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Laurie Unhappy About Lack of Blogging for All About Romance Reader’s...

As I wrote in my last ATBF column, I know these results will be discussed elsewhere online. And some of those who write elsewhere online are semi-active on our forums. I’ve not checked, but have they suggested their readers participate? I know we share some readers, but by no means all, and it would make sense to me that if the results will be mentioned on their online venues, shouldn’t they vote, and suggest that their readers do as well? In looking at ballots received thus far, I don’t see that any blog owners who have written about the results in the past, and presumably will write about them again, have voted (although one who joined a popular blog some months ago did vote). Source: Laurie Likes Books

Robin: Am I the only one who feels a bit uncomfortable at being called out like this for a) not pimping the poll after LLB’s recent ATBF column in which she slapped at bloggers for talking about AAR in our forums, and b) for whether or not I voted?

Quite honestly, I figured that after her ATBF column in December that bloggers were being scolded for talking about AAR:

I recently heard from a reliable source that AAR’s reputation is once again lousy among a significant number of authors. It’s not for our original content; instead we are guilty by association because of some of the reader-generated threads on our forums. This has no doubt gotten worse in the past couple of years as blog sites have proliferated and become more popular, because some that are widely read write about goings-on at sites like AAR. Every time I read a blog posting about a dust-up on AAR’s forums, I cringe. Not only does it prolong the original agony, but a larger readership is exposed to it, and often, the response is narrowly focused on the negative.

I actually wanted to blog about it at the time, because I thought it was a bit unfair (especially since there’s pretty free talk about bloggers on the Potpourri Board), but I thought if I commented then it’d be interpreted as badmouthing AAR, so I didn’t. I completely understand Laurie’s sense of protectiveness of AAR, but in the same way I don’t think that AAR is becoming irrelevant (even if poll numbers aren’t what Laurie wants, and especially given the site user numbers she posted a while ago), I also don’t think that if she wants us to all be one big community, suggesting that we’re to blame for her author-related problems and then calling us out for not voting and/or advertising the poll is the best idea. Anyway, didn’t you advertise that auction a while back she asked you to?

Jane: Yes, I did post about the auction but as some will tell you, I am notoriously bad about blogging about different things going around the blogosphere. It takes a little bit of time and I am two parts lazy and one part busy. But honestly, I’ve been very confused about who Laurie wants voting and who she doesn’t want voting.

  • There were comments about how irritating it is that people vote for books published in the wrong year.
  • A post about not wanting drive by voting where authors get out the vote with their readers, skewing the results.
  • Statements wanting   full reader participation but then in still another post:

    It’s critical that results in our annual reader poll reflect our readership, which is why this year I want everybody who visits AAR on any sort of regular basis to vote. This poll has become increasingly important over the years, and the idea of the results being hi-jacked from those who are not part of the AAR community is almost as frustrating as the invariable grumblings about results…from readers who didn’t vote themselves.

  • Suggestion that voting was invalid because it was driven by an author’s online popularity.

Color me super confused. In retrospect, I think I didn’t post because I didn’t know who was supposed to vote and who was not supposed to vote and whether my vote would be valid. It wasn’t any part of some vast blogger conspiracy unless one was started and didn’t clue me in (if so, sorry guys, but I didn’t get the hive memo):

I have this nasty little part of my brain, and I blame it on my conspiracy-theorist husband, and it’s in overdrive right now. But I’m not going to surrender to it. Instead I invite all other romance venues online to participate in this poll, to inform their readers, and to say that when they do a comprehensive poll unlike any other online, we’ll do the same in return.

Robin: I admit to being ambivalent about voting, because so rarely do the books I vote for win. Yes, I know that if everyone who felt like me voted the results might be different, but since that never seems to happen, I still vacillate. And when I do vote — and I suspect I’m not alone in this — it’s at the last minute, usually, because I want to see the most current interim results before I cast my own ballot, hoping that at least one of my votes may actually matter. But then there’s the part of me that likes that someone is putting in the work to host a poll like that, which is usually what spurs me to vote.

As for publicizing the poll, I definitely feel like we’re caught between a rock and a hard place, because if LLB wants mostly AAR readers to vote, does that mean we’d have to qualify any announcement of the poll? And that feels REALLY weird to me, because how is that about a shared community thing? And if the blogs got people to the poll, does that mean next year we’d be criticized for sending “fan girls” or drive by’s AAR’s way? On the other hand, I’m a little concerned that those of us bloggers who haven’t voted yet are getting a bit of a dishonorable mention for that.

Jane: LLB certainly got us talking, though, and I guess we are doing what she wanted, right? If you want to vote in the Annual AAR Reader Poll, it’s open until February 17, 2008. Just don’t say that we sent you. Or do say that we sent you. Or say that we sent you but vote for all the books we don’t like.

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

63 Comments

  1. Karen Scott
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 07:34:17

    I rarely visit AAR because there’s not really much there for me, plus I do sense a prejudice against bloggers in general, on the odd occasion that I have visited.

    I think LLBs post was definitely within the realms of ‘woe-is-me, why-isn’t-anybody-talking-about-my-poll?’

    I didn’t vote because A, I haven’t read enough new books, and B, I simply don’t care enough to vote.

