Not too long ago I shared about the Us vs. Them mentality in publishing, something I have seen all too often. This is something that grieves me every time I see it. I am a strong supporter of getting books to readers and I believe there are many legitimate ways to do this. Yet often I hear someone saying things like “traditional publishing is dying” or “self-publishing has destroyed the quality of books”. I have found that these statements are not true, yet I still hear it often.
But publishing methods are not the only place in publishing where the Us vs. Them mentality rears its ugly head. It can also come with authors vs. readers (namely those who review books). And to me these two being at odds is most devastating. Authors need readers and readers need authors.
When I first decided I might want to start a blog, I was working with my first author and just about to enter into college. At that time I didn’t know a blog could benefit what would become my business, or any of the other benefits of blogging. I only knew that there were lots of readers I had met who were sharing their thoughts on books and connecting with authors and other readers. I wanted in. But then I ran across something terrible that shook me. An author had posted a list of “bad bloggers” stating these people had snubbed the author and that authors should avoid those listed. This caused many bloggers outrage, many retaliating and closing off to review requests. It was very disturbing. And it almost kept me away from blogging just as I was starting out.
Now we seem to be facing this again. Another scandal has caused authors to rebuke readers and readers to reject authors. And it is just as sad as the first time I witnessed it.
The bottom line is this: we readers need authors to create stories for us. So we need to respect authors, and if we choose to leave our thoughts, we should do so with respect to the creator. Does this mean we shouldn’t be allowed to write “bad reviews”? No. But this does mean that we shouldn’t be trying to destroy an author’s career over a book we didn’t like, and that we shouldn’t be personal to the author him/herself. Reviews are our way of sharing what we thought of THE BOOK with other readers, not a way to get back at an author who may have wronged us.
And authors need their readers. They should respect their readers and fellow authors, including respecting the right of a reader to not like their book. (If they can’t do this then maybe they shouldn’t be publishing.) Does this mean an author can’t be hurt by a review? No. But it does mean the author shouldn’t take it personally and spread it publicly. Learn from the reviews which are instructive, and let the other ones pass. This is part of publishing anything online (including posts just like this one). Don’t try to get back at reviewers; it will frustrate you and them, and more importantly get in the way of your goal to succeed.
With all this going on, I still believe in the publishing world. I believe that we can all join together, traditional author, publisher, reader, blogger, indie author, reviewer, publishing professional, etc. Together we are stronger. Together we are better. Together we can share the love of reading. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
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