3 S.R. Johannes: Author/Blogger Bashing is Not Cool!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Author/Blogger Bashing is Not Cool!

Okay so I rarely get pulled into the nasty debates online. Whether it is about self pubbing or blogger reviews. Unless someone is dissing a friend? I try to stay out of it. Why? Not because I am a pushover - trust me - but because it's not worth my time to defend my choices or my writing or fuel a fire that is already blazing out of control.

I'd rather spend that time doing positive things like writing, helping people, or building relationships with readers.

I also try to never get pulled into the blogger debates with authors. Why authors are commenting on bad reviews or if bloggers are being too harsh.

You see - no matter what you say - you can't control what other people think. No matter how much evidence you have to support a point - they will always think what they think and show something contrary. Words don't change people. Actions do.

So my philosophy is to always TRY to be positive, treat everyone with kindness, and make my own way with integrity. I voice my opinion without taking others down. And sometimes I turn the other cheek b/c it's just not worth it. I don't need anyone else to see my own point or wave a big flag when I pass by. It'd be nice but I don't need or seek that.

But this debate on Goodreads has gotten under my skin. And I don't blame bloggers for getting peeved.

I feel the need to speak out. Why? Not because I have much of an opinion on the actual "crime committed" by some poor blogger. And not because I have any ill feelings toward the author who is bashing them.

I need to speak out because I love bloggers and want to stick up for them!

I'm tired of the media grabbing hold of a story that rakes bloggers across the coals.

And I am SOOOOOO tired of hearing authors - indie or traditional - complain about book bloggers. I'm tired of reading stories about unethical bloggers. Im tired of authors calling bloggers bullies b/c they give a bad review.Because for every jerky blogger there are 100 bloggers doing the right thing in the best way. Bloggers are not all one person (believe it or not) and holding the masses responsible for a few jerks isn't right and isn't fair.

You see I would not be here if it wasn't for book bloggers.

Seriously, bloggers (fellow bloggers as well as book bloggers) gave me and my book a chance when no one else would. Not only that, but bloggers as a whole have been huge supporters to me and very loyal. They have gone out of their way to be relentlessly behind me and Untraceable.

Now before you say "oh, well no wonder she likes bloggers...blah blah." Let me just say - I've had my share of bad experiences just like any author. I've had a blogger flake. sux. I've gotten a bad review. sux again. I even had one blogger personally attack my character, which somehow ended up as a personal attack on me as a person and a writer. Did it hurt? Yes. Did it make me mad? Kinda. Did I cry? Probably (Ok yes, but I'm sensitive.)

But who cares? Just because someone lashes out to you is not a reason to lash back.

Out of the few bloggers who havent been professional or objective, out of the few who seem to bully online -  there are hundreds that are awesome. Many that have supported me so that's what I focus on. Those are the bloggers I focus on.

Now I don't think many people remember this fact about bloggers because we are all so used to the blogging world by now - we take it for granted. So we expect bloggers to do certain things. To act a certain way.

But newsflash!  Bloggers do not HAVE to say jack about you or your book.

That's right. Shocking. They don't have to support you. They don't have to read your book. They don't need to post about them. And, they don't owe you or any writer anything!

BTW - the majority of them never see a cent - never get paid - for reading or writing or posting reviews. The majority of them are either in school or have a full time job and still find time.

Book bloggers read and review books because they LOVE books. Because they WANT to help out the authors they love. They want to read as many books as possible. They want to review. They don't want to let anyone down. They want to be behind making a book or an author a great success. Just because. They get nothing for it.

Okay sure, they get some free books. But who cares? They DESERVE those books for all the hours they put into blogging. Most of them read about book every day or 2! I read 1 a month if I'm lucky! Some stay up late to finish b/c they said they would. Most post book reviews every single day. Not just on their blog, but they take time to post them on other sites too like Amazon, Goodreads, B&N etc. These posted reviews are not for them! It is solely to help the author generate buzz. To give the book a boost. To help get a book in the hands of readers. Book bloggers spend hours and hours and hours out of their daily life reading and blogging and posting interviews and helping with cover reveals.  They drive hours to support authors at signings. They go out of their way to promote books.

