The Line

5 01 2012

(Please note that I am a member of Goodreads. I have discussed the situation with several other members on the site and really enjoy my use of the website. None of the author’s names or reviewers are mentioned; however, if you are interested in finding out which authors/reviewers, please check Goodreads.  I have not read any of the authors’ books, and I have tried to make this post as unbiased as possible. If you feel that there is something wrong with my post, please list it in the comments. Hopefully we can have an enriching and interesting discussion and I will correct all errors mentioned. Again, this entire post is all my opinion and not the author’s or Goodreads, or other Goodreads members.)

Recently, a few events one would consider troubling or dergatory has happened on the website Goodreads (goodreads.com). A reviewer posted a review of a book, said she disliked it, and several other people agreed and said that they were not interested in the novel either. An author commented on the review and essentially said that the reviewer, who was entitled to her own personal opinion, was wrong. The reviewer responded graciously though the author continued to harass her. A small campaign began on the author’s Twitter, with other young adult authors participating and claiming that Goodreads was a site where authors went to ruin their future careers, bash books, and a place for assholes. Most of the tweets were removed. However, most of the members of Goodreads found the comments deragatory and false. Many people stood up on the original review, and several of the authors left apologies. But despite the apologies, many people on Goodreads said that their opinions of the authors had been damaged and they would no longer be reading their books. They marked the author’s novels under a “will-never-read” shelf.

This is only the most recent controversy, though plenty of others have popped up both on Goodreads and other places online. This controversy, though, really highlights the author-blogger relationship and all of its many challenges.

Many authors now have blogs and websites. This is considered a standard for authors, and I’ll admit it’s one I expect; when I Google an author and find that they don’t have a website and/or blog I’m disappointed. The authors usually update their blog with information on what they are writing, events that will be held (such as book signings or school visits) and sometimes book reviews. Many authors now write book reviews, and these reviews are often enjoyed and given many comments. The reviews can be very excellent and some authors are fantastic reviewers both on their blog and on Goodreads.

It is possible for an author to have a seamless relationship as both an author and a reviewer. But sometimes there is a hard line. Authors get out of line, by posting reviews getting angry about negative reviews, or bashing a review community like Goodreads. Both situations happened in the Goodreads debacle.

It’s a hard line that the authors need to remember. They need to honor and respect reviewers just like they are. They are reviewers and should respect reviewers, as they are just like the other reviewers: they post book reviews with their opinion and people comment. They need to not bash other reviews or reviewers online. Fine, they can bash other reviewerers privately, but they shouldn’t post bashes online anywhere — whether it be Goodreads or Twitter.

I know that it’s hard to be a reviewer and an author. There are questions — like should I write a Goodreads review of my book? Am I sucking up to people in reviews? There are more, but I cannot think of any.

And it’s the same with reviewers — should I post this scathing review? Do I only ever write 4 star reviews? There are questions for each one.

But both authors and reviewers have to make sure that they stay on that invisible line. That they stay respectful of other authors and reviewers. I think if this line was bridged, we’d have a better YA blogger community.

Reviewers and authors are becoming more and more seamed together, as more authors have blogs, Goodreads profiles, and interact with other reviewers. But both the authors and the reviewers need to stay on that thin line.

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