Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unpopular Opinions Day

Today's post is just two quick housekeeping type notices regarding some blogging issues I've encountered and been thinking on recently.

The first is negative reviews.  A few weeks ago, I posted a negative review on Goodreads and got some pretty angry responses from people who felt like those who don't like a book shouldn't post a review, or should only post a review saying "this wasn't for me".  I see that on  blogs from time to time as well and it kind of annoys me.  I would much rather see a post detailing explicit reasons, backed up with evidence from the text, for why a reader thinks a book is bad than a post that says "it just wasn't for me". 

So to help explain why I write negative reviews, I thought I'd give you an idea about why and how I write my blog.  I am not trying to break into the publishing industry as an author, editor, copywriter, anything.  So this blog is not about bolstering relationships with authors, publishers, publicists, etc.  My blog is really about my Reader Friends.  One of the greatest joys in my life is telling people what to read.  So this blog is about what I'm reading and whether or not I'd recommend it to a friend.  I have several ideal Reader Friends in mind when I write this (mainly my bloggy besties Jacki and Jenny).  When I write a review, I write it as if one of them had asked me, "What did you think of X book?"  If I hated a book and didn't think they would enjoy it, I would tell them, right?  I wouldn't give a bunch of nonsense about "every book has it's reader and I can find something positive to say about anything". 

Honestly a lot of the "find something positive in every review" to me seems like posturing for ARCs.  When I read that someone wants to be professional by refusing to criticize a book, unless that person is involved in the publishing industry (which is a totally different situation), I read it as "I don't want to mess up my chance to get more free books."  All of that to say, you will find strongly worded criticisms of books on this blog.  I don't personally attack authors, but I do write my honest opinions, even if those opinions aren't always nice and happy.  I am not opposed to tearing apart a bad book and you can look forward to two such reviews tomorrow.  So be warned.

My second thing is actually related to ARCs.  My review policy is about to undergo some serious changes.  I've worked with TLC Tours a lot and I'm definitely not going to give that up, but I am going to be giving up most other ARC submissions.  One, I'm tired of feeling pressured to read something on a deadline.  A few books a month for TLC is one thing, but I hate having every book I read dictated by deadline. 

The other thing is that I am SO SICK of the book blogging obsession with ARCs.  People are constantly talking about the issues relating to people requesting ARCs, ARC envy, who got what, etc, etc.  I see it most on YA blogs, but, what is ironic is that on YA blogs I see it mostly from adult bloggers rather than teen bloggers (way to stay cool teens!).  And it drives me nuts.  If you don't get an ARC, wait three months and buy the book.  I promise there are bigger issues in the world to fret over.  And of course the assumed obligation to the author and publisher to write a nice review ("I didn't love it, but I'm sure it's great for other people"), even if the book is terrible.  I'm just over it.  So I'll still be doing TLC Tours and I'll still be talking to publicists that I already have relationships with and respect, but I'm not going to be using Shelf Awareness to request anything and I'm not going to be accepting other requests.  I'm just gonna read what I want to read. 

Feel free to react to my very unpopular opinions below.  And if you're offended by the trashing of books (even if they deserve it), you should probably avoid my blog tomorrow.  

25 comments:

  1. I love this.

    I wrote a similar post on my blog a few months ago after somebody insulted me for writing a negative review on GR. (It was an independently-published free book on Kindle and I strongly believe that it was the author under an anonymous profile, considering that the only book this person had "read" and commented on was the book in question.) GR is not for licking the boots of authors or constantly stroking their egos. I've cut back on writing scathing reviews of books that I don't like after I discovered that yes, the authors were actually reading them, but I will still make my opinion known, and I don't think I or anyone else should have to apologize for that. Ever.

    Good for you for posting this! I think you're 100% right.

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    1. Thanks Megan. I had some pretty harsh comments on a GR review as well. What people need to remember is that GR and blogs like mine (and it sounds like yours) aren't written FOR authors or FOR publishers/publicists. It's about the reader and the reading community.

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  2. I feel like I went into blogging without much of a "mantra" about it, but I've changed that in myself. I feel like I know what I enjoy about blogging and just 100% stick to doing those things.

    I really liked getting ARCs and free books at first but hated the pressure and hated reading stuff on deadlines. I started my blog because reading is my HOBBY... ya know? I no longer accept ARCs at all and actually enjoy blogging :)

    And you read my blog and know that I don't bite my tongue when I hate a book. I feel good about trashing a crappy book every once in a while, actually.

    I'm glad that you're taking a stand on things that make blogging not-as-fun for you.

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    1. It's so exciting to come home and see that package on the porch, but it really really starts to be a drag when you feel like you can't read anything BUT ARCs to keep up with review schedules. I'm excited about getting back to my blogging roots. And being a little nasty when it's called for (and can be justified with empirical evidence - or just my opinion).

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  3. Love this & totally agree!

    I've only reviewed one book, per author request & the pressure to read it & write a post was to much for me. Plus, I didn't like the book. At all. Which I wrote about & the author saw. I felt bad & it was way more stressful then it needed to be!

    I by no means, consider myself a book blogger, but after the last experience, I think I'll skip any options to do reviews in the future.

    And in regards to ARCs... That's just way to much pressure for me. I want to read & enjoy it. Not rush through something, so I can write a review & then rush on to something else.

    Great post & good for you! = )

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    1. Thanks Andrea! It's always nice to get some support!

