The Importance of the Book Blogging Community

December 30, 2017 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Chatterbox, Features

With just a few days left of 2017, I wanted to write about an important issue that has occurred in the book blogging community. After immense support from my closest blogging friends and what feels like the entire book blogging community, I’ve gathered the courage to speak out for the safety of our community.

Thank you to so much to everyone who has offered me support in the past few days, it meant a lot to me, and tears were rolling down my face when I saw all of your messages.

When an author goes too far

Over the past few days, I received a threat from an author due to changing my thoughts on the review of her debut novel, The Harper Effect, and writing a “damning one” here. My original thoughts on the book didn’t raise issues that I had with it, but after pulling out from the blog tour, I was more comfortable in sharing my honest opinion about it. Many of you have seen the original comment on Goodreads threatening legal action, which has since been removed by the Goodreads team due to breach of the author’s terms of use. This threat was also followed up with a sinister email with more accusations, including the threat to notify her publisher and others, of my “unprofessional behaviour”.

I was uncomfortable with the author’s use of Instagram, where she had reposted my photo without permission and the appropriate credit which is a breach of copyright. I had asked several times for it to be removed, and her response was that thousands of other people over 2 years never had an issue with it. I found out that other bloggers had previously been in touch with her about the same issue, revealing that she had been aware of the issue previously.

Because I wanted to support a local debut author, I had also been in touch with her to organise a book launch. However, due to the lack of respect of my time with constant follow ups while I was working and demands, I no longer felt comfortable working with her and decided to withdraw my support. Book blogging is something we do out of our spare time, and I felt like this had been taken advantage of. Never would I have expected that a legal threat would be the result.

The community has your back

For a hobby that we participate in out of our own love, passion and spare time, this type of behaviour can be detrimental to the whole community. As book bloggers, we put our own time and effort into sharing the joy of reading, our honest thoughts on reviewing, to help out readers, publishers and authors. We should be able to share freely, from the heart, as long as we’re respectful about it.

The sad thing is, behaviour like this can put people off from not only book blogging itself, but from putting themselves in such a public space. I’ve seen many comments that have said they’re now afraid of sharing their negative thoughts on a book…or from blogging at all. It’s not easy to be in such a public space, but I want to tell you all, please don’t let behaviour like this put you down. Like the Kathleen Hale incident in 2014, I’m hoping that this never, ever happens again. If it ever does, please feel the courage to speak out like I have, because the community won’t stand for this type of behaviour and we all have each other’s back.

Reviews are based on honest opinions

Book reviewing and book blogging is all about your opinions and I truly believe it’s not about how good or how bad a book actually is, but what you thought and felt about it. That’s why I love it so much, because no two people can have exactly the same thoughts on a book. It’s drawn from your own personal thoughts, experiences and preferences and one person’s trash might be another person’s treasure. That’s why I find it ridiculous when people bother to attack others for their reviews aka. opinions.

Negative reviews are possibly even more important than positive reviews, because we know how hard they are. The writer has put so much time and effort into their book, and the last thing they want is to hear that someone didn’t like their book. However, reviews are first and foremost, for readers and not for writers. They are highly valued in this community, because we can find out whether the book is for us or not.

If a book received positive, 4-5 star reviews all the time, it actually makes me more wary because not everyone can love a book, just look at John Green, or Harry Potter, or Twilight. I’ve also picked up a book based on negative reviews, because what that reviewer didn’t like, I knew I would. Please keep those negative reviews coming, as long as you’re not attacking or tagging in the author. They are so important.

Importance of book blogging

Through book blogging, I’ve met so many amazing friends and people and have received so many amazing opportunities out of it. While it has it’s ups and downs, it’s something that I believe I will continue to do for a long time to come, simply because I love it so much. I know how isolating it may seem sometimes, when you put so much time and effort into something and no one seems to notice. But every single voice matters, what you do matters and we appreciate every single point of view.

Because I’ve blogged for so many years, I’ve seen the impact that book bloggers have on the publishing and writing community. I saw us cry out for diversity in the industry and diverse books emerge and became the top selling NYT books of the year. I saw the #LoveOzYA community emerge and support each other. I’ve seen so many amazing people become authors, publicists, starting their own publishing houses and companies. That’s what book bloggers do. We stand up for what we believe in.

