We read. We blog. We are NOT the Borg.

30 Oct

Blogger Blackout - badgeIf you are an author and you spend any appreciable time online, interacting with readers on social media, you may want to remember that.

Translation: Just because a few book bloggers chose not to review, or blog, or to do either, for a handful of days, does not mean all bloggers/reviewers are conspiring to kill your career. Certainly not the bloggers who chose to do so.

We are not an organization. We do not have a hierarchy, a decoder ring or even a secret handshake.

At most, book bloggers have one–and only one–common denominator: we love to read and share our love of reading with like-minded people.

The longer version: Other than being readers blogging about books, we all don’t read the same genre or the same books within that genre. We all don’t write detailed reviews. Or short reviews. Or one liners. Or book discussions. Or scholarly analyses. Not all of us grade our reviews. Not all of us avoid spoilers like the plague. Not all of us thrive on spoilers. Not all of us need puppies and animated .gifs to illustrate our point. Not all of us rely on sarcasm. Not all of us post only about new releases, or only about old favorites. Not all of us post about books we didn’t finish, or books we didn’t like. Not all of us post only about books we did finish, or only about books we liked, or loved. Not all of us rant. Not all of us gush.

If you intend to make your writing your career, you might want to keep this in mind.



We don’t work for you.

Our time is way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more precious than the cost of an ARC. Or even the cost of an ARC a week, for a full year.

Negative reviews do not make or break an author’s career.

No single reviewer or group of reviewers, or group of blogs, can kill a book’s sales.

Abusing readers–authors’ target market for those not paying attention–, let alone stalking them, is much more likely to do that.¹

Particularly when you indulge in the above behaviour publicly.

Silence about your books (especially when the conversation revolves around negative authorial behaviour instead) will almost certainly sink your writing career.

Books are not babies.²

If you do have actual, breathing, living, babies, it is not our responsibility to feed them, clothe them or house them–it’s yours.


We owe you one thing and one thing only: to obtain our reading material by legal means.³

We do not owe you reviews. We certainly don’t owe you positive reviews. We do not owe you promotional space. We do not owe you mentions of your books, praise for your writing, thoughtful discussion of your characterization, voice, authenticity, or research. We do not owe you posts about your upcoming releases or recommending your books to our fellow readers.

And yet so many of us choose to do many if not all of those things.



Because we love reading.


¹ When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to follow Wheaton’s Law.

² Arguing over this violates Wheaton’s Law.

³ By buying them. By borrowing them from the library or a friend. By receiving them as gifts from friends. By receiving them as prizes in contests, scavenger hunts, giveaways. By receiving them as ARCs from publishers, authors, or places like NetGalley or Edelweiss.

15 Responses to “We read. We blog. We are NOT the Borg.”

  1. Kat 30/10/2014 at 3:48 PM #

    I have never owned (or even seen) a decoder ring. I really want one now.

    • azteclady 30/10/2014 at 3:54 PM #

      Will it be shiny?

      • Kat 30/10/2014 at 4:45 PM #

        Bling ring!

  2. Miss Bates 30/10/2014 at 6:01 PM #

    This really says it all. And well. I’ve been thinking a lot about what bloggers do, or don’t, or do indirectly … and it’s just not quantifiable, ya know? If you write reviews, then they take on a certain monetary worth to authors and publishers, that’s the problem Yet, most voluntary bloggers don’t see what they do as having any quantifiable worth: its worth is love of books and conversation. Or at least that’s how I see those who took part in the blackout. It wasn’t punitive, it was declarative and defining (in individual ways).

    • azteclady 30/10/2014 at 6:21 PM #

      I’ve been thinking about this for a long time myself–probably since mid aughts, when the first “mean girls!” came my way for comments at Karen’s or SmartBitches.

      As you say, book blogging, regardless of genre, has two values: intrinsic value for readers, which can’t be measured, and promotional value for writers and publishers, which absolutely is.

      What I’m seeing increasingly (probably as my own ‘net horizons widen), is that there’s a segment of the book blogging netizens who have bought into the “authors are a special, fragile class of people who should be protected by readers” mythos.

