Monday, February 16, 2015

Discussion: Authors, Reviews and Community

I understand that I have very little clout or influence in the bookish community, since I've only been blogging for less than a year and I have a tiny following. So I understand that my opinion means very little. But I still have opinions, and I want to share them with you. So...deep breath. Here we go.

If you've been following the bookish community news at all lately, you'll know all about the BINGO card and all of the chaos surrounding it.

This has been a complicated topic for me to think about or talk about, because I definitely see both sides to the story. I understand that the author was frustrated and used the card to blow off steam. And I personally found it funny. But I also understand that many bloggers/reviewers got their feelings hurt because of it.

Many negative reviews of the author's book have been flagged and removed from the Goodreads page, and some of those seemed to be genuine negative reviews. Why these reviews have been removed is a mystery, but many are hypothesizing the flagger to be the author who just can't stomach negative reviews. Which is definitely a problem if that kind of author behavior is being allowed on the site.

But other reviews have been in flagrant disregard of the site's terms for appropriate reviews. And that is what I have a problem with.

Reviews on the site are to be focused solely on the book, and not the author. There have been a huge number of bloggers posting one-star reviews of the book and explaining their rating by mentioning the BINGO card or the demand for respect from authors. And when these reviews get taken down, there are more cries for respect and even cries of censorship. Then these reviews get altered slightly and posted once more. But they're still focused on the author instead of the book.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a reviewer posts a one-star review when they haven't even read the review. If the author's actions have deterred you from reading their book, then just don't read it. I don't see any reason to bash the author and/or the book when you haven't even read it, just because your feelings got hurt because of ONE thing the author said on Twitter. I saw someone on Twitter today saying that posting one-star reviews on GR was their way of "retaliating" against the author. Retaliating. Isn't that what children do in a prank war?

In these situations, there are people who have entire GR shelves for books they refuse to ever read. And that annoys/confuses me. If there's a book out there that I know I will never read, I simply don't add it on GR. I already have too many books on my GR account; what's the point of adding a book that will never be read?

There's already so much negativity out there. If you saw the BINGO card as negativity, then fine. It's your prerogative. But why add more negativity to the situation by actively trying to bring the author down? By bringing so much attention to the situation, there are inevitably going to be people who read the book just feed the hype and see what all the fuss is about. That's the real issue. People are going to read the book whether you like it or not. And people may still enjoy it, even if the author made a poor choice on social media.

This community--the bookish community, especially in YA--is a wonderful place most of the time. There is so much love and support here. And this is one of the few communities where the stars interact with the fans on a regular basis. I've been tweeted by some of my favorite authors multiple times, but I've never been tweeted by a movie star.

But this is also one of the youngest communities out there, I think. Many YA authors are fairly young. Many professional bloggers/reviewers for YA books are in their late teens or 20's, and their opinions are taken very seriously. And sometimes, I think this lends itself to petty behavior, unfortunately.

I would like for us to cut the negativity out of our lives. And especially our online lives. Life is too short to get into Twitter feuds, or to spend your time complaining about a book you'll never read. Let's just let it go and move on. It doesn't do ANYONE any good to continue bashing the author or the book.

Let's support each other. Let's talk about books we DID read and absolutely LOVED. Spread that love. Focus more on the positive side. I know that's what I'm going to be doing in the future.

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