A lot happened in the romance book world this week. A lot of discussion of trust, ethical dilemmas, bloggers in author spaces, authors in blogger spaces (most notably when it’s the same person), conflicts of interest, etc… To be honest, I still don’t know how I feel other than…conflicted.
There’s a lot in this business that is open and honest and right there in your face that once upon a time readers weren’t privy to… And I count myself a reader. I always do. I always have. I was reading books long before I started writing them. I am fascinated by the author process, no matter who the author is…well known such as Stephen King or JR Ward or J.K. Rowling right down to the unknown author who develops her own way of doing things. I love this insight into the author’s life, even though I am one.
I am not a blogger, though I blog. Or try to. I am a reader and I am an author. I am not a reviewer. As authors we ask for reviews, but I don’t expect another author to review my book, good or bad. Providing a statement for a cover or for a credential, sure. For some people that holds a lot of sway. But I don’t write reviews. I’ve stopped rating books I read, too. Why? Because I’m an author. Because while I might not like the book, I am not a reviewer. I can read and enjoy and I’ll talk about books I like, books I’m reading, but I don’t review them. I can talk about a book I don’t like and generally don’t mention the title or author. I’m picky as hell when it comes to books I like and the majority I try, I don’t. I can talk about genres or sub genres that I don’t like or understand, plot elements that baffle me, but I can’t unless I’ve tried some of the books (and I’ve read some things I can’t unread). I can talk about ones that I do like, that I do understand. But I’m not going to review your book. I’m an author. That’s not my place.
That’s me though. that’s not anyone else. Others have no issues with it.
Do I think reviewers should be authors? Sure. Do I think bloggers should make the switch if they want? Yes. Do I think they should disclose this information? Hell Yes. Up front. Does this affect how I will approach others in this business from now on? You bet your ass it does. Do you have to disclose your full name, race, creed, resume, etc…? No. But if you’re a blogger/reviewer, don’t hide it. Don’t create that unease, that mask. The lies alone aren’t worth it, the deception. This was done in my family because it was uncertain how one side would handle the news. Not well, when it came out, but they do wish they had been told long before. And I agree, they should have. As a blogger/reviewer, whether you do it for the love of reading or you do it as part of your income and it’s your business… You have information the authors normally aren’t going to have, knowledge of publishers, what they’re pushing, what they’re not. You have little snippets of information, a different pulse point on the business that authors don’t have. And going into author spaces, anonymously, knowing what you know, now getting even more information from the other side… Hitting on just the right genre, at just the right moment, with just the right amount of what makes readers tick because you’ve been on both sides now, yet supposedly no one knows? I don’t know how that’s right. I don’t know how that’s defensible. So, just don’t do it. (And I use YOU as a general term, not speaking specifically to anyone because quite frankly, any blogger/reviewer could be doing this very same thing right this very second…though likely not reading my blog.)
This whole thing has created a new level of distrust and a new gap between bloggers and authors and readers.
This is a business that’s widely becoming a ‘who you know’ business. Who do you know? Who are your connections? Have you made a list? If so, your connections double and triple. Who are your friends? Do they know people who know people? Does it still take hard work? Yes, because writing is hard. Whether it’s writing a good book or a shitty book, it’s still hard work. Is there a measure of luck involved? Despite what some would like readers to believe, you bet your ass there’s luck, a lot or a little, involved. Being at the right place, at the right time…I firmly believe this happens in all businesses, in all lives. And it definitely happens in this one.
My perceptions have altered this week. Social media has become a war zone again… the supporters, the detractors, the poking fun at those who are pissed… Just because you can be an ass, doesn’t mean you should be. And that goes for everyone.
Another thing that bothers me… I was told if I felt better talking in private about how I feel that it was understandable, and that there are authors afraid to speak out if they disagree with what’s going on, that they’re afraid it could negatively impact their careers. If that really is the case, if that really is the fear, then we’ve got some big problems, people. Big. Huge. Problems. However, I was told the same thing about speaking up about Ellora’s Cave, too.
In this world of self publishing, no one can ruin my career just because I have an opinion. They can try if they want. But I doubt anyone will waste their time on me. I can be given bad reviews, but that’s nothing new. I can experience very low sales, but that’s nothing new. I can lose friends and people can walk away, but that’s nothing new. I don’t have inside people. I don’t have connections that get me anywhere. The readers I have make me an author, but I’ve always been a writer and I always will be. Reviews, good or bad. Bloggers, good or bad. Friends, good or bad. Sales, good or bad. I write for the readers who want to read my books. I write for my own sanity and the characters in my head. I write for the love of it. It’s hard enough making headway, but I’m not going to stop trying.
And yes, if I come up with a new pen name for a new genre or to simply try something new, I’ll address it. There are times I think it’s necessary to keep pen names quiet. But my issue in all this, is that the simple fact that the writing itself was kept quiet, that it was not disclosed that the blogger/reviewer had begun straddling the line and crossing over into writing. The name didn’t have to be discussed, but that she was now moving into another position, yes. It might not have changed anything. The support might have been even stronger. Now, it’s just all one big cluster. And where we should all be building each other up, there’s a faction of this business that makes it’s way by tearing others down.
This is an opinion piece, MY OPINION, my thoughts, my feelings, my conflicting emotions on this subject. And the bottom line… Just be honest, y’all… Don’t hide behind shit.
p.s. There’s racing today… In Martinsville. Kyle is still out, but making progress. The leaders in the sport right now are Penske Racing and…Kevin Harvick. There are Ford teams, Chevrolet teams, and Toyota teams. The Chevy teams (at least the Hendrick engine ones) share knowledge and information and they all do really well as a whole week in and week out. The Ford teams, don’t share information that openly and there’s a really huge difference in the results. The Toyota teams, the same way and Kyle Busch called out the Toyota teams for it in the off season. Everyone is going to be playing catch up to Hendrick powered teams if they don’t start being open and sharing information.
It’s funny how when you share, good things start happening for everyone, as opposed to when you close ranks and discard anyone you feel isn’t worthy, and only a few get the accolades and attention. I’d rather share and be open and not always feel like I’m in constant competition. Because then, we’re all just beating ourselves.