Friday, March 22, 2013

Weighing in on the author/blogger drama


The Daydreamer’s Ramblings is a semi-regular feature here at Ramblings of a Daydreamer. It ranges from discussion posts to rants to raves.

Normally when there’s drama in the blogosphere I try to stay out of it and wait for it to pass, but in the last few weeks there’s been a lot of drama. And since a lot of it has to do with author/blogger relationships, I thought I’d put my two cents in since I can speak as both a blogger and an author.

I remember a year or so ago there was this big upset over some ‘professional’ reviewer/critic talking about how bloggers aren’t relevant and have no effect on book sales. I was blown away by the ignorance of that statement. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a review and decided to buy a book based on the blogger’s recommendation. I’ve also had countless people tell me they’ve decided to read a book based on a review I wrote. It’s an amazing feeling, and it excites me every single time because it lets me know my opinion matters. On Twitter I frequently see bloggers saying to each other ‘You’ll be so happy, I just bought *insert title here* because you talk so much about it and your review was so awesome’. I’m sorry, but if that’s not an example of bloggers having power, I don’t know what is.

So it astounds me that in this digital age where we all communicate via Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, email, etc, that people can say stupid things and not expect it to come back and bite them on the ass. If an author doesn’t realize just how large the blogging community is - and how powerful - all they have to do is make a snarky comment to a reader and they’ll quickly find out. 

Here’s the thing some authors need to learn: not everyone is going to like your work. Some will love it, some will hate it, and some will be indifferent. You can’t expect people to bow down and kiss the royal ring just because you wrote and published a book. Yes, it’s a huge accomplishment, but it doesn’t make you better than anyone else. The surest way to get your books NOT read is to act like an ass on the internet. Attack a blogger or leave a nasty comment on a review? It WILL get out. Also, stuff stays on the internet forever. You write something bad and realize you’ve been a jerk and decide to take it down or back peddle? Guess what? In the time it takes you to do that, a dozen bloggers have screen capped your idiocy and posted it all over Twitter.

Book bloggers are a pretty tight-knit community and we talk to each other A LOT. All it takes is the person who was attacked talking about it on Twitter and suddenly the entire blogosphere knows your name, but it’s not because you wrote an awesome book, it’s because you acted like a troll. That will stay with you FOREVER. I can name several authors off the top of my head who I regularly see bloggers mentioning in an ‘I’ll never read her books because of…’ way. Do you really want that? Is a few seconds of venting worth years of having your books boycotted?

From the author’s perspective, I’m self-published, so I rely on bloggers to get the word out. There won’t be reviews of my books in big publications and I don’t have a publishing house behind me to pay for advertising. I depend on the amazing bloggers who do this as a hobby to talk about my books, join blog tours, write reviews, help with cover reveals, host me for guest posts and interviews, and everything else that goes into promotion.

Do negative reviews hurt? Sure. I’m not going to lie. You’re not supposed to take it personally but it can be hard when you’ve put your heart and soul into a book. The thing is, reading is a very personal, subjective thing. You might like or dislike a book based on any number of factors, and that’s ok. IT’S OK. Not everyone is going to love your books, which means authors need to develop a thick skin. If an author is going to fly off the handle every time someone posts a negative review (or says they hate your book cover…), they’re clearly in the wrong business. This business is not for sissies - it’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and it will eat you alive if you can’t toughen up.

Authors need to learn something else: if someone hates your book, don’t comment. That’s their opinion, and it’s their right to share that opinion. Don’t be snarky or sarcastic, don’t go on the attack, don’t call them names, JUST KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. If you feel the need to say something, thank them for taking the time to read and review your book. They dedicated hours or even days to reading your book. Even if they didn't enjoy it, it doesn't mean other people won't, and it doesn't mean that everyone who reads the review is automatically going to decide they won't read it. When I write a negative review, I always try to name at least a few things I enjoyed about the book, and I encourage people to try it themselves. Why? Because it's my opinion, and I know there will be people who feel differently. 

Or better yet, if an author sees red every time they read a negative review, stop reading reviews. That’s what I had to do. When I first published BLUE SKY DAYS, I read every review on GoodReads, blogs, Amazon, and anywhere else I could find them. The positive reviews gave me the highest high imaginable, and the negative reviews made me want to cry. But I sucked it up, understood that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I moved on.

