On blogging and reviewing and “niceness”

So apparently there’s yet another wave going around of folks pressuring book bloggers to be nice or else you won’t have a career (if you write) and everyone in the industry will hate you (whether you write or not). With a side of fear that there are people out there wanting to pretty much take you down if you fail to do so. This might not in itself be a big deal, but apparently this pressure has led some book bloggers to actually shut down their blogs out of fear of how they’ll be perceived. And that makes me really sad. Because while there may not be a YA Mafia out there waiting to take anyone down, the fear of being shunned for not being sufficiently nice enough is real enough, and I think it has the potential to get in the way of intelligent and spirited book discussions. And more than anything, readers are entitled to intelligent and spirited book discussions.

So, it occurred to me that there’s a thing writers can do. We can make a point of telling book bloggers that we know it’s okay for them to dislike our books.

Seriously. It is okay to dislike my books. It’s okay to post about why you dislike them, and it’s okay to talk about why you dislike them. I’d rather you loved them, of course I would … but not all of you will. And that’s all right.

If you dislike my books, or even if you just have mixed and thinky feelings about them, I promise I won’t show up in the comments of your blog posts uninvited to tell you why you shouldn’t dislike them, or to tell you that you really ought to be nicer, or to tell you that writing books is hard work and that you therefore have no right to criticize one.

Writing books is hard work. But that’s my problem; it creates no obligation on your part. When you dislike my book, so long as you stick to talking about the book, you’re not attacking me. As a professional writer, it’s my job to understand this.

The truth is, if everyone loved my books, it would probably mean that a very limited circle of people were reading them, because there’s no book on the planet that everyone unreservedly loves. (I’ve even seen some anecdotal evidence that books with only positive reviews tend to sell less well than those with mixed reviews.) What writers want, more than anything, is to be read. It’s why we send our books out into the world, rather than keeping them safe at home.

Which is why if you dislike my books, and want to talk about why online, I respect that, even welcome it. I’m glad you’re out there, and I’m glad you’re reading what I’ve written. Book bloggers and the communities you’ve created around books and reading totally rock, regardless of whether you love or hate my books specifically. Seriously.

So, writers: I think it’d be pretty cool if we could have a whole wave of posts telling book bloggers that we’re good with them not always liking our books, and that we appreciate their being out there regardless. What do you say? Join in?

(ETA: Here’s a list of other writers who’ve responded and said they’re also okay with negative reviews.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *