Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

All About Dear Author

Dear Author started in April of 2006 as a reader blog. It is still a reader blog. All we do is talk about the books we read, devices that make our reading life better (or not), and topics of interest to readers, primarily romance. In this virtual reality, we are trying to be as honest and forthright about books that we like, we don’t like and that we feel “meh” about. That’s it, nothing more. We have no agenda. We aren’t out to ruin anyone. (and we don’t believe that we have the power to do so either).

We aren’t writers nor are we associated with the publishing industry in any way. We don’t work in a bookstore. We don’t belong to RWA. We don’t know any authors personally. There might be one or two authors that we don’t particularly like given their online persona, but we don’t blog about those authors’ books because of that. We do try for impartiality as best we can. Most importantly, we try for honesty. Honesty about our feelings regarding books. No one would find this site valuable if we were a) negative all the time or b) positive all the time. We try to articulate what worked and what didn’t. We know that readers are smart and can decide for themselves whether they will like a book. Readers are pretty savvy. Give readers more credit for being able to discern for themselves whether a book is for them.

We want to engage readers in the discussion about books, topics that affect books, and that is it. Our suggestion would be this: if you don’t like what we have to say, or if you don’t like the format in which this website is set up, don’t come back. This blog is not for you. There are several other well written blogs out there that you might feel more comfortable reading. If you, as a reader, find this blog helpful in making decisions in purchasing, fun to read, or enjoy engaging in discourse, we are so glad to have you here.

That’s it. Back to our regularly scheduled program of letters. Next Sunday, we will introduce our blogging contest (whose prize package includes a $200 Amazon gift certificate).

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

53 Comments

  1. Tara Marie
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 09:21:24

    Most importantly, we try for honesty. Honesty about our feelings regarding books.

    That’s it in a nutshell, what every reader wants in any review.

    For an author this can be a double edged sword. They come to read reviews and want their work reviewed. Yet some don’t handle criticism of their or friend’s work well. This site and most review sites aren’t meant for authors, that’s not to say authors aren’t welcome, but they need to remember these sites are geared first and foremost to READERS and when they enter review sites, perhaps they should take off their author caps and put on their reader ones. Not easy, but it would avoid the dust ups that seem to appear when a reviewer is unhappy or dissatisfied with a book and friends and fans come out of the woodwork to disagree.

    Not every book is a keeper and what works for one wont work for all.

  2. Cece
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 09:21:40

    FWIW your honesty is appreciated :)

  3. Madison
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 10:02:55

    I hate I missed the fireworks.

    Its amazing what people witch about. I don’t like peach tea. I found that out one day at a library sponsored author appearance. Guess what, I never tried it again. That seems like such a stupid thing to even question but hey if someone doesn’t like this site, then guess the crap what… don’t come here. OMG, what a concept.

    Me, I’ll be back. I like to take any infomation I can gather and develop my own opinion. I appreacite your time and honest opinion. If, for a second, I thought you’d been paid off for a good review when someone didn’t deserve it / or upped someone’s grade just to be nice – then I wouldn’t repect your opinion.

    Carry on ladies! I think you rock!

  4. readerdiane
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 10:13:11

    I enjoy hearing what other people say about the books they have been reading. It is hard to find time to chat about books but I can log onto this site and see what you have to say. Sometimes I have agreed with you and other times not so much. I have no agenda other than to hear about the books that are coming out, just a voracious reader.
    I appreciate your work and hope you continue with your honest opinions. Thanks

  5. Jayne
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 10:27:02

    If you click on the FAQ under our banner, you can then click on “submissions” and see what we generally tell anyone who emails us and offers a book for us to review. We try to be very honest that we will post what we think. We also do not accept free books for our monthy contests.

  6. Alison Kent
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 11:21:34

    I am trying to unsubscribe from comments here (didn’t mean to subscribe in the first place; need to read more carefully!) but the manage subscription link in the emails isn’t working. I’ve tried a dozen or so times. Can you unsub my addy manually?

  7. Charlene
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 11:46:17

    I must’ve missed something, did you guys get some flak about your content? I keep visiting the site because I find it has useful information. I like your in-depth reports on the various epublishers and what the shopping experience/usability was like especially. I also loved the report on the Sony reader. Since I’m an ebook reader as well as an author, I like hearing this kind of feedback. I also think you two have done a valuable service for ebooks by reviewing so many of them and reporting that the level of quality in print vs. ebook is so similar.

  8. Karen Scott
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 12:59:00

    You know, there are lots of review sites out there that I avoid like the plague, mostly because the reviews are so thickly sugar coated, I live in fear of ending up with a bad case of diabetes.

    I like the matter of fact way you girls write your reviews, if more romance reviewers were like you, then as far as I’m concerned, there would probably a lot less chaff, to contend with, within the genre.

    My (usually reliable) sources tell me that, the author who came to berate you about your review of Karin Tabke’s book, was actually her sister. (If I have this information wrong, then somebody feel free to correct me.)

    It strikes me that this is possibly something she should have mentioned before telling you off for speaking your mind, and then trying to convince us that really the book was fabulous, and how dare you not see how effing fabulous it was!

    I understand sticking up for one’s sibling, but I’m sure Rae Monet will forgive me for thinking that her opinion was biased. (If indeed, they are sisters, if not, then I apologise in advance)

    Keep doing what you’re doing, and never mind the ‘If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say’ Brigade. There are plenty of blogs out there that talk about puppies, kittens and sewing, to satisfy their Pollyanna requirements.

  9. Robin
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 13:05:38

    I understand sticking up for one’s sibling, but I’m sure Rae Monet will forgive me for thinking that her opinion was biased. (If indeed, they are sisters, if not, then I apologise in advance)

    At the very least they’re close friends, because Monet is featured on Tabke’s blog or website or something — I did a quick check of her site when this whole thing started.

  10. Angie
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 13:17:30

    This is interesting. I love discussions about reviews. I might have started one or two myself ;)

    I’ve been visiting here since you started. A number of books I’ve edited have been reviewed. Not all of them have been favorable. I haven’t heard any of my authors say they felt personally attacked by a less-than-stellar review here. Which is not to say they were thrilled with getting a bad review and that it didn’t sting, just that they didn’t say they felt it was a review of them personally, just their book.

    I don’t always agree with your reviews (talking above and beyond the books I worked on) and occasionally I find the review not as well-balanced as I think it could be or sometimes you’ll give a book a positive review but is contradictory to previous opinions you’ve offered about things you like/dislike in a book. But that’s okay, because I come here for the honest opinion from a reader, even if your opinion isn’t swaying my buying decision, I still like to know what someone is really thinking about a book. And I’ll keep coming back for that opinion. Unless you start honestly saying the books I work on all suck, in which case, I won’t come around anymore. But that’s my right, just as it’s yours to have an opinion that’s different than mine.

    As an editor, I value a site that targets the book, not the author, and which promises to be honest. I know that it’s difficult for my authors to get a bad review–I take it badly myself and I even recently had a review that targeted me!–but I also think it’s part of publishing. Just like it’s part of making movies. Or producing any other product. Some people will love it, some people will hate it (and be vocal about it)–but once a product is out for public consumption, we have to expect it will get feedback and that we won’t be able to control the quality or content of that feedback. That’s just how anything involving consumers works.

