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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Don't hate the blogger, hate the game

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.

Bloggers spend a lot of their time reading and reviewing to get the word out and promote great new books that are forthcoming. But you know this. What you might not know is that there are people who exist just to disagree with other people, sully their name and make that person look bad. (Well, maybe you knew that too.)

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.)

Blogging is not our job
We love blogging and we spend all the time we can making out blogs the best they can be, but between day jobs, eating, sleeping and maintaining sanity there are very few hours left in the day. Since blogging about books and authors and the publishing industry is something we choose to do we tend to pick books we want to read out of our TBR stack. *GASP* I know this shocks you, but its the truth. The low-down, dirty truth.

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!
And then there are those of us bloggers who have one too many literary suitors. My friend, the one who inspired this post, is in this position. One might think it's enviable and, in many ways, it is. However, it means that she can't possibly review all of the shiny new titles she receives. This is why Review Policies exist. They basically spell out what your policy is on reviewing books you receive from publishers, etc. I'll just say I have yet to meet someone whose policy guarantees a review of each and every book they receive. That, for a lot of those inundated bloggers, would be an inhuman feat.

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.


  1. HERE, HERE! Well said and I totaly agree!

  2. I don't really do reviews, I recommend books I've liked.I don't read books I don't like. So of course, my feedback on said book, will be positive. There have been books I said I thought were slow or I wasn't totally impressed with, but really, I liked the book or else I wouldn't have read it.
    I think the same goes for most book review sites. As readers, we pick up the books we are interested in from the get go, so more often than not, we'll give it a good review. Duh, silly troll!

  3. Bravo! I totally agree with you :)

  4. Very well stated and as another non-paid book reviewer I thank you. Yes, most of my reviews are favourable, but it is because of my review policy (when it is actually read) and the books I choose to read believing I will enjoy them. Sometimes I am wrong and a I will state I did not care for the book and why. There is a reason I shy away from YA Vampire and Werewolf novels, not because the are poorly written, but because I personally do not enjoy them.
    Long post shortened, I give your post high marks and hope it is read by many.

  5. Great post! People need to understand what blogging is. I only review a book I love. I refuse to finish one that I don't like.Bloggers will also mention the flaws we find in books we love but an overall negative review of a book? It's not worth my time to even finish it and write a review.

  6. Agreed. Great post!! :) Although with me, I review every book I read so it may be a little different for my situation, lol. I'm just easy to please.

  7. I heard this same argument leveled weeks ago against literary agents that don't represent every single genre. As individuals, we all subscribe to differing tastes. Further, I don't tend to pass on information about books I don't like. Much less movies or music in the same vein. Unless, someone asks me if I've seen/heard/read it, the negative is in the realm of conversation only. But a book I love: I will fawn over it, kiss the cover, part with it friends and have them leave their first child as proof they will return it. I don't believe I'm alone in sentiments like this. Therefore, I can only conclude that this issue, like its predecessor, is simply a case of people all up in the business that don't have a clue.

  8. OMG I love this post and perfect timing I just had my first negative remark to one of my reviews. My first thought was I didn't give it a bad review. Second was is this not my blog and should I not be allowed to post my opinion? Also even if I don't like a book that doesn't mean someone else shouldn't read it. It's your money feel free to spend it s you wish.

  9. excellent post! humans first, bloggers second... as much as many of us would probably prefer to give up life and just read and blog all the time, this is a fact that is all too true in our lives.

    personally, if i don't finish a book, i'll tweet about it or write a small blurb in a non-review post. i don't think its necessary for us to spend hours putting together a non-review for a book we didn't finish, and i don't see how doing so would help the author or the readers who will enjoy it.

  10. I tend to try only to accept books that I am almost positive I will like. Why should I waste my time and the publisher's on reading books that I do not enjoy?

    However there are acceptations. Sometimes even though you choose your reads carefully whether ARC or bought copies you happen upon a book that isn't for you.

    In that case I always say why it didn't work for me and list similar books that I think the reader will enjoy.

    Also on my blog you have the option to disagree with me by giving stars to the same book if you have read it. Of course I would like to think everyone agrees with me but alas I must know it is not possible.

    Great post and thank you for speaking about a subject that highly annoys me as well. I am sure your friend and fellow blogger will appreciate the support.

  11. Thank you!

    as a book blogger I totally agree with you - especially about naturally choosing books from our TBR pile we want to read.

    I would add to that this: I created my blog to talk about books I read and enjoyed. I didn't create it to talk about bad books. I give the pros and cons, good and bad with EVERY review. Even on my top rated reviews, because there is almost no books that are 100% perfect.

    BUT, why as a blogger would I want to spend my time talking about books that didn't move me? I don't get paid, except in enjoyment of the reading and writing experience, so that's why more of my reviews go toward the positive.

    Great post!

  12. Awesome quoting of Kenny Rogers. ;)

    I totally agree. If a book isn't doing it for me, I don't finish reading it. One of these days I'm going to round up all my DNF books and post about them. I just can't waste my time reading books I don't like because there are so many I want to read.

    Excellent post!

  13. Great post! Way to say what we are all thinking in regard to this topic. I have a lot of review requests that I turn down because they are not in the genre that I like so I wont waste their time or mine by slugging through it to most likely have a bad review (just because it didn't catch my eye, which is not fair to either the blogger or author). I do tend to read books that are within the genres I enjoy so why shouldn't all my reviews be positive? But if there are little things that bug me, I will say so, but that doesn't mean by any right that it is a 'bad' book. To each his own!

  14. Too-shay! Couldn't have said that better!

  15. Great post! I'm totally with you. Since I do review just about everything I read, plenty of those reviews are lukewarm... but I try to stay balanced in my reaction. Though sometimes, I can't hide my hatred!

