Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some Thoughts - I Do Have Them Once in a While!

I have been in a blogging funk for a while now and I haven't really been able to put my finger on the reason(s).  It's not just this book blog that has been neglected, my personal blog Mooncat Farms Meanderings has also been suffering from my inattention.  I think that blog's neglect has been more due to the craptastic weather we had been having more than anything else.  Maybe I'll snap out of it now that we have some sunshine!


As for this blog, I've been reading books, I just haven't been writing my reviews in a timely manner.  I think I've been feeling a little soured on the whole book blogging/reviewing scene due in part to the drama that is at an all time high right now.  While I have been very fortunate to not be directly involved in all of this, it still makes me feel defensive as well as a bit sad that bloggers are being attacked by the very people whose work they are supporting.
THIS ARTICLE by the fabulous Kristi at The Story Siren gave me a lot of food for thought and helped me pinpoint some of my discontent and weariness(?).  I'm not going to rehash the entire article, but it is basically Kristi talking to "Author X" about the dynamics between authors and book bloggers.  There are good points made on both sides, especially Kristi's.  I find though, that I am in serious disagreement with several comments from the anonymous author (anonymous because she said she didn't want this to seem like a promotion..hmmm).  Much of what she stated stuck with me and I think it'll eat at me until I just lay it all out there and have my own say - even if no one reads it :)  So get ready or hide, because here it goes...

Why do book reviews?   First and foremost, I AM A READER and a BUYER OF BOOKS.  I started this blog because I love books.  I own HUNDREDS.  While I have people in my life that also like to read, I am the only one who has a serious LOVE of or addiction to the written word.  I have no one here immediately in the physical world to discuss books with and share newly discovered gems...ahem, JEWELS.. with.  When I stumbled into the book blogging world, I was HOME!  Here are people that will introduce me to fantastic new reads as well as listen to my opinion on what I've read.

I don't make any money on this blog.  Yes, I have affiliate links on the posts and sidebars.  But, I have never received a dime from any of these links.  That's not why I have this blog.  I have this blog because I love books and I love discussing them.  I'd love to have a job where I was surrounded by books day in and day out, but I don't.  I'd love it if I could be paid to do what I love.  I don't.  This blog is a hobby, but one that I take seriously.  I didn't get into blogging so I could get my foot into the publishing industry as Author X states, although it would be sweet.  I JUST LOVE BOOKS.

ARCS.. I do get advance reading copies from publishers and authors.  I am not going to apologize for it.  Especially since I almost always end up buying a finished copy if I enjoyed the book.  I buy books as gifts for friends and family on a regular basis.  Many of these are finished copies of books I was introduced to as an ARC.  Once I am finished with an ARC, I usually pass it on to another BLOGGER who will read it, review it and probably also purchase a finished copy for themselves and others? 

The issue with giveaways, hops and memes.  I have fun holding giveaways.  I usually have some kind of question related to the book being offered and it is interesting to see what the readers come up with.  (My current giveaway of India Black is a great example of this.)  Some of the giveaways are sponsored by the publisher while others come directly out of my pocket - as in I pay for them, books AND shipping.
I also enjoy entering giveaways.  It's a fun way to try to get my hands on a new book or one that is making the rounds of the blogs and sounds interesting.  It is a rush to get an email stating that I've won a fantabulous new book.  ~ It's almost as much fun to send out those winning emails.

Blog hops are a fun way for me to "meet" many new-to-me bloggers in a short period of time.  Many of my favorite blogs were found during one of the various hops I've participated in.  I also enjoy the increased traffic when others come visit me during a hop I'm playing along with as I meet some more lovely bloggers and readers in that way.

I don't do many memes myself but I have found them to be a source of material for my wish and TBR lists.  The one I do participate in on a fairly regular basis is "In My MailBox".  Not because I'm bragging about what I've received, but because I use it as a "weekly wrap-up" post.  It also helps me keep track of the books that have come in either through blog tours, giveaways or that I BUY.  I enjoy reading the other bloggers' IMM posts as I always find new books that I want and either immediately buy them or add them to my list. 