  11. Rosina Lippi
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 14:02:40

    I’ve been commenting on this whole kerfuffle on my own weblog, but at this point I feel the need to provide a very specific example of what I was trying to get across. In your review of the police procedural erotica novel (which I haven’t read, nor have I read any of the author’s other books) you said:

    I think you were trying to be clever and pretend like you knew what you were talking about by throwing out acronyms like PD, GO, and PC (probable cause).

    If a reviewer finds that any aspect of a story was forced or unbelievable, that’s something I’d like to know about, and it certainly belongs in the review. But look at this formulation, which is directed to the author specifically. This is an accusation. You were pretending. You didn’t know what you were talking about, but you were trying to pull a fast one. You were trying to be clever, but I am more clever than you are, because I see what you’re trying to get away with.

    Given this rather condescending and hostile tone, I’m not surprised people reacted badly.

  12. Nora Roberts
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 14:32:05

    I think it would be obvious that with the number of books I’ve written I’ve had good reviews, bad reviews, and every possible sort of review between the two poles.

    I’ve been delighted, disappointed, annoyed, hurt, slap-happy, etc., etc., through that gammot. I only remember being actually pissed by two that I read (two different books, reviewers, time frames) because the first complained about something that didn’t happen in the book at all (complain, but at least do so about content that was actually there), and because the second made extremely personal–and false–statements about me rather than the book itself.

    Readers and reviewers are entitled to their opinions. They’re entitled to voice or write those opinions. I don’t believe they’re entitled to sling and slap at the author in a personal way. Such as: That Nancy Author is obviously a greedy bitch and only wrote this piece of crap for the money. I hope she chokes on her next royalty statement.

    I haven’t been visiting this site long, but don’t recall ever seeing that sort of comment here. The fact is, when I first kind of stumbled here, my first thought was: What an interesting way to do a review. I still think so.

    So far, with those I’ve read, I’ve found the reviews to be thorough, funny, honest, and specific. I don’t know that any author or reader could ask for better than that.

  13. Sharon
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 14:39:27

    I’ve been coming here awhile, and I usually tend to enjoy the reviews, and I generally agree that most are well balanced, not overly vicious and usually not aimed at the author personally. However, there was a specific instance cited, which I found interesting (in the comments of the Tabke review) given the vehemence in which most reviewers state they don’t target an author personally. I can recall at least one other instance (here) in which I thought the review was more “personal” so I don’t buy that reviews are always all about the work and not the author. How can it be? People have very forceful opinions and tend to state them rather passionately, and as a result they will not come across as a “dry dispassionate discourse on the merits of a book.”

    Also something to note is that while I cringed at the manner in which Tabke’s book was defended (ignoring an issue makes it go away a lot quicker) I hear a lot about readers not liking for an author’s “friend” to jump in to defend her work. In fact, all out hissy fits have been thrown when this occurs. However, no one ever seems to comment on the fact that reviewers fans are just as quick to jump in with nasty, snide insults as they defend the reviewers right to say what she wants. How is this any different than an author’s supporter doing the same? Personally, I don’t see how anything is accomplished on either side other than to give bloggers fodder to beat a dead horse.

    Rae Monet is not Karin Tabke’s sister. I’ll nip that in the bud before it gets tossed around willy nilly. Not that it really matters because she won’t be taken any more seriously in her defense of Karin whether she’s a friend or a sister.

    I don’t have a beef with the Ja(y)nes. I just find the whole discussion and the “backlash” interesting. Jane didn’t like my book but we still enjoyed a civilized conversation and I didn’t threaten her or maim a voodoo doll in her likeness ;)

  14. Cece
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 14:42:54

    Readers and reviewers are entitled to their opinions.

    Amen…..whether we like them or not, we have to respect the fact they’re entitled to their opinions.

    Sharon…where do you get your voodoo dolls? :D

  15. Nora Roberts
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 15:21:27

    ~I hear a lot about readers not liking for an author’s “friend" to jump in to defend her work. In fact, all out hissy fits have been thrown when this occurs. However, no one ever seems to comment on the fact that reviewers fans are just as quick to jump in with nasty, snide insults as they defend the reviewers right to say what she wants. How is this any different than an author’s supporter doing the same?~

    I gotta agree with this. And must admit it’s something that’s baffled and frustrated me over the years.

    We’d all probably agree (I hope) that in a perfect world someone–author, author pal, reader–could disagree with a review, and do so in a courteous, mature and non-inflammatory manner, expressing why they disagreed. And that those who enjoy the reviewer site, agree with the opinion expressed could do the same. And that, in neither case, would there be flames alit and launched.

    The internet isn’t, alas, a perfect world any more than real life is.

    As I said, I haven’t visited here for very long, and though I can understand–to a point–why some writers may feel the style of the letter to the author review makes it more personal, I also wonder at this. Most of us who write have surely gotten actual reader mail that praises or criticizes a book. And on the critical end, I know personally I’ve received many infinitely harsher and woefully less articulately written than any I’ve–thus far–read here.

  16. Robin
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 15:33:53

    If a reviewer finds that any aspect of a story was forced or unbelievable, that’s something I’d like to know about, and it certainly belongs in the review. But look at this formulation, which is directed to the author specifically. This is an accusation. You were pretending. You didn’t know what you were talking about, but you were trying to pull a fast one. You were trying to be clever, but I am more clever than you are, because I see what you’re trying to get away with.

    I interpreted that sentence a little differently, more as a response to something that felt pretentious to the reader in the book itself (Jane often uses the “I think” and “I felt” phrases in some of her more aggressive critiques). Overall, Jane has a blunter and sometimes harsher style than I do, and even though IMO it’s not always the most diplomatic voice, I think it’s an honest, intelligent, and reasonable voice, in large part because she provides reasons and textual support for her opinions, making it clear that she “thinks” and “feels” her responses as a subjective reader. Sites like Dear Author, Smart Bitches, and a couple of others walk a fine line between the distanced voice of Publishers Weekly and the untutored drive-bys you see on Amazon, for example. Mrs. Giggles used to be the only rabble rousing reviewer on the Internet, and now that things have changed, there is a much larger diversity of reader and author voices, all competing for our attention. These sites and reviewers who try to walk that fine line don’t always hit the right note (although there is also HUGE variation as to what an author deems a “personal” attack), but I also think they’ve helped to chip through the barrier against honest and open critical conversation in Romance that still is largely in place.

  17. Robin
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 15:40:45

    I hear a lot about readers not liking for an author’s “friend" to jump in to defend her work. In fact, all out hissy fits have been thrown when this occurs. However, no one ever seems to comment on the fact that reviewers fans are just as quick to jump in with nasty, snide insults as they defend the reviewers right to say what she wants.