      It starts, I think, when we use such language as, “I owe so many hours/days of enjoyment to books” and slowly becomes, “I owe the authors.”

  3. Lori 31/10/2014 at 2:58 AM #

    I want to work on a secret handshake myself.

    Egads, it saddens me to think that there are writers who do believe that readers ‘owe’ them good reviews and a living. They’re lucky to have readers at all. Pathetic when they don’t realize that.

    • azteclady 31/10/2014 at 11:28 AM #

      Personally, it’s the “my babies” that gets me the most.

      No, no, they are NOT babies. They are inanimate objects that won’t starve, suffer abuse, illness, war, injustice, pain, unhappiness and loss.

      Books are NOT babies.

  4. Jami Gold 31/10/2014 at 11:09 AM #

    Er, I hope I’m not interrupting, but I just wanted to say that this is a fabulous post! 🙂

    I’m an author, and the behavior and attitudes of some authors have left me horrified. I *do* support BloggerBlackout. Those of us who aren’t all “me me me” or “you owe me” understand that it’s not about punishment but about bringing attention to a serious issue.

    I’m going to share this post to do my part to ensure that more authors understand that perspective. And if any reviewer/blogger would like to guest post at my author-audience blog with a “here’s what reviewers and authors can *expect* from each other (and here’s what they can’t)” post, please let me know. 🙂

    Thanks for articulating these ideas so well! *slips out the side door before I get in the way* 😉

    • azteclady 31/10/2014 at 11:22 AM #

      Thank you for stopping by, Ms Gold!

      Edited to add: I don’t have a problem with authors dropping by and talking about books and book blogging–or anything else I blather on about. (Lori, above you, is also an author.)

      I would have a problem with a author arguing with me on my view of his/her book, though.

      (gah, can’t type today)

      • Jami Gold 31/10/2014 at 11:46 AM #

        And I wouldn’t blame you for that! O.o

        By the way, as I’ve been following this issue across blogs, I’ve frequently been impressed with your insights in the comments. It’s nice to finally “meet” you! 🙂

      • Jami Gold 31/10/2014 at 11:50 AM #

        P.S. I don’t know if you’re on Twitter, so I couldn’t attribute you as the author, but here’s the tweet I shared: https://twitter.com/JamiGold/status/528204742556532738

      • azteclady 31/10/2014 at 11:52 AM #

        Nice to meet you as well!

        (Not on twitter, sowwy)

  5. Lit Lovers Lane 02/11/2014 at 9:12 AM #

    I have not been blogging for very long (less than a year), and it didn’t take me long to figure out that I am a bit (make that a lot) uncomfortable with some aspects of book blogging. For lack of a better description, everyone seems just a bit too cozy with one another…publishers, authors, agents, bloggers…at least for me.

    It’s leading me to the conclusion that I don’t really want ARCs or any other sort of advance copies or gifts from authors or publishers. I’d rather buy, go to the library, get gifts, whatever. And I do not really care about being one of the first to review a book, have a cover reveal, receive copies of books for giveaways etc. I am not interested in being another arm of publishing and spreading the hype for them, which is what I feel authors, agents, and publishers think we are. I am interested in talking about the books I have read and either recommending them or not to whoever is interested.

    Yes, it may mean I don’t have the latest releases on my blog, but somehow, I don’t think real readers care about that. There are SO many reads that people have missed or forgotten about that even reviews of well-known, older books are worthwhile IMO, reminding readers to give something a try. And such reviews might just give new life to a lesser known book that’s been around a while.

    I understand all the reasons for the relationships bloggers have formed, and I have the utmost respect for bloggers who have formed them and managed to retain their integrity. But I also see practices that make we wonder. Of course, sometimes I am tempted to foster relationships (and might change my mind), but right now, I am content to simply write a blog that focuses on books, not on all the hoopla surrounding them for author and publisher benefit. I am trying to remain very clear about for whom I am blogging…readers and myself…and so far for me, that means shying away from complicated interrelationships among authors, publishers, and bloggers.


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