*My thought on all three of these above (giveaways, hops & memes) is that if you don't like them - IGNORE them. No one is forcing you to acknowledge or participate in them. Just don't bash bloggers that do find enjoyment in them.

Bloggers don't affect the market much.  I admit that I was offended by that statement.  I buy a TON of books every year.  Way more now that I am blogging - due directly to the fact that I READ other blogs.  The same blogs that are recommending and reviewing these books that I am now buying.  I don't have a bookstore near me anymore, the closest is about 35 miles from here.  Even when I do make it into a store, I usually have to ask a salesperson for a specific book.  Author X's statement that the store displays are what really sell the book has not been my experience, because you usually can't find them. 

So guess what, I make my purchases online - almost always right after reading a review on a BLOG. Then, I will post about that book as well as tell people in my life about that book. I buy and gift books. The word gets spread and sales of that book are made. I am just one blogger. If you multiply this by the thousands of book blogs out there....... then yes, bloggers do affect the market - we buy, we read and we recommend books.

As for author websites, I honestly don't usually visit them until AFTER I've read their book or AFTER I've read a review from another blogger.  I may visit while I'm writing my review of their book or as a requirement for a giveaway from another blogger. 

Negative reviews.. I have posted a few negative reviews, it's not fun.  I try to be very careful about the books I choose to buy or those I accept for review.  I don't want to post negative reviews, it's not pleasant for me or the author.  Above all, I want to be honest and fair with my reactions to the book I've read.  I try to say exactly why it didn't fit me or what part I didn't care for.  I have been very fortunate to have dealt with some wonderful writers who were extremely gracious when I mentioned that I had an issue with their book.  I've been able to have some very interesting and educational (to me) dialogue with them regarding those reviews.  As for myself, I read books that receive negative reviews; especially if the reviewer is clear on what their own issue is with the book.  It may not be something that affects my enjoyment of the story.

I don't agree with Author X when she says that negative reviews are easier to write.  I find them harder because I want to be articulate in exactly what it is that didn't work for me.  Specific negatives are much more useful and more difficult to define for me than that gushing "oh I loved it" in a glowing review.

I am not writing my reviews to win a popularity contest.  I have disliked books that others have completely gone nuts over.  I've also enjoyed books that others intensely hated.  It's all about our own personal feelings and reactions to the book.  I won't tailor my review to fit with someone else's perspective or expectations of a book.  I also try to not read other reviews when I am about to write mine.  I don't like to let other opinions directly influence what I have to say.  So if I do mention something that another blogger has said in their review, it is not intentional.  In this big old world could it be possible that two people actually have a similar thought on a book? 

Self-published authors.. I have reviewed many books that are self-published and enjoyed them immensely.  There have been several that are permanently on my keeper shelf.  To be fair, there are also a couple that I couldn't finish, either due to storyline or editing issues.  But I have found a few from the big publishing houses that have had similar problems.  So I do enjoy reading new and upcoming authors, I just try to make sure their style and story matches what I usually enjoy.  I read books for my own pleasure first and foremost, no matter who publishes it.  Everything after that is icing.

Regrets..  I am not concerned about looking back in five years or so and regretting what I've written.  I am an adult and since I do try to choose my words carefully, it shouldn't be an issue.  I got the feeling that Author X seems to think that MOST book bloggers are teens who want to "be a part of the scene".  I think this is unfair to those of us who are adults as well as those teenage bloggers who do an outstanding and mature job with their blogs.  Some of these young adults leave the older readers in the dust and they don't get pulled into this drama.  My hat's off to you!

So if you've stayed with this major unloading, I appreciate it very much!  Thank you.  While I wasn't wanting to jump into the fire and still hope to avoid the turmoil and backlash, I do feel better just getting this out there. I'm off to read a book and... 

