Book Bloggers, I love you

Recently I went to Crystal Lake, IL for a panel with Joelle Charbonneau, Stacey Kade, and Erica O’Rourke (who are all wonderful, fun, and funny women to spend an evening with, by the way).  We were there for part of Barnes & Noble’s Pop Culture Week celebration, and it was a blast.  We had a great group of readers come for the panel and they asked tons of fantastic questions.

One subject that came up was authors reading reviews, and I said that I try not to read them as much as possible unless someone directly tweets it to me.  I could see one person in the audience get visibly distressed at the thought that I, and the other authors, don’t read our reviews.  We addressed it at the time, but I felt like it was something I should go into in more depth on my own.

First, let me say that I love it–LOVE IT–when people love my books and take the time to tell me about it.  Seriously, there is no better feeling than finding out something you created spoke to someone in any way.  It can totally change my dad from blah or bad to grinning-from-ear-to-ear when someone tweets a great review to me.  You might imagine the negative reviews are not quite as ego-boosting.

I admit it, it’s truly a frailty on my part that I would let a negative review affect me that way.  And I think it was Chuck Wendig who once pointed out that 5-star reviews are just as “untrue” or biased as 1-star reviews.  The fact of a reader loving or hating my book doesn’t change anything about it, including my motivations for writing it, or the pride I feel in seeing it on a shelf.  But on a certain kind of day, it’s hard to keep going and creating something new when someone has really hated something you wrote before.

I AM NOT SAYING READERS DO NO HAVE THE RIGHT TO HATE A BOOK.  EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINION.  I don’t like everything, and thank God for that, because I already find myself with stacks of books that beg to be read.  Imagine if I felt compelled to read every single word written by every person all the time.  It’s impossible.  And we’re all different people with different tastes.  That’s awesome.

I WANT readers and bloggers to read and review to their heart’s content.  But it’s important to understand what the purpose of reviewing is.  In my humble opinion, readers are there to inform each other of what they like.  There is NOTHING that helps a book become popular better than word of mouth.  And in this big beautiful age of the Internet, word of mouth can really get places.  Book bloggers can become Tastemakers.  Just like Fashion Bloggers can help set and grow trends, Book Bloggers can be their own grassroots movement to help a book become a success.

When you, as a book blogger, establish your pattern of like and dislikes, when you share your enthusiasm, you are setting yourself up as a trusted authority in the book world.  You are a go-to person for credibility on books.  I know I have a few reviewers whose tastes I admire, and when I see they’ve given a book a positive review, I’m more likely to add it to my to-read stack.

One of the coolest things about the “power” that book bloggers have gained in the industry is that it’s organic.  It’s fan-based, and comes from a place of honesty.  Let’s face it, a lot of book bloggers are young women, and in a world where popular culture is first created for, then universally looked down upon because it is embraced by young women, I am 100% in favor of a system that allows those same young women to speak for themselves.

So keep speaking up, book bloggers.  I may not find every review you write about my books, but I’m so glad you’re there sharing your thoughts with other readers.  And for those of you who have taken the time to be supportive and enthusiastic about any of my books, a most humble and profound

Thank you!

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2 Responses to “Book Bloggers, I love you”

  1. Hi Liz, I’m shocked to find out that there are bloggers out there who expect authors to read their reviews! I never expect any author – much less the one whose book I’m reviewing – to read my review. Writing is hard, and I wouldn’t want negativity to affect me that much either. I don’t think that’s a weakness on your part, I think that’s just recognizing that creating art and putting it out there in the world is a hard thing, and that, like you say, not everyone is going to like what you write.

    That said, I really, really appreciate what you say to encourage blogging and reviews for each other, whether negative or positive. It’s about getting the word out to one another and giving the book the credit it deserves – whether bad or good. I also appreciate you saying that it’s okay if someone doesn’t like your work – I sometimes come across authors who get a little too sensitive about negative reviews – which I can understand, but hey, that’s why you shouldn’t read the review unless you’re prepared to swallow that pill, right? =)

    • liz says:

      I think the blogger in the audience might have thought we never read any reviews at first, and was sort of feeling like “Then why do I bother?” and that’s part of why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to share with bloggers that I do think you’re an important part of the publishing ecosystem!

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