Thinking time – why I blog, why I review

3 Jan

Today is the third anniversary of Her Hands, My Hands.

(Lest some readers be confused, all posts predating January 3rd, 2012 come from elsewhere.¹)

At different times since 2008, when I first started reviewing, I have written my thoughts on what reviews mean and who they are written for. Like many other bloggers, I’ve struggled with whether or not to accept ARCs and commit to post reviews on specific dates.²

2014 was a very challenging year for book bloggers, and many of them have either closed their doors or quietly gone private. Their voices will be missed, but honestly, who can blame them?

We had the utter–and incredibly expensive–stupidity of Ellora’s Cave suing Dear Author.

We had the outrageous irrationality of #HaleNo.

We had the very brief blogger blackout and the egregious lack of perspective from a number of people (the Taliban, for real?).

What is saddest is that none of this is new–this discussion was already old as dirt back in June 2009. Dear Author has reported on authors threatening readers with legal action at least as far back as 2007.

Because I have been online for going on ten years now, I have a long list of authors I’ll never read, either because they are absolute assholes to readers or because they are plagiarists and liars,³ and I know I’m not the only one who does this.

Jane Litte, who I admire quite a bit, wrote recently (in part): “Answer the people you respect and admire and leave the others behind.” It’s a lovely sentiment, right? It would seem lovely if we could only interact with the people who agree with us, but it’s only through disagreement with the status quo that change happens.

I may be wrong, but it seems that anniversaries call for reflection, and occasionally, for resolutions. Here’s mine:

I will continue to talk about books, and about anything else that I want to write about, on my own terms.

When I write about books, it is to share my opinion of those books, as a reader, with other readers.

If the author of any given book I review doesn’t like what I have to say about the book, s/he is welcome not to read it. S/he is not welcome to presume that I’m talking about her or him–I review books, not the people who write them.

If and when I talk about authors, it’s within the context of their behavior, be it amazing (Courtney Milan) or appalling (Jaid Black), and I go out of my way to make the context quite clear.

When I write about politics or religion or human rights, or online shenanigans or appalling behavior toward human beings by other humans beings, I’m exercising my freedom to form opinions and to express those opinions.

This does not mean I will not say stupid things and that people won’t call me on my stupidity. The freedom granted by the First Amendment of the US Constitution to express ourselves does not mean we are automatically free of criticism.

I welcome conversation and I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, and I certainly would prefer that people told me I’m being an ignorant asshole rather than let me continue being an ignorant asshole.

I am not particularly happy to know that by choosing to continue blogging I am exposing myself to vindictive assholes with a few thousand dollars to throw at a lawyer, but I’m a lot less enthused at the idea of giving in to fear of those same assholes.

 ~ * ~

¹ As mentioned here, most of them were originally published at Karen Scott’s blog.

² I’m very much a mood reader, which means I’ve stopped making that type of commitment.

³ Interestingly, a number of the more vicious assholes don’t seem to be writing any longer. Unless, of course, they are using a different pseudonym, after killing the first one through utter viciousness.

8 Responses to “Thinking time – why I blog, why I review”

  1. heavenlea27 03/01/2015 at 9:42 PM #

    Good for you! Keep going. It’s through people such as yourself and the Two Old Farts who do reviews that I’ve learnt to expand my reading type. I might not always like the books y’all do read and write about but occasionally a review will spark my interest (I’m learning to like stories about shape shifters, vampires and other critters lol). It’s always good to expand the range, right?

    As to the arsehats, they will always be around doing what they do, if only because they can. It’s easy enough to say ignore but I know that stuff hurts when it’s aimed directly at you or someone you know and there should be a way to stamp them out. By continuing what you do, you’re showing them that bullying (or whatever) is not going to stop you. That can only be a good thing.

    I’ll happy come back and see your reviews and other reports of shenanigans – I love that word! – so, keep going Ms AL. Review away and I’ll continue my growth as a reader. We can win this 😀

    • azteclady 04/01/2015 at 12:53 PM #

      Thank you, Lea. I hope you will let me know how you like (or not) anything you read on my recommendation.

      Edited to add: This is a great post on what reviews can mean for authors, by the lovely Two Old Farts you mention above.

  2. Jules Jones 04/01/2015 at 6:00 AM #

    I’m glad some bloggers are willing to keep going, even after all the nonsense over the last few years. There are a lot of authors out there in need of one of the most useful pieces of advice I was given as a wee baby author – “No matter what, twenty percent of the readers will not like your book.” Yes, it’s painful to read a review that shreds one of my books. The way to deal with that is accept that not everyone will love my book, and not read the review. I do wonder how many of the tantrum throwers don’t read much themselves, or don’t have many friends who read and thus haven’t had a friend loving a book they hated, or vice versa.

    I’m an author, but I’m also a *reader*, and I try to write reviews of what I’ve read. Partly for me, because I’m getting old and my brain is getting full, and I can no longer remember all the books I’ve read without a prompt. Partly for my friends, both because they might be interested in a particular book, and because good book reviews are enjoyable in their own right.[*] I occasionally accept/ask for ARCs, although like you I’m now finding the TBR mountain range too intimidating to take on ARC obligations. I’ve even accepted an ARC from an author who read my “flawed, but I’d still be willing to read the next one” review and emailed to say that she knew it was flawed but thought she’d improved with experience, and would I like a copy of the next one? (The next one was great.)

    Then my name obviously got onto a list of “people who review in this genre” being passed around on the Kindle self-publishing boards, because I started getting mailshots from self-published authors. Some of them ask for reviews, but some of them quite openly ask reviewers to give the book some love and talk it up on social media if they like it. I don’t reply to them. I won’t even download the file to read the first page and see if it’s worth reading, because I’m not willing to risk the tantrum that will almost certainly ensue when I don’t give it five stars and say that it is without flaw in any way. And thus the sensible ones who realise that even a critical review will help them suffer for the sins of the absolute arseholes.

    [*] James Nicoll, a well-known reviewer in sf&f, was in financial difficulties last year because several of the commercial venues he reviews for had decided that paying freelancers their contracted money was an optional extra. At which point various people threw money at him and said, “Please write one of your very entertaining reviews on $BOOK for me”. Not just out of charity, either.

    • azteclady 04/01/2015 at 1:19 PM #

      Thank you, Ms Jones. You are one of the many authors who, in the time I’ve spent online, have been truly professional towards readers.

      I have no doubt that being an avid reader first influences how authors react to readers’ reactions to their own work, but there is also the matter of how authors view their own writing (i.e., “my books are my babies!” vs “writing is my career”).

  3. SuperWendy 04/01/2015 at 5:27 PM #

    Best thing that could have happened to me was closing out 2014 on the reading “high” I stumbled across. I had four “A” reads in December (three books, one audio). Unheard of for me. But man, let me tell you how great that felt. That glorious, stupendous book afterglow. Cures just about everything – even asshats lurking on the Interwebs 😉

    • azteclady 04/01/2015 at 5:33 PM #

      Book afterglow cures pretty much anything that ails an avid reader, doesn’t it?

  4. Rowena 06/01/2015 at 4:22 PM #

    Good for you. You do whatever you feel like doing in your own space. You’ve got some great resolutions going on over here.Good luck! And Happy Blogiversary! 3 years!


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