Look, I try really hard not to let the drama that goes on in the book reviewing world (especially Romancelandia drama) impact anything that I'm doing. The fact of the matter is that someone is always pissed off about something. But there was another HUGE dust-up this past week that got me thinking: why am I doing this again? Why am I putting myself through this? And the decision I ultimately made was that it would be in my best interest to cut WAY back on the number of books I review each month. Not to say that I'll be reading less, because that'd be a big ole lie, but I will not be reviewing every book I read from this point on. Here's why:
(And please read the note below about how this post is not about ALL authors. I've worked with some really great authors. This post is NOT about them.)
I'm not going to recap the most recent Romancelandia drama. Lots of other folks have done it better than I ever could. (If you're really curious, go on Twitter and look up The Duke's Princess Bride--and especially check out this review of it. The slew of crap that comes up will keep you busy reading for the rest of the day) And honestly, this most recent drama was just the straw that broke the camel's back for me.
I got into book blogging because I love reading. I wanted to share my favorite books and authors with like-minded readers--and I wanted to warn them about books I hated. Because ultimately, reviews are for readers, NOT authors. That's a point that seems to get lost for lots of authors. There are some authors out there who think that they're owed only good reviews, that negative reviewers are trolls, and that every reviewer should leave actionable, well-thought-out feedback for their book. Some of them like to act as tone police and spout the old "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" drivel. Some of them take negative reviews as a personal attack and sic their fans on the reviewer. Well, I'm here to call bullshit on all of that:
1. All I owe an author is the courtesy of buying their book. They get my money. (Because book pirates can choke on a bag of dicks, as far as I'm concerned.) That's it. I don't owe them a glow-y, happy review. If I hate their book, the book I paid for, then I'm well within my rights to say so publicly.
2. Not all negative reviewers are trolls. Maybe they're normal people, just like you, who hated a book. There's often nothing more sinister to it than that.
3. I'm not your editor, authors. If you want actionable feedback, pay someone for it. I'm reviewing for free. My reviews aren't for you. So, if I want to leave a one star review on Goodreads along with a note that just says, "Boo!"--that's my right. I don't ever do that, but you get my point.
4. The tone police can kiss my ass. I'll say what I want, when I want.
5. Whining about bad book reviews makes you look bad, not me, authors. Bad book reviews are not a personal attack on you. They just mean I didn't like your book. That's what happens when you publish--not everyone is going to tell you that you're a genius. Sorry. That's just reality. If you can't handle criticism, you're in the wrong business.
But honestly, the sheer number of times I've had to say these things lately is EXHAUSTING. I just really don't have the energy or the desire to keep fighting this fight. So, I'm going to review the books I love, I MIGHT review the books I really passionately loathe (just to warn readers), but I'm skipping all the stuff in the middle.
I'm not sure authors realize this, but Amazon has made it pretty difficult for book bloggers to leave reviews. There are minimum purchase requirements, and even if you meet those, lots of reviewers are getting their reviews blocked for no apparent reason. (Because the 'Zon is vast and mysterious and no one can ever truly know how anything works there behind the scenes) So, if all I get for my trouble reviewing is attacked by angry authors and the tone police, why would I go to the effort of navigating Amazon to leave my reviews? Answer: I'm not going to. Not anymore.
Authors: Before you complain publicly about how readers just don't review anymore, consider that all the above-mentioned crap is why you're not getting more book reviews. Blame all the jerks who harass book reviewers for your woes. (Amazon might also deserve a small portion of the blame. But it's mostly because of the jerks.)
Final, final note
This post is NOT about all authors. It's actually about a small subset of shockingly vocal authors. Most authors are great. I've worked with some really fantastic authors who are super supportive and appreciative of my time and all their readers' time. I cherish the online friendships I've made while running this blog. Those aren't the authors I'm talking about in this post, though. I'll continue to be a champion for the authors I love.
This is it. No, really...
For all my followers, the blog will continue to be updated on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Monday posts will be the few book reviews I decide to do and whatever other topical stuff I want to talk about, Wednesdays will be book sales, and Fridays will be book recommendation lists. If you want to see something else, let me know. I'm open to suggestions!