    I don’t think either end of this pole has the moral high ground. As a plain old reader, I can dismiss reader cheerleader comments, whether they’re in favor of a blog or a book or whatever. But what I wish is that when authors arrive to defend their “friends,” that they realize that they are actually ambassadors for those authors, much more so than readers are (at least to me). They also, IMO, are in the best position to offer an articulate and reasoned response to a negative review, because they stand as both reader and author. So it always surprises and disappoints me a little when an author simply says something like “you don’t know what you’re talking about — I loved this book” because that feels way more like a defense of a friend than a book. And when a fellow author doesn’t defend a book more specifically, I frankly wonder about the quality of said book. In other words, it’s like negative advertising to me.

  18. Rosina Lippi
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 15:44:48

    [quote comment="3055"]…

    As I said, I haven’t visited here for very long, and though I can understand–to a point–why some writers may feel the style of the letter to the author review makes it more personal, I also wonder at this. Most of us who write have surely gotten actual reader mail that praises or criticizes a book. And on the critical end, I know personally I’ve received many infinitely harsher and woefully less articulately written than any I’ve–thus far–read here.[/quote]

    Of course, you’re right. I have had wonderfully complementary letters and emails from readers, and some pretty nasty ones as well. That goes along with publishing. But that was private correspondence between a reader and me.

    In this case we’re talking about a review that was put out for public consumption and reaction. As such, the content and the tone are both open to commentary. And everybody is free to be as snarky and condescending as they please. But what is gained by that, beyond the short lived thrill of having scored a point for cleverness?

  19. Alison Kent
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 15:48:55

    One thing I have noticed is that most of Jayne’s reviews end with, for example, “B+ for this one”, while most of Jane’s reviews end with “B+ for you.” Not for the work, the book, or for this one, but for “you”. As kate r said in the comments to the Tabke review, “you” can often be problematic and appear to be directed personally to the author, rather than to her work.

  20. Rosina Lippi
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 15:51:20

    [quote comment="3056"]
    I interpreted that sentence a little differently, more as a response to something that felt pretentious to the reader in the book itself (Jane often uses the “I think” and “I felt” phrases in some of her more aggressive critiques). Overall, Jane has a blunter and sometimes harsher style than I do,…[/quote]

    Robin, I love your reviews and appreciate your commentary wherever I run across it. But in this instance we’ll have to agree to disagree. This formulation:

    I think you were trying to be clever and pretend like you knew what you were talking about

    Goes over the line for me. Blunt is one thing, condescending and accusatory is another. I do agree with absolutely that romance reviews have historically been far too much like cheerleading and that needs to change if the genre is ever to gain any wider acceptance, but this approach (in my opinion) won’t contribute to that cause.

  21. Robin
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 16:05:41

    I hear a lot about readers not liking for an author’s “friend" to jump in to defend her work. In fact, all out hissy fits have been thrown when this occurs. However, no one ever seems to comment on the fact that reviewers fans are just as quick to jump in with nasty, snide insults as they defend the reviewers right to say what she wants.

    When I was teaching at university, at the end of every course, students would review the class and the teaching. When I would read these responses, positive or negative, the third-person “she” reference always freaked me out, because it was like two people were having a conversation about me behind my back. So I think it’s a matter of preference and style.

    Whenever I get into these discussions of Romance novel reviews, I get lulled into this place where I think that authors are the only ones around whose work is somehow related to their name or personal pride or whatever. I forget about the teachers and the artists and the actors and the lawyers and the doctors (oy, the doctors!), and everyone else who has a position serving the public and who has to put up with criticism they can absolutely take personally because someone refers to their name or says it to their face, or fills out a review form, or publishes a public comment. When I remember all of that, very honestly, I feel much less inclined to feel we need to shelter the author, somehow, from anything they might take offense to. I’m not in any way defending the name calling and general bad behavior out there; I’m just saying that authors aren’t the only ones who can choose to take criticism of their work personally — or not.

  22. Rosina Lippi
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 16:18:58

    Robin — forgive me, but student evaluations of a class and a professor really can’t be compared to book reviews. I was a professor for twelve years, and I know exactly what you’re talking about when you raise the topic. Two points I feel compelled to make:

    1. student feedback/course reviews are anonymous, and studies have shown (sorry, don’t have the citation to hand) that they correlate strongly to anticipated grade. This speaks to the very different relationship between teacher/student and reviewer/reader/author.

    2. professors do get paranoid about student evaluations, but with good cause. While they are anonymous and acknowledged as flawed both methodologically and statistically, college administrations persist in using them when they need a reason to go after a professor, especially when it comes to reviews and promotions.

    However, I do agree with your point that everybody must deal with reviews of one kind or another, and that sometimes the best course is just to ignore what feels like a personal attack. The problem is, where do you draw the line?

  23. Jenna Petersen
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 16:21:42

    I think dealing with the crticism is something we have to learn, too. I know with my first book, SCANDALOUS, every review affected me more. This was my first full-length ‘baby’ out there in the world and it hurt if someone said they thought it was ugly.

    But as more reviews came in, my skin got thicker. I haven’t had anything too negative on FROM LONDON WITH LOVE yet, so I can’t make any promises, but I hope that this time I will be more relaxed about it when I do, ultimately, get a review or see a blog where the reader hates the book. After all, as has been stated here before, readers have a right to hate the book. It’s okay. I wrote the best book I could. I’m proud of it. Not everyone who reads it will love it and that’s okay. We are both right because it’s opinion.

    Now, come and talk to me again after Jayne and Jane review LONDON (which I saw is probably coming since they were reading it before and now it appears one of them has finished it). We’ll see if this “I’m growing as a person” thing sticks. ;)

    P.S. — I like this site. You give very detailed reasons why you like or don’t like a book. And I appreciate that.

  24. Karen Ranney
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 16:27:41

    As an author who has never had a friend jump in to defend me anywhere (what am I, chopped liver?) I find myself compelled to add to this general discussion.

    I like honest criticism. I don’t care how it’s meted out. Saying someone is facially challenged is pretty much the same thing as saying they’re ugly. (I personally like vertically challenged, but sadly, I’m not short, so I never get a chance to use it.)

    Bottom line, the book has to be written by someone. it doesn’t sprout, full grown, like some sort of Medusa-like monster, from the forehead of a reviewer. Somebody has to write it. Why not Dear Author? Why not: “You” messages?

    I, myself, don’t give a flying fig how someone addresses me. Anyone can say anything s/he wants. What I take from it is my decision.

  25. Angie
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 16:33:37

    Alison, you and Kate make good points in that that particular phrasing might make in more personal, though I’d argue that an author getting a review like Ms. Tabke’s wouldn’t find it easier to take whether that one line was changed or not and her friends or those who love the book might still have the same reaction.

    Kate, that’s a technique taught in therapy (I worked in mental health in a previous lifetime) and especially used in marriage counseling or therapy that requires one person to be confronted. Blame the act not the person, so you take the “you” out of it as much as possible and remove the defensiveness. And of course, passive voice is a lovely thing ;)

    Rosina, I agree with you about reviews needing to be more critical–but I’m unsure of the context. If we’re talking about RT magazine or an online review site, yes. However, we are talking about two readers on their own blog, which they pay to host, not professional reviewers, not getting paid, and mostly reviewing books they buy with their own money. Should they have to answer to us for the language they use? I don’t think they’re representing themselves as anything but readers. Do industry professionals–authors, publishers, editors–have the right to tell readers how they should talk about a book, no matter how much we don’t like it (and ohhh, I don’t like it sometimes!)