And to be frank - we authors LOVE this. Especially indies because we get very little press. Bloggers are all we have really. Besides a few ads and a few prayers of book reviews. The bloggers make it possible for us to build a name. So indies especially appreciate every single review or comment or post or shout out we get. I know I appreciate every single review. Good or bad, I don't care. And I wil thank every single blogger for their reviews out of pure appreciation. Because I know that blogger took the time to read my book, to think about it, and then take the time to post about it.

So good or bad, I know touched them in some way.

Then, some traditional author comes in and complains about an blogger's review because it's negative (join the crowd! Even Hemingway gets bad reviews!) and then an indie author comes in and starts bashing book bloggers because they either don't read her book, won't respond to her, or because the bloggers don't review her book fast enough. Then a random blogger starts a mob online and editors and agents pipe in.

STOP IT!!!!!

Seriously, if you don't like a blogger(s), then don't use them again. Don't send them free books. Don't contact them. Don't promote them. And don't tell your friends or editors to use them.

This thread going on at Goodreads is on verge of bullying. Not to mention, since an indie author started it, somehow it's giving indie authors a bad name now. You see, for some reason, indie authors get stuck with a stigma that we are bitter or have a chip on our shoulder. Most of us don't. But a few do and those are the ones that make it hard for indies to break out. They are the ones that shut doors others open.

Now, because one indie author is complaining, it will make it even HARDER to get bloggers to open up their blogs and give indie books a chance.

So for an author - indie or traditional - to go out and actually threaten to publicly post a "war criminal list" of bloggers they don't like is asinine. What -  are we in some kind of oppressive society or medieval ages where a public thrashing or scarlet letter helps. The only purpose could be in the hopes of tapping into some kind of mob mentality, which is stupid, immature, and again - let me just say - down right cyber-bullying. Which is something all of us writers - especially YA - are outwardly against.

This bullying mentality upsets me more - because a lot of the bloggers I interact with are teens! And let me say for the record (no matter what that author thinks), I respect the teen bloggers just as much as any blogger. I find them intelligent, passionate, and downright smart. When I was a teen, I would not have been organized enough to even run a blog. Let alone read and post reviews like most of these teen bloggers do. So I would never bash a teen blogger  not only because they are teen and I am an adult but because they are freekin' audience! Why in the world would I want to disrepect them in any way?

They are why I write!

So why is it we have to go after teen bloggers now? The ones trying to juggle their own bullies,  school work, parents, hormones, boys, and yet somehow still find time to do positive things - like studying, reading, and reviewing books.

Here's my advice to authors

1) Stop complaining and just write. This goes for indies and traditional authors getting caught up in these debates about bloggers, about self publishing, and about negative reviews. If you spent half the time writing that you do arguing online and bashing other people's decisions, you'd get a lot more done and you'd become an even better writer.

2) Cut the book bloggers some slack. Seriously. Some of these bloggers get about 300 books a year! Most don't even take indie books because they are so swamped with traditional books. Does it suck if you don't get reviewed? Yup. Does it upset me when someone calls my character a B%$#@? Uh huh. Does it hurt when someone says "no I don't review indies" just because I am not with Harper Teen? Obviously. I'm only human.

But am I going to lash out about it? Nope. Not worth my time and I am a better person than that.