  16. Well said! It's little wonder that we book review bloggers gravitate towards the books that we love to read-the one's that make us feel something.
    I put aside books that I don't care for and try not to think about them, let alone blog about them. I am not opposed to revealing what I would change about a book that I enjoyed-I think an honest review helps other decide if they want to read the book (isn't that the point of a review?). And come on, who would want to read a blog full of negative reviews?

  17. Well said - the fact that a book even makes it into my house means that there is a pre-existing condition that I already expect to like it. It may be an author I already like, a series I'm reading, a genre I prefer, a book that was recommended by someone who has similar reading tastes as mine, etc. etc.

  18. Its kind of a Catch-22 in a lot of cases too. I remember when a couple of my blogger friends didn't like Hush, Hush and Fallen and had the gumption to post that. They were inundated with comments claiming they didn't give it a fair chance, they were being unfair, they were lying about reading it, they just downright wrong and should change their opinion.

    On the one hand people who don't post negative reviews are given the what-for from others saying they are gimmicks or liars or being paid to promote the book. On the other if you dare speak out against a new 'classic' you'll get reemed out anyway!

    For myself I have the 50 page test plus the amusement factor. I'll often finish a book just because it amused me that much (not in a good way, in a 'omg seriously?' way) but I won't post a review along those lines because I don't feel its fair to say 'I did not like this book, but the very serious problem the author wrote about made me LOL'. If I just put the book down without finishing I'll do a short blurb about why, but won't do a whole review.

  19. I couldn't agree more - the very fact you've read a book must mean you liked it or, like you say, you wouldn't have picked it up / finished or whatever.
    People sometimes have nothing better to do than complain or insult others. Your friend should feel flattered that someone is quite clearly jealous of her and she shouldn't in any way feel bothered by the small-minded folk out there!
    Love your blog by the way - very atmospheric!

  20. I always approve of a good Kenny Rogers quote!

    That said, I do write the occasional negative review, but I won't criticize someone for never writing a negative review. I think that's messed up.

    Also, I wish I could follow the 50-page rule, but I guess I'm a glutton for punishment.

    Also, I feel like a blog is sort of like a house, therefore you decide the rules and the people who enter your house/your blog should respect the rules.

  21. Amazing post! I felt so bad for (I know who this post is about) her when I saw those comments.

  22. For the most part I do tend to post positive reviews but that is more because I try to be selective in what I pick up, not because I'm in anyone's pocket.

    That said if I don't enjoy a book for some reason I still post about it and list the reasons why. In fact, I just finished up a "negative" review last night that will post next week. All the other reviews I've seen of the book rave about it but it just didn't grab me and I state so in my review.

    I have been bashed before about negative reviews with the author or someone accusing me of not even having read the book. Those people need to realize not everyone is going to like a particular book. Just because my views may vary from other people's doesn't mean I didn't invest the time to read it and try to find something positive.

  23. What a great post! I agree with you 100%. Most if not all of my reviews are positive because the books I have reviewed are books that I like. I wouldn't have read them if I didn't. Most of the books i've reviewed were purchased by me, therefore I knew before reading that chances were good I would like them. Kudos for telling all the negative ppl how it is!! :)

  24. I agree with you on almost everything!! Especially about not finishing a book that you aren't enjoying. I did this before I even started blogging. There are just too many good books out there to finish one that you don't like at all. I would never give a book a 'star' rating that I didn't finish, but I'm on the fence about posting a blurb about a dnf book.

  25. First off, your blog is looking awesome! Love the colors and layout!!

    And secondly, YES! This is a great post. Sometimes I feel like I'm just saying the same thing: I LOVE THIS BOOK! But it has a lot to do w/the fact that I read books that I'm fairly certain I KNOW I'll like... why would I pick up one I won't?


  26. Amen, you rock, etc. Just imagine me shouting encouraging, positive things, because it would take too long to type them all out. But you're awesome for writing this and posting it.

    And the greasy salesman is totally creepy.

  27. Well Said girl!!! I agree with you there 100%.. My rule is 75 pages but its pretty much the same.

    Oh and to you wonderful fellow bloggers and book reviewers, Some wonderful Words from Debut Author Jennifer Murgia, about Blog Reviewer appreciation A little pick me up http://www.starshadowblog.com/2010/03/guest-post-jennifer-murgia.html

  28. Wow! Great post. I'm new to book blogging so reading and learning about issues book bloggers face is very insightful for me.

    Thanks for sharing.

  29. Very cool post. I agree with you. I won't even read or review a book, if it doesn't appeal to me in the first place. It's a waste of my time. So screw them...let them think what they want. Like I often say -opinions are like assholes...everyone gots one, even the judgemental assholes. :P

  30. Lol, I guess you are now reading the comment of a reviewer who pretty much promises to do a review for every book received. :P

    I personally feel that I should give every book a chance, even though I have went through a few very bad tortures for the past couple of years being in that field. But then that gives me the opportunity to let others know why it is something the shouldn't waste their time on. And I made a personal vow to review every book. o-o Except mangas, where I only review the first couple of volumes if I don't receive it to review otherwise.

    I haven't reviewed every novel in my TBR pile yet, but I'm trying my best and some I know I won't get around to until a several months later. Though it doesn't mean I won't pick it up.

    But I whole-heartedly agree with your post. :)

  31. You posted:
    "All this talk of bloggers never posting a bad review has got me hot!"

    Whoever told you this obviously never read my blog :)

  32. I have posted on about 100 books since I started my blog-I buy all my owns books-no public libraries in the Philippines of any size-so I try hard to only buy books I think I will like-I have written 4 negative reviews-before I write a bad review I look within myself to see if it could be me having a bad day-etc-if not I give an honest account of the book

  33. What a great post! I agree 100% with you.