Saturday 2 September 2017

Shall We Discuss #BookBlogger #Hypocrisy ~ Shall We?

I rarely use Random Things as a sounding board. This has always been my little corner of the web where I can shout about the books, authors and publishers that I love. It's my place to talk about the books that I've read, it's where I try to persuade people to part with their cash and buy the book ... or pop to the Library and borrow it.

I think it's probably fair to say that I'm happy to share my point of view with others; I like to do it face-to-face; you know, a good old-fashioned chat, over a glass of wine, or a mug of caramel macchiato, but often I'm to be found in Book Connectors on Facebook, airing my views, hoping to engage in intelligent, considered discussion. I'm not a fan of shouty, ranty, loud arguments. I don't particularly like a 'flouncer' either, and I love to hear opposing views.

I've always encouraged new bloggers. I've been blogging for almost seven years now and have learned lots of things. Passing on time-saving tips, or nuggets of knowledge is a joy, and increases the book shouting, and the book love. This also means that I will point out when I think something is being done in the wrong way, I try to be polite and helpful. Some people don't really like that.

I plan to write a couple of 'helpful tips for book bloggers' posts - people can read them if they want to, they don't have to take notice of them, but they will be there for reference. It's clear that lots of bloggers are unaware of the guidelines around advertising and promotion, and I'd hate anyone to get into trouble, so I will be writing about that very soon.

Today I'm talking about Book Blogger Hypocrisy; sounds harsh, yes? I know, we can call it double-standards, or even misunderstanding, but I'll jump in with both (beautifully boot-clad) feet and call it what I see it as: hypocrisy.

Time and time again I hear Bloggers having a bit of a whinge about how authors and publishers don't share their reviews, or comment, or RT, or like ....   There is no doubt that a blogger does get a bit of a buzz when an author or publisher notices their review. A thank you is gratefully received, and treasured, but it shouldn't be expected. My feeling is that we are writing our reviews and articles to try to help to sell a book to more readers. We are sharing our love of a book with people who may not know about it. We are shouting about the book. We are creating book love.

Some authors and publishers make a point of always acknowledging reviews and Tweets, and that is wonderful. However, some don't, for whatever reason, and to be honest, that should be fine too. 

So, that's the positive reviews, but what about the negative reviews, or those that have found lots of alleged inaccuracies in a book, or those who don't agree that the title, or cover, or strap line fits the story. What about those?

The usual advice to authors, and publishers is; Don't Engage!  Don't Respond!  Ignore!

Sadly, we've all heard the horror stories about bloggers who've done their best to ruin an author's career, or the author who tracked down a blogger because they didn't like their book. This is extreme, and rare. It doesn't happen often, and it shouldn't ever happen. 

What about the author or publisher who has a relevant, considered, intelligent, polite point to make about something that a blogger has said in a review? Surely they are entitled to respond? I enjoy this sort of response; it creates debate and widens understanding and knowledge, and often enables the reviewer to see different things in a story.

I've heard comments such as this "Oh, but once a book is published and out there, people can say what they like about it. The author and publisher has to lump it. They've published it, they have to take it on the chin."

Well, guess what?  It works both ways. When a blogger writes a review, and publishes in on the net, it too, is out there. People can respond - you know, you've written the review, you've published it, how come you think your writing is any different to the author's writing?  Double standards, hypocrisy - you decide. 

I'll shut up in a minute, but finally, I'd like to say how much I despair when I see things blown out of all proportion on Social Media. 
If an author or publisher does respond to a less than glowing review; it's fine to get into a considered discussion with them. If they are rude and abusive then mute them, block them, ignore them but if they are merely stating a different point of view, don't accuse them of attacking you, or bullying you.
Remember that authors and publishers have invested time, money and passion into their book and they really don't expect everyone to love it. However they are entitled to respond politely with their view. Don't turn it into something it isn't, don't try to blacken their name. Have the discussion, if you still have opposing views, then agree to disagree - that's fine, that's what adults do.

A very wise person once said to me; "there are three sides to every story; their side, your side, and the truth."  Something to think about, eh?


  1. Great post! :)
    I completely agree!

  2. At last a fair and adult appraisal of the blogger/author/publisher relationship. Noone is going to agree with each other 100% of the time, but as adults in a world of free speech (if only! ) we should be able to agree to differ. We are as reviewers/bloggers offering our own personal opinion and that should indeed invite respectful debate without payment or need for recognition. Anything we get in response is a bonus.