3) Please read the blogger policies. Most of the bloggers I have worked with have NEVER promised me a review unless they signed up to be on a blog tour. And even then, some had to bow out at the last minute. Because guess what, they have real lives and real jobs so shit happens. Life happens. Things change. Tragedies occur. It sux, but it's life. Bitching about it doesn't help anyone. Not to mention, some bloggers may not post reviews because they might be negative. So they may be giving you a break. So - if you haven't gotten a review, don't jump to any conclusions about them being total slackers. You never know the reason why they didn't post anything (and to be frank you may not want to.:)

4) Indies - lets stop getting pulled into these online debates. It only hurts us - as a group - in the long run. The best way to move forward is to take a step forward. On your own. Not expect others to follow. We do not need to defend the steps we've taken nor do we need to tromp over people in the process just to prove a point. Treat others as you want to be treated. I mean please, I learned that when I was only 3. Being negative - esp online or in open forums - is NOT attractive and does not make people want to support you or your book. No matter how good you or your book are. I'm not saying, be a wimp and let people walk all over you. Do you stick up for yourself and your friends if they are wronged? Sure, but look at the way you are doing it first. It is really helpful?

My advice to book bloggers

1) PLEASE don't get baited into these stupid arguments. These people are trying to get your attention and good or bad, it gets them noticed.  Being a parent, I know this to be true. If my kid wants attention, he or she will get it one way or another. Good or bad. Any response will give them what they want. Attention. I've seen authors get tons of publicity for saying mean things - all because everyone talked about it and it went viral. Why even give them the press or satisfaction?

2) PLEASE don't lump all of us indie authors into one category. Just as each of you should be judged on your own blog merit and ethics, we indies ask you do the same for us. One author does NOT speak for many. So please don't close down your blog to indie books because of one indie author.

3) Try and be respectful in your reviews - good or bad. It's totally fine if you don't like a book. I don't like many. We love it when you make intelligent comments on characterization or lack of plot. And some of the time, you are dead on. It's the mean "personal attacks" on an author that aren't effective. Other authors notice those personal remarks and make sure to keep those bloggers off the list. Don't be THAT blogger.

4) Be clear in your review policies. Authors would rather you say you cant review a book then say you will and not. Be sure you state what they can expect.

Look, every author gets a crummy review or gets snubbed at some point. That's life. That's part of writing. Take the good with the bad. You have to accept the rejections and bad reviews and "nos" along with the praises and fan letters and yes's. I'd rather get a response or a crummy review than no review or no response. At least something I did stirred some passion in someone or at least I know where I stand. If you cant take it - don't get into publishing because this is tough biz with tons of nos and rejections and disappointments. If you think you will write and not get a bad review or never get snubbed by another author or a blogger, you are wrong. It happens. 

So if you have a beef with a blogger - please don't take it to the Internet. Just deal with it professionally and courteously. (I'm sure there may be exceptions to this but I can't think of one right now). Personally attacking someone or publicly humiliating someone online is just not cool. It's BULLYING and we all know some of the serious consequences of that especially in the YA world. You never know how you can hurt someone. And over a missed review? A bad review? It's just not worth it.

No matter who we are - bloggers, indies, authors, editors, agents - it's about showing mutual respect to each other and acting with professionalism.

I believe you get what you give in this world.

So can't we all just get along? We are all on the same side of this - we just love books.

I say, Stop the Blogger Bashing.



Natalie Aguirre said...

I haven't read the Goodreads debate and have only heard a bit about it. But I so, so, so agree with you on this.

I so respect book review bloggers for all the time they spend reading books and reviewing them, whether the reviews are good or bad. Getting free books doesn't make up for all the time they take out of their life to do it for the love of books.

I hate any blogger bullying-author or book review blogger. There was a blogger earlier this year who may have plagerized someone and she tried to apologize on at least 3 occasions publicly on her blog. And it was never enough for the ones who wanted to criticize and bully her. That's what it came down to. And it made me sick to see.

We should treat each other with the courtesy and respect we treat people we interact with in person. Just because we are communicating through the Internet is so no reason to mistreat and bully each other.

Thanks for saying what you said.

Susan Oloier said...

