Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A New Opinion on the Current Blogging Controversy

I'm sure most of you are sick of this topic by now (since it's been all over the blogosphere!) so I promise to keep this short. I emailed Dave at Read Street, the blog for The Baltimore Sun newspaper, to get his thoughts on it and he posted about it today. Here's the link to his post in case you want to check it out.

And for those who have no clue what I'm talking about, here's a quick summary: A blogger posted a negative review of a book. The author took offense and requested that the cover art and all quotes be removed from the post. The blogger declined to change the post. A commenting war errupted as other bloggers vehemently defended the original blogger. This spawned posts on other blogs and a whole host of negativity and concern in the book blogging world.

My opinion - because I KNOW you want it - is that both the author and many of the commenters responded inappropriately. Common courtesy will get you far in this world I say. Can we all try to remember that? And I also disagree with the commenters who say that self-published authors are extra sensitive and write poorly - what a generalization to make! That's just like saying all bloggers are self-focused and uneducated. Hmm ... that harkens back to this controversy, don't you think?

For the record, I review every book I read whether I liked it or not. If I'm giving a negative review to a book I received from an author or publisher I usually email them a heads up first, and I always point out both good and bad things about the book. My opinion isn't the be-all-end-all of opinions; I have yet to find a book that no one likes so I'm sure to say in any negative review that other readers may enjoy this book.

And that's all I have to say about that. At least, that's all until you post some comments!


bermudaonion said...

You're right about self published authors. I'm reading a self published book right now - I'm about 2/3 of the way through and so far, it's great.

Sheri said...

OMG. Was I under a rock!?! I didn't know about this.

You know, I take my reviews VERY seriously. I don't write 125 words. She should have looked at a number of blogs before she made these generalizations!

She makes me MAD!

Erika Robuck said...

As a soon to be self-published author looking for book reviews, I know I'll have to take the good with the bad. If authors want books out for public consumption, they have to be aware that some people just aren't going to like their work. But as the old adage goes, any publicity is good publicity...

Amy said...

Well, I agree with you. I think you know that. :)

In some ways, it's not altogether different from being a blogger and getting a negative comment on one of your posts. I really think it's best just to let it go or attempt to deal with it privately, but I know know know how hard that is to do.

Lisa said...

I think I have only read one self-published book. It was interesting, but unfocused. It was also a long time ago. I am often turned off by them because the covers are so bad!

Dave said...

Heather, by being even-handed in reviews and giving the author a heads-up you probably spare yourself a lot of grief. As I recall, you once invited a self-published author to a book club meeting, and though it may not have been the greatest book ever, I'm sure you made him feel welcome.

dawn said...

Thanks for the link to Dave's article (Read Street).

I didn't write about this, and limited my comments yesterday and today, to allow the ideas to "settle" in me.

I review most books I read, whether they're sent as review copies, gifts, or something I pick up "just because."

My reviews are fair and honest. I'm not a fan of *Three Cups of Tea* or *The Necklace* and my reviews reflect that. I give examples to back up my opinion, whether it is negative or positive.

I hope that if I receive a scathing comment I would take the high ground and not respond the same (I haven't received one, fortunately, so I haven't been able to test this!)

I will add a review policy to my blog as a result of this uproar.

trish said...

Hi, Heather! I think it's generally a good idea not to respond to an author's frustrations at a negative review. Also, I agree with you about reviewing all the books I read, not just the good ones. My blog is where I *talk* to my *friends* about books, and I wouldn't talk to just my friends about the good books; I would talk about the ones I didn't like as well.

However, there were two things yesterday and the day before that hit me in the gut:

1. The anonymous mean comment about my review that appeared to come from the author (perhaps I overreact to the anonymous comments...but alas).

But even more important:

2. I was told to do something that I'm LEGALLY ALLOWED TO DO. I felt I was being bullied by the author into not using the text and cover merely because the review was negative and he's an attorney.

I'm tired of the topic as well, though I will be posting about this one more time because I think my original outrage was lost in the furor.

(I should mention I did give him a heads up about the negative review)

Sara said...

As a blog reader/fan and not a typical blog reviewer (in the interest of disclosure I do write up reviews at Amazon, etc...) I greatly appreciate a blogger with enough integrity to honestly review a book. I feel like most reviews I read in magazines, or newsletters are just re-wording the plot. Sometimes I feel like screaming--but is it worth reading? It seems to me independent Bloggers are some of the only ones in publishing willing to take a negative position. I know that books are a matter of taste, but let me know any flaws you perceive as that's why I'm reading your blogs in the first place. Book reviewing is an art and a skill, so thank you all for your candor.

Bybee said...

I'm really put off if this is the way some authors are going to act. Poor sportsmanship. They need to realize that we could all be talking about newly-discovered classic treasures, which is what I think I'll do instead of taking a chance I'll encounter grief like Trish did.

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