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Why I Won't Give Up Book Blogging

Many of you have already probably heard of this controversy, but I'll catch you guys up just in case. One blogger asked on Twitter whether or not reviewing books would affect the chances of getting published, and the answers were surprising. Stacia Kane said that yes, it can lower your chances as well as several other agents and authors.

I'm a writer. I love writing; it's my escape into a fictional world of my own creation. But I love it more than just for artistic pleasure - I like publishing my work. Right now my credits are just a handful of poems and short stories in obscure magazines, but someday I do aspire to publish a novel. I know I'm pretty good for my age, but I also know my craft needs a lot of work (like, A LOT), and I'm not afraid to work at it as much as I can. My dream, like so many others, is to support myself with my writing.

But I'm also a reader. I loved reading before I loved writing, and honestly, I'm not sure which I love more. I read because I write; I write because I read. And in April of last year, I discovered agent blogs, then writer blogs, then book blogs. By the end of June, I had my own little book blog up and running.

That brought me to a third thing I love to do: review books. Not many of my friends like to read as much as I do, or read at the same quantity I do, so this blog, and the blogosphere in general, was such a wonderful place for me to express my thoughts and discuss and analyze books with others. And I've found that reading books with a more critical eye helps my writing. I learn about, for instance, pacing when I read books with great pacing, but also when I read books with poor pacing.

There are those who say that agents and editors might shy away from your book if they see that you have given books affiliated with them a negative review. Even if you say it politely and respectfully, even if it's a positive review with a few aspects you didn't like discussed, they say it can hurt your chances.

They might be right. I mean, it's a good point. And in general, I'm a relatively timid person. I avoid confrontation if it's not necessary. But when it comes to book blogging, when it comes to saying respectfully that I didn't enjoy a book or that I didn't like the pacing too much, I insist that I stand for my opinion.

I'm not going to censor myself. I'm not going to post only reviews of books that are absolutely perfect, because you know what? Then this would be an empty blog. There are no perfect books just as there are no perfect people. And I'm not going to lie and say that I liked everything about a book if I didn't.

I know what it's like when someone doesn't like your writing. Like I said, I write seriously so I get my work critiqued when I can. I ask people not to hold back even though every time I get a particularly negative or harsh critique, it's painful. So I understand, I think, what it's like when your book is criticized.

But I want to be honest. I'm going to continue book blogging and sharing my opinions. The one thing that does come of this, however, is that I'm going to be more careful with what I say. I'm going to be conscious of being gentler (i.e. "I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted" instead of "I didn't like this book"), and I'll be sure to include what I liked in a book as well as what I thought could have been better.

What are your thoughts? If you're a blogger, do you post only positive reviews? Did this controversy change how you feel? If you're not a blogger but you read blogs, how do you feel about this? If you're a writer, what do you think?


Arianna said...

I'd actually never heard of this up until now, and it sort of confirms one of the things I think about quite often.

I'm only fourteen, and since I was eleven I've been putting information up online. There have been grossly misspelled posts, times when I was rude or moody, and other things which will somehow be linked back to me forever. It bothers me, and I try to keep it under control now, but once you put something on the internet you can't really take it back. :/ I'm worried that what I've said in the past will be used against me, but there isn't much I can do to change it now.

I had my own book blog for a short time this summer, but I ended up getting bored of it and stopped writing it. I've been meaning to delete it for quite some time, but I think I might as well delete it now.

For me the internet is really a different world - I spend so much time on forums and the like, and have lots of friends here... but only being positive is one of the things which annoys me, because it just seems fake. xP

Anyway, this post is way too long but I agree with you. I try to be more constructive than negative nowadays and I think before I post anything which might anger people. I don't always succeed, but that's life. :P

barmybex said...

I post reviews even if i didn't like the book, but i do it tactfully and in a considerate manner, i know authors have feelings so i take that into consideration, but i'm not going to be overly positive because i don't want to upset someone. You have to be honest but not mean.
After all not everyone likes everything. What one person dislikes, another might love. Just share your opinion. I'm not going to let anyone stop me.

Jo said...

I liked reading your thoughts on the whole "is it ok to write that you didn't like a book" issue. Personally, I like to read honest, balanced reviews, and those are the type of reviews that I try to write on my own blog. I don't mind if someone doesn't like a book that I liked (or vice versa) because I think there's room for all kinds of opinions. I don't like reading reviews where a dislike of the book seems unsupported, because that can be confusing.

If I read a book that I wasn't wild about, I can still usually find elements of it that I enjoyed, and thus, I can find a way to write a balanced review. I don't know -- that's just me, I guess. :)

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