So I’ve been thinking, over the last week or so..(not always a good idea!)
I spend a LOT of time reading for this site, much as I did for its long-running predecessor, and I enjoy it, I really do. But with a full-time job and a young child, why do I fight so hard to find the time for this? It’s purely a labour of love of course. I love to read, and I love to talk about what I read. I don’t have a lot of friends or family who are into Fantasy, and so that’s why I started book blogging. But having been on Twitter for awhile now, and having found my way around the book blog-osphere as a whole, I’ve noticed some things that make me feel slightly uneasy. Now this is purely my own response to what I see, and isn’t intended as a blanket criticism in any way shape or form. It’s just me trying to explain why I’m going to be making some changes around here.
This whole thought process kicked off for me when I saw a lot of people griping about the new ‘Gollanzc Geeks’ initiative, and the more I read around the topic, the more I started to wonder. Now, I’m not really fussed one way or another about how Gollanzc choose to do things, because I’ve no personal interest in ‘Geeking’ for them, but seeing the backlash over it was what started me wondering; How many blogger-reviewers out there give 100% genuine, honest reviews? (don’t get me wrong, I know some do), and how many publish reviews that are carefully tailored to satisfy the requirements of certain publishers? Because I’m starting to feel convinced the latter are definitely in the majority.
The more I look around, the more I see a pattern of glowing reviews leading on to more complimentary books, more publisher giveaways and, ultimately, the generation of an awful lot more blog traffic. If you spend enough time on Twitter and various Facebook pages, like I’ve been doing lately, you start to see something of a pattern emerging as to which review sites consistently get the re-tweets and the shares. Now, obviously, no publisher is going to ping out bad reviews as a matter of course, but there are enough well considered and well balanced reviews out there that are not getting picked up to really make me wonder. I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble across some very well considered and well written review sites, encompassing all manner of titles, which seem to enjoy hardly any traffic at all. Some of the three and four star reviews, or the equivalent thereof, on these sites are far more informative and share-worthy than many of the gushingly incoherent 5 star reviews that I see getting all the attention. And to my mind, that’s not right. But perhaps that’s just the nature of the beast.
Maybe this is all blatantly obvious, and you’re wondering why it’s taken me so long to notice. Maybe other, more experienced bloggers are perfectly aware of how this all works, and aren’t remotely bothered by it. Or maybe I’ve just got it all wrong. But either way, it’s a new concern to me, and it makes me very aware that this isn’t an area I want to associate myself with. My reviews are honest, and my opinions are my own. I am not swayed by promises of free books, bookmarks, badges or blog traffic. And I have absolutely no respect for reviewers who are.
So, there you have it. Why am I blathering on about it? Good question. Firstly, it’s bugging me and it’s nice to get it off my chest. But more importantly it serves as an explanation as to why things will be slowing down a bit around here. I’m going to bow out from Early Reviews for certain publishers. I’m not interested in reviewing for any corporation that acts in a manner I’m not comfortable with. I’ll continue to happily provide reviews, advance or otherwise, for the publishers that I know accept, value and appreciate honesty. From my own recent experiences, I can think of three, Hodder, Solaris and Berkley UK, and given the things I’ve seen happening lately I will appreciate these guys all the more. I’m sure there are plenty of others, and whilst part of me is itching to list those I doubt, it wouldn’t really make an ounce of difference so I don’t see the point. And of course, as ever, I’ll continue to read and review my way through many a back catalogue, in a continually unbiased manner 🙂 I work extremely hard, and at the end of the month I buy a lot of books. I’ve got no reason whatsoever to lie for a freebie. And as readers of this blog you never, ever, have reason to doubt the motives behind a single one of them. And that means something to me.