Young Adult

The Grown-Up YA: The ethical blogger

So I have something I really need to get off my chest. *Inhales deeply*. Here goes.

We’re all aware of the controversy that’s been going on lately with bloggers vs. authors… or maybe it’s authors vs. bloggers… I’m not really sure anymore. There’s the whole “bullying” thing, the “paying for good reviews” thing, the attacking of authors by bloggers and bloggers by authors thing. And quite frankly, it stinks. Like really, really stinks.

I don’t know about other book bloggers, but I started my blog for fun. Because I needed a space to talk about a subject I’m passionate about: books. I didn’t get into it for the free books, the recognition, whatever other perks come with being a book blogger. Honestly, I didn’t even realize those perks CAME with it all! It’s still extremely surprising and humbling to know that people not only read my blog, but they actively take part in following it, in helping me to promote it, and supporting me!

So when authors started requesting I review their books, needless to say I became ecstatic. Like I had really made it as a blogger and a legitimate reviewer! At first my requests to review books came from self-published authors looking to promote their book and I gladly welcomed them. I gave their books the old college try and was pleasantly pleased with some of the titles I got to read.

But then I started getting this little gem attached to most requests: “I understand if you don’t like the book, but if you don’t, please don’t review it. I’ve had some bashing done already.”

Um, what?

I TOTALLY get that you don’t want your book, your baby, bashed. I understand that you don’t want to hear that someone didn’t like something you worked so hard on, put time and money into, etc. If that’s the case though… why are you seeking out reviewers to discuss your book? Once you put a piece of work out there to the public, it’s going to be criticized. It’s going to be picked apart and discussed, whether negatively or positively. And if you’ve put out a good product, what do you have to be worried about?

While I’m still relatively new to the book blogging world, I feel that I’ve been part of it enough to make this bold statement: Authors, it’s insulting to be approached and asked to review a book but not to post a review if I don’t like the book. You’re cheating me, you’re cheating your readers, and you’re cheating yourself if all you want is someone to say “This book is the best book ever!” If that’s the case, I’m sure your grandmother will be happy to tell you that.

So authors who are considering me to review your book, I ask you to first take a look at my blog. See other reviews I’ve written. I do not believe in bashing a book, saying it’s the worst piece of garbage I’ve ever read, telling my readers to never touch this book… that’s grossly unfair and not a good review. I believe in being honest, in telling my opinion in a non-detrimental way. Out of all the reviews I’ve written I think I’ve written maybe 3 negative ones, and even then I pointed out some positives about the book. To me, that’s a fair review. That’s what having a book blog is to me – not turning people off to books, but talking about what I think about them.

I don’t want to tell authors that I won’t review their books when I’m approached to do so; I appreciate you thinking I would enjoy your book. I appreciate all the effort you put into writing it and for self-published authors all the work you put into publishing it. I want to love your book just like you love your book and for the most part I’m going to give it the old college try.

But as of right now, if you tell me to not review it if I don’t like it, I’m gonna tell you to find a new reviewer because this girl sticks to her ethical guns.

Ugh, Lucy
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12 thoughts on “The Grown-Up YA: The ethical blogger”

  1. I have found that when i am asked to review a book rather than seeking out a book to review because I find it interesting i don’t like it as much and it starts to feel like homework. But I totally agree with you, even though I haven’t encountered anything like that yet. If i don’t like a book, I won’t finish it, so it wouldn’t be fair to review it, anyway. ~dixie

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    1. Same! I mean, I love being asked to review a book, but most of the times I start it and after like 2 pages I think “why did I agree to this?” as I look at my pile of lovely books that I actually wanted to read and wasn’t asked to review. And while I typically don’t review books I don’t like, I don’t like being asked to NOT review a book if I don’t like it when you just asked me if I’d review it.

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  2. We have had this issue, so we are very particular about which books we accept for review directly from an author. We don’t do too many negative reviews, but I make sure the publishers understand that my contributors all have different opinions, so we’ve done Book Club Days on books with reviews that range from A to C-… It happens! I understand that authors starting out need help publicizing their books, but we aren’t publicists, we’re book bloggers.

