( I need a blog graphic. Will make one soon! 🙂 )
I’ve been reviewing for my blog, The Top Shelf, for almost 4 years now. I can’t believe it’s been that long, but it has. In those four years, I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve actually blogged on here myself. I keep promising I will. You guys seem to like it when I do and yet I still prefer to bring you guest blogs, interviews and other book related content rather than open a vein and let you all inside my world.
Maybe it’s because I’m afraid of backlash. I got it when I first started this blog. I was hanging out with a bunch of people that were outright mean to people on the Nook page and when I realized that I got swept up in it, I backed up and got turned on. I thought that would tank my blog before it even started. You can ask a lot of my author friends, they’ll tell you I was afraid. I was afraid when those people started sites of their own too, but over time I realized they’re not a threat and they never were. Why? Because they’re them and I’m me.
So with that said, I’m blogging. I’m really going to try to do it more often and I mean it this time. I don’t care about the backlash. I’m not afraid of scrutiny. My job is to my readership. I’m a reviewer, I’m a blogger. People rely on me to tell them what MY opinion is on books.
I’ve seen a lot of problems lately in what I call The Authorverse. The whole Amazon Hachette battle is being talked about a lot. Bookstores fighting with publishers is not a new thing. There was just a battle between Amazon and the publishers about e-book prices. Remember? That’s why we all got those emails about settlements? How about when Amazon removed Macmillan’s books in 2010?
Why does this instance get more complaints than all the past ones? I’ll admit, I’m getting a little off topic, but it’s something I wonder about.
Perhaps it does tie into my topic. Maybe it’s because more friends are affected. Maybe I’m friends on Facebook with more people that are or know people that are published by Hachette. Maybe it’s because I’m friends with more opinionated people now.
Although I don’t think my friends list has changed that much. Either way, we’re a network!
As a blogger on Facebook every day, I see your complaints and squabbles. It happens when a bunch of people get together. I have authors, friends and author friends on my Facebook. As such, I care when things are going on and I have found myself a few times unfriending people due to what they do to others based on facts presented.
A couple years back a fan got on F. Paul Wilson’s Facebook and asked him if he had checked out a book. That it seemed like a rip off of his Repairman Jack series. This book was one of the Lawson Vampire books by Jon F. Merz. Paul blindly believed this fan and started posting crazy stuff on Facebook. I let it be. After all, I’m a book blogger and I tried to stay above these types of things. A year or so later, Paul did the same thing to Roger Hobbs with his book Ghostman. At that point, I was fed up with it. Here is an author who just blindly listens to fans, does no research of his own. He even claimed he hadn’t read the books in question and he was attacking other authors. I didn’t want to work with someone like that so I unfriended him and no, I won’t be reading any of his books. I’m not going to support someone who goes off like that. It’s not professional and who’s to say he won’t go off on me if I leave him a bad review?
Which leads me to now. It was 5:30 AM. I got maybe 5 and a half hours sleep. Brandon is on his way back home to Minnesota for his sister’s wedding. I check Facebook in the morning to see what’s going on and I see a message from an author about some drama going on and how she’s going to unfriend people associated with this author. So I read the blog, it’s the typical “She stole my stuff!” type deal. Which I get is absolutely infuriating. If someone stole my work, I’d be pissed too. However, if someone DID steal my work, I’d be citing passages. If I was defending myself against someone saying I stole their work, I’d be citing differences. Neither was done here. So I’m looking at a he said she said argument. I’m friends with the defending author on her author page. I’m friends with the accusing author on both her personal and author pages. I like the accusing author. She’s a nice person and I have to admit I haven’t interacted much with the defending author. So there it stands.
But I have it ringing in my head that if I don’t get rid of the defending author, the accusing author is going to delete me. In a panic, I unfriended the defending author’s page.
Then I got to thinking. That’s not fair, I haven’t read the work myself. I don’t have my own opinion, I’m just listening to these two bickering. There’s no proof cited and I just did that based on a threat.
I re-friended the author page. Which in turn gave me the idea for this blog. I don’t think authors know it but in a way, some of them are trying to bully reviewers and bloggers into being biased. We cherish our friendships with our favorite authors. It’s a closeness that we readers have never had before. Some authors love that closeness just as much and some feel it made the mystique of being an author go away. If you’re an author I interact with daily and you put out an ultimatum like that, that’s not fair to anyone. Stop being friends with her or I’m getting rid of you. We’re not all bad people, we’re not gonna run off and be like OMG she said this about you! Most of us are too busy for that. You need to weed out the ones who are going to do that so that you don’t potentially hurt yourself by culling good people. If you have to unfriend me because I’m friends with someone you don’t like then go ahead. You’ll just have to contact me by other means to have me review your stuff. Personally does it hurt me? Yeah. Nobody likes losing friends!
There’s another way this has happened before and it came to me this morning again as well. I was going to write about it previously but as I said, more time spent on delivering author content than spilling my own thoughts.
I get a lot of requests for reviews. I accept the ones I’m interested in. If you send me a message anywhere or an email and you say “Hey! Check out my book!” I do. But if that message or email adds on the sentence “Please don’t post if it’s three stars or less.” My interest totally just dropped. I am not here to cater to your lack of confidence. I have my own readership I have to be loyal to. If you’re wanting me to put in the work to read your book and review it, I’m going to post the review regardless. So know that before you contact me. Every five star book on The Top Shelf has earned it. I will not five, four or three star your book just because I won’t get to post it if I go any lower than that. You sent me the book, I put in the time, regardless of what the outcome is, that content is going on my site.
Do I do promotions? Yes between Book Powered and The Top Shelf, I do! I do features, featured trailers, book blitzes, and book bashes for books and I don’t necessarily have to read them. Although Book Powered needs to be updated. Too much craziness going on in my life right now. Are reviews promotions? Yes they can be! I see no reason for you to not use a 5 star review to help promote your book. Just remember that promotion is not the reason reviews are done. Reviews are done because people want to know our opinions on your books. They need to stay pure. Asking a reviewer to only post four star and up reviews on your books in my mind is just as bad as all those authors that were paying for good reviews. You’re trying to only get a collection of good reviews and not necessarily honest ones.
Now does that mean that people should blast your book? Or blast you for that matter? NO! There is a perfectly respectable way to get across what annoyed you about a book. Did too much grammar or lack of grammar jolt you out of your “reader trance”? Say so, but only if you received a final copy. If you received an ARC or an uncorrected proof, DO NOT DO SO. Was that sentence nasty? No. Saying “This book was a waste of time.” Or “Why does this author even write, they’re horrible!” is nasty and that’s not how you review. Reviews are meant to be constructive. They’re meant to be what you loved or didn’t love about a book and they’re meant to be heartfelt. The purpose is to tell readers what you think. To indirectly give the author some criticism so that they can learn and grow. They’re meant to be helpful not hurtful. If people say mean things in a review, they’re trolling plain and simple. Ignore them, do not engage and do not tell other bloggers not to post their opinion if it’s less than four stars. Accept the review for what it is.
I hoped you enjoyed this blog! I actually enjoyed writing it. I’ll try to do this once a week if my schedule allows. Please leave comments! Keep them civil though. This is a no hate zone! See ya guys!