A Community of Readers
There has been some tension between romance blogs and the romance website, All About Romance. When I first read the threads over at AAR that turned from why some didn’t like the message board change to why blogs are exclusive and narcissistic, my first instinct was to reach out and say that we welcome commenters and hope that we aren’t exclusive. That’s my opinion still but I realized as I was writing this piece that there will always be some that won’t find Dear Author welcoming or interesting. That a blog, a website, or a message board cannot be all things for all people, least of all a blog.
We do have a viewpoint here at DearAuthor and because I pen most of the opinion pieces, most of the viewpoint that is espoused is mine. Jayne and I write most of the reviews for DA and our opinions vary widely and so do our writing styles so to that extent I think we have some depth but it’s not a great variety such as is provided at a place like All About Romance or Romantic Times.
I admit that when I began Dear Author over a year and a half ago that I had no idea what the mission or purpose of the blog was. To some extent, it was a personal reading journal and to some extent, it still is. I remember as the blog’s audience began to grow I began to get caught up in that. I looked around to see what other websites were doing to be popular, to be successful. I was, at times, even envious particularly of Candy and Sarah. They were so smart and so funny and so articulate. I despaired at ever being able to compete with them. Yes, compete. And when I articulated that to myself, I had an epiphany. There was absolutely no reason to be envious, to feel less than, or inadequate. Dear Author and Smart Bitches had two separate points of view and the romance community was big enough to encompass not only our collective voices but many, many other voices of the genre. I’ve learned in the course of blogging, that one can only do so without fear. And really, that’s the only way to live even outside of blogging.
The past few years, the web has seen an explosion of blogs. Reader blogs, author blogs, community blogs. Sometimes it seems like we are all talking an issue to death and other times, we aren’t even close to being on the same page. The point is that by the very existence of these web presences, we are proving to ourselves and to those outside the community that this is a thriving environment.
It’s not possible, because we are so diverse, for one place to serve all people. Sarah and Candy have a wonderful sense of humor. They are sharp and insightful. The health of their blog and the continued presence of Smart Bitches in the community is vital for the community. All About Romance was one of the first romance review sites on the internet. (I believe that The Romance Reader was the first and still provides quality reviews to this day from reviewers like Wendy, the Superlibrarian, and a reviewer that I just adore, Susan Scribner). AAR will always have a place at the romance table. As Laurie Gold stated, there are over 7000+ pages of content which includes opinion pieces, reviews, special title listings and so forth. No blog will be able to provide that level of information and thus AAR will continue to be a great resource within the community. It is remarkable that AAR has been in existence since 1999. That’s longer than any blog. I hope that Dear Author is around in 8 years, but I am not making any promises.
If I can offer anything to those readers who find DearAuthor or any blog to be inclusive, I would say that the community of a place is what you make it to be. I hope that we are meeting the needs of the readers here and that we continue to provide interesting content. If it isn’t for you, click away. But if it is and you just need some small push to post, let us start today.
One of the perks of blogging about books is getting free books ahead of their publication date. These books are known within the industry as ARCs which stands for Advanced Reader Copy or Advanced Readers Edition. Even though we receive these regularly at Dear Author, each one is special. I thought that there could not be a more fun and special thing to pass on to readers than the opportunity to receive an ARC. Our first outing in that endeavor was quite well received and so I went a begging to see if other publishers would be interested. Harper Collins reached out and sent me four ARC of the The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.
According to Ms. James, the novel arose out of a story that “Jane’s sister Cassandra confided to her niece: that the only man Jane ever truly loved, was an unnamed gentleman she once met at an unspecified seaside resort. This tantalizing anecdote is known as the mysterious “seaside romance.” Everyone wonders: who was that man? What happened to him? I decided to invent him.” The original publication date was January 2008, but is now being released in November. An excerpt is available here.
I haven’t read the book yet and was worried that I wouldn’t get to it before November so rather than have them languish in my To Be Read Pile, I am going to give all of them away and hope that I can persuade at least one of the winners of the book to write a small review for us here at DearAuthor.
As an aside, this is a really lovely ARC. It has this faux grosgrain ribbon that runs through the middle of the cover and it is slightly raised (I think that is called embossing). The cover itself is this lovely beige and has the matte cover feel instead of the slick cover feel. I have always liked the matte cover feel better. I know, this is a total non sequitur, but really, am I the only one who fondles her books?
To encourage newcomers, I am going to give away three of the four books to newcomers, to commenters who have never commented before. To those long time commenters, I will give away three $5.00 gift certificates to Fictionwise.com or Amazon.com. You can make a comment about whether you like the idea of the ARC giveaway and would like to see more of them. You can make a comment about your favorite Jane Austen book. You can make a comment about what you would like to see improved on Dear Author. You can make a comment about how you feel excluded. You can even comment about how weird it is that I like to fondle book covers. Any comments are welcome.