    To steal someone else’s analogy, if I get bad food, bad service or find a bug in my food at a restaurant, and I write on my own blog about the experience–and even if I talk about how poorly the place is managed, how the waitress and/or chefs seem unable to do their jobs–I wouldn’t expect that the restaurant can tell me that I need to change how I word my reviews. After all, I paid them (and even if I didn’t and they comped my meal, it was still my experience) and it’s my space and why shouldn’t I be able to tell it like I see it? Now, on the other hand, if I was a professional reviewer for a newspaper or magazine, then I expect the restaurant and my readers would expect a certain…professional decorum from me and I’d need to tone my language down. I view reader blogs in the same way. Personal attacks? Yeah, they pretty much suck. But it’s their blog. I’m not sure we get to make the rules at their blog. I don’t think they’re obligated to us, and shouldn’t feel they have to answer to us, for the phrasing they use or the amount of snark they throw in. And again, I say that having had some books I dearly love not get the greatest reviews.

    And yes, I will be reading Ms. Tabke’s book. Because I am just that curious :) Actually, I wonder how many sales this whole thing will generate, much more so than a glowing, gushing, I lurve this author and everything she touches review.

  26. Rosina Lippi
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 16:38:29

    I’m going to repeat a question I posed, see if anybody wants to try to answer it because really, I’m interested. And curious:

    Everybody is free to be as snarky and condescending and mean spirited in their reviews as they please. But what is gained by that, beyond the short lived thrill of having scored a point for cleverness? And what is lost?

  27. Karen Scott
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 16:40:41

    The problem is, where do you draw the line?

    Why draw a line? Why not just go somewhere else, where your sensibilities wont be compromised?

    There are far worse things in the world to worry about, other than the fact that one reader hated one book, and had the temerity to say so. Suck it up, and move on for the love of God.

    Reason 1000001 why women wont ever run the world: We’re too busy bitching and griping about hurt feelings and those nasty, ‘orrible mean girls.

  28. Alison Kent
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 16:42:27

    [quote comment="3069"]Rosina, I agree with you about reviews needing to be more critical–but I’m unsure of the context. If we’re talking about RT magazine or an online review site, yes. However, we are talking about two readers on their own blog, which they pay to host, not professional reviewers, not getting paid, and mostly reviewing books they buy with their own money. Should they have to answer to us for the language they use?[/quote]

    Angie – If you haven’t read Rosina’s post on reviews and accountability, you might find the discussion interesting.

  29. Karen Scott
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 18:13:34

    Everybody is free to be as snarky and condescending and mean spirited in their reviews as they please. But what is gained by that, beyond the short lived thrill of having scored a point for cleverness? And what is lost?

    Why stop at reviewers? This same question could be aimed at TV pundits, tabloid newspapers, the Chris Rocks of this world, whose comedic repertoire generally involves taking the piss out of other people, film critics, food critics, the list goes on.

    Simon Cowell makes a shitload of money from Americans who appreciate his acerbic wit. I hear Piers Morgan is also going down a storm, and he is as mean as they get.

    I’ll tell you what I gain personally, from writing a snarky review.

    When I go out of my way to buy a book at an average cost of £6.99 ($12), and it’s crap, I have every right to say so. If I want to say that the book in question, sucked arse, without giving valid reasons, then that too is my right. It’s not like I’m ever going to get back the time I wasted reading the book in the first place am I?

    Am I supposed to care that the author feels hurt by my assessment of her book? Is it my duty to be diplomatic in my review of her book? Do I really give a flying monkey that she slaved for months over said book? I think not.

    I don’t know many readers (myself included) who buy books just so they can tear them down. We all buy books with the hopes that we’re going to love the words that are printed between the pages, and that we’re going to love the characters that the author has created.

    Sometimes, this happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Some people will love your words, other people will assume that you never graduated from college, the writing was so bad. Some people will write a gushing review, extolling the virtues of the book, others will rip it apart, piece by piece. If you’re happy to take the compliments, then you should be prepared to take the not-so-nice comments.

    The key thing is, not everyone is going to love your book. Some may even really hate it, and say so in a way that leaves you feeling like somebody just stuck a knife in you. Perspective is usually a good word to think about at this point

    Even Nora Roberts gets crappy reviews. I know, I’ve written at least one of them. Get over it already.

  30. Robin
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 18:21:16

    Everybody is free to be as snarky and condescending and mean spirited in their reviews as they please. But what is gained by that, beyond the short lived thrill of having scored a point for cleverness? And what is lost?

    Okay, I’ll take that question, along with the one about where you draw the line (and in response to your comment on my teacher evaluation post).

    The obvious answer is that you gain nothing from snarky, condescending, and mean-spirited reviews as far as reviewing, the fate of honest debate and author-reader relations in Romance go. BUT, to me the more interesting question is that which you ask in your “where do you draw the line” comment (the losses, IMO, are unaccounted thus far, although we could list some — like overall civility and giving readers the benefit of the doubt).

    Since I was complaining about what I thought was obnoxious and uncalled for reader behavior even before everything exploded on the web (a trend spotter, that’s me ;)), I think about this every time a new version of this issue arises, and I then work at adjusting my own fine distinctions. A couple of months ago, there was an entry on a reader blog that incensed a lot of people, especially a lot of authors, but it was cheered loudly by some readers and linked to across blogland. THAT post was, IMO, way over the line, referring to authors as bitches and inciting near riot in the comments section. The fact that we have been able to have a pretty civil discussion of this issue here, a blog that walks a tight line (perhaps sometimes wobbling to one side or the other), tells me, at least, that we’re still in pretty close vicinity to the line, wherever it may be to each of us. Now I realize that no one ever tries to “save” a lost cause, which may have something to do with the debate as it pertains to this blog, but my own belief is that Dear Author is not a nest of nasty reviews and unvicil infighting.

    As to the line itself, I think that’s related in part to the style of this blog, as some have pointed out. I tend to agree with Julie Leto on this one in that because all authors are given the same “treatment” here vis a vis the second person address, it’s not personally intended. Yes, it’s a public forum, but who’s really interested? Before the existence of websites like ratemyprofessors.com or Campuswatch.org, or that lovely student at UCLA who was offering a cash “bounty” for students who turned in their professors for so-called “unpatriotic” (i.e. liberal) views and lectures, I would have agreed with you, Rosina, that student-teacher reviews processes were largely private (and my experience at a large research university is that they counted for squat against quality of research in tenure and merit decisions) and easily contrasted to reader reviews. But I don’t really think th at’s the case anymore. Further, I think the comparison goes to the issue of relevant community; in the same way I don’t think most folks beyond “primarily Romance” readers are going to visit here, I don’t think most people beyond students and teachers are going to RMP.com. Within each community, I do think there’s a fair amount of public exposure. I think there’s also an interesting comparison relative to the discussions about whether readers are appropriate reviewers, as the same questions are raised by teachers regarding their students all the time. But I’m too tired to talk about that now.