I don't know anything about the controversy on Goodreads. What I do know is that I participate in a weekly meme with some super awesome book bloggers. So I just like cyber hanging out with them (being a reader AND a writer). The ones I know are wonderful.
Sounds like some pretty horrific stuff has been happening online. So sad.

ali cross said...

I am right there with ya Shell. I haven't followed this controversy because, like you, I generally steer way clear of flame wars. But this particular battle scares me. As an indie author, book bloggers are basically the ONLY marketing tool I have at my disposal.

I don't feel cheated if I've sent out a request (with ebook) for a review and the blogger doesn't post their review. If I were a business, this would be akin to giving away free services/products for customer review and even in that world, sometimes customers don't follow through and other times, it's just a risk you take. Business = risk every single day.

Thank you for standing up for book bloggers Shelli!

Mundie Moms said...

I have a post I've been working on for awhile now about this whole thing, but I think you just addressed it. There's so many fabulous authors and bloggers out there, and for some reason it always takes a few bad ones on both sides to give us all bad raps. I'm hoping more positive things will come out of this huge drama, than harm. Thank you for your support of book bloggers!!

Patricia JL said...

I haven't seen what's happening on Goodreads but I've seen enough blogs and links to get a good idea. I wish it would stop too. Can't we learn to get along? Isn't one incident enough to be a wake up call?

Jemi Fraser said...

Good advice all the way through! :)I've only heard rumours of this too because I do the same - try to stay FAR away from the flaming and the fussing. It's so sad how people can get caught up. I would imagine a lot of people regret what they post later. We have to be so careful what we say online.

Mickey said...

Amen, babe! Thanks for sticking up for us. It's HARD being a book blogger sometimes! We have other lives outside of the blog. We DO like to read for pleasure and not purely for writing reviews. We have jobs, kids, school, and other responsibilities! So when we accept your book, we try our hardest to read it. If we don't get to it, we're sorry, but like you said, most of us can't promise a review. I have my policy on my blog, but I rarely am able to stick with it. If that happens, I make the time to email. But it doesn't make authors look good when THAT is what they're focusing on. They should be writing, not getting panties in a bunch because a few bloggers messed up. We're all different. So basically, I love your post. I will share it. Thanks!

Sara said...

I'm not familiar with the GR issue, but I've seen some of the over the top reviews that pop up on my feed, so I have a general idea of what happened.

Thank you for acknowledging that things happen... sometimes we (bloggers) fully intend to review and/or post something, but everyday life (like working to pay our bills or being busy all week to finish a huge project for school)gets in the way. If I could, I'd spend all day promoting books and reading (both traditional and indie books), but, at this point in my life, it just isn't an option.

I'm disappointed that there is so much drama when it comes to bloggers and arcs and all the rest. I truly do understand why everyone involved gets frustrated, but I'm just happy to be involved in this wonderful community of readers and writers. I try to stay out of it because my everyday life is stressful enough and reading has always been an escape for me... I don't want to give that up!

Lynsey Newton said...

All I really want to say is THANK YOU! A very eloquent post saying what I think a lot of us want to say.

Amanda said...

I tend to avoid as many of the dramatic discussions as possible. It's not worth it to me, but thank you for your post! You are so spot on, I had to turn down a lot of promised reviews earlier this year. I felt horrible about it, but things happen!

Amanda said...
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Amanda said...
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Emily said...

As a book blogger, Thank You!
If your book wasn't already on my wishlist, I would be adding it now :)

Lately it feels like someone has been passing out crazy pills and it's very refreshing to hear from an author who gets how this whole thing works.

We all love books right? We can't possibly ALL agree on ALL the things. But books? We love those and when we take those crazy pills we loose sight of the books - isn't that why we are all here?

So again, thank you!

Happy reading (and writing :)

Mrs. Jones said...

