Blogger note: A lot of this started out as a comment on Maggie Stiefvater's post about bloggers. It'd be best to read that first then come back here (or not, whichever, lol).
So there's been a lot of stuff going around the blogosphere about negative/snarky reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere and also bad author behavior. I'm kinda going to be touching on those things but I'll be mainly focusing on my thoughts regarding reviews and how people post them.
I really liked Maggie's review vs. post (or, as someone called it in the comments, "reaction posts") point and it may be something I need to keep in mind for the future. I got involved with the GoodReads stuff twice (defending the books and authors in question) and it was just a bit stupid to waste time on that when I could've been reading a wonderful book instead. I did also leave a comment on a blog that had been involved in a separate incident that I'd heard about, funnily enough, via GoodReads. I need to know when to just read it (or not even get that far) and then X out and forget all about it and go back to whatever awesome book I'm reading or great friend I'm chatting with in Gmail or Twitter.
My problem with it was that both times, the users in question had a lot of followers on GoodReads and (I guess wrongly) I felt that what they were writing should have been less snarky and a bit more professional. I feel like if you're making a habit of writing a review for every book you read, wherever it is, you should be held to a slightly higher standard than the average joe who writes a "review" every six months. I don't care for snark pieces when it comes to anything (books, music, movies) so it bothers me to see somebody with 600 followers or whatever write something so low-brow. Again, it shouldn't bother me (I'm not even the author!) but it does.
Also, I'm not a fan of writing a full-fledged review of a book you didn't finish- it just loses its credibility for me as a useful review; in the interest of full disclosure, I did write two sentences on Goodreads though about Melody Burning because I didn't finish it, but I'm not going to waste time writing 3/4 paragraphs on it. I'm on to the next book. But I didn't post it here on the blog, nor do I even consider it a real review. I may be alone in this though since it's kind of telling people there's a "right" way to write a review, which I do have strong opinions about (and have even from before I was a blogger).
I think the other thing too, for me, is that I viewed GoodReads as a booklover's haven as opposed to Amazon which is open to everything. I had been told about it by my blogger friends and so thought it was like a collection of great book bloggers' reviews, both positive and negative. That image shattered pretty quickly, but I kinda held on to the hope that it wouldn't be infiltrated by snarky ne'er-do-wells.
What may be at the root of how I feel has to do with having to work so hard to be noticed and respected by publishers. I am not kissing ass by not being snarky or writing mainly positive reviews; these are my genuine thoughts. While I am not necessarily a professional (I put LOLs and multiple exclamation points among other things in my reviews), I do my best to make my reviews and my blog as professional as I can make it. I want to be taken seriously, especially when the publisher is kind enough to send me advance review copies. I mean, we have a blogger convention that's going into its third year, being run by smart, hardworking bloggers and also has authors and publishing professionals taking part in panels and discussions. Seeing snarky reviews, especially of a book yet to come out (which means a publisher sent you a copy), just cheapens the blogosphere and hurts our credibility. Maybe it's just me, but if a publisher sends you an advance copy for review, you should at least have the decency to keep snark out of your review. There is the Golden Rule- "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."- but it should be revised to say "If you don't have anything nice to say, at least say it tactfully."
I pride myself on being a good reviewer and writing anything negative I have to say in a polite, constructive manner. Constructive criticism doesn't stop at the editing stage, like some people seem to think; if the comment is general enough- bad characterization, stilted dialogue, etc.-, authors can take that into consideration when writing their next book if they want. No, you can't change the book you just read but you could potentially help the author get better as time goes on. I do know some authors who look for that in blogger reviews; if something is repeated enough times, they do their best to get better at it with their next book, which I think is a good attitude to have.
In regards to authors getting involved, I don't think it's the way to go. It's kinda like when people get up in arms about something "offensive", all you're doing is bringing MORE attention to it. If you don't want anyone to read or watch it, DON'T SAY ANYTHING (I will tell you that if I'm ever an author, this will be hard for me, lol). Because once you say something, people are drawn to it and then want to see what all the fuss is about. Except in this case, for some people, it may turn them off from reading any of your books and that's losing more potential customers. Personally, I let the book stand on its own away from the author; I do the same with music and movies. If what you write/sing/act is good, then I'm all for it. You can do whatever you want in your personal life. That is not my business.
Please chime in with your thoughts and questions, no matter what they are- good discussion is always needed (plus, there's the new comment system from Blogger so I can reply to individual posts!). I do have comment moderation up (for every post, not just this one), but every comment will be posted.
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