I write negative reviews. A lot of them, actually. And I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
I'm proud of my negative reviews. I think that the widespread, responsible, intelligent criticism of literature--even the literature that so many people consider fluff, like YA--is one of the most fantastic things to come out of the book blogging boom. But sometimes...
The downside to the book blogging world--especially the YA book blogging world--is that it has brought authors, readers, agents, editors, publicists, cover designers, and the zillion other people involved in the book biz and thrown them all together on the playground. There are authors whose books I hate, but whose blogs I love. There are authors whose books I've loved, but hated their online presence so much I've felt guilty for enjoying their stories. The publicity machine that churns out hotly buzzed title after hotly buzzed title makes it difficult to go against the grain.
Negative reviews get a lot of attention, and maybe not the good kind.
It kills me that the most vitriolic, bitter, and frankly nasty review I have ever written--my take-down of The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen, which also doubled as a critique of all the tropes that annoy me in the paranormal romance genre--is also one of the most popular non-Hunger Games related posts I have ever written on this blog. People love to read nasty. People also love to be nasty sometimes, myself included. Sometimes it's hard to know when I've crossed the line from honest into just plain mean, especially when those posts tend to stick around, forever and ever.
It's hard not to compare myself to other people.
There are literally hundreds of book bloggers out there who interview more authors than me, who run more giveaways than me, get more review copies than me, who have far, far, far more followers than me, and most importantly, write more positive reviews than me. On bad days that makes me bitter. On good days, though, I remember that we all have different blogging styles and audiences, and that that is a most excellent thing. The internet would be pretty boring without all of its unique and wonderful and occasionally egregiously awful voices. (And of course, there are the ones that write just as many negative reviews as me and still have more followers/etc., so I try not to read into these things too much.)
I worry that this will affect my writing career.
Writing stories is my passion. It was my passion long before book blogging. And if someone told me I had to give up the book blog tomorrow or lose my chance at a writing career, there's no contest as to which I would pick. Unfortunately, I worry all the time that I'm making that choice already, slowly, but surely. I'm worried that with my negative reviews, I push away the very authors, editors, agents, and publishing folk that I'm seeking to connect with. Isn't book blogging supposed to be fun? When did all this angst get attached?
The good thing? I know I'm not alone.
How do I know? Because this post was inspired by the sentiments Pam of Bookalicious, "On reviewing and losing your mojo." Especially after the utter bedlam that ensued after The Story Siren's plagiarism scandal, I think there's a lot of book blogger burnout going around. In fact, in my very unscientific opinion, I think there's a lot of internet burnout going on. People say and do things on the internet that they'd never say and do in real life. Sometimes that's awesome. Sometimes people do stupid sh*t. And we're only just now realizing that, short of a dystopia worthy of a YA novel, this stuff is never going to go away. Your mistakes, your bad days, your bitter disappointments all can haunt you like never before. There are no rules in the wild, wild west of the internet. We're figuring them out as we go along. And the etiquette of negative reviews is a part of that.
So I'm not letting it get me down.
Especially since authors like Beth Revis and Justine Larbalestier have blogged about negative reviews and why they're 100% okay. I'm excited to be a part of this brave new world of books, and all the growing pains that come along with it. Even as the mud is slung and the trenches are dug on the latest major kerfuffle, the YA community remains one of the most supportive, wonderful, truly amazing groups of people I've ever encountered on the internet.
The Moral of the Story: Keep rocking down with your big bad reviewing selves, negative reviews or no negative reviews. Keep it real. Our voices matter. And we're all in it together.
Care to chime in with your own negative review stories, horrifying, wonderful, or otherwise? As always, the comments section is your oyster.