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  2. Barbara B.
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 08:49:48

    She’s got brass balls.

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  3. Mireya
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 09:33:24

    That has to be one of the most confusing blog posts I’ve read in a while. Then again, I don’t visit AAR and don’t even know what they are about. Furthermore, I don’t believe in online voting for anything. The way online polling is designed it is ripe for cheating. Every year, when I read the results of a certain very popular online poll I end up laughing at the results. So no, I don’t care about online polls … and I am digressing ;)

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  4. vanessa jaye
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 10:08:49

    I read mostly according to my mood. That means I could read something I bought yesterday, or something that has been languishing in my tbr for years. I also read across all genres (mostly) and found that in the last year although Romance still remains my favourite genre, it actually comprised only 1/3 of the books I read.

    Next: I’m lazy. And I don’t keep records–I can’t even keep my blog sidebar up-to-date with my reading. And sometimes I love a book not because it is the ‘best in genre’ or contains the ‘best -fill-in-the-element’ sometimes i just love it cause it hit me a certain way. But that love might not have made it the run-away favorite either. :-/ At least enough to vote for it as such.

    I still visit AAR regularly–daily, even. Although I find since the new messageboards change over, the discussions haven’t been as interesting/lively. But, to honest, I’ve had as much interest in this annual poll as I’ve had in the RITAs. ::shrug::

    If a title snags my interest when the results are made public, that’s wonderful. And if some great debates/discussions are inspired by the results, even better. But that’s as far as it goes for me. Sux. I know.

    Hats off to Laurie and her staff for all the hard work involved in putting this together year after year. I can see that she’s has made the voting/ballot sheet as simple as possible, but unless it was made up of one question: Name a book you read and really enjoyed in the last year. With no further stipulations, this isn’t the poll for me. :-/

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  5. Kristie(J)
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 10:11:46

    To be honest I felt a bit smacked down by that post too. I still visit AAR frequently, I post on a regular, I’ve voted ever since I started visiting there, and I mention anything special they have going on the blog. I usually don’t send in my votes until near the end because I want to get as many books from 2007 read as I can before voting (eg – I just read Driven, adored it and voted for it in a few different categories. If I voted early, I would have missed giving it the credit I think it deserved).

    But I don’t like being called to task if I don’t vote. It’ my own personal choice. One of the reasons I vote in the Annual Poll is the same as in politics – if I don’t vote, IMHO I don’t have the real right to voice an opinion on the results. Another reason I do vote at AAR is because whether they win or not, I want to recognize somewhere that I feel the authors I’ve voted for deserve recognition – if only from me. I don’t always cast a ballot in some of the negative categories because (a) if the book is a stinker, I’m not going to finish it anyway (b)I’d rather focus on the positive and if I read a book that bad I don’t want to bring it back to my memory and (c) (laughing at myself here) I’m too nice.

    But honestly, I didn’t like the tone of that post. And focusing on bloggers not voting is unfair as there are posters at AAR who quite openly admit they never voted.

    Also – and this is not about the people and staff of AAR – but for some of the readers who post there, I also have noticed a number of times a disdain for bloggers, as if they (AAR posters) think they are somehow better than bloggers. It annoys me to no end because for me, both AAR and blogging serve different roles and neither is better than the other. AAR is more like a large block party while blogging is a more intimate dinner party. I like both. And there are a number of bloggers who don’t visit AAR – such as KarenS. Without blogging, I wouldn’t really get a chance to know them and it would be my loss.

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  6. Teddypig
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 10:41:25

    Every year, when I read the results of a certain very popular online poll I end up laughing at the results.

    THIS!

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  7. Keishon
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 10:44:36

    I don’t really care for the new forums at AAR. I’m shallow I know. I’ve just started participating again but it’s irregular and I quit voting several years ago. I haven’t read enough romances let alone, new romances for the published year to even bother voting. Plus, like Karen S, I don’t care enough to vote because a) the romances I love are books that most readers haven’t even heard of and b) my ballot would end up being invalid since I probably fill it out correctly.

    Also, as a blogger who blogs mostly for myself, I don’t promote anything unless it’s something I care about.

    I see Jane you finally got your pic up there for the biography. How did I know you’d use that picture. Too funny.

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  8. Seressia
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 10:55:05

    As I would say to some of my friends, complete with hand on hip and head rolling: “She got some nerve…”

    I don’t react well to chiding of any kind. Comes from being a grown woman with my own mind.

    I don’t visit AAR and I don’t participate in online polls. My books and readership aren’t represented there anyway.

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  9. roslynholcomb
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 11:10:13

    Ditto what Seressia said. Given that they won’t review my books, and they don’t review the books I read why the hell would I vote in their little poll? They are beyond irrelevant to me and mine.

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  10. Emily
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 11:23:42

    I saw Laurie’s note on RRA, and frankly, I consider all her posts pure spam and find them utterly annoying. She doesn’t participate in any discusisions, just says “please come visit my site cause I need the revenue”.

    I visit here because I like the conversations and the Ja(y)nes have never pimped this site. And I really appreciate the fact that they participate in the discussions on RRA.

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  11. azteclady
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 11:54:37

    Lemme see.

