Okay, I'll be very upfront. I'm blogging today because feel it. My dander's up and I need to get this off my chest. All this talk of bloggers never posting a bad review has got me hot!
A blogger friend of mine was accused of that just yesterday and I couldn't believe it. She is one of the most dedicated bloggers I know and, while she's never mean, she doesn't sugarcoat things. If she didn't like something, she will tell you. (Read her post on this topic HERE.)So you can imagine my shock at hearing that someone thought she only posted positive reviews of books, like she was some kind of publicity plant. And it's not the first time I've heard these kinds of allegations against awesome book bloggers.
And I'm not talking about people who comment on a blog to share their opinion in an honest and meaningful way. I'm talking about people who pop up on occasion and accuse bloggers of being dishonest or a shyster - no better than the stereotypical greasy used car salesman.
Do we, as bloggers, know authors? Of course we do. Are we in their pocket? NO WAY!
Some people might assume that because we get an advance copy of a book or we know an author that we feel we should give their book a positive review. But bloggers aren't around to cater to authors or publishing houses. We don't get paid for what we do and we certainly don't blow smoke. That's what PR flacks are for.
If you want to know the truth of the matter, there are endless reasons why it seems like a blogger writes only positive reviews. Let's examine the possibilities...
(More beneath the cut.)
While we are providing a service by reviewing books, we want to enjoy what we read. It you have to force yourself to slog through every book you pick up it becomes a job and, as I said, a lot of us already have jobs. So we pull out the books we are excited for, the ones we've heard a ton about and the ones that fall into the genres we normally read and because of that, we tend to like this books and that leads to a positive review. But what happens if we don't...
The 50-page test
This is different for all bloggers, but I give a book 50 pages, sometimes a little more to hook me. If I'm not hooked at that point, it's time to move on. This book and I obviously have no love connection and we should see other people.
Some bloggers give it more, others give it less... We all have our limits and we aren't willing to waste out time talking ourselves into finishing a book that we're just not into. There are more books waiting in the cue, trying to win our affections. It's like dating, sometimes things go great and other times you have to fake being ill and peace out early. In the end, the books that don't grab us may get a few lines about why we had to break up or they may get no review at all. The ones we power through that don't manage to woo us later in the book. they might actually get a *dun dun duh* BAD REVIEW.
ARCs and Books and Choices, Oh My!
That takes us back to the 50-page test. In the words of Kenny Rogers: "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." You just have to know when to walk away or else you'll spend all your time forcing yourself to review books that you aren't passionate about. And passionate encompasses love and hate. You can hate the way a book makes you feel and still want to finish it. You can dislike stylistic elements of a book, yet love the plot. Well, you see what I'm saying...
My point is this... Bloggers are people first and bloggers second. While we believe in what we're doing as bloggers, we still have wants and needs and lives that come with time constraints.
Maybe the naysayers are right and we should make a more concerted effort to post a blurb when we stop mid-book because we couldn't get into it, even if its only a short blurb. You know, in the spirit of full disclosure. But if we don't, know that we aren't trying to hide from our readers by not posting and we certainly aren't fabricating a good review for a book we didn't like.
The bottom line is that the books we review are the books that make us feel something, whether it's bad or good. They are the books that fill us with happiness, infuriate us, and make us cry for days. And, most simply, they are the books we finish... End story.
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