I’m not pretending to be a professional

24 January, 2012 Musing Musers 34 comments

Format: select

learn-to-be-professional_o_285322I think we all know where this post is going. I’m going to pretend you all have been informed of all the recent drama between reviewers and authors. But in case you missed the wankfest you can check out this recap.

Once upon a time I wrote a review for a book called Carrier of the Mark and it happened to ruffle some feathers. At the time of writing the review, I was an angry little reader flabbergasted by a few issues I noticed. I wasn’t thinking of what the author would think of the review and contrary to popular belief, I couldn’t have cared less what she thought. Because once I care, I’ll be forced to sugarcoat. Anyway, usually I write my reviews with the reader in mind, but the Carrier of the Mark review is the only review I have written for myself. So for all those who have been “reviewing” my review and hating it? That’s fine. I really don’t care. You all are free to disagree with whatever opinion I have. However, also please note that it is my right to say, “Haters, please exit stage left.” I stand completely behind what I wrote. I didn’t write it to spread hate because while I hated the book, I did not hate the author. The two are separate in my mind, as they should always be when writing a review. People have voted like crazy for the review. Why? I have no idea. I suppose, they thought it was a good review or maybe they even agreed with it. Or maybe they just think I’m bodaciously awesome. Whatever the reason, we all know what happened next…drama, drama, drama.

Through all of this drama, I’ve seen a certain question brought up a few times.

So what’s a review? Does a review have to be an academic paper void of any emotional attachment to the book? Well, if you want to write a review in that style I’m certainly not going to stop you. What a reviewer chooses to do with the space Google or WordPress has given is up to them. Here at Cuddlebuggery, that’s not quite how I roll. If I were to write an academic style review, and you can bet your ass I could do it, it would be a really boring review. And I do mean really boring. So boring, in fact, that I’m pretty sure all my followers on this blog and GoodReads would unfollow me with the haste of a thousand chariot racers. That may or may not be an exaggeration.  I like reading reviews where the reviewer pours out their heart or frustration into the review. Reading experiences are deeply personal and have the habit of bringing out the best and worse qualities in us. I want to know what someone loved or hated about a book because before I’m a reviewer/blogger, I am a reader; a consumer. I am not a professional, nor have I ever claimed to be such. I’m not sitting in an office with some hardass boss leaning over me editing my reviews. This is not my job. Let us not forget that I buy these books. Yes, sometimes I do get ARCs, but publishers have been known to also give those out to people that don’t even have a blog. If people think my reviews are invalid because they can be sarcastic or because I use images and gifs, fine. That is their opinion. Webster and I will just respectfully disagree.

That being said, here is what you can always expect from me (BIG thank you to Phoebe North as the inspiration behind these promises):

1. I will always give my honest opinion of a book. Even if I am friends with the author or the book is an ARC, I will not sugarcoat.

2. I will not rate a book before I have read it. (Full disclosure: I did this once in the past, but later deleted the rating.)

3. I will rate and review a book I did not finish. As always, take those reviews with a grain of salt.

4. I will continue to write negative reviews. I know some bloggers/reviewers choose not to write 1 star reviews. I am not one of them.

5. I will never attack an author in my review. I’ve actually never done this, but it needed to be said regardless.

6. I will move an author’s book(s) to my “Do Not Read” shelf on GoodReads if the author does or says something that doesn’t sit right with me. That’s just how I feel as a consumer. I don’t want to go into a book with previous bias against the author. Please do not read that as a blacklisting campaign. I don’t care if you still want to read the book. In fact, go for it! I will probably read and “like” your review too.

7. I will not read a book that I am sure to hate just to write a snarky review on it. Once, I may have thought about doing this, but not anymore (the “purely for the lolz” shelf is gone). There are far too many good books out there to read. No, Project: Hindsight doesn’t count because I was genuinely interested to see if I would like Twilight as much as I once did. I could barely finish the first book and didn’t finish the second. As it stands, I have abandoned the project because I’m pretty sure it would not be a happy review for the last two books. I think I gave it a valiant effort. Time to abandon ship.