Authors can also take negative reviews as a learning experience. Sometimes the negative reviews are just as valuable as the positive ones. I learned so much from the negative reviews of my first book. The things people didn’t like about it were basically the same few things. I learned where I had gone wrong, and I worked at not making those mistakes again. It made me a better writer. I am a better writer because of people’s criticism. Also, I personally think negative reviews lend a sort of credibility to a book. I have to admit I’m always slightly suspicious when a book only has glowing reviews. I read both positive and negative reviews when making decisions on whether to buy a book, and I know a lot of other people do the same. 

I love this community. LOVE it. I don’t know what I’d do without my blogging friends. I’ve made some friendships that go beyond blogging and books. There are people I consider real, true friends and talk to on a regular basis about anything and everything. 

We, as bloggers - as a community - are so lucky to have each other, and I think more authors need to realize how lucky they are to have us too. 

To sum up…or, y'know, if you didn’t want to read this whole long post and just skipped to the bottom to get the gist…

  • Authors: If it weren’t for readers, you’d be out of a job. Treat your readers with respect. Remember that blogging is a hobby - we don’t get paid for this, we do it because we love books. It’s that simple.
  • Bloggers: We are part of something huge. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been doing this for years, your opinion matters. Don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts, even if they’re different than the norm. Don’t be afraid to do things your way! Be unique, be fabulous, BE YOU. Don’t let the drama make you forget that you love to read and talk about books.
  • Basically, whether you’re an author or a blogger, don’t be a jerk. Why is that so freaking hard for some people to grasp?!
 
And because there’s so much negative drama over authors behaving badly, I’d like to take a second and spotlight some of the authors who do it right. Not only are they insanely talented, they also interact with their fans, answers questions, thank bloggers, and even sometimes have silly, funny, AWESOME conversations with us on Twitter. Kathleen Peacock. Miranda Kenneally. AG Howard. Victoria Schwab. There are many, many more, but these are the first that come to mind. These ladies are rock stars, and they treat US like rock stars. Let’s not lose sight of all the incredible, generous authors out there just because there are some who clearly need to be muzzled.


10 comments:

  1. Very well said. That is all. :-)

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  2. Awesome, awesome post, Marie! It's so true -- a negative review is someone's opinion. I think authors should celebrate the GOOD reviews, the POSITIVE, and learn and grow from the negative.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  3. VERY well said, of course. It makes me so happy to know you, to see posts like this. I love that you are able to see it from both sides. I'm trying to train myself to see it that way, preparing to publish in the near future.

    If only everyone were as level-headed as you, Marie! I'm sure when I get my first negative reviews, I'll cry and eat chocolate, but I could NEVER imagine attacking someone just for their opinion. I hope some day both authors and bloggers will see how damaging their (sometimes) thoughtless actions can be!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

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  4. Wise words, Marie. Some of the drama I see blows my mind. Why is it so hard for some authors to keep their mouths shut? I've had the kinds of reviews those authors freak out about. It's a bit hurtful, but saw no reason to get bent out of shape. I made the reader feel something and that's my goal with writing. Just not all those feelings are going to be positive.

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  5. Very well expressed.

    I haven't been personally involved in any drama, but I find it sad to see that it happens so often now. When will people learn to think before they type?

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  6. I'm very suspicious of books that only have positive reviews too. I absolutely read the not so positive ones, because I feel it gives me a more realistic view.

    Also, I want to say I think you are brave for reading ALL of your reviews, but I think you are so much bigger than a lot of authors because you learned from them.

    And I agree. As bloggers, we are allowed to share our opinion!

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  7. I've been missing from Blogger for a few weeks and thankfully missed the drama. I don't get involved.

    And ALL of my book buys come from reviews or recommendations on social media.

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  8. "Don't be a jerk" I wish everyone lived by those words.

    Being a blogger I know that our words get out there. And I know as humans we are accountable for what we say whether it is face to face or not. We all should be able to be honest. I think more down the lines of--it's not what you say; it's how you say it.

    Now putting on the aspiring writer's cap--I'm grateful for every word written in the 'spere because it make me a better writer. All stories take team to not just to build it into something presentable but to get the word out.

    Offending a blogger is bad business. Offending a reviewer is crazy unless you never want to be reviewed again.

    Think about it. :-)

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Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I love hearing what you have to say, and I appreciate every single comment. I hope to see you here again soon! ♥
~Marie

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