June 13, 2007

Hell Hath No Fury

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Oh Stephanie, Stephanie, you had to go there. You made me do it. You got me started.

Stephanie wrote a long response on her blog to an article in the New York Sun: 'The Scorn of the Literary Blogger' by Adam Kirsch. I won't even link to it, I don't want literary cooties. Google if you must.

At first he made some points. It's not ethical to review books you haven't read (Duh!), but then he went into his own version of "Conspiracy Theory."

"...book bloggers have also brought another, less salutary influence to bear on literary culture: a powerful resentment. Often isolated and inexperienced, usually longing to break into print themselves, bloggers — even the influential bloggers who are courted by publishers — tend to consider themselves disenfranchised." Like I'm sitting in the cellar, blogging with one hand and making pipe bombs with the other and plotting to take over the world.

The blogs I read have one thing in common, a passion for reading. The last I've heard writers want people to read their books. Who reads book blogs? Raise your hands boys and girls. READERS. Word of mouth is so important for selling books. Recently, I filled out a survey for a publishing house. One question was: Do you have a blog? Dollars to donuts publishers are taking notice of bloggers. It's free advertising. What's better than that?

Stephanie isn't the only one hopping mad. The Smart Bitches wrote a post on another professional reviewer in the LA Times. Interestingly enough, just today they bewailed the lack of reviews for the romance genre. Where is the romance reader going to find reviews for 'Good Shit vs Bad Shit,' as the Bitches themselves call it? Do you think Alfred P. Higginbottom III from Hoidy-Toity University is going to review The Naked Duke? (Oh yeah, it's real!) I don't think so. The genre fan, whether it's Sci-Fi, romance, whatever, will seek out like minded people on the internet to find what's new, what's good and what to avoid. Book bloggers are a community, a global bookclub. Opinions are as varied as the people who blog.

What these critics fail to understand is that I've never considered myself a 'literary critic.' I'm a reader. I know what I like. I'm not reading a book to tear it apart. I spend my money the way I want to and if I have an opinion I'm going to express it.

11 comments :

  1. I'm sorry!! I couldn't help it. I read that article this morning, and it made me mad!! I agree with everything you said. And then some. I think the part that got me the most was this: And the scorn is reciprocated: Professional writers usually assume those who write do, while those who can't, blog. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

    Writers want people to read their work. Does it matter that people are blogging about it?? It should. That means people are reading it.

    I also think that those snobby critics that are turning their noses up at book blogs are kind of biting the hand that feeds. Aren't we, as readers, the audience they are writing to??? Why alienate you target audience??

    OK...down from the soap box. Sorry for getting you going and sorry for the HUGE comment!

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  2. Hi, there. I'm a disenfranchised blogger.

    And now that I've said that, may I have a shovel? I'd like to get out of here before that manure I just spewed starts to stink...

    Seriously, that name-calling and derision is one of the reasons I started blogging -- I wanted to build a community (yeah, around my fiction) that was a warm, inclusive place. And to be honest, while I still believe I'll make it into print, so long as the blog remains fun and inspiring, if this is all there is for me as a reader, at least I'll die fulfilled.

    There's nothing disenfranchised about THAT.

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  3. What tripe. There is actually a dearth of literary critics nowadays. It's pretty sad actually, but I think it's silly that most us that blog about books consider ourselves "literary experts". Why would we feel disenfranchised? I'm not writing a book. This is the sort of snobbery against bloggers that exist in all fields. I remember not too long ago there was an article in a San Francisco paper about food bloggers and their growing arrogance in restaurants when it really was not true at all. These "real" critics give us too much credit about taking them out or what our psyches are really.

    Chris, clearly we need to take this up at the next Canadian Book Bloggers Anarchy meeting over our plans to raid and take hostage of the Random House publishing building.

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  4. Go get 'em!

    And go easy on the pipe bombs, okay? :)

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  5. Stephanie- I can only see a writer being angry about a bad review on a blog and even then I find it hard that they would care what Joe Blow from Nowhere thinks.
    And hey, I needed to get riled about something!

    Susan- I haven't found a disenfranchised one yet!

    Athena- Shhhhh!!! That's a secret, remember!

    Scribbit- I'll try to control myself.

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  6. A lot of writers are up in arms over the decrease of book reviews in newspapers. As a longtime newspaper editor, I've seen this as a problem with newspapers that started a long time ago and it's not going to change. I think the number of book blogs that have popped up offer an incredible alternative and opportunity for writers to get their books read and reviewed by real readers. This blog and others like it are great for that "word of mouth" every writer dreams of.

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  7. Yeah, baby. You said it!! We are lovers of the written word and free publicity! Intelligent writers want to cuddle up to us. LOL Loved your response. :)

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  8. The publishers already recognize that reviews on blogs - good or bad- are still publicity. I had a comment from a Canadian publisher asking if I was interested in reading some of their books and reviewing. Free books? No pressure? sounds great to me. She was reading book blogs looking for people. I thought it was pretty cool.

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  9. raidergirl- Send her my way!

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  10. Hello - I found your site via stephanie. I also just wrote about being "disenfranchised." Nice blog you have!

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  11. Yeah it's outrageous. I don't blog to get any brownie points with anyone. I have a very cynical friend who's like, what's the point? I told him, a: I like reviewing books, b: I like keeping tracks of the books I read, c: I like looking at reviews of books I've read after they've faded a bit from my memory, d: I enjoy the community, and e: I enjoy writers seeing what I think of their books from time to time.

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