8. I will post my reviews on any of the following sites if I choose to: Amazon, Shelfari and GoodReads.

9. I will be respectful to other readers and reviewers, whose opinions differ from mine. I would never wish a bad reading experience on anyone just because they decide to read book I didn’t like. These reviews are my opinion only. It, of course, is your right to disagree.

10. I don’t plan on changing my review style. Yes, I am long-winded. Yes, I am sarcastic. Yes, I am detailed. Yes, I occasionally use gifs and images. Yes, sometimes I’m snarky. Yes, I can be blunt. No, I will not change…for anyone.

And you can take that to the bank.

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

34 Responses to “I’m not pretending to be a professional”

  1. @_ElizabethMay

    I admit it: as a consumer myself (I was a reader before I was a writer), this style of reviewing has always appealed to me. I've read professional reviews, and they're great, but I also love how approachable some of the reviews on Goodreads are. I love how passionate they are. They manage to encapsulate many of the same emotions I feel while reading — both of the books I love, and the ones I don't love as much.

    Anyway, I just wanted to stop by and say how very much I respect you for this post.

    • cuddlebuggery

      Thank you, ElizabethMay. That's one of the great things about GoodReads; there are so many different reviewing styles to choose from. There are such a variety of opinions and personalities. Who better to get a recommendation from someone who has emotionally connected to the book on some level? Those are the reviews I seek out.

  2. Donna @ Bites

    I’m wondering how many times we have to tell people that we’re not professionals before they get it through their skulls. Goodreads is a place for opinions. And people are getting cranky that opinions are being shared there. Really? That makes sense to who? Goodreads if for readers, not authors. Of course authors are invited but that doesn’t mean they get to berate someone because their review of their book isn’t covered in butterflies and sugar farts. People need to learn to just step away from the computer if they feel their fingers itching to get typing.

    And I hate it when people get all “don’t you care that the author poured their heart and soul into the book?” Noted. Thanks. I still don’t like it. They SHOULD pour their heart and soul into their books. But that doesn’t make me obligated to like it. And if that lovechild of the author’s heart and soul just happens to be a facsimile of all of the other YA whatever that’s out there now, people have a right to know. Obviously someone saw something in that book that was salable (most likely because it was strung across the same nerve as many other books, ride the wave) but as readers we aren’t required to like it. And if that book happens to be the culmination of copycat insanity that the reader has suffered through thinking that maybe this next one will be different, then so be it. It had to be someone.

    I posted about this as well. I’m convinced they’re actually afraid of us. I don’t know what else it could be. And fear makes sense. http://www.bitemybooks.com/2012/01/this-is-why-i-

    • cuddlebuggery

      "And I hate it when people get all "don't you care that the author poured their heart and soul into the book?" Noted. Thanks. I still don't like it. "

      Yes! This! I'm pretty sure chefs, singers, painters, actors, directors, ect all pour their hearts out. Somehow, I never hear them complaining and they get some pretty harsh reviews. While I'd love to believe we are just that cool and influential, some people need to be a little more realistic. We are just one group of readers in our small circle on the Internet. Don't they realize that by publicly complaining about us only draws attention to our reviews?

  3. Donna @ Bites

    I just posted this nice thought out comment and I think the internet ate it. In case it doesn't pop up, I posted about this myself and I'm pretty sure people are just afraid of citizen reviews. It makes too much sense. http://www.bitemybooks.com/2012/01/this-is-why-i-

    At the end of the day Goodreads is for readers, not authors. It's a site for opinions and we're being chastised for posting our opinions on an opinion site. Where does that make sense? People need to learn not to bite the hand that feeds them. In this case literally.

    • cuddlebuggery

      Sorry about that, Donna. Comments posted by those who have never commented require me to approve them. Thanks for reminding me to take that feature off. It was annoying.

  4. Becky

    Exactly, Donna! It frustrates me how many authors lately have been coming out with this entitled outrage. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to write a book, but in the end, that doesn't guarantee anything. Yes, the author worked hard, but that doesn't mean everyone will love the book, nor should they have to. GR is intended for readers to get together and discuss things honestly. Some people abuse this and attack the author personally (which is not at all what I'm defending), but most of these "controversial" reviews have been honest and straightforward about what they didn't like. It's completely out of line for an author to get involved with a discussion of his/her book and try to tell the reader(s) that their reaction is wrong.

