Welcome to Book Blogging 101, a weekly feature on Parajunkee’s View that answers your questions and strives to share great book blogging tips and some helpful hints to help you on your way.
Today’s discussion is not based on a question posed to me, but rather a question that came to mind as I was following the recent drama that ensued after a snarky review on Goodreads. If you aren’t aware of what is going on, it is really quite simple and happens every now and again — someone wrote a negative review and an author got upset. But, really it wasn’t even the author that the review focused on that got upset, it was other authors and it was brought to twitter and then there were blog posts written about it, people were insulted, tirades began, names were called — and then finally it went mainstream, with an article in The Guardian. That article also cites a blog post that narrates all the BS that went down – because you know, it’s not news unless it is dissected in graphic detail.
Now, I’m never one to get in a tizzy over these sort of things. I think the fact that we are not saying things to people’s faces makes us write dumb things on social media sites and it has to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s not like we are all politicians or anything. What authors sometimes forget is that they are a public figure and everything they do is being monitored and their words can affect the sales of their books. It may seem like they are just chatting back and forth with friends — but on twitter it is like they have a megaphone and are screaming it into a microphone that is blasted through a global satellite that goes into a searchable database. I digress though, because this post is not about proper social media behavior. It is really about what constitutes a a reviewer.
Because that Guardian article prompted this post, which was written by my favorite YA author, Maggie Stiefvater. In this posts she calls the review in question, a negative “review” and the Guardian article “fairly ridiculous” and then goes on to point out that what these authors are lashing out at aren’t “reviews” at all but nothing more than posts and that reviews are actually “little academic paper(s)” that “are hard to write”. She states that in a “real” review her opinion is secondary to her defining the strength and weaknesses of the book.
Okay. I can agree with that, somewhat.
But, what caught my attention was later in the post when she stated: “Let’s talk about the negative “reviews” that authors have been lashing out at. They often involve animated gifs, swearing, and snark. They’re often quite funny. But here’s the thing, though. When a blogger writes a biased, hilarious, snarky rundown of a book they despised, he/ she is not writing a review. They are writing a post about a book.”
She also says it’s not wrong but they shouldn’t be respected like “real reviews” are respected in the author community.
She then goes on to state that when you get personal in your “post” you are just being a jerk and even professional camps that push out mean negative thoughts cause a stir and I think she was implying that they weren’t reviews also.
Personally, I think she is mostly correct in her assessment — how many times do we have discussions on reviews and say DON’T GET PERSONAL. Personal jabs and mean spirited-comments are not something you want to include in your review. But, making it out that reviews are only these long winded, hard to write, literary dissections — well I don’t know if I agree with that. Because I think there is a middle ground somewhere, a little gray hopefully??
On first reading her statement, “I’m not saying that bloggers shouldn’t write biased, hilarious, snarky rundowns of books. I’m saying that those rundowns are not reviews. Bloggers who regularly write them cannot expect to garner the same respect and treatment from authors that pro reviewers or non-pro reviewers do.” I felt like I was being scoffed at, yes I’m being sensitive. Yes, yes, I know this. But, everyone wants respect right? And that was hard to read.
I think if a blogger handles themselves in a professional matter, just because they don’t follow some per-ordained academic guideline, can’t they keep the title of reviewer??
Maggie Stiefvater is still my favorite YA author, I’ve never written to her about her strange relationship with wolves — who does that??? But, I still feel like she made what I do here on Parajunkee’s View something not that important and trivial. Her post implied that my thoughts on books would only be considered “real” if I was published in a literary journal or followed certain guidelines. I thought I was a blogger / reviewer but according to Ms. Stiefvater, I’m nothing more than a woman that posts about books and should know my place. Did I read too much into that post? All stemming from the fact that I don’t do literary reviews — which frankly I wouldn’t want to, I did that in college and would get Ds on my paper if my opinion didn’t coincide with the professor. My reviews are a statement of my opinion and my negative responses are usually followed up by reasonable explanations.
I didn’t like this book because…
I loved this book because…
I thought that constituted a review?
Dictionary.com states a review:
1. a critical article or report, as in a periodical, on a book, play, recital, or the like; critique; evaluation.
If I’m dissecting that definition correctly, if I write a critical report about something it is a review, right? Therefor, I can still call myself a reviewer? I would hate to have to redefine myself. My current definition goes as such, I am a blogger that does book reviews and POSTS book info.
Saying this person is a reviewer and this person is not, I believe is just another way to judge one another. To be an author you don’t have to write in a particular way — there are plenty of academic ways to write, how our teachers told us we must always write in this fashion and do this certain thing. But, lucky for us, most authors don’t listen to what their teachers tell them. They break molds, they try new things, the profession morphs –
Not to mention, not all authors get published with big respectable publishing houses, like Scholastic or HarperCollins, does this make them less of an author, less deserving of respect? Does this make them…only a — *gasp* — writer??
I think that everyone’s opinions should be respected and tolerated, and if that opinion differs from your own you have the free will to ignore it. Even if the “reviewer” gets snarky and uses animated gifs — or *gasp* curse words — that is how they express their opinion. It might not be your way of doing it and maybe their methods might actually turn off more readers than it does turn them on — but once again it’s theirs and let them have it.
Yet, the funny thing about this whole thing is, I actually don’t agree with the “review” that started it off. Because in actuality the person didn’t even read the book, she read the excerpt and was already forming opinions. Does this constitute a review? And by calling into question her review, if it is a review, does this make me judgmental and snobby?
See, once again, I just want your opinions!
Should book bloggers change their names to something like “Book Opinionaters”? Or should we proudly wave our Reviewer Flags and stand up for defining ourselves? I personally would like to be a reviewer instead of just some “book post writer person”. But, I also don’t want people to think that I’m a total poser — pretending to be something I’m not. Miles away from the “cool people” respected club, nope don’t want to be that girl.
As always I await your verdict, dear readers.
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I can’t get to all the questions, but please ask your BB101 Questions here…bring it on.
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