    In any case, I really used the example in the context of how one “prefers” critique delivered, directly or indirectly. In the same way that I think people have different views on what constitutes “personal” criticism, I think we also may have different ideas about how we interact with incoming data and opinions. I, for example, HATE those “some people” insults on messsageboards that are really directed at certain readers but are couched in more general language. I prefer forthright exchanges and am ambivalent about where the line between polite and passive aggressive commenting is sometimes. Because I do spin control in my job, I sometimes feel insulted if I can tell I’m being “managed” by what may feel like patronizing language intended not to offend me. I wish women were better at being honest and civil in our discourse.

    So the upshot to this ramble is that I’m not sure where everyone’s line is, but the fact that we are talking about it here IMO means that we may all be clutered on the same side of a mutually recognizable one. Or maybe there are more than one line, sort of a gray scale of criticism.

  31. Charlene
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 20:04:11

    Holy wow, now I see what the furor’s about. In answer to whoever said authors would object to the “dear author” format, I don’t. It’s the style of this site, and the two Ja(y)nes have a right to follow whatever style or format they like. It’s their site. That goes for whatever opinions they care to state, too. Personally, I think it’s pretty cool to see people who care enough about books to want to devote their spare time to running a site devoted to books and reading. How many people in the US haven’t read a book, any book, this year, let alone talked about it?

  32. Jane
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 20:19:17

    Wow. I go away and there are three comments and I come back and there are thirty. The format of the blog posts are the format of the blog posts. It’s why it’s called “DearAuthor” instead of say, “blog posts about books by two girls called Ja(y)ne.”

    One poster cited a part of the Tabke review as insulting to the author in which I wrote something like “you tried to be clever and it failed.” I don’t see that as a personal attack. It was a comment on what I perceived the author attempting to accomplish and how it failed for me. Apparently according to another poster, I should have learned what the author was talking about in 2nd grade. That may be true. I have never claimed to be the brightest bulb in the box. In fact, in my bio here, I state clearly that I like SIMPLE books. When I am confused at the expense of an author’s attempts to be clever, I will say so. (see my frustration with Eloisa James)

    90% of the books reviewed here are books that we buy. I agree with Karen S that we buy books with the hope that we will love them, each and every time. I would much rather write a “love letter” than a “dear john” letter, but the fact remains if I am unhappy, this is my forum to express my unhappiness.

    For those who don’t like what we say or don’t like how we say it, feel free to comment at will. I’ve never deleted someone’s comment, no matter how rude, crude or insulting. Or, if this site really torques you off, don’t read it.

  33. Rosina Lippi
    Aug 14, 2006 @ 20:23:25

    Just a few brief comments and then I’ll take this to my own weblog.

    Robin — you have made some excellent points, and I need to sort through your comment for myself before I even try to respond.

    Karen Scott points out that some people make a lot of money being obnoxious and negative in a public forum. And that’s true. Simon Cowell is a great example. In fact, there are many ways of making lots of money that I personally don’t want any part of. If the best you can aspire to is Simon Cowell, there’s little common ground for discussion. I personally would hope for more from the community of women who write romance, or about romance.

    I would also like to point out that nothing was said here that offended me personally, and so I really don’t have anything to get over. What a dismissive little turn of phrase that is. My sense was that this was a useful discussion, but clearly Scott and others don’t think so. They would like me to shut up the same way some authors would like Jane to shut up. That’s a fine bit of irony.

  34. Karen Scott
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 02:28:21

    Karen Scott points out that some people make a lot of money being obnoxious and negative in a public forum. And that’s true. Simon Cowell is a great example. In fact, there are many ways of making lots of money that I personally don’t want any part of. If the best you can aspire to is Simon Cowell, there’s little common ground for discussion.

    Now, where in my comments did I aspire to be like Simon Cowell? I simply answered your question, by citing examples of people who do gain something from not being sugar-and-spice nice. Apparently, you missed my point. It’s ok, that happens sometimes.

    As for having a common ground for discussion, you have a mind, and I have a mind, that’s all the common ground I need. You of course may disagree.

    I personally would hope for more from the community of women who write romance, or about romance.

    Well I constantly hope for more from women who write romance, but time and time again, I find that I’m disappointed.

    As it happens, as per usual, this ‘discussion’ only started going a little crazy, when an author, decided to defend her best friend’s work, from The Bad Reviewer. Within her post, she questioned why anybody would write anything so nasty in a public forum. Never a good idea to do that on somebody else’s blog.

    My sense was that this was a useful discussion, but clearly Scott and others don’t think so. They would like me to shut up the same way some authors would like Jane to shut up.

    Did you really feel that it was a useful discussion? How was it useful? Have we not had these ‘discussions’ a million times already? Have we learned anything new? Seriously?

    Let me summarise for you what happened here over the past couple of days:

    Reader posts negative review.
    Author’s bestest pal wades in and wags her finger at reviewer
    Other Readers object to finger wagging
    Other Authors come out and go through the Do’s and Don’ts of Reviewing
    More people join in the ‘discussion’, and parrying and thrusting ensues.

    Did I miss anything out? Is any of this new? Did we make any inroads in The Great Reviewing Debate? Or did it just turn into a Them Against Us ‘discussion’, again?

  35. Nora Roberts
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 06:16:24

    Yes, reader mail is private correspondence. I suppose that’s why I liked the idea of a blog review styled as a letter to the author. Not private but with the sense–to me–of wanting to let the author, as well as anyone else who’s interested, know what this reader thought of the book and why.

    I do agree that leaves the review as open to commentary as the book. It doesn’t appear the Ja(y)nes disagree as there’s a comment section provided.

    Snark is, for good or ill, a part of the review process, and has always been. It’s not reserved for Blogworld. There are certainly sites I’ve visited where I’ve found the tone so aggressive or the majority of the posters so obviously ready to revel as they merrily tromp on authors in general, I don’t bother to go back. Not my kind of party.

    This has been a useful discussion for me, but then I haven’t wandered in Blogland for long. Like a review, it’s interesting and useful for me to see how others–authors and readers–feel and think about this issue and others.

    Lastly, I’ve just written my first review. I’ve heard readers complain that authors don’t do reviews–and that they believe the reason is they’re afraid or shy, let’s say, about being critical of another author’s work. For me, the reason I’ve never done so is because it’s just not what I do. Nothing I was the least interesting in doing. I want to write books, period, leave me the hell alone.

    But in this case, Amazon–through my publish–made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. To review Steven King’s upcoming novel. I’m a big fan, a long-time fan, and while I haven’t loved or even liked every single one of his books, I have loved many of them. I read LISEY’S STORY, and not only loved it, but found it bumped its way up to neck-in-neck with THE STAND, my all-time favorite King novel.

    And the review was one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. How to relate to the reader the layers of the work, how I felt about it, why I felt what I felt. To put all that down in an articulate, hopefully entertaining and sensible way was damn hard work. It may be writing one for a book the reviewer disliked is easier, but I don’t see why it should be.