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    1. Amen to that! I feel like since I’m still fairly new at this I can’t be all “oh I won’t review your book because it’s not good enough to grace my blog!” but at the same time I don’t want to waste my time on a book that the author has pretty much set me up to hate (yeah, telling me if I don’t like it to not review it makes me dislike your book a little right off the bat) when I could be reading so many other books! I’m all about helping new writers spread the word about their book, but not when it means sacrificing what I feel are basic blogging ethics.

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  3. Good for you. Personally, I don’t have a blog for the free stuff (I very rarely get free stuff!). I use it as an excuse to read more and to discuss books, though lately, I haven’t been doing as much of the discussing as I would like. Once I have more freaking time, I’m going to do that.

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    1. Yeah, I don’t get much free stuff either. Which is fine, because that’s not why I started my blog. I just wanna chat about books with all my bloggy friends! And if a book isn’t good or is controversial, I may want to discuss that. Doesn’t mean I’m gonna rip it a new one. Hopefully your life will calm down or there will magically be an additional 3-5 hours added to your day and we can discuss books more! 🙂

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  4. Hear hear! Well said. I’ve asked people to read my review policy too because heck man, there’s no way I am going to compromise my integrity to stroke someone’s ego. I have never gotten an email with that statement but I find it amusing that people actually do that. I did have one author whose book I tried but I DNF so I emailed her and told her but she got miffed…so. Fun times! Anyway, excellent post. I enjoy your sense of humor, I do.

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    1. As weak as it may make me sound, I honestly don’t email authors and let them know I won’t be reviewing their book or didn’t finish it. Don’t want to deal with the potential backlash! And I’m glad you enjoy my sense of humor… I tried to soften my somewhat harsher thoughts with happy pictures from my childhood! 🙂

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  5. Totally, totally, totally. I am right there with you! Thankfully I’ve never been asking to review with asterisks (*if you don’t like it, don’t post it (and hell, I’ve only had a few people actually ASK me lol)), but I HAVE posted in a few places on Goodreads that I’m open to review books and then very quickly pulled that post down! I was getting anyone and everyone replying to it and in crazy genres that I don’t usually read. I was turning almost everyone down because I really don’t think it’s fair for me to review books that are that far outside of what I usually read. Chances are I won’t like it and the author is just not doing themselves any favors (or apparently not doing homework) by asking me to review their book. I think on my blog so far, I’ve only written one review that was negative, but I listed allll the positives that I liked! Overall it just wasn’t what I thought it could have been.
    It’s also really hard when you start talking to the author and then you get to know them a little. It’s like, Crap. I didn’t really like the book, but I don’t want to hurt their feelings. It’s tough sometimes, but I always try to keep it completely honest without being brutal 🙂
    And one more thing (Sorry) – I find it very hard to accept books from self-published authors because I often don’t get very good info. I’ve gotten emails saying “Hi my name is so-and-so and I’d like you to read my book.” Ooookay. What’s your book? Title? Info? Link? Anything!? And I don’t mean to sound stereotypical, but that’s happened more often than not. I like going through NetGalley/Edelweiss/established places to participate in blog tours, etc so it’s already more organized. I feel like it comes off as unprofessional a lot of times and even though I’m just blogging for fun, I still like to be professional about it because hey – I’m showing off your work all over the internet!
    Okay. End rant. Good post!

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  6. I have to say that I agree with you. As you say, you’re not out to bash people, but to give an honest opinion, which is the way it should be. It is hard to give your ‘baby’ to someone, but you have to be prepared to hear people’s opinions. Standing on the verge of it ourselves, myself and my co-author understand that you have to be ready for all feedback good and bad- and it makes you a better author at the end of the day, so it should all be fair and honest as you say. Very nicely put anyway.

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  7. I feel like I am pretty lucky to be an established blogger, because most of the things I get for review come from publicists and they come unsolicited so the only pressure that is on me is my internal pressure. As I work primarily with publicists and not the authors, I’ve never been told not to post a review or to take a review down, so again lucky in that regard. I also think that even though you are semi-new and not the biggest blog out there, it is okay to be selective and to say this book doesn’t sound like a me book (I just noticed your comment above: “I can’t be all “oh I won’t review your book because it’s not good enough to grace my blog!”), so I think you are well within your rights as a reader to say that.

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