Remember, like a book review -

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~~~~~ Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.  I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links.  I may receive books in  order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one.  Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.


  1. This was a great post. I seem to be out of the loop since I've only been seeing bits and pieces of what seems to have become an issue. Luckily I haven't experience anything yet...

  2. Wow, this is an incredible post. You may have been on hiatus, but you're back with a bang! :) I am always sorry when authors react aggressively to negative reviews - both for the reviewer, and the author. You are right, you are allowed your opinion. And if it was only a favorable review that they required out of you, they should have informed you of that before sending you the book. Their negativity should never coerce you into writing something (even if its a review) that you don't agree with.

    I shared my thoughts on the same subject matter here:

    Thank you for sharing this post, and your thoughts, with us! :)

    Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
    Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

  3. Wonderful post! You summarized everything, and I completely agree with everything you said. And saying that writing negative comments is easier than writing praising ones is crazy, looks like she never wrote negative ones, or she simply didn't put all the thinking, hesitating, time and effort into trying to be articulate and really put it the best way to say what we didn't like? It is always a torture for me, not just because I absolutely do not like criticizing someone's hardwork and "baby", but because it is difficult to find the right words to say exactly why it didn't do it for me. I want to be able to tell it the best way possible to other readers, so they can decide whether the book is for them.

    Thank you for your post! :-)

  4. Darn good article. I have no idea how much bloggers affect book sales...I do know that I have bought books because of seeing them mentioned on a blog. Some books I would have not looked at if I hadn't read a review. I guess it can go both ways though.

  5. I really did feel better after getting all of that out :) I appreciate you brave souls reading the rather lengthy post. (I did warn you of my love of words ;)

    @Kristin - I had been very lucky to not have it affect me directly either. I was just getting a little peeved at all of it swirling around us. It is really becoming an issue for many bloggers.

    @Enamoured Soul - I think the fact that "reviews are just opinions" is what gets lost in all of this drama, especially for some authors. I hope others will check out your "Dear Author" post as it is very well done.

    @Stella - I so agree, it really IS hard to write those negatives. The authors put a lot of hard work into those "babies" and it must be really difficult to let them out on their own for the public to deal with. They need to realize that it is tough for most of us to tell them what we don't care for about their "offspring" in a kind and constructive manner.

    @Elle - I don't really know any kind of numbers either regarding bloggers' impact on book sales. I do know my own purchasing habits and those of many of my blogger friends and family. They are directly impacted by blogs and reviews. I just took offense to Author X dismissing us and our buying power as a group so quickly. I do agree with her statement that there is no real accurate way to measure it.

  6. Good post! And I love giveaways and blog hops!

  7. That was a great post! I visit several book blogs and I have purchased a LOT of books based on reviews on those blogs. Even if it was a bad review but is a book I think is intereting, I will still get it to read, I just might take a little longer getting my hands on it.

  8. Thanks for taking the time to put this post together. I agree with the vast majority of what you said.

    The statement about not affecting book sales is interesting. If that is the case why are more and more publishers giving ARCs/egalleys etc away? Because they want reviewers to share their thoughts, hopefully good ones, and prompt other readers to buy the books.

    Almost all the books that I add to my TBR pile are there because I read a review somewhere online - generally either through book blogs or Twitter.

    I do tend to shy away from self published books. I have read one that I really liked and wish more people have read, but a couple of them have been absolutely shockers!

  9. Fantastic post! Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my thoughts, too. I wrote about that interview you mention awhile back, and I'm totally in agreement with you. It hadn't occurred to me that Author X was categorizing most book bloggers as teens, but it makes sense according to what they wrote. I've been impressed with several "teen" book blogs, so trying to stereotype even that is offensive.
    I tend to actually find the negative reviews more interesting to read because good reviewers will pick apart the book, instead of just an "I hated it" post. I do sometimes peek at others reviews of books before I write the review myself, but mostly for ideas. Sometimes I find it hard to articulate why I liked a book, and other (well-written) reviews can get those creative juices flowing for me.


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