    So, since yesterday, I have a new level of respect for those who review with some thought of clarity and style–even if they thought my book was crap.

  36. Robin
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 10:40:04

    It may be writing one for a book the reviewer disliked is easier, but I don’t see why it should be.

    My own experience is that it’s most difficult writing a review for a “meh” book — because how do you say a lot about a book that moved you so little? The easiest book for me to review is that which contains more on the failure side than the success side, because when I read a book with lots of irritating elements, I start keeping conscious track of them as I’m reading, sometimes even underlining out of sheer frustration. Since I’ve already started analyzing before I’m done reading, it’s easier to write a detailed review of a book like this. That being said, few books completely and totally fail for me. When I read a book I love, OTOH, I don’t usually start analyzing until the end, because I’m too busy enjoying myself. So when I have to communicate clearly all the ways I loved the book without simply saying things like “wow, the writing was so good,” I have to spend more time thinking about why something worked for me and communicate that without giving away too much of the book or being too effusively general. Some of the least exciting reviews I’ve read (and likely written) are also the most positive about a book, in part because I think it’s generally more difficult to balance the positive passion one feels toward a great book with the distance that objective analysis creates. That, IMO, is why you often see the most negative reviews as the most passionately written. As an author yourself, though, your experience and your reviews might follow a completely different pattern.

  37. lurker1
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 11:40:22

    Miss a few days and I miss an interesting discussion. I googled “harshest review ever written” and google came up with 357,000 hits. I picked the following from the first page and would like to point out that neither reviewer nor critic is at all shy about placing the responsibility for the work they’re reviewing squarely at the door of the writers, the producers and the actors. Please note that the reviewers speak freely about qualification and personal ability.:

    If this is the best these folks can do, they’re not qualified to write dirty limericks on bathroom walls, let alone movie screenplays.

    Then there’s director Adam Shankman, a “dance and physical comedy choreographer” (according to the film’s press kit), making his inept behind-the-camera debut by making a showpiece of a scene where McConaughey gets his hand Super-Glued to the penis of a “limestone” statue he was (single-handedly!) picking up after Lopez (single-handedly!) knocked it over.

    Buddy, don’t quite your day job. And leave the penis gags to the “South Park” guys, OK?”
    From: http://www.splicedonline.com/01reviews/wedplanner.html

    And then here’s a bit of collegial commentary about an icon which was first part of a lecture and then became a book:

    ” All the fun under/ Liberty’s masterful shadow (Here words fail me — few men, few women, and few children have ever written anything as silly, as shamefully silly, as amazingly silly as this) — under the masterful shadow of this line things like the hour of the pageant-master and the poets exploding like bombs look like nothing but ordinary tripe.”

    And then this:

    “…complimenting Auden as “a genuinely humane, humanistic writer”: “Auden knows comparatively little about families, about ordinary private lives, anyway; he has had an extraordinary public life himself, and when he talks about these ordinary public lives ordinary human beings have, he is almost always talking down, nature-faking, telling you how Mama Grizzly feels about little Wob, her backward cub.””

    Taken from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/30/AR2005063001420.html

  38. lurker1
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 12:31:50

    This is an experiment. I can’t get my post posted.

  39. lurker1
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 14:42:04

    My post below is merely to illustrate that reviews in the greater world are very personal. The artist is held responsible for the art.

    I’ve always found it fascinating that so often romance writers refer to their work as “their baby” and follow it with the query, “how would you feel if someone said your baby was ugly?” Well, I’m sure Dr. Frankenstein had to hear a few disparaging words about his creation too, and I can’t believe any author could be silly enough (or arrogant enough) to compare their manuscript to one of God’s works.

    About reviews in general and the oft-heard admonition that “if you can’t say anything nice” etc. etc., sorry, but judging art, be it written or visual, has been part of the process of artistic creation since the Greeks. Plays were judged. Prizes were given. In Elizabethan times, actors were pelted with rotten fruit and veggies and theaters were sometimes even burnt if the audience found the play lacking. All of which ought to at least give you a better appreciation of how very restrained Mrs. Giggles is, let alone the two Ja(y)ne’s.

    I think it’s ironic that in romance review land, no one ever mentions that some writers ought to perhaps consider alternate employment because some writers simply do not have the native ability to write novels. When I was very young, I desperately wanted to dance. I tried. I really did, but alas whatever glorious combination of genes, body structure, agility, and feel for the music and the moves which created Pablova, I lacked. I’m sure every burgeoning romance author puts a lot of sweat equity into their work and that each wants their work to be loved and appreciated. Ah well, if wishes were horses all beggars would ride. Simply put, a writer needs an ear for language, an imagination combined with enough logic to plot, an insight into what motivates man/woman-kind and relationships, and the patience and/or love to research. Writing is a skill and it can be learned, but writing a novel takes a certain gift. I don’t have that gift, but after reading some books now being published, I’ve often had the thought, “Lord, help me. I could do better than that.” (Not to worry though, I know my limitations and I have my pride.)

    Finally, it’s about that sweat equity argument and its cranky sub-argument, “if you think you could do better, then you write etc. etc”. Sorry, but this is a hollow and rather arrogant attitude. I once had a neighbor who spent five years “improving” his property. He worked every night, in all seasons, inside and out. No one could argue that he put a lot of time and money and non-stop work into his house and yard. But alas, when it was time to sale, he had to remove the concrete fish pond, the multi-colored picket fence, the wheel-barrow planter, the pink wall-paper, the Georgia-Pacific paneling, the…….

    Of course, the beauty of his place was a matter of “opinion”. So be it, but there’s “opinion” and “opinion” and regrettably no one would confuse his house with Mt. Vernon and no one would buy it until he returned it to classic colonial.

  40. Nora Roberts
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 15:14:46

    ~I’ve always found it fascinating that so often romance writers refer to their work as “their baby”~

    This is not limited to writers of Romance. It may be that more female writers use this phrase as a book comes out of you, often after a long, laborous process. And the anology is too handy to ignore.

    I’ve used it myself. However, I understand perfectly that some may gaze upon `my baby’ and think: Jeez, that’s one ugly kid. They have the right to say so, or to write same in a review–hopefully with specifics.

    Neither do I believe in the `if you can’t say something nice’ theory. Nor do I know many on my side of the page who do.

    I think what bothers me is that Romance–the genre, the writers (and often the readers) get slammed as a whole for the vocalization or behavior of a few. And the oft-repeated comment that this kind of thing only happens in the Romance genre.

    That’s just not true.

    Some years back I played for a bit on a screen writer’s board–mainly because they’d gone out of their way to slam Romance–even though those who were, were cheerfully free with the admission they’d never read one and never would. But my point is there was a lot of viciousness there, pettiness, whining when someone criticized their work, snarkiness, and everything you see flogged and blogged in Romance. Just a great deal nastier on every level, imo.

    I don’t agree with the opinion that reviews and commentary must be `nice’, or that a reader or reviewer isn’t allowed to express the opinion that some author’s baby desperately needs a cosmetic surgeon. But it irks to so often see Romance writers bundled into one big lump (as if we were one mind with many arms and legs), and the opinion often expressed that we who write in the genre are the only ones who whine or get huffy when our work is negatively reviewed.

