The Minefield that is running a Book Review blog

Posted May 24, 2011 by Nix in Random musings / 3 Comments

I haven’t been a blogger for very long; this site has been up for only 4 months. I love to read, I have since I was small, and I started this site simply to wax lyrical about books I loved. Pretty soon I was obsessed with the stats on the blog, forever looking at what seemed to be popular and thinking up new features to boost its ratings. When I’d checked statcounter for the third time in a day, I realised that my priorities had shifted from the books on the blog to the blog itself. I love running this blog. Yes, sometimes I’d appreciate some help, but I can’t help give a little squee of excitement when I gain a new follower or someone comments on a review. That being said, a number of things have been spouted around various blogs over the last couple of weeks that make me wonder if running a book blog is worth the hassle it creates. Authors, reviewers and customers have all been ranting on about various issues surrounding the etiquette of book reviewing, and I needed to get my views down on paper before my head explodes with all the suppressed opinions floating about in there. The comments below are ones which I’ve seen in various forms over the last few weeks. They aren’t aimed at anyone directly, but they caught my attention and I decided to have my say on them.  I’m a novice in this field, and I know my opinions will matter very little to the experienced members of the Romance community, but I’m going to say them anyway.
Comment One: I’m stopping following “X” blog because some of the books they pimp are crap
This comment wasn’t made about this blog, but I’m sure people feel this rings true for most blogs. As a reviewer, I give my personal opinion on a book. I try to say what I like and what I didn’t like. I try not to “squee” too much (although it’s hard when I love a book) and I try not to write a review that is a complete annihilation of someone’s “baby”. My Gran used to say that if we all liked the same things, the world would be a boring place. This is definitely true for books. Just because I love it doesn’t mean you will, but I always try to justify my opinions (hence why some are like an English Literature essay :D) to make you aware of my reasoning. No one gets it 100% right all the time, but you know yourself what your limits as a reader are. I’m on Goodreads, and there are people on there whose opinions on books I trust implicitly. One of them recommended an old favourite of theirs, As She’s Told by Anneke Jacob, because they knew I loved BDSM books too. It is one of the only DNF books I own. I hated every line of it; I wanted Anders locked up for abuse and chemically castrated, and Mia sectioned for her own safety. Yet thousands of people disagree with me. This doesn’t mean I have any less faith in that person’s ability to recommend me books; she just didn’t get it right that time. I think what I’m trying to say is no one tries to recommend crap books to people, it just happens sometimes. A reviewer can’t step into your mind and predict whether or not you will like a book, they can only tell you their opinion. If they get it wrong 90% of the time, then obviously your tastes don’t mesh and you should find another blog to look at. However, “some” is a lot different to “most”
Comment two: I don’t like it when reviewers inform me of a review that’s up of my book
Again this wasn’t aimed at this blog. Any reviewer with any manners will only inform you of a good review of your book. It’s like a more detailed version of the “I love your book” email, as they will normally explain the reasoning as to why. If you sent them a review copy and don’t want to read the review, tell them so when you send the book. However, if someone has taken the time and effort to buy, read and review your book, maybe turning round and saying “I don’t want to know” is a little ungrateful. You don’t have to read it, but a thanks would be an appropriate way to response dontcha think? If someone informs you of a bad review of your book, then they really deserve the full force of your wrath. It’s rude; it’s akin to going up to someone on the street and slapping them in the face. I have little sympathy for these reviewers.
Comment three: you can’t review friend’s books
Yes you can. If they ask you to review it, they do so in the knowledge that you may hate it and tell the world. I rarely review books I don’t like (I like to think of this blog as a book pimping site rather than a reviewing one), but if someone sends me a review copy, then I feel obliged to actually review it. You don’t have to be rude about your true feelings about a book, but neither do you have to lie. I saw a statement that twitter blurs the line between reviewers and authors, and this is leading to more and more inaccurate “squeeing” reviews. I do feel that twitter does make it a little harder to be critical of authors, but it doesn’t make it impossible. If an author rips you to shreds for a bad review, so be it. But an author is deluded if they think that, because they exchange a few tweets with you, they will automatically get a good review. I have read many books because of people I follow on twitter. I didn’t like them all, but you have to be able to separate the person from their work.

3 responses to “The Minefield that is running a Book Review blog

  1. I love when I get a surprise in my inbox and it's someone letting me know a review is up of my book 🙂

    If an author rips you to shreds for a bad review, so be it. But an author is deluded if they think that, because they exchange a few tweets with you, they will automatically get a good review.

    excellent point

  2. Great article! This can be a hard one, because blogging in itself can be addictive. I'm very new to book blogging (newer than you), but even now I try to keep telling myself that even though I do have a book blog and that's fun and all, it's not about that. It's about sharing and talking about books and about the community as well.

    It is exciting when you get a few more

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