    The people voting should be regular AAR readers/posters, correct?

    If they are regular ARR readers/posters, why would the poll need outside advertising again?

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  12. Candy
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 12:00:17

    I don’t visit AAR because of the reasons Seressia said. The books I write and read aren’t represented there.

    I don’t particularly like online polls because they always seem like popularity contests and who ever has the biggest fan base or most online friends wins.

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  13. Helena
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 12:26:11

    What really, truly annoyed me was the email I received: Please send your readers to AAR to vote for your books! (I’m paraphrasing.) Isn’t this the same site where they – not so subtly – suggest you do your promotion on the Writer forum?

    Maybe she’s just bored and stats are her thing.

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  14. Jane
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 12:28:38

    In the past, it was absolutely forbidden to mention another site on the forums at AAR. Laurie considered that bad form. I think that they have become a lot more lax about that now.

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  15. Karen Scott
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 12:32:26

    If they are regular ARR readers/posters, why would the poll need outside advertising again?

    Because even the regulars can’t be arsed to vote?

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  16. Sunita
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 12:39:04

    The lack of logic in the arguments is really striking, isn’t it? Regular readers of AAR are the ones that are supposed to vote, but if bloggers who mention the results don’t advertise to get *non-overlapping* readers, they might be part of a conspiracy. People are supposed to advertise the poll, but they aren’t supposed to make suggestions about what to vote for or the poll might be captured by “drive-by” voters. And author- or blogger-sponsored bandwagon votes are illegitimate, but bandwagons based on repeated postings of interim results are not.

    I voted in the AAR poll once. It took me forever to fill out my ballot and almost nothing I voted for won. Which I can live with; most of my political ballots are for losing candidates! But at least there I can justify my decision to vote, regardless of the outcome.

    I agree that this is a popularity contest, more on the nature of reality shows than polls that try to be systematic. Every time I see the poll described as representative, let alone more or less representative, I cringe. Something is either representative or it’s not. Given the self-selection of the voters, it’s unlikely that this poll is representative of all AAR visitors. And if people who lurk but don’t post vote, then it’s also not possible for it to be representative of the board posters. Which is fine, no one should expect a poll of this type to be an accurate representation of a larger group’s preferences, but don’t try to argue that it’s an accurate sampling of any group.

    Popularity contests can be fun, and discussing the poll results is often enjoyable. Why not just accept those terms and enjoy it for what it is, rather than trying to guilt people into participating and claiming it’s something it cannot be, given the way it’s conducted? Why can’t it just be *a* poll run by one of the major review sites which gives a snapshot of what (a self-selected group of voluntary, non-random) participants think are the best books of the year?

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  17. Jill Sorenson
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 12:41:19

    I’m not a regular at AAR but I went and voted to support the authors I like. I looked up every release date to make sure the books I voted for were pubbed in 2007. Maybe I’m confused about the process, but I don’t see my selections represented. Do authors need a certain number of votes before their names are listed on the results page? Has my submission been thrown out for some reason? I feel kind of the same as when I voted for Gore in 2000.

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  18. Angie
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 12:53:45

    I think this person needs to sit down and figure out what exactly she does and doesn’t want before she starts snarking at people for not giving it to her. [eyeroll] There are way too many contradictions in her complaints.

    Angie

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  19. Gennita Low
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 13:15:15

    I think you should all go now and vote for that book by Gennita Low. You know, Virtually His. Doing this fits all of Jane’s criteria…you’re voting, you’re voting something she didn’t recommend, and you can say she didn’t send you there ;-).

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  20. Lynne
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 13:19:26

    I only ever vote in the Purple Prose Parody Contest. Even if the voting is rigged, who cares? It’s a helluva lot of fun to read all the entries, and nobody’s going to use a win in the PPPC as a blurb on their book cover.

    I just can’t get all that enthused about a poll that is ostensibly for serious purposes but that a) is so unscientific, b) has free form text entry, for cryin’ out loud, and c) has so many damn categories. I refuse to participate in ANY online poll that doesn’t have sufficient security to prevent vote fraud. FanLit cured me of that.

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  21. Jane
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 13:20:46

    Gennita- you get funnier each successive post. I might have to go over and stuff the ballot box for you, but then, if I do, my ballot will get tossed. How many times can you vote for a book without getting your ballot tossed as invalid?

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  22. Keishon
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 13:37:42

    In the past, it was absolutely forbidden to mention another site on the forums at AAR. Laurie considered that bad form. I think that they have become a lot more lax about that now.

    That’s right! But I see links for you and other sites in the reader’s forum there so yeah, they seem lax or don’t view you all as competitor’s.

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  23. Keishon
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 13:38:56

    Ok, that first part was in blockquotes.

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  24. Teddypig
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 13:44:15

    That’s Gennita Low ~ Virtually His

    FTW!

    Someone nominate some M/M too would you?

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  25. Kay
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 14:01:05

    I visit AAR for the reviews, which I still enjoy. I even wrote a few articles for AAR, back when it was new and they were asking readers to write for them. But I rarely vote in the poll, because I’m always several years behind in my reading – I probably won’t get to my 2007 books until 2010 at least!

