Online reviewers: Relationships with authors and publishers vs Integrity

Wow! Blast from the past!

A reader just forwarded a link to an interview I did with Aidan in 2007. He was interviewing a bunch of SFF bloggers and it was interesting to revisit the questions and our often disparate answers! The person was surprised that my "philosophy" hadn't changed since then. I wasn't, for I feel the same way today that I felt more than eight years ago. Here's the question and my answer:

Reviews are a touchy subject. On the one hand we have to maintain pleasant relationships with the authors and publishers who help us do what we do, but at the same time we want to keep our integrity intact by offering our readers honest and objective opinions of the novels we review. How do you bloggers approach your reviews?

Maintaining pleasant relationships with authors and publishers is one thing, and offering honest and objective opinions is another. Anyone who feels that reviews are a touchy subject should not be reviewing books — or anything else, for that matter. If something is bad, then it’s bad. Period! There is a way to phrase it, of course, so that it won’t be perceived as a cheap shot or a rant. Anybody can say that something is good. But if a reviewer is afraid of writing a negative bit on a novel, because he or she is concerned that the publisher might cut that steady supply of review copies, well that person doesn’t deserve to be read.

Sadly, there are too many of those within the SFF online community. I feel that too many reviewers don’t step up to the plate when the game is on the line. Readers, regardless of the genre one is reviewing, want to get the straight dope. If they’re going to pay 20$ or 30$ to buy a book based on your review, they deserve to get the truth and nothing but the truth. In the end, a review is solely the reviewer’s opinion, not something that is sacrosanct. I’ll never say this enough: the relationship between readers and book reviewers is based on trust. And respect as well as trust are things that must be earned…

If one is afraid to express his or her opinion, good or bad, then they have no right to be reviewing anything. Which is why people like William Lexner, Jay Tomio and Gabe Chouinard are important to the SFF genres, and why I feel that the Blogosphere has been a lesser place during their absence. William had to go through a hiatus, Jay is not as active as he used to be, and Gabe has all but disappeared. While I don’t always agree with what they’re saying, those three have always stood up for what they believe in, come hell or high water, and defended their opinions fiercely. Although we sometimes stand on different ends of arguments, they have all earned my respect. They are passionate and it shows!

As Ken pointed out, I write the sort of review I would like to read. Some like that, some don’t. I can live with that, and so should they! Insofar as I can determine, my reviews, be they positive or negative, have never had an impact on my relationships with authors and publishers. Sure, they hope that I’ll love everything I read, yet they’re realistic enough to realize that this is impossible…

Funny how things have changed, and not for the best. And one thing's for certain since then. Yes, some reviews have had an impact on my relationships with some publishers. But that's the way love goes.

Follow this link to read what is still a very interesting interview. Even though things have changed quite a bit since 2007. . .

9 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Whoa! There was a time when Aidan didn't hate you???

Anonymous said...

You were nominated for a Hugo award? That's so cool!

Patrick said...

Shocking but true, yes! :P

About the Hugo, I never actually ended up on the official ballot. I received nominations for a number of years, mostly due to the fact that GRRM encouraged people to vote for me in his Hugo posts on his Not a Blog, but I never got enough of them to make it to the final ballot.

Jon R. said...

True. Kinda why I look to trusted bloggers for reviews instead of author blurbs. Author/author or author publisher relationships don't exist for the benefit of the reader.

BTW, Pat, this post prompted a question. I used to go to a variety of review blogs when trying to figure out what to read next. Wertzone and Staffer's being two of my regulars along with this one, and sometimes Aidan's. Problem is most of them stopped blogging, and Adam puts out much fewer book reviews (other than Vorkosigan novels) than he used to. Do you have any recommendations of blogs that you trust? I imagine this would make for a helpful post for your readers, I for one would appreciate it.

Patrick said...

Jon,

I'm afraid I've been out of the game for the last 3 or 4 years, so I have no idea which blogs are good anymore. Even though our tastes differ these days, I still check out reviews by Rob, Ken, and Adam. But that's about it. . . :/

Like you, most of the reviewers I used to follow have closed down shop.

Anonymous said...

So why does Aiden dislike you? I must have missed that argument...

Patrick said...

I'm not exactly sure how or when it began. On Twitter, for sure, as I'm not there. You'd have to ask him. But at some point, for some reason, it appears that Pat's Fantasy Hotlist pretty much summed up everything that's wrong with the SFF Blogosphere.

Fred said...

I had the same arguments when I was reviewing videogames last decade. If you're not big enough, it could be tricky to get content for coverage from a publisher and the situation can become tricky real quick.

On my end, I was lucky to be there (my website) before the marketing took the leadership of the gaming industry so I never had to justify myself for bad scores or anything. I did received a lot of bribes offers though in the almost thirteen years I was around.

Eodred VanCataclysm said...

Aidan disappeared up his own arse a couple of years ago when he started buying into all that SJW stuff.