To review, or not to review. That is the question. This past week has been terrible for relations between authors and reviewers. A lot of damage has been done, and people have stepped way over the line. A review blog, such as this one, is a platform for readers to express their opinions about the books they read. Some people only review books that they love, some people review books with a snarky tongue, and some find a happy medium in-between. Yes, I know there are internet trolls out there that go out of their way to make life miserable for other people. They go onto Amazon, Goodreads, and whatever social media outlet they can find to do nothing but spread hate and discontent. I don't know why these people feel the need to do so. Maybe their mother never hugged them as children. Maybe they have a low self-esteem. Maybe they're just assholes. I don't know. However, the majority of the review blogs out there, review books for none other than the love of reading. Sometimes we love the books we read, other times not so much.
If you're not familiar with Goodreads, it's a social media site for book lovers. I'm a member. I particularly like it because I can keep track of my books, see what my friends are reading, and also keep track of upcoming titles. Lately Goodreads has become a war zone. Some readers have left reviews on books that they don't like in the way they saw fit. This angered some people, authors I think. So in turn if a reviewer leaves a bad review on a book, they are equating it to being a bully. You read that right, bad review = bully. A site has been created, black listing has been done, names have been called, pitch forks and torches have been grabbed. Basically these people are crying out "The only opinion you can have, is the one I give you" Basically denying freedom of speech. They've crossed lines and potentially endangered the 'called out' reviewers. Others authors have joined this 'Goodreads crusade' for taking down these unruly reviewers.
As a reader, this saddens me. It kills the joy of reading. It evokes fear of stating my opinion of the books I read. We live in a country where our forefathers fought to give us the right to express ourselves; to be able to say 'I don't like this' and not to be persecuted. I've seen posts this week that have been threatening to harm other people. Names such as 'bitch, slut, and cunt' have been freely used to refer to people that have opposing opinions. Racial slurs have been thrown around. I think it's great when people are passionate about something, but seriously? It would be great if people could have a rational discussion without resulting in name calling. How grade school is that? I think that might be insulting to even grade school. And why are people acting this way? Over a book. A book! I know authors put a lot of time, blood, sweat, and tears into their work. Criticism is hard to take no matter who you are. Don't go seeking out these reviews if it bothers you. Walk away. Don't follow people on twitter, facebook, or goodreads that offend you. The internet can be a wealth of knowledge, but it can also be very hurtful. Kids today are taught 'think before you hit send' and 'if you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't post it online'. I think some adults need to learn this lesson as well.
As a reviewer, I am shaking my head. This reflects badly on the industry. Self-pub and Indie authors have taken a lot of heat for this. Many blogs won't even consider reviewing these types of books. And now, I fear, even less will be open to the idea. I have worked with indie/self-pub authors and read many indie/self-pub books that are fabulous. In that time, I've only have had one bad experience, but I did not let that deter me from working with these authors. However this week I seriously gave it some thought. I decided that I will continue working with these authors because in truth, the ones I've worked with have been fantastic, and I'm not going to be intimidated. I strongly urge the reviewers who are on the fence with this issue to give indie/self-pub authors a chance. If needed, shoot me an email and I will give you a list a authors who have been great to work with. (See, I can make lists too.)
This blog is MY platform to talk about the books I love. Goodreads, Amazon, and any other social media outlet I use has also given me a little space to express my thoughts. As long as I don't violate their terms of service I am free to state my own opinions, good or bad. I am under no obligation to anyone other than myself. I use this website as a platform to help promote authors at my discretion. I have the right to choose what gets posted and what doesn't. The same goes for all the blogs out there. We don't get paid for this. It is done for the love of reading. We do this in our 'spare' time even though it's like having a part-time job. I take what I do seriously, as do most of the bloggers out there.
So if this posts gets me put on a 'list' because I won't conform or bow down to the pressure to post only positive reviews, then so be it. In fact, please do put me on that list because I would not want to work with someone like that. There are so many other books and authors that deserve the spotlight instead.