    • cuddlebuggery

      Agreed. It really makes me scratch my head that people have been lumping the reviews that have been attacked in with reviews that author bash. Isn't it weird how the reviews that do attack the author haven't been targeted yet?

      • Becky

        It IS weird, isn't it? My closest guess is that it's easier to brush off a review that's basically just a rambling tirade, but a well-written and honest review is harder to accept. In the end, it's probably easier to say, "well, this reviewer is out of line!" than "yeah, I really abused the commas in that one, I need to work on that".

        But I know, it does seem strange that of the disputed reviews I've personally seen so far, they're pretty clear and avoid personally attacking the writer.

        • cuddlebuggery

          It might also be because the reviews were highly voted. Of course, now they have ridiculous high votes thanks to their authors. Perhaps they shouldn't read their reviews.

  5. Minda

    We all have the right to an opinion. We are not carbon copies of each other. We all think differently and we all have something to say. Your opinion of a book is YOUR opinion. Everyone will get their feelings hurt at one time or another. That is what they mean by "growing a thick skin" and letting things go. All an author can accomplish by targeting your review is alienating readers or causing a bunch of unneeded drama.

    I know it hurts them to read things that criticize their work…but for every bad review there are HUNDREDS of good reviews! (Unless someone is a REALLY bad author.) Word of mouth is a very influential seller….if someone chooses to attack that they are only hurting themselves.

    What I'm really trying to say is you are doing a good job and don't worry when someone chooses to make a big stink about something. This is your blog, your content, your opinions. Don't change a thing.

    • cuddlebuggery

      Thanks, Minda. I don't intend to change at all. We all should just keep doing what we do. 🙂

  6. Heidi

    Well said Stephanie, there is a difference between writing quality one star reviews and just plain writing hate. You showed that you can skifully write a one star review especially when you backed up your words. Big props to you. It takes courage to take a stand! You keep doing what you are doing!

  7. Natasha@ primrose

    You go girl! I always read your reviews on Goodreads because you're always honest and maybe I have the same taste as you too.

  8. Not The Momma

    I just wanted to drop by and say "You Go Girl!" I read your review for Carrier of the Mark on Goodreads and LOVED it. So honest and I have decided to skip Twilight part deux. As a result of that review I'm following your blog as well. I can hardly wait to read more of your reviews in the future!

  9. Cyna

    Great post. Steifvater’s post left a bad taste in my mouth, because she seemed to be passive-agressively dismissing online reviewers as not counting, which is pretty rich, considering that online reviews are her readers. Every time a great point about the implications of what she’s saying gets brought up on the comments, she goes “Oh, I wasn’t saying that“, so by the end of it, it seems like she’s “not saying” a whole lot of anything. I hadn’t known much about her before all this, but I’ve lost a lot of respect after the many interactions I’ve seen her have with readers.

    Anyway, I loved your review of Carrier of the Mark. You had a point to make, it was a very valid point, and you made it with proof and humor. For me, that’s the best kind of book review, and I deeply love this blog because you guys have an abundance of those. Keep it up!
    Cyna recently posted…059 – She Smells the Dead by EJ StevensMy Profile

    • Stephanie Sinclair

      Thank you! A lot of bloggers were turned off from her post. I’m not sure why she felt the need to come out and say what all of that, but I suspect by the end of the post neither did she.

      I’m glad you are enjoying the blog! I hope you stick around! 🙂

  10. Goldie

    Found your blog through blog hopping around. I love this post! I struggle with writing about books especially if I got an ARC or even a print copy, because I feel I have to be nice, although I always try my best to be honest.

    Great post! 🙂
    Goldie recently posted…Review: PwnedMy Profile

  11. Taxandria

    That’s how it should be. We all get to choose what our style and voice will be and how we want to review. I’m not a professional reviewer and I try to write reviews that I would like to read. I’m always looking to improve, but a review is just my take on the book, expressed in my own words.

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