    However, I find this post extremely hypocritical of Laurie. I’m involved in a romance event – I won’t say which one – and we’ve asked AAR to let us publicize it on their site. They begrudgingly allow us to mention it once a year on one message board, but that’s it. My attitude has been “it’s her site, she can do what she wants” but for her to expect other people to publicize AAR on their sites? Unbelievable.

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  26. Bev Stephans
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 14:03:44

    Let’s nominate Teddypig for book of the year!

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  27. veinglory
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 14:11:07

    I think a vote-based poll is a method most people have lost faith in by now. I actually agree with the part suggesting the poll should reflect their members. Using it to drive traffic to them seem like it subverts the whole point of the award. But frankly they seem a little unclear on what the point of it is themselves?

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  28. Kay Webb Harrison
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 14:16:03

    Since late 2006, I have been a regular reader and poster at AAR. I voted in the annual poll last year for the first time; almost none of my choices won anything. That’s disappointing, but nothing new for me. The same thing happened for this year’s Top 100 Romance Poll. I just vote for what I like without letting others’ opinions change mine.

    I voted early in this year’s annual poll. The interim results confuse me. LLB has a system, which she explains on the results page, but I still don’t understand. She DOES list all, or almost all, books voted for on the first set of results, and maybe on the next one or two; after that, books have to reach a “threshold” number of votes to enter or remain on the list.

    From what I have read, LLB has asked EVERYONE to post about the poll and to vote: the more who vote honestly, the more “accurate” the results will be. Why would she advertise the poll and solicit voters if she didn’t want as many readers as possible to vote? Apparently, sometimes only one vote means the difference in a book winning in a category or not. Again, a lot of this confuses me. I just think that it is amusing to vote and to see the results. I know that the AAR people put a lot of time and effort into this project, and I applaud their efforts.

    I also appreciate what Dear Author, the Smart Bitches and other bloggers do.

    Kay

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  29. Jane
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 14:58:46

    I think a vote-based poll is a method most people have lost faith in by now

    What other types of polls are there other than vote based polls?

    I think AAR does have a great place in the community. They were pioneers in the online community and while there might be some members of the message boards that seem anti blogs, I don’t see that across the board, and even if it were true, it has been often said that one type (forum v comments) is more familiar and easier to use than others.

    Having said that the free text form of the ballot sheet is admittedly what keeps me from voting. I don’t know why. It just seems intimidating. I remember that when I did vote, I ended up pasting one book in for alot of columns or relying on the interim ballot results which probably wrongly skews the voting anyway.

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  30. Keishon
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 15:03:26

    Yeah, how about that ballot sheet? Intimidating. I usually just inserted one book but in the end, I had a lot of empty spaces which invalidated my ballot anyway. I appreciate tapping the pulse of online readership of what they think is good romance, good reads period, but it’s not really reflective of the reading public in general, certainly not reflective of my reading choices which tends to be quite varied.

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  31. Anji
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 15:13:47

    I actually voted this year. And then I got completely confused by the interim system. I really don’t understand that system, especially the threshholds used. What are those, and how does she determine them? Is is a percentage of votes in a category or what? I’d rather have the poll open for a only short time – a week or so, without the interim results. The interim posts make me feel like my votes don’t matter, especially when books I voted for keep disappearing on the interim updates. Plus, I like the quick gratification and seeing the actual results, instead of waiting for a month or more. If I do vote next year, I’ll be sure to wait for the last days of the poll.

    I also found the voting system intimidating (and I also used the interim results as a guide). Maybe holding the annual poll in two stages might be another way to have the vote? The first stage could allow people to nominate books for the categories, and then you could have a ‘vote-off’ via a poll.

    As to the post, something about the tone of the post put my back up. And I’m not sure if I’m the kind of voter she wants since I rarely visit anymore. I occasionally check out the reviews and the ATBF post. I really don’t like the new forums, and the discussions aren’t as interactive as they used to be. I personally prefer the immediacy of the interaction of blogs. But that’s me, and what works for some doesn’t work for others. Plus the romance community is large enough to have room for all kinds of forums…

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  32. Laura
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 15:19:54

    Lynn, AAR no longer has a Purple Prose contest-not enough people entered anymore according to LLB.

    Some things that will get your ballot discounted, if my memory is correct: Voting for the same book(including characters from)in more than six categories; a lot of votes for the same book within a short time period will result in all those ballots being discarded(ballot stuffing), or not filling in enough categories.

    In years previous, LLB has always kvetched about authors mentioning the poll on their websites, unless it’s to post the coveted award icon. Talking about other sites was NOT ok, never mind linking. Now I guess the community that AAR has always held itself somewhat superior to is supposed to rally ’round the cause.

    I’ve always felt that LLB needs to just chill out about the percentage of votes that come in by certain dates. The virtual flogging of her readership to vote!vote!vote! takes away from the fun of the poll.

    I used to be an AAR fangirl. Visited daily, posted the boards, etc. But AAR ignores eBooks, and I read them. AAR largely ignores erotic romance, and I read it. The change in message board format didn’t work for me. Few of the newer reviewers really explain why a book does or doesn’t work for them. I think AAR is becoming a bit dated.

