Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Leave the Reviewing to the Professionals

And just blog about the gossip* and trivia.

Am I saying that? Nope; it's not bizarro world day at Tea Cozy. But, apparently, that's how some people think.

First I read Sillies at Fuse, and I take Fuse's Sillies comment and raise it with a yawn. Blogging is a technology; bloggers are people using that technology. Blogs, and the reviews you find, may be good, bad or indifferent. Some will be better than things you find in traditional media;*** others, not so much. Just as you will find some great stuff in traditional media; and sometimes, not so much.

Whether or not people blog about books they don't like is up to the personality of the blogger and time commitments; frankly, I still have books from November 2006 that I read, liked, and haven't had time to blog. Every now and then I toy with the idea of posting a review of a book I didn't like, and have decided I will once I'm thru my review backlog.**

Also? I read both traditional media reviews and blogs. Just like I eat both coffee ice cream and chocolate. You don't have to read only one! Each has a benefit! Why the fight? Silly. Yawn.

Then I read This is why I don't have a blogroll. Or friends. at Read Roger. And discovered that traditional media can review books, have interviews, have authors write articles for them, yet traditional media Professionals remain objective about reviews. For some reason (must be a bug in the blogging software?), bloggers cannot remain objective in their reviews.

Huh. Who knew. Oh, also? Apparently, I am cheap and the price of my soul is a chocolate chip cookie and a diet Coke, along with an ARC. But the Professionals don't have that problem.

*I'm not sure, but I think the definition of gossip may be "news before it appears in print media." But since no real examples were given of gossip as opposed to news, I can't be sure.

**I know, as if that's ever going to happen!! Books from six months ago are still waiting to be reviewed.

***By traditional media I mean "the non blogger." Those who are not self publishing. Those who get paid for it. Could be print, could be online. Those who are "Professionals."


Kelly said...

It's those ARCs that do us in. We turn all gooey and just can't help gushing about each and every ARC we receive. Sheesh!

Nice post, Liz.

tanita✿davis said...

Well, there is just such... squishiness in my blogging, anyway. I mean, it's all cookies and gossip. But I must commend you, friend Liz. You have not been self-indulgent here, nor have you written long when you should have written short. None of that pesky "make-nice" for you.

At this moment, you have followed all the Rules.

Of course, the Rules could change...

web said...

I think Roger's post made it clear that he sees situations that potentially cloud objectivity in the print media world too. They're just different kinds of issues because it's a different world.

Roger Sutton said...

Plus, I LIKE gossip, so keep it coming.

Saints and Spinners said...

I review for SLJ and I don't get paid for it. Now I find out I should have held out for a chocolate chip cookie.

fusenumber8 said...

I'm grateful for the cookie comment. Grateful and now very hungry for some cookies.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and link. I'm all for objective reviews.

What do you think of these book reviews.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Great post. I was wondering if the cookies came after one posted a few negative reviews or what. Maybe I'll just make my own cookies...

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is, what do the anti-blogger critics want? It sounds to me like they are telling bloggers to shut up, which, in polite terms comes out as stop talking about things you are not really qualified to talk about. This strikes me as classism. Only an elite few get to be critics at well respected mainstream media outlets. Bloggers are a community, they generate dialogue about BOOKS. That is a good thing! Don't tell me to shut up because I chose to be a civil servant. Okay, I will shut up of my own accord now. Where can I get in on those cookies?

MotherReader said...

Now I'm beginning to wonder if this discussion is specially timed with the upcoming Horn Book issue that will cover kid lit blogs. Hmmm. Talk about marketing.

Roger Sutton said...

Yikes, MR, that's really low. And completely unsupportable--I would challenge something Fuse8 wrote because I'm publishing a piece by her? (It's not an issue on blogs, btw, it's an article.) I mean, your blog is recommended by the article; should I assume you gave someone cupcakes to ensure that? Hmmmmm indeed.

Brian Farrey said...

Liz, I don't have a book coming out but if I send you a twelve pack of Diet Coke and a dozen homebaked chocolate chip cookies, will you review my blog? Had I known you were that cheap, I'da forked over the sweets long ago.

MotherReader said...

You're right, Roger, and I take a big step back. I do forget that my ironic tone plays better on my own blog with context than on the comments of others blogs. It wasn't meant to be a direct hit.