  41. Nora Roberts
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 15:46:59

    As to the review, I don’t know if the process is different or not, but I do know I hope never to be called on to do another. Just too stressful for me.

    I prefer being able to craft the big lie that is (hopefully) entertaining fiction. That’s plenty of stress, but at least–for me–it’s familiar stress.

  42. lurker1
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 15:58:33

    You’re right of course. I shall try to remember to put a qualifier before “romance writer” because I do know the folks in your profession (although I honestly believe creative writing is more art than profession) are not a monolith. I also see nothing intrinsically wrong with using the analogy “my baby”—that’s how my husband refers to his boat–EXCEPT when it’s carried to extremes and accompanied by all the whining which obviously annoys both of us.

    And good for you also that you accept critique as a part of creating.

    In all this discussion of reviewers and discussing books, I believe there is a huge difference in types of critiques. I know I’ve had some fascinating discussions about characters, motivation, plot resolution and whether a character pushed all the right or wrong buttons. In all of these discussions, the writing itself—the author’s “talent” if you will—was never an issue. Actually, I would think these types of discussions would be very satisfying to an author because it means she/he has created something worthy of discussion and passionate feelings. I have had some pretty intense discussions about Ivory’s “Black Silk” and SEP’s “Ain’t She Sweet,” but I hope my deep admiration for both author’s work shows through.

    Sometimes, it is the “voice” of an author that does not appeal, and again, I don’t see where an author should worry because this, indeed, is a matter of opinion or taste and sometimes a reader can’t really articulate “why” this is so. I’ve noticed even experienced reviewers have trouble with this one. For example, I admire Jo Beverley’s writing immensley and have enjoyed much of her work, but sometime she exceeds my personal comfort zone in terms of sexual aggression. She shouldn’t worry. That’s her style and that’s my problem, not hers, and I would hope that my trying to explain “why” would be taken as a judgment of her work as a whole because it’s not.

    There is another sort of critique that I do think an author should worry a bit about, and I would think that a wise author would at least consider there might be room for improvement and that there’s a need to pay attention to plot and motivation and if it’s an historical, to anachronisms. There’s some pretty pathetic crap being printed these days, and I think one could make a salient argument that it really is more than “opinion”.

    You are one of the authors who has obviously been given the “gift” I spoke of. The only other romance authors I can think of off the top of my head who have written so much that is also consistently quality work are Georgette Heyer and Victoria Holt (in all her guises)….You have a wonderful talent, but there are folks out there who may “want” and who may “try” but who will never be able to achieve what you have. Talent really does matter.

  43. Bev (BB)
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 17:23:49

    [quote comment="3070"]Everybody is free to be as snarky and condescending and mean spirited in their reviews as they please. But what is gained by that, beyond the short lived thrill of having scored a point for cleverness? [/quote]

    Visitor hits to the blog/site?

    And I’m not being sarcastic there but rather extremely practical in the same way that publishers are practical about what sells and what doesn’t. The plain truth is that if an individual is a good enough at it that they can pull it off consistently, snarkiness and even mean-spiritedness can pay off in hits. And usually a lot more hits than the sweetness and light. They have to be consistently good at it, however, and there’s the rub.

    Not all of us would be any good at it if we tried. I know I wouldn’t because it’s not my style. Heck, it’s not even my style to dwell all that much on books I don’t like. So, freedom to be a certain way isn’t the same thing as actually choosing to be that way. Doesn’t change the fact that people are free to be that way, mostly.

    And what is lost?

    Dare I say nothing at all? Yeah, well, I guess I do dare. Whatdaya know. ;p

    Good discussion and I don’t say that lightly.

  44. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 15, 2006 @ 22:20:07

    Man, I miss all the good stuff.

    Ja(y)nes, I love Dear Author. I think it’s hilarious. And sometimes I’ve bought books because something that was said here about a book, either very good things… or bad things, just wondering if it’s really that bad. Kind of like a Mrs. Giggles thing.

    One thing I can say for Dear Author is that I’ve never seen either of you attack the author in a negative review. You’re honest, and the reviews are usually very entertaining.

    I’ve probably referred to a few of my books as my baby~like any writer, I do put a lot of time and sweat and love into my stories, a lot like labor. But I’m not going to slit my wrists with a paperclip if somebody doesn’t like my stuff.

    For every one person that doesn’t like it, there’s another who does. That’s good enough for me. It strikes me as incredibly arrogant to think that everybody will automatically love every word I write. Plus, it gives me a headache to worry over it. *G* So I try not to.

  45. lurker1
    Aug 16, 2006 @ 08:29:20

    Ms. Walker, you just get nicer and better adjusted with each post, which makes me want to try one of your books (except I don’t read supernaturals)…which brings up one of the more interesting side-paths to this whole reader-reviewer-creator discussion and which gives me yet another reason why, like never attempting a novel, I’d never volunteer to become an official “reviewer”.

    So, reviewers and blog-owners, this question’s for you:

    If I know someone or admire someone personally, I think it would be very, very difficult to give an “honest” response to one of their books even if I thought it was consumate crap. And that would be really unfair, wouldn’t it? Honor demands that each book be judged on its own merit and I don’t think that would be at all easy if there’s a personal relationship between author and reviewer. So, reviewers and blog owners, how do you deal with this condundrum? Or is it even a condundrum for you? I really am interested.

  46. Bev (BB)
    Aug 16, 2006 @ 10:51:37

    [quote comment="3138"]So, reviewers and blog-owners, this question’s for you:

    If I know someone or admire someone personally, I think it would be very, very difficult to give an “honest” response to one of their books even if I thought it was consumate crap. And that would be really unfair, wouldn’t it? Honor demands that each book be judged on its own merit and I don’t think that would be at all easy if there’s a personal relationship between author and reviewer. So, reviewers and blog owners, how do you deal with this condundrum? Or is it even a condundrum for you? I really am interested.[/quote]

    Hmmm, I have to admit that I’d feel more comfortable responding to this, Lurker1, if you’d at least identify yourself in some way. Not necessarily by name or even screen name but where you sit in the so-called grand scheme of things – reader, author, academic, whatever. I say that not to draw those “us vs. them” lines that many are so leery of but simply as a point of reference for continued discussion.

    Plus, too, many of us have been burned in the past by anonymous posters and frankly I don’t normally waste my time on them unless there’s a valid reason to do so upfront. That is nothing against your posts in this thread, just a statement of fact and a recognition that you’re asking for more interaction on a more or less tangential topic to this thread that we’ve all already probably discussed to death. So, it would help if I could know in some manner where you’re coming from in order to frame my reply more precisely.

  47. Jane
    Aug 16, 2006 @ 11:25:05

    I am pretty sure that lurker1 is a reader. She posts at AAR alot. In fact, she posted that she hated a book by Julie Ann Long, Beauty and the Spy, which I loved. Maybe hate is too strong a word.