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  33. Jackie L.
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 15:27:41

    I voted, but 2 books not already listed in their respective categories didn’t show up. I think that LLB just tossed my ballot anyway, because of who I voted for (whom I voted for? Where’s Angela James when you need her?).

    However, I am a regular visitor to AAR, so I think my freaking ballot ought not to have been tossed. Just sayin’.

    LLB always reminds me more of Eeyore than Tigger.

    As my dear old da would say, “Some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope.”

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  34. veinglory
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 15:34:51

    The other type is a polls of a membership. So whichever readers are there gets surveyed, rather than the author with the best press-gang winning. Look at what is happening at the Amazon breakthrough and all other contests where votes are begged, swapped etc. And I think most people who vote on Pred and Ed haven’t read the book they voted for. As much as I appreciate it, I have placed there in a way that required more votes than I had sales–I feel a bit odd about that.

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  35. Teddypig
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 15:35:37

    But I wanted Pig Of The Year… *sob*

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  36. Ann Bruce
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 15:38:29

    I find the form and the sheer number of categories intimidating. Frankly, (1) I’m lazy, (2) I don’t read in every romance sub-genre (sorry, I’m burned out on paranormals and urban fantasy right now), and (3) there are very few authors whom I read in the year the book is published. Some books will languish in my TBR pile if the first chapter doesn’t hook me. And I’ve been glomming a few authors (Loretta Chase and Jo Goodman mainly) lately, so those backlist books don’t qualify.

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  37. Janine
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 15:43:50

    Well I voted in the annual AAR poll a couple of weeks back.

    I give AAR, along with TRR and Mrs. Giggles, a lot of credit for the fact that I’m such an avid reader of romances today, as well as a blogger/reviewer. I first came across AAR about eight years ago, and at the time, my main method for finding romances that appealed to me was trial and error. I had some success, but it was becoming harder and harder to satisfy my craving for excellence in the romance genre and as a result, I was turning more and more to other genres and becoming cynical and jaded about the romance genre as a whole.

    Well, AAR proved me wrong, and I have rarely been more happy to be proven wrong. When I found AAR’s DIK page and its message boards full of readers happy to make recommendations, it was like stumbling on a treasure trove.

    Suddenly I was discovering books like Brockway’s All Through the Night and My Dearest Enemy, Wiggs’ The Charm School, and hearing about authors like Jennifer Crusie, Mary Balogh and Carla Kelly for the first time. Suddenly I was sharing my enthusiasm for the works of Laura Kinsale, Judith Ivory and Patricia Gaffney with readers who loved those books just as much.

    For the first time in what seemed like forever, I had a list an arm long of romances I wanted to read. And for the first time period, I had friends who shared my love of some of my favorite authors.

    Sure, I hit some obstacles along the way — got caught up in a few flame wars and had to learn to be more sensitive to the way online communication works, as well as more polite in stating my opinions. I went from being blunt to a point of rudeness to second-guessing my posts there to the point of discomfort before finding a relatively happy medium, and my involvement with AAR itself has varied during this timeframe.

    But I’ve been plugged into the online romance reader community in one way or another, ever since, and grateful for having found that community, ever since. And I give a fair amount of the credit for that to AAR.

    Which is why, even though I’m very busy, I try to still post there from time to time, and make an effort to vote in their polls even when I question some aspects of the methodology (like posting interim results and a list of DIK reviewed books).

    With regard to mentioning AAR’s poll here, it simply never occurred to me that LLB would want us to do so (because of the problems with votes from people who don’t post at AAR), and most of the time, my blogging tends to be review-related. But I think that quid pro quo is fair, and I have absolutely no problem with giving AAR publicity here if AAR gives Dear Author publicity also.

    Regardless of whether that happens, I wish AAR continued success.

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  38. Keishon
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 15:53:26

    Must clarify that the layout of the forums was what I was referring to in my first response, reading over it made it seem like I didn’t care for the people there – not true. Also, AAR is where I found Maili and several other folks so, hey, without AAR, I wouldn’t have had the great reads that I have enjoyed over the years and the friendships that I would never have discovered otherwise. Same can be said of The Romance Reader, another review site I visit daily. Of course the reviewers have changed over the years and it’s hard for me to identify with the reviewers of today but I still respect these sites and wish them continued success as well. My last comment on this topic, I promise.

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  39. Janine
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 15:59:07

    Must clarify that the layout of the forums was what I was referring to in my first response, reading over it made it seem like I didn't care for the people there – not true.

    I understood what you meant, Keishon. I miss the old forum layout, too.

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  40. Jane
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 16:36:30

    No, I didn’t think you were bashing AAR Keishon. I think it is perfectly valid to be exasperated by LLB’s chastisement of bloggers for failing to give her the appropriate publicity for the AAR Reader Poll. Think of what we would write about an author who chastised reader bloggers for failing to post some viral advertisement.

