. As I said once before to the bloggers grow your fucking skin.

I sound as if I am only criticising the bloggers. I will move on to the authors in question now. It is one thing to be able to defend your work. You spent a long time crafting it. Of course you want to protect your baby like a mama bear. You are entitled to that right. However, this is no excuse to launch poorly executed campaigns against reviewers and bloggers just because they did not like your book. Many people will not like your book. Get over it. Grow your fucking skin. People don’t like your book. Fine. It happens. Don’t encourage your friends to bury the insulting review. Don’t call people names online because they did not like your book. It’s childish and that’s just bad PR. Don’t for a second think that the bloggers won’t find out or tear you a new one as a result. There’s this magical thing called Twitter and, believe me, you are screwed if anything you do in a negative context ever gets on twitter. Or Goodreads… don’t mess with the Goodreads community. It’s like a giant petri dish in there.

This all said I do have the ARC of one of the current crop of authors accused of bad behaviour. Does this recent turn of events discourage me from reading it… well, no. If anything it has only fueled the fire of curiosity. I simply have to see if it is worth all the hype… and see, in the end, this has only served to build up the hype surrounding said books. It’s called polarity, people. I see both sides of the argument and then I form my own opinion. As it should be.

Bottom line – The authors in question are being immature and the bloggers need to stop being so entitled about what they write. End of story. You are all behaving badly. So stop.

*End Rant*

– BP



2012-01-15 19:53:30 Reply

Well said 🙂

Moirae(thefates) book reviews

2012-01-17 00:26:35 Reply

I agree with you for the most part. I have seen people on goodreads that are just perpetually negative.
I’ve seen some reviewers that 1 or 2 star everything,and review multiple books by the same author and don’t like any of them.

I’ve read books I didn’t like, but I try to have something positive that I liked. I don’t think it’s okay for a reviewer to attack the author or the other way around, I’m not sure which book(s) you are referring to in this but I’m the same way, it’s not going to stop me from reading a book.

I had a negative run in with an author a while ago who asked me to do something for them. I did then they turned snarky for no reason. As a result, I don’t read that author anymore, however, I also don’t go around saying hey so-and-so did this and that boycott!

I agree everyone needs to grow up!