  48. lurker1
    Aug 16, 2006 @ 11:45:37

    You know, there was a person at AAR who asked me who I was once and accused me of being some kind of neferious destroyer because my name was lurker1. As I recall, her (although it could have been a guy–this IS the internet), phrased it something like, “What kind of a name is ‘lurker1′?” My response? “I don’t know. Blame my mother–and pity my sisters who are lurker2 and 3.”

    In all seriousness though, I won’t take out a sworn affidavid, but I will tell you, I’m a reader and romance fan and sometimes participant at romance-related internet sites. I comment when something grabs my interest and represent nothing and nobody but my own views. I haven’t the patience to be be a blogger or owner, the talent to be a writer or have the temperment necessary to read a surfeit of abysmal books to be a reviewer. I am exactly who I represent myself as, and whether I call myself lurker1 or Jezebel, what you see is what I am. Again, and although you have no reason to believe me, I am singularly constitutionally unable to participate in conspiracies–I’m one lousy liar. Oh, and in books as in real life, I have a visceral and absolute negative reaction to back-stabbing and betrayal–they’re right at the top of my list of “sins”.

  49. lurker1
    Aug 16, 2006 @ 12:03:45

    LOL, Jane. “Hate” might be excessive, but “dislike to the nth degree” might cover it.

  50. Bev (BB)
    Aug 16, 2006 @ 12:21:16

    Lurker1, I’m sorry if you saw offense where there was none or attributed to me motives that others might have had in the past. I assure you, that is not my intent. If you ask others here, I honestly believe you’ll discover that I’m probably one of the least confrontational individuals around romancelandia mainly because that’s not my style at all.

    My question has more to do with the simple problem of knowing the perspective of the individual asking it because the question you posed is a lot more complex than most realize or possibly acknowledge. That complexity makes it, if not necessary, then at least wise to know to whom I’m speaking.

    I don’t know about the rest of the readers here, but I do know that I’ve learned from experience that, yes, there is a gap between readers and authors. There’s also a gap between readers and “real” reviewers although many of those later individuals don’t want to admit to it any more than some authors do.

    This is not the same thing as saying that those individuals aren’t also readers. Or that they can participate in readers discussions as readers. It does however impact upon aspects of professionalism by all concerned because once the choice has been made to become either an author or a reviewer there are times when that has to be the persona being presented. And that directly impacts upon the question you asked.

    I don’t review in the professional sense. Heck, I’m not even completely sure I’ve ever reviewed in the amatuer sense. The one thing I do know is that there is no way that I would be able to “analyze” something written by someone I truly considered a friend – whether that was a book or a review . . .

    Are there “professionals” who do “review” the works of their friends? Possibly and probably, but I honestly believe as consumers we’d be quite correct in questioning the conflict of interest they were creating for themselves. (Yes, I know that’s a legal term that may or may not apply here, but I believe it gets the idea across.) Conversely, “defending” works by friends is just as questionable, again whether we’re talking books or reviews.

    However, if we’re not talking about “professionals” then we’ve entered a completely different area. As a reader blogger who doesn’t even pretend to review, I would have no qualms about “promo-ing” a friends book, especially if I enjoyed it. I’d probably feel compelled to say up front that the author was in fact a friend. That’s just me, but I suspect that many of the others here would feel similarly.

  51. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 16, 2006 @ 12:22:51

    Ms. Walker, you just get nicer and better adjusted with each post

    lol. I’m not nice…. ask some of my friends. What I am is practical. Or I try to be when it comes to my profession. I learned my lesson early on, within a few months of getting published and it helped me keep a fairly clear head about some things.

    The bottom line is that while yes, our books may be our babies, we all like different stuff.

    Is there a writer alive that can say that they have loved everything they’ve ever read? If not, then the writer needs to prepare herself for one simple fact. SOMEBODY won’t like their book. It’s a fact of life. We may hate seeing it get shredded in a review, but a review is just one person’s opinion. Chances are, there is somebody who loved the book that got shredded. So long as you’ve got people who like your writing, you can’t let it get to you when others don’t.

    Keeping this in mind makes it easier to deal with it when somebody doesn’t care for a book you’ve written.

    as to your other question, I wouldn’t ask a friend to review a book. Another lesson I learned… I do have several friends that are reviewers but most of them don’t review my stuff for just that reason. Now if I’m looking for an honest opinion… does this work~does this suck~is this stupid~ I have a couple of friends that I ask and I ask them because I can trust them to be honest. I expect them to be honest. I’m not looking to get my ego stroked. Believe me, I don’t need that. ;)

  52. lurker1
    Aug 16, 2006 @ 13:10:19

    Bev (BB), I wasn’t offended. At all. Honestly. It’s a legitimate question, and I just wanted to make the point (badly, apparently) that “who” one is on the internet is a really iffy question. Most people who adopt nom-de-plums do so because there are some really ugly customers out there, and that recent contrempts with an author hunting down a critic and having her friends threaten her in regards to her career is a perfect example. I really am an open book.

    I appreciate your response and your expanding the question into the next logical nuance. All this is I think a legitimate issue which maybe should be at least discussed since reviewers, romance review sites and blogville are turning into the new opinion-makers and thus have a certain cache and a certain amount of power. Don’t get me wrong. They are filling a vacume that really needed filling and I congratuate all those who take it on. But with success comes those snarky ethical considerations, and while I don’t pretend to know the answers (or even the right questions), it’s something that ought to at least be thought about.

    Ironically, there’s a fascinating discussion going on now at Smart Bitches about selling ARCs (a “recurring” controversy). I’ve weighed in, but as I noted there, conflict of interest is a consideration. Good grief, I don’t mean to equate this or that with anything like public policy conflicts or indicate that there’s anything legally at stake, but romanceland is a more complex world that most of us reckoned and this just seems like the next step (so to speak).

  53. Bev (BB)
    Aug 16, 2006 @ 17:57:23

    [quote comment="3153"]Ironically, there’s a fascinating discussion going on now at Smart Bitches about selling ARCs (a “recurring” controversy). I’ve weighed in, but as I noted there, conflict of interest is a consideration. Good grief, I don’t mean to equate this or that with anything like public policy conflicts or indicate that there’s anything legally at stake, but romanceland is a more complex world that most of us reckoned and this just seems like the next step (so to speak).[/quote]

    The more complex world part is very true and something that I do believe is overlooked (underated? misunderstood?) a lot, too. It only took a few years of being involved in various romance forums online before I learned that there were several distinct “levels” to the heirarchy within this “community” that needed to be respected if for no other reason than for the sake of clarity. Which isn’t all that surprising because that’s true with every community.

    What is surprising is how much a large number of people within this one tend to try to deny those distinctions exist and instead, intentionally or unintentionally, try to promote the idea that we’re all this big happy family of readers, some of whom just happen to have written the books we read and some of whom sit in judgement of those same books. (Notice that last could be applied just as much to publishers/editors as reviewers.)

    The problem is that on the surface it’s a beautiful concept to want us all to be considered the same but on a deeper level it’s very impractical if carried too far or applied in the wrong place at the wrong time because it will then muddy many issues in the extreme.

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