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  41. Sunita
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 16:50:05

    When I found AAR, it opened up a whole new world of authors and sub-genres in romance for me. If nothing else, the fact that they introduced me to Carla Kelly and Mary Balogh earned my eternal and sincere gratitude. And my guess is that there are still people every day who go to AAR and experience a similar sense of discovery. I generally try not to criticize the site, certainly not on their boards and only a couple of times elsewhere. But I don’t like feeling inhibited from criticizing any of the choices they make, even when the points may be valid. I don’t have that sense on the blogs I frequent, which is probably why I spend more time lurking (and occasionally commenting) at blogs now than I do at AAR, although I still check the reviews and look for postings by people whose opinions I enjoy. For me, the poll and the hoopla that surrounds it are a particular hot button.

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  42. AnnieK
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 18:17:10

    Several years ago I asked on the Reader to Reader board if anyone had any suggestions for other review sites, there were only a couple of sites doing reviews at that time. LLB chastised me, first by quoting the amount of reviews they did at AAR, then she proceeded to tell me it was rude to come to her site and ask others for information on similar sites. That was it for me.

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  43. AAR Rachel
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 18:43:30

    Personally, I think voting in the polls is fun. That’s it. I don’t care if it isn’t scientific, and I know that my chosen books in most of the categories I will vote in won’t win, but, hey I participated. And I can post my own choices on my own blog. So win-win.

    But if voting isn’t fun for someone else, skip it.

    One thing I don’t think, though, is that AAR has lost its relevance. At the very least, it still has those groovy Special Title Listings, right? :)

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  44. Becca
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 19:49:38

    I’ve never read AAR, but went over there to see what all the fuss was about – and quickly left. The format is terribly confusing! I don’t generally like fora anyway, which I’m sure is my limitation. I did find a review of a book I’m interested in, but can’t seem to find any reader comments on the review… apparently you don’t comment on the review itself, but somewhere in the various fora. oh, well. I’m always looking for good review sites, but right now I don’t think AAR will be a regular stop for me.

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  45. Laura
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 19:58:06

    Re-reading my post later in the day, it’s certainly not fair of me to expect AAR to change in order to meet my needs. As other, wiser commenters have noted, AAR certainly opened my eyes to a whole new world when I found the site. It’s still an amazing resource for romance readers. I’m the one who grew away from it.

    However, I do believe that the way voting in the poll(or entering the PPP contest, for another example) is handled takes away the fun. Then again, maybe LLB doesn’t intend it to be fun, who knows?

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  46. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 21:55:56

    I also find it an extremely confusing, off-putting site. If I can’t navigate quickly and easily, I’m gone. And if the emphasis is almost exclusively on print titles and big names, I’m gone.

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  47. desiderata
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 22:43:38

    I’ve lurked at AAR fairly regularly for years, but just started posting recently. I enjoy the reviews and the site and especially the other reader/posters who are so fun and knowledgable. In fact, one of them recommended me to this site! That said, I’ve never voted in the polls — the ballot seems too complicated and time consuming, and I’m somewhat new to romance and tend to read older books that aren’t pertinent.

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  48. Jennifer McKenzie
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 23:56:35

    I’ve voted online for different awards. Ecarta and Preditors and Editors. But I hate it when I’m asked to vote for someone just because they ask me to. You know, “I know you’ve never read my book but it’s up for *whatever*. Go vote for me.”
    I’ve made it a point to ONLY vote for books I’ve read. So a blog post wouldn’t get me to go and vote at a place I’ve never been. I do doubt the validity of some of the voting. It would be nice if I thought ONLY readers of an author would vote for that author, but it does feel like the High School Homecoming Queen elections.
    In this case, it seems that someone is searching for a “reason” for lack of participation. But I don’t know all the details so I can’t really say.

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  49. Alexandra
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 01:39:56

    I, too, find their website confusing to navigate. I get their newsletter, but it pretty much only serves to remind me to check their reviews (which is proving to be useless to me, but only because I’m back to being a broke college student that can’t even afford to get takeout). I found their forums confusing, and never posted.

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  50. DS
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 08:08:18

    I used to visit a lot, still do occasionally, but I had trouble when she changed her site finding the forums. I appreciate what Laurie has done because she has had to take a lot of heat from within and without Romancelandia.

    However, my last ballot got tossed because I hadn’t read enough romances that I thought qualified in that year– I didn’t list them over and over, just once in the appropriate category. Since then I really haven’t bothered voting. It’s been a few years back but my percentage of new romances read hasn’t increased.

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  51. Laurie Gold
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 11:27:05

    I would like to correct a few misconceptions. If you feel my comments are inappropriate, please delete them.

    The major misconception I’ve read in perusing these comments is that I discard ballots left and right. Any ballot I discard is discarded because: it features too many books w/the wrong copyright year (which causes me to spend even more time than I already do in verifying whether a book is eligible), features fewer than six votes in positive categories, is a straight-ticket or near straight-ticket vote for one author’s book(s), or is otherwise an attempt by fangirls, family, or friends to hijack the process.

    Another misconception: that all books receiving votes appear in the first or second list of interim results. Not all books that receive votes appear on the interim results; if they did, the results would feature I don’t know how many books (well, I could find out, but adding it up would take a few hours). Instead, the interim results feature, at all points during the process, those books receiving an ever-higher number of votes as the threshold increases (as the total number of votes in each category increases).

    The reason why I discard ballots with fewer than six votes in positive categories is that in most instances, those ballots are also straight-ticket ballots…in fact, it’s one of the give-aways.

