In Praise of Book Bloggers/Reviewers

When I released “Live and Let Die” last year, I made a conscious decision to tell only a handful of close friends and family what I was doing.  However, I haven’t beseeched any of them to post glowing reviews on Amazon, et al.  I’m sure if I asked them too, they’d be more than happy to Fangirl all over Amazon with a cache of five star reviews for my book (well, except my sister, Kathryn, since she doesn’t like anything...which is why she’s my first reader.)  It was (and is) important to me that my work stand on its own merit, which means accepting what complete strangers say about it – good, bad and ugly. 

So, because I decided it’s a better use of my friends and family’s time to celebrate or commiserate with me over my reviews, rather than write them, I had to find other ways to gain readers/reviews.  One of the ways I’ve done this is to reach out to book bloggers.  It takes a lot of time and is an ongoing process, but has been worth the effort. 
So far, I’ve gotten some really nice feedback on my work and have even heard from readers who bought my book based on a positive review they saw from a book blogger they read and trust. Getting that kind of feedback has been wonderful and is not something I take lightly.  As a bonus to building relationships with book bloggers, I’ve been introduced to some really terrific blogs.  It’s been a lot of fun getting to know folks through their blogs and even getting some book recommendations for my own to-be-read pile.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for the time and effort book bloggers put into reading and reviewing books, especially those by indie authors.  Many of these bloggers review books strictly as a labor of love; they don’t get paid to do it and like the rest of us, have jobs, families and lives outside of reviewing books.

Because of the admiration I have for book bloggers and the work they do, it’s distressing to hear of indie authors who flame bloggers when they don’t get a good review or insist a negative review be removed, sometimes sinking to snide personal attacks in the quest to realize their mission.  As a result of ongoing abuse from outraged indies, I’ve heard of some bloggers declaring they will no longer review indie authors, because it’s just not worth the aggravation. 
This is really a shame.  Publishing is tough enough, especially as an indie and book bloggers are a great resource for spreading the word about your work.  Personally, I’m thrilled when a blogger agrees to read my book.  A great review is the cherry on top.          

It’s been said before and it bears repeating; not everyone will like your work. Just because we ask for our book to be reviewed, it does not guarantee we will get a love letter in return.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and some people just don’t cotton to certain books (however, if reviewers keep dinging the work for typos, bad grammar, poor sentence structure, etc., that’s not the time to stick our heads in the sand and insist the reviewer is an idiot who doesn't know what they're talking about; that’s the time to step back and take stock of what needs to be fixed – and fix it). 

While I think “Gone Girl” is brilliant and the best book I read in 2012, there are thousands of readers who have reviled it as one of the worst books they’ve ever had the displeasure of reading.  Insert my disinterested shrug here.  Different strokes for different folks.  Gillian Flynn isn’t taking to reader forums to engage in flame wars or sending outraged tweets; she’s working on her next book.

Which is what all writers should be doing.

And so, mazel to book bloggers and their willingness to support indie authors.  Please know, there are many of us who appreciate the work you do and will take your words about our work to heart – good, bad and ugly.