I also dont know what the GR controversy is that you are talking about... but I agree with everything you have said.
Im usually too nice in my reviews, BUT I follow MANY book bloggers who are very BLUNT and honest... and sometimes that is harsh.
Oh well.
No one should bash or bully anyone. Whether its the author, publisher, blogger or reviewer.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Got referred to your blog by someone on Twitter. As a book blogger, I enjoyed reading your post and the comments. I dread posting anything negative in a review and try to focus on the positive and on who might enjoy this or that book even if I didn't particularly. I dropped my GoodReads account a while ago. LibraryThing seems much more civilized! ;)

lady reader said...

Well said, Shelli.

Also, if you read the backstory behind this mess on GR, this grown man sent one of the accused underage teen bloggers a fake photo of himself. Things got wayyyy out of hand after that. But, WTF business does this douche have sending a child (basically) a photo of himself? (fake or not).

I would be severely beyond outraged if that were my daughter! Forget the fact that the immature wannabe author didn't get a review or interview.

He surely will get absolutely nothing after this. As far as I've seen all 3 of his books are being put on "DO NOT READ EVER" lists on GR. Not a smart move on his part.

Sadly, it is morons like this that makes reviewers re-think blogging. All of the fun is being sucked out and we are being harassed and degraded.

S. T. Lakata said...

This is a very good post. I'm not familiar with the Goodreads issue, but I appreciate what you've said on the topic as a whole. I've gotten good reviews and blah reviews. I try to take everything as a learning opportunity. As a writer, I believe it's important to understand that many people are not going to think your book is their favorite cup of tea.

It's encouraging to see so many writers and bloggers show positive support (comments on this blog for example). It is fantastic to be able to read other opinions that express a "stay positive" type of attitude. And that's not to say that people can't give negative reviews, but try to stay positive regardless of what other people say.

It's not easy being a writer, but I wouldn't even think for an instant that being a book blogger is easy. As long as people can understand that everything isn't going to be peachy, it'll make things that much simpler when it comes to handling stress, bad reviews, or anything really. I enjoyed this post. Thanks for your input on the topic.

Brian Wilkerson said...

I have one thought: You rock!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I don't know anything about the issue you are talking about. For the most part any book review I do on my blog/GR/Amazon/B & N are on books I buy. I don't write reviews if I don't like the book. On occasion I have been sent ARCs and done reviews on them. If I don't love the book I only focus on the positive points (that has happened only once). I certainly hope I have never offended an author or another blogger.

Sugarbeat said...

Hi Shelli!
I don't have anything new to add to the discussion, but I want to say thank you for your wonderful post - big cyber-hugs for your support of book bloggers! I agree with you, if you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all!

Rebekkah Ford said...

I wasn't aware of this issue. WOW. It makes me sad. Why can't we treat others on how we want to be treated? I just don't understand. . .

Thanks for your awesome post, and I totally agree with you.

I love and appreciate book bloggers. I hope this nonsense will stop, and we can all have mutual respect for one another instead of lashing out venomous words to the other party.

Dorothee said...

Thanks for your post. It's sad and painful for all when this happens. Did you or your friend try and contact the moderator at Goodreads and ask them to close the thread and take it down, and write a short note to the main commentors involved? I am moderator in a forum, and we had a similar case of overheated emotions recently, and got contacted. In the end, all involved thanked us for interfering before it got even worse, and i guess, often only the moderator can take such a step.

Lelia said...

via facebook: "Do not argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."

nuff said

Catherine Stine said...

Wow, where have I been? I missed that whole shebunga on Goodreads. I totally agree with you on how generally great book bloggers are, and how we all need to be professionals. Why wouldn't you? Good post.

Kelly Polark said...

Well said, Shelli. I've been rather absent online this summer and missed the Goodreads negativity, but as a rule I stay positive online. It's totally unprofessional to whine and complain if someone gives a bad review. But then again, I don't bash a book even if I didn't like it. I don't talk about it. I respect the fact that the author spent months/years creating it.
Thanks for sharing. And stay smiling!

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