Stalking Reviewers

My friends recently posted a piece on their site that got me thinking about the issue of whether to address bad reviews again. I use to work for a major industry publication that requires anonymous book reviews. But now that I do reviews where my name is attached, I have been thinking about this issue more.  Awhile back, an article created waves in the book industry. There were subsequent articles written about this issue. Please read the response by the blog that Hale mentions and then a handy article with a breakdown of the Goodreads comments. These articles will give you a good background for today’s posting. I’ll wait.

::Jeopardy theme song::

I did read No One Else Can Have You before all this happened. Did it deserve a 1-star rating? In my opinion, not really. But it certainly did not break past a 3 star rating. But here is the thing: it is my opinion.

Do you remember your mother telling you not everyone is going to like you? It applies to books, too. Not every reader is going to love every book.  But here is another thing: it is NOT personal.

As a professional reviewer and now as a blogger, I am not judging the author as a person. For all I know, that person could be as awesome as Ellen DeGeneres , but that does not mean your book is going to make me love it. I understand authors spend so long with their books and may have a hard time disconnecting that personal bond, but when you put something out, it stops being yours alone. A reader will have their own interpretations.

But you have put this book out there to be read and that means that those readers are going to build their own personal bonds with the story. And if they don’t like it, that is their right. And whether that review is written by leading industry professionals, or the girl down the street, everyone has the right to their opinions.

One of the reasons the publication I worked for wanted the reviewers to remain anonymous is because they do not want reviewers to be hassled. If I give your book a bad review, then I should not have to worry you will call my work place up and bother me. The flip side is that I should not be rewarded for a glowing review.

So should you contact a reviewer? My rule of thumb is no. I know there are articles saying you should under the right circumstances. But believe me now, it is a murky area to tread, so just don’t do it.

And for heaven’s sake, please don’t stalk any reviewers.

SOURCE: reactiongifcollection.tumblr.com

There are 6 billion people in the world; not everyone is going to like your book. But the odds are that there is someone out there who will and by stalking the reviewers who don’t like your book, you risk losing the ones that do.

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The Murky Waters of the New Harper Lee Book

Hopefully by now, most of you have heard the announcement that Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) is going to publish her second novel. If not, educate yourself before continuing.

Shortly after the announcement, speculation turned to the fact that Harper Lee’s very protective lawyer/sister had died just 3 months ago, and the elderly Lee has some medical issues from a 2007 stroke, which makes this announcement sort of suspect.

I will not be going into all that. Buzzfeed has a great article that explores the issues and how we as readers want to consume unpublished content. Check it out here.

My thoughts on this particularly story are difficult to express. On the one hand, I feel that there is no way to top To Kill a Mockingbird. This book is taught in public schools, in colleges, and actively one of the best American novels. And I do question the ethics of publishing a book by an elderly author, who by some accounts, is mostly blind and deaf, and reportedly signs what is ever placed in front to her. The fact that her editor has not actually spoken to her, and only through her lawyer, only complicates my feelings.

But she is alive. She fully backs the publication of this book. My grandfather did some really out there things as he got older, too. So I can totally support a change of heart, or whatever she is feeling.

Ethically, as someone in publishing, it feels wrong. The questions I am ultimately left pondering: Was Harper Lee taken advantage of because of her age? Even though she claims to fully back this new book, all communication has been through her lawyer. And if I was the editor, would I still feel ethically conflicted when faced with a publication of a lifetime?  Probably.

But publishing is a business and books, thought we love them, are a consumer product.

I guess I am still on the fence.