The point I was (perhaps badly) making, is that it's all marketing, in a way. Publishers lunches, book launches, blog tours, author interviews in print, ads in Horn book, ALA exhibits, book signings, book awards. Down at the base, we're all promoting what we love, whether that's our magazine, our new book, our own blog, or even just reading in general. Maybe even just being in love with our own voice. And I would say that we are all influenced by all of the above, including our own angle. But I don't think that the cyber-world is cozier than the carbon-based world in kids lit.

And I only wish I had given Fuse cupcakes, but good to know my name came up.

Roger Sutton said...

Now I want to send you cupcakes, MR (and some for our hostess of course.) I certainly see problems of coziness in professional reviewing and writing, not least of which is the fact that there is money involved. I'm just trying to get at the coziness that is peculiar to the blogosphere. I think it both helps and hinders debate, that's all. Think about this little tussle we've just had--it never would have happened in print or, probably, in person. And as you point out, where we say something makes a difference. (Thanks, Liz, for letting me hijack this way. I'll stop now.)

Liz B said...

Wow, look what happens in one day of work. Thanks for all your comments & feedback.

ARCs: I wonder where BEA & ALA figure into this; because I can get as many ARCS (and more swag) from those exhibits. I see publishers sending books to blogs as levelling the playing field; can't afford to attend these national conferences? It's OK; you can still have a voice in new books. So anything that sounds anti-Arcs for blogs makes me wonder if it's being said to keep the arcs (and reviews and power) in the hands of only certain people.

TadMack & others: probably part of my own bias is I'm so used to ethical concerns from my former life as a lawyer that to me it's knee jerk to consider this all before posting & reviewing & I assume if I give something considered thought, so do others.

Web: I think Gail G. / original content said it best with it's different; traditional media & blogs can offer different things. It shouldn't be one or the other; and it is apples and oranges. I read both; there is benefit to both. My back gets up if I start reading things that sound like oranges are always better.

Roger, glad to see you here! Sadly, stuck in the sticks of New Jersey & having to endure a 2 hour train ride into NYC to attend any event, I have very little real gossip to offer. But every now and then there is a post or two worth reading. & I'm glad the comments were interesting enough to keep everyone reading.

Steven, I'm very intrigued by video book reviews & will check it out.

Cloudscome, perhaps we can have some best cookie posts? and Chris, I'll have to drive down to your library and we can share some cookies & tea. And what is interesting is my POV about blogging is what you said; a wonderful place to have dialogue about books. While Roger's POV is looking at it objectively in terms of review standards. While I don't think the 2 are exclusive, I do think we are coming to it from 2 very different perspectives & that is why there is such interesting dialogue.

MR, glad to see you here & thanks to you I have all these comments and it looks like I'm popular...tho it's really all about Roger. Oh well. (I am going for humor there folks...not being serious!)

Brian, I am going in strict alpha order & I have your blog up on my blogroll. Your time will come! And one of these days we will both be at the same conference and can bond over diet coke & cookies.

For everyone's reference:

chocolate chip cookies: i like the soft gooey kind. no nuts.

cupcakes: chocolate all the way. tho lemon is good too.

Mayra Calvani said...

***By traditional media I mean "the non blogger." Those who are not self publishing. Those who get paid for it. Could be print, could be online. Those who are "Professionals."

Hi there,
There are many legitimate reviewers who also happen to be bloggers. I think the problem is not against bloggers, but against bloggers who write reviews that are not reviewer reviews but reader reviews. There's a difference between reader reviews and reviewer reviews. Reader reviews are completely informal, don't follow any specific format. Reviewer reviews have an 'accepted' structure and should contain, in most cases:
*an interesting lead or opening sentence.
*a brief sumary of the plot which should never include the ending or spoilers.
*a well-thought, intelligent evaluation, possibly with quotes.
*a recommendation (or not)

While reader reviews are a valid form of self expression, there's a distnction between the two that should be made.

Mary Lee said...

You are "Wow. Look what happens in one day of work," and I am "Wow. Look what happens when you have an author visit day and a field trip day back to back with no planning time and not even really a lunch hour on either day! Two days away from the blogosphere and an entire controversy has come and...gone? We'll see about that."