Open Letter to Magie Stiefvater

20 Jan

Ms Stiefvater, you may have not consciously intended to, but you most definitely belittled book bloggers with your comments–just as you have in the past belittled romance readers (many of whom read you despite your attitude towards what they read¹).

“A review is an unbiased, careful look at a book — basically it is a little academic paper. It involves an itty-bitty thesis on your opinion of the book, surrounded by tiny supporting sentences describing the strengths and weaknesses of said book.”

Says you–and I disagree with you in the most absolute, unequivocal manner possible.

Please do a bit of research and learn how some of the best known writers of the past reviewed the work of their equally well known contemporaries. Then we’ll talk some more about unbiased looks at books.

Furthermore, how on earth can a person give an unbiased opinion on a novel? Heck, people can’t give unbiased opinions on matters of science–see the ongoing debate on evolution in a school district near you. It’s pretty…let’s go with unrealistic, to expect them to be unbiased about fiction. People read fiction because they enjoy it.

“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. I’m not saying that bloggers shouldn’t write biased, hilarious, snarky rundowns of books.”

Oh reeeeeeally?

Please do check back on those well known authors from the past, Ms Stiefvaver–those are not only reviews, but most of them are exponentially snarkier and much, much harsher than pretty much anything a book blog review would think to dish out today³.

But let’s pretend for a moment that no author or professional reviewer in the last decade has ever stooped so low as to mock the object of their analysis (be this the work or its author). That would still be irrelevant to the underlying truth: reviews are not for authors–and they are definitely not for publishers. What you describe and call ‘review’ above is more like a generic blurb-like summary, useful for the publisher to push the book at retailers’ buyers.

As such, I’m sure it’s fine and dandy, and it probably serves its purpose.

A review, for a reader², is something entirely different.

For a reader, a review–such as this by book blogger Angie of Angieville for Shiver: “I loved how contained they were. … there’s a scene in a candy shop that will leave you absolutely salivating. I dare you to read that one just once.” Or how about this one: “In Lament Maggie Stiefvater artfully weaves together a heady mix of music, humor, exhiliration(sic), and desperate longing. I enjoyed this book so much it is physically painful to me that the sequel, Ballad, isn’t due out till next Fall. ” –is useful when it expresses how the reader/reviewer felt about the book.

How did s/he feel about the story, the characters, the setting, the journey, the world the author creates for the reader.  Did the reader/reviewer  lost him/herself in the world? was this something s/he couldn’t put down? Was this a story s/he thought about for days after closing the book on the last page?

Readers don’t want “an unbiased little thesis.” Readers want the reader/reviewer honest reactions and emotions–cartoons, snark et al.

And the accumulation of those honest reactions, expressed in a multitude of humble book blogs has, doubtless, sold you many a copy.

For that alone, it is shortsighted to tell potential reader/reviewers that what they do, and say, has no value to you or your publishers.

Not to mention, arrogant, condescending and insulting.

 * * *

Oh, and just so you know? I write reviews, not ‘posts about books.’

¹ Here’s a clue: for many of them, “romance reading” includes your work.

² Reader: those pesky creatures who buy books with the intention of actually enjoying them–yes, including yours.

³ Readers don’t want to cringe reading their own old posts any more than writers do.

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8 Responses to “Open Letter to Magie Stiefvater”

  1. Rowena 16/01/2015 at 12:33 PM #

    Wow. I had no idea about any of this. Where the heck have I been? Another author bites the dust.

    • azteclady 16/01/2015 at 2:35 PM #

      Yeah. My list is getting way too long–I may need to convert into an Excel spreadsheet.

      • Bona 17/01/2015 at 2:10 PM #

        If you do I think it will help me to make my TBR a little shorter. I wouldn’t want to support with my money any author that despises readers and bloggers.

  2. azteclady 17/01/2015 at 2:25 PM #

    Bona, if you search this blog for Authors Behaving Badly, you’ll find at least some of the names, with the corresponding opinion pieces.

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