Having something that I can come home to at the end of the day, connecting with so many amazing people, seeing something that I’ve built up over the years touch people from all over the world…There’s no words for how much joy it gives me, and I hope that it gives you joy, too.

I hope everyone has an amazing last few days of 2017. Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2018 is the one where all your dreams come true.

Be kind, be brave and be courageous and it will come back to you. 

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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48 responses to “The Importance of the Book Blogging Community

  1. Shelli

    Jeann, I know I’m replying to this super late, but if she never removed your Instagram post that she snatched (and for future reference), you can get it down VERY quickly by sending Instagram a DMCA Takedown Notice – details easy to find with Google.

    I am so sorry this happened to you!

  2. Sorry this happened to you. I don’t know why anyone tries to suppress non-5-star reviews. *eyeroll* why would anyone bother reading reviews or letting ratings weigh into purchasing decisions if everything was all glowing advertisement?

    Nevermind author threat to report you to her publisher, did anyone send a screenshot of the threat to her publisher and to places like NetGalley? Which do you think Pan Macmillan and NetGalley will wince at — a single negative review or one of their authors making public threats against reviewers/bloggers?

  3. Reading reviews has become a part of the whole reading experience to me. They often make me think critically about aspects of a book I may have missed. And writing my own reviews makes me think about what did and didn’t work for me in a book, what I liked and didn’t like. They’re so important, and no-one should feel threatened because they posted their own honest opinion.
    Fiona recently posted…A Review of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens AgendaMy Profile

    • I agree, that’s definitely what I love about reading reviews, because everyone has such different interpretations and experiences. If it was just positive all the time, then we wouldn’t learn anything or expand our own world views.

  4. Jeann, I’m so sorry this happened. I can’t believe this kind of thing still goes on in the community. But it’s great to see you taking a stand. I’m sending you my support–keep doing what you’re doing!

  5. Hi Jeann,

    As a newbie blogger (and fellow Aussie) I just wanted to thank you for the post — it sounds concerning in a way, but you dealt with the situation well. I’ve been trawling through a number of book blogs recently and developing a feel for the community, and I have to say it’s growing on me. It’s also inspiring to see how many followers some local book blogs gain over time. I’m sure even Happy Indulgence had to start somewhere.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Of course, I went and investigated. That author is a putz. Responding to negative reviews is the first no-no of being a writer. Just don’t do it! It always backfires. And brings more negative attention their way. I’ve seen it happen a number of times. Sorry this happened to you but no worries, keep going forward. It will happen from time to time.

  7. Ahhh, Jeann! This post is absolutely beautiful and 1000000% true. You DID NOT deserve whatever the heck that author said. I’ve definitely read LOTS of books because of negative reviews I’ve read, but this one? Ho ho ho, no way. Nuh-uh. Blogging and bloggers are amazing. This community is amazing. Being honest is something we should be proud of, not afraid of.

    Sending lots of love and support from the PH. <3
    Aimee (Aimee, Always) recently posted…I Want to Read More Books in January and Plan a New Blogging Strategy!My Profile

  8. Oh my goodness, how am I just hearing about this? I just saw our tweet on this, and had no clue that this was going on here. I am so sorry that you had to deal with this, it sounds horrible. Thankfully I have never had such a horrible thing happen to me. But that is why I rarely even do book tours anymore because what if I don’t like the book? And I need to be honest in my review. But wow this author just sounds horrible. But what I love about the blogging community is how supportive we are from each other. There was an author I really liked but then she got upset anytime a blogger or reviewer rated her books below a three star rating. Its just sad that this happens. But I am like you in that the ups of blogging definitely outweigh the bad. Its very fulfilling.

    Hope you have a wonderful year of reading and blogging in 2018!!
    Lover Of Romance recently posted…Elite Books I Am Most Looking Forward To 2018My Profile

    • I can definitely understand when authors take reviews personally, but I definitely stand by what I said in that reviews are for readers and not authors. Unless they are blog tours of course, which is why I don’t do a lot of them any more especially if I didn’t like the book.

  9. Thanks for this! I’ve had some terrible experiences