Dear Authors and Dear Bloggers: Thoughts on #BloggerBlackout

The Internet has really exploded over this author boycott thanks to a couple of really horrifying incidents. One author named Katherine Hale (you might remember her from last week's "5 Things") actually stalked a blogger who gave her a poor review. Then, another author took it a step further and actually assaulted the reviewer who gave him (what he thought was) an unsatisfactory review.

Yikes! And my aversion to Good Reads has been confirmed because both incidents began following reviews posted to the site. As it happens, however, I'm not behind this boycott thing. Why? Because I don't believe in punishing perfectly lovely authors for the bad behavior of a few. I do, however, believe that those two deserve a special boycott of their own. They took "I love my book!" to "I'm blindly in love while acting deranged" levels and that is definitely unacceptable.

So, while I'm not going to tell you I'm taking part in #BloggerBlackout, I am going to address some folks for behaving badly:

First of all, Authors (the BBAs), give it up! As a fellow writer I've been in your shoes so I can say this with the voice of experience. Yeah, you believe in your book and think it's pretty darn perfect. And, yeah, having a blogger bash it is like your mother-in-law calling your baby ugly because she looks like your side of the family. But you know what? I'm pretty sure everyone and their cousin knows not to read book reviews online. (C'mon, I know someone told you.) It's weird and either makes you angry or depressed. No good comes of reading reviews.

So, you pretty much brought this on yourself by asking someone's opinion and then reading the answer. If you want a review, ask your agent or your sister to print out some of the good ones. Don't do it yourself because you know you can't handle it. (I can't handle that stuff, either.) And certainly don't contact or stalk the blogger. Stalking is illegal no matter how "perfect" your book happens to be.

Oh, and accept that your book isn't perfect. A few of you publish one volume and think it's the holy grail of books. I promise you that a first book rarely is the next great American (or your country of choice) novel. Put the darn thing away, delete your Good Reads account and start on the next book. You've got a lot of writing to do. Don't waste it on an online feud that you're not getting paid for.

Second of all, fellow Bloggers, what the heck? Since when was giving a book a bad review for the shock factor a thing? I know that not all of you are doing this but a good number are becoming book blogger trolls. If you're tired of reading every book about vampires/zombies/sadomasochistic businessmen, switch genres. (Or stop reading self-published works.) Don't take your boredom out on the author. And certainly never write negative reviews merely to draw more traffic to your blog. That's really wrong.

Of course, I don't think you should be afraid to voice your opinion (Lord knows I've done so enough times, myself!), What I do think is that some tact is required. You are dealing with the above author's "baby." They've spend countless hours with some blood, sweat and tears to create what takes you a fraction of the time to destroy. Therefore, tread cautiously. "This is trash" or "the worst book I've ever read" are not helpful and certainly don't make you sound like a very reliable source, quite frankly.

The best reviewing advice I ever got was to write in three phases: the good, the bad and what can be fixed/how it can be fixed. Yeah, you might not have time/character space to hit all three items but the first two should be good enough. It's a good way to show you know what you're talking about. And (should an author happen to "stumble" upon your review) it's a good way to "tell it like it is" without totally destroying a sensitive artist's confidence. Heck, those of you aspiring authors might find yourselves in their shoes someday and I'm sure you'd like the same treatment.

But if a book is really that bad no one would fault you for failing to finish reading the thing. I've read a few and sent messages to the publisher letting them know why I couldn't put a review on my blog. (I didn't want to publish an entirely negative review.) Refusing to review something you believe is very poor quality can get your point across, too, when it comes to literature.



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Mansfield Park
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