The other night a debut author, with a fairly high-profile newly released book, publicly snarked on one blogger’s negative comment in their review of her book. This lead to the statement that “these bloggers are aspiring novelists anyway” so it made her feel better. I have been mulling over what I wanted to say about this since seeing it on Monday.
While I don’t want to get too deep into the publicity faux pas this must have been, it baffles me that it continues to happen at all. I get it, we all get caught up in the moment sometimes and react before thinking it through but Twitter isn’t new. Facebook isn’t new. The internet has been around for decades. If you put it out there, people will see it. Especially when the number of your followers continues to grow because you’re promoting your newly released book. Blogging and the blogging community are also not new. News travels fast and it’s a tight-knit community. You insult one, you insult them all.
Now, to the heart of what was really bugging me about this incident. The assumption that “these bloggers” are below her/other writers is oozing off that tweet. Yes, there are some bloggers that are aspiring writers – whether they are writing a novel, poetry or journalism. But to dismiss someone because they didn’t like your book is petty. While the actual link to said blogger’s review wasn’t given, the portion that the author quoted was not rude or harsh. In fact, it was one statement of constructive criticism. How can bloggers feel like they can write honest reviews if they fear that authors will attack them online? Then that really diminishes the role of bloggers when it becomes all 5-star fluff pieces to pump up every book. Those reviews will then become meaningless.
Moreover, the insinuation that all bloggers are aspiring writers anyway. 1) Why is that a bad thing? Weren’t all authors aspiring writers once? Maybe they still are! 2) That assumption statement is absolutely false. There are so many bloggers that I know who have no other connection to the publishing world besides being a blogger, myself included. And unless your actual job is blogging reviews, everyone is doing it voluntarily. This is their hobby. I would gather that the majority of book bloggers do it because they love to read and they want an outlet to share their thoughts about the books that they read.
The unfortunate outcome from all of this is that this author has potentially done herself a disservice now. It’s kind of like biting the hand that feeds you, in a way. If bloggers love your book, they will promote the hell out of it – for FREE! They will push it to their blog followers, to their friends, to everyone and anyone that will listen. I’ve seen it happen and I’ve certainly been a part of that for books that I have adored. On the other end of the spectrum, when something like this happens, word travels fast. And now the book is going to hit the “will not read” list of many bloggers. That’s not to say that the book will never be read, nor am I implying that bloggers are the mecca of promotion… not at all. People will still pick it up, people will enjoy it and some people won’t. C’est la vie. But this huge network of bloggers that spread the word of books to even more people, many are now turned off by that behavior and will never touch said book with a ten foot pole. And the fact that this continues to happen from authors… it’s just really… disappointing.
Personally, this is my hobby. I love reading, and have since I started when I was 3. Blogging is something I (usually) enjoy. This is a hobby. It is not my job. I do not get compensation for reading and reviewing books. I am not an aspiring writer. I have a fantastic full time job in a completely different industry that I am happy with. I enjoy keeping my work life and hobby life separate. I READ YOUR BOOKS FOR PLEASURE. So when authors start bashing bloggers because they may not have liked your book? That irks me on so many levels. We choose to pick up your book and devote our free time to read it. We are not paid to review nor to guarantee that we love it. We do not sign up to get into ridiculous twitter fights because the author of a book we didn’t like wants to publicly fight about it. Not everyone is going to love everything ever written. People often say to think of your favourite book/movie/whatever and look up the reviews. You will always find people who absolutely hated something that you loved.