  3. I love this Anne 😍😘 xxx


  4. On author's wanting to disagree with a review on a book blog,there best option is via comments on the blog. This leaves the option of publishing or not in the bloggers control. I have been blogging for eight years plus, authors upon whose work I have posted ask me to review their next books. I think it is not so much they want a free advertisement but they really want to see how serious readers view their work.

  5. Great post, Anne.

    I hate seeing the word 'bully' being banded around because someone does something differently or has a different opinion!

  6. Yep. If you don't want negativity, don't put yourself out there. I have another 'gripe': I host a monthly post whereby authors can share their work, talk about themselves, with links etc. Many do... BUT the reciprocity is non existent! So ...if YOU are invited onto someone's blog...the LEAST you can do is ask them back. Manners, innit?

  7. Interesting blog post. I am looking forward to the helpful tips blogs.

    In general I think the majority of authors have had to learn to be gracious, because their audience expects it. In my experience most of them will have an open and frank discussion about why they disagree with something in a review.This leads to a better understanding on both sides.

    There have also been times when authors have taken a review as a personal attack, and their reaction doesn't leave any room for discussion.

    It takes two to tango. With that in mind I do think it is important not to overreact. Every single read is a subjective experience. No person reads the same book and experiences the same thing because we all have a different frame of reference.

    I also think it is important, as you said above, to remember that bloggers are also putting something out there that can be put under close scrutiny.

    For myself the love of books and the sharing of said books, and what I think about them comes first. A Bookworm first, and then a blogger.

  8. I had a very negative experience with a prominent blogger (who is now deceased). My book Yin Yang Tattoo (Sandstone Press) seemed to fit the blogger's specialty (crime fiction), so I got in touch and asked if a review might be considered. When she replied saying that there were many books in her TBR pile, I offered to get my daughter to send her a copy (I live overseas; my daughter, like the blogger, lived in the U.K.), and was careful to point out that I understood that it would be entirely up to her whether or not she reviewed it.

    The book was reviewed in her blog, and she panned it. She took serious exception to prostitution appearing in the storyline, and inexplicably (for a noted reviewer) confused the far-from-morally-perfect central character with the author.

    When I politely pointed out to her that it was crime fiction, not autobiographical, she gave me hell for 'pressuring' her into reviewing the book in the first place.

    A genuine no-win situation that still bothers me, years later.

  9. Surely this is exactly the kind of double standard that Anne is talking about though. Unless you have allowed the author to review your post and decide whether or not it should be published, why should you get to censor any response they may have. Unless you limit the publication of your post to your blog and don't share it on Twitter, Amazon or Goodreads, why should they limit their comments to that medium.

    A good rule of thumb is, if you aren't happy that you can reasonably and politely defend your review to all comers, you probably shouldn't be posting it.

  10. Very thought provoking post. I've seen a few posts where the author has disagreed with the reviewer and a really interesting discussion has ensued. This is ALWAYS on the comments, never on social media.
    As a rule, I stick to the 'don't engage' rule with negative reviews. I don't actually mind a negative review if the reviewer has a point. A review is meant to be an opinion on book. Not everyone is going to like every book. It would be a boring world if we all agreed.

    Thanks for this post Rachel. Brave and thought-provoking.

  11. I particularly like your closing statement about the three sides of truth.

  12. Very interesting post. I think it is reasonable for what a blogger writes to be open to comment and also discussion. Part of the talking process albeit virtually. I will be interested in reading the following posts.

  13. A great piece Anne - thank you for sharing your thoughts. When I had my debut blog tour recently, I tried whenever possible, to share all reviews and guest posts across my social media and gave my thanks too.

    There was one, however, which I made a point of ignoring and not sharing. It was not because the blogger had only given it 3 stars out of 5 but because they hadn't respected my work enough to check they had spelt the names correctly of the characters they were dissatisfied with. One character was given a sex-change (He became 'Jodie') and was also called 'joyride'. I get that these are the joys of predictive text but the rest of the piece was also riddled with typos and grammatical errors (and I do mean 'riddled') which, in my eyes, undermined the review as a whole. After all, if authors are ripped apart for poor spelling and grammar, shouldn't that also work both ways?