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  4. I love everything about this post Julie! I find myself going in swings - I enjoy getting ARCs and then the pressure breaks me down so I swing back to not doing much with them.

    I totally agree on the whole negative reviews. I try to be nice (no author bashing) but I'm going to be honest and blunt.

    And I totally have you and Jacki in mind a lot when I'm writing reviews! :)

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    1. There is such a huge difference between author bashing and tearing apart a poorly written book. I think most people don't see it that way, but it's true. There are some objective measures of good and bad writing and when those aren't met, it's ok to say so. It's also ok to state personal opinion based on personal interests.

      To me, author bashing would be something along the lines of "s/he's stupid", "s/he doesn't deserve to be published", "s/he is a bad person". But to critique a book, even to the point of saying "this book shouldn't be published" is a completely different can of worms.

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  5. ~ I agree with you - I see people posting about ARCs all the time and how they are so vamped to have them etc. I like to blog about what I read but on my own time. More of me keeping track of what I think about things then me trying to satisfy other people. I enjoy reading as it's my main past time and I couldn't imagine being forced to read something - for instance school reading - again - cause to me if the storyline doesn't catch me I can't finish the book and I am not interested in wasting anyone's time.

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    1. Thanks Marie - it helps to know that others also feel the ARC pressure!

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  6. I largely agree with what you say here, Julie. I hate the deadline feeling that comes when I have picked up too many ARCs to handle - sometimes life just gets in the way. But I never promise a review, just say that I will look at it and consider it for review. Also, I am not afraid to give negative reviews when I think they are warranted but I always tell exactly what bothered me about a book and what I liked about it. The feedback from authors has generally been to the effect that they appreciate the "honesty" of the reviews because it makes them more believable to others considering purchase of the book.

    I always mean to cut back on ARCs - and have a little - but my curiosity eventually gets the best of me and they stack up. I do tell folks that I run at least 6 weeks from receipt of a book and if they have a shorter timeframe in mind, they'd best count me out. I am reluctant to cut out ARCs completely because every year I discover some wonderful new writers that way - and would have missed them otherwise. It's a really fine line to walk, one that is easily crossed into the "problem" area, for sure. Enjoy your blogging; that's the key.

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    1. Sam, thanks for the comment. It is SO hard to find that balance in regard to ARCs. I'm like you - I vow to cut back and then see something that catches my eye and wind up with another stack. But hopefully this time I'll be able to exert a little more self control and keep things manageable.

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  7. I've only been reading your blog for about 6 months. I am NOT a blogger but am an avid reader and am always looking for book recs. The reason I appreciate your blog-- your honesty. Sometimes you don't like books and that is FINE. That is real. It is NOT bashing.
    Thanks for sharing your reviews.
    Keep up the good work!
    Kim D

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    1. Thank you Kim! I'm so glad to have you here!

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  8. I very much appreciate negative reviews (and will be on a lookiut for the ones tomorrow :) ). I think it is great that there are people like you out there who are not afraid to say what they really thought of a book.

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    1. Thanks Erin - hope you enjoyed my negative reviews and I'm glad to hear from those who can appreciate honesty in reviewing!

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  9. I'm totally on your side. Those wishy-washy reviews are just silly. I'm glad that you have definite opinions and can decipher why you did or didn't like a book. Your reviews are intelligent and insightful.
    Stick to your guns!

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    1. Thanks Jody! I miss you guys so much!

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  10. I appreciate honesty. I have dogged quite a few books, several I received free (arcs). The same publicist contacted me about other books even after I wrote a negative review. I will have a negative review kinda sorta going up Monday, still not sure how that review is going since i havent officially finished the book. But, I hate people that give fluffly reviews and fight over free books. I only read books that sounded good to me or that our book club selects. I dont ask for free books unless it really does sound like something I want to read. And I've been disappointed. And this was written underthe influence of wine, so my apologies.

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    1. Hahaha! Thanks E! I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only blogger who feels this way. The ARC situation is seriously out of control. I get SO annoyed that "ARC envy" is even a phrase.

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  11. I'm obviously lost, I don't even know what ARC is. Was that was Noah floated on?

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    1. Hey Ben! ARCs are Advanced Reader Copies. Publishers send them to media, reviewers, and bloggers before the publication date, for free, in return for a review published around the date of release. The reviewer/blogger gets a free book and the publisher/author gets some free publicity. It's nice, but something I increasingly see bloggers getting in a snit over, which is just silly and something I want to avoid being involved in. For that reason, I don't request books from publishers, as many bloggers do, and I've stopped accepting most requests from publishers.

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  12. I completely agree with everything you said!! I write negative reviews... I've a couple authors freak out even though I don't think I am rude or anything but to me someone who won't write a negative review is not being real.

    As for ARC's, that makes me mad too. I have really stayed out of a lot of the drama and limited the blogs I follow, I'm never on twitter, so I don't have to deal with a lot of that. But bloggers like that make us all look bad and that's not cool!! I've cut down on ARC's a lot but I need some better willpower because I do want to read more of what I own and buy!

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    1. In all honesty, it's turned me off to quite a few YA bloggers. I feel like it's not as much of an issue in the adult blogging circles because adult ARCs aren't given out as frequently? I could be wrong there. What is saddest to me though is that it isn't the teen YA bloggers who are giving YA blogging a bad reputation, it's the adults.

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