    This year fewer ballots than ever before have been discarded, and that is true even after our pollsters emailed a number of authors to inform them of the poll. The email they sent was worded in such a way as to let authors know that we wanted their readers to vote not just for those authors because, and this is why I’ve tried to promo the poll elsewhere, we wanted the poll to reach as many romance readers as possible.

    Because of the size and the scope of the poll, we want more than simply AAR’s readership involved; we want to draw from the entire community of online romance readers. Because we think it’s the biggest romance novel poll voted on by readers, we want to cast as wide a net as possible in terms of the number of romance readers who vote. More than anything else we try to avoid any hijacking of the process by those who have a specific agenda as regards an author. For the first year, knock wood, we’ve not experienced drive-by voting of fangirls, and a good many of the ballots received are from readers unknown to me.

    This is a very fluid process, which is one reason we show interim results. Certain books have remained on the interim results list from the start while others were added later. Others fell off the list, only to return a day or week after. Trying to determine which books have actually earned the most votes by how long they’ve been on the list is useless; several titles in many categories earned a great number of votes initially, but were not among the choices made by readers who cast ballots later. Also, there are books waiting patiently for additional votes that will push them higher in the standing. If a book you voted for hasn’t appeared thus far, it doesn’t mean your ballot was voided; it just hasn’t received as many votes as the books that currently appear.

    Finally, the blog entry that contributed to this letter of opinion at Dear Author was not one of my better decisions. I am by no means a perfect person and could have gone about trying to have sites like Dear Author mention the poll in a better way. I apologize for my inartfulness.

    Thank you for your time and band-width.

    Laurie Likes Books

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  52. Robin
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 12:47:25

    I apologize for my inartfulness.

    Thank you, Laurie.

    One thing I don't think, though, is that AAR has lost its relevance.

    In the diversifying online Romance community, I view places like AAR and TRR as the Romance “establishment.” For many of us, AAR was the entrance point for our online participation, and I think a good chunk of bloggers still participate there, which, IMO, hardly makes it irrelevant.

    But to me, the AAR polls are never going to be “representative” of anything more than the views of the majority of voters in them. I don’t see them as reflective of AAR’s whole readership, or of any entirety of the online Romance community. And I don’t think they’re ever going to be meaningfully representative of either AAR or online Romance in general, because voting of all kinds of sporadic and capricious and dynamic in nature. For some people the polls are fun to vote in — to have a voice and to honor a book or author, as KristieJ said — and for others they aren’t. The mystery of the process and of who votes and what books win remains intriguing to some, to others not so much. But even if only 20 people voted in the annual AAR reader’s poll, I wouldn’t see that as a reflection on AAR’s continuing presence and importance to the online community, because it’s just a poll after all. I’m guessing that far more people still check the reviews and title listings than ever vote in any online polls.

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  53. Suisan
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 13:09:02

    I just don’t read enough in the one year that a book is published across enough categories to ever make my ballot valid. And it’s not a fangirl thing — I’m not voting to make sure that MY author wins something.

    But if I only read say 15 books in a year (lowballing) and only four are published that year, and I kinda almost sorta like three, but not really enough, that only leaves me the opportunity to vote for one.

    There are also too many categories. If I take the one book I like, it may have a humorous couple, a strong hero, and a really badly put together villain all tossed into a standard plot-line. If it’s the only book I think is decent, well then, yeah, I’m putting it into all the categories I can. Invalid ballot.

    I love AAR’s DIK reviews. I love using the reviews to see if a backlist is worth glomming. Again, it was my introduction to even the *concept* that there was a community of people talking about romances. But I don’t post ballots. And I don’t use the forums anymore. And I still think that Laurie provides a great service. And, uh, people hijack public voting processes all the time. It’s the nature of the beast.

    Unless you want to develop a truly scientific poll with a standard deviation and carefully worded questions, all polls are corrupt.

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  54. Jill Sorenson
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 13:30:03

    I don’t agree that straight-ticket voting, or making a selection in fewer than six categories, should render a ballot invalid. If a book is humorous, sexy, suspenseful, has a great couple, etc., an appreciative reader should be able to put it in any category she considers relevant. Like Suisan said, maybe a voter has only read one romance she (or he) feels strongly about that year.

    When I was 18 I voted in my first general election. I made my selection for president and ignored the remainder of the ballot. My vote still counted.

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  55. azteclady
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 13:31:37

    “Lies, damn lies, and statistics” Disraeli.

    So yeah, you have to expect that the results of pretty much any poll will be worthless for most people.

    I love romance, and I read quite a bit of it every year–but most of it doesn’t seem to qualify, for one reason or another. Frankly I won’t spend hours figuring out the ballot, and whether my choices are valid, and what not *shrug* Call me lazy.

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  56. Devon
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 13:35:35

    It’s funny that you guys wrote about this, because I voted in the AAR poll, then I’ve looked at the interim results once or twice and was startled. I was going to post about it at my admittedly humble blog, but then I starting thinking about the various statements I read, and got concerned that to post about it was some sort of breach of etiquette, or that I’d be contributing to drive-by voting or some nonsense. My stats are small, so I doubt it would have any effect on the results, but it seemed awkward, so I didn’t mention it at all.

    Once I’ve read the rest of the responses, perhaps I’ll go blog about why KMM’s Bloodfever (a book I loved and would classify as urban fantasy) was the #1 Sci-Fi/Fantasy romance and Games of Command wasn’t on the list and people should go and vote for it.

    Is that shady, it feels kind of shady to me.

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  57. Gwen
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 13:40:21

    Posts like Laurie’s are one of the main reasons I don’t use the site.

    Plus, I find it a real pain in the butt to navigate. And the reviews are too bloody long. If I wanted to read a book report, I’d have become a teacher.

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  58. Laurie Gold
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 13:53:01

    Devon -

    Bloodfever is not the #1 choice; the results are listed alphabetically by how I enter them into my database, which is why Atlantis Awakening, which I enter as AA, for instance, might precede Agnes and the Hitman. I indicate that before any of the results are listed; sorry you missed it. And you might be interested to know that Games of Command is on today’s update.

    et al -

    I’ll sign off now. I didn’t come over here to talk about the actual Dear Author entry other than to apologize for my inartful blog entry and to try and respond to some of the comments in order to clear up misconceptions. It’s not my place, on this blog, to try and defend the poll.

    Laurie

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  59. Suisan
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 13:58:33

    Jill said:

    When I was 18 I voted in my first general election. I made my selection for president and ignored the remainder of the ballot. My vote still counted.

    Actually, this is a VERY important point in politics. Very. People have the right to NOT vote for something they do not feel strongly about or do not feel informed enough about. But most of the time, people who haven’t followed an issue closely enough tend to vote NO on an item. Many, many, many bonds and initiatives are worded so that a NO vote actually puts the thing into effect. (Although that has died down in recent years with more scrutiny of the issue.)

    You can leave items blank on any ballot in America and not invalidate your votes. Many voters do not know this.

    /end of public service announcement.

    Edited to add:

    Manipulating data so that it reflects even distribution (voting in many categories, more than on author, etc.) is a CLASSIC example of human mind confusing wide distribution with randomness. Clusters can be random. Because a cluster shows up on your data, it does not invalidate those data points. Humans have an incredible problem understanding this intuitively. Which is why scientists use chi-squared tests and other such techniques to ensure that the data really is relevant. Mucking about in the data points day after day after day, let alone releasing interim results which effect the actions of later voters, invalidates the poll more than ANY drive-by voters or ballot stuffing. Get enough data points, the clusters become less relevant.

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  60. Devon
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 14:03:29

    Laurie–You’re right I missed that. I didn’t notice that the results were in alphabetical order at all. Actually, looking through people’s responses, there were several things about the interim results that I didn’t pay attention to.

    No big. I was just trying to express, however poorly, that I felt that mentioning the poll in conjunction with my favorite reads from last year, might be a shady fangirly thing to do.

    I personally love voting in polls. As KristieJ said, even if the author doesn’t win I know at least I recognized her/him. I love voting period. I think it’s because I came of age during all that Clinton/Bush Rock the Vote stuff.

    Linnea Sinclair FTW!

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  61. Quaisior
    Feb 04, 2008 @ 17:57:15

    I’m not sure if I will vote this year because I didn’t read a single romance novel published in 2007, although I did read a lot of romantic fantasy and some romantic science fiction from 2007. My ballot would probably be disqualified for ballot stuffing/ fan-girling for authors like Bujold and Shinn. One thing I find confusing is that Beguilement is on the second interim list and I’m assuming that’s The Sharing Knife: Beguilement by Bujold, but that book was released in 2006.

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  62. bookgal
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 22:48:07

    I had voted in the AAR poll for many years in the past. I stopped voting in 2007 because I felt that the poll was not a good setup. The interim results are confusing.. to look at, keep up with and to figure out. They are just a list of books that are popular during the vote. Other than that, it gives me no other info. I stopped voting because I felt that the poll is just a free for all.

    I seriously wish they would have something like a nomination vote first. To weed out all the wrong books and include all the valid entries. This would also help to weed out the books that don’t really fit the category, are not of the right publication year and “the drive by” fangirl votes that Laurie Gold speaks of.

    Then take the top ten books of each category and do a general vote. By doing something like that, I feel that when I do vote in the actual poll, I am voting for a book that has a chance of winning.

    Finally, I no longer think AAR or any one romance site reflects what is really going on with readers out there and the romance industry. I also actually really hate the new forums there. Haven’t participated much since she changed them.

    For me, 2007 was a very bad romance year. I am hearing this from a lot of fellow readers, but when I say it I feel like the voice of doom. For example, I didn’t really have a really five star favorite historical. Not one that seemed to stand out above all others. Many of the categories are like that for me.

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  63. Jane
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 23:13:01

    bookgal – I hear you. Sometimes I read outside the genre to rediscover my love for romance. I know that I love reading about two people falling in love and obtaining an HEA but when the setup is contrived or the two characters lack compatability on the even most basic levels, it is hard to read romance because romance relies so heavily on the development of the characters. Sometimes taking a break can reinvigorate romance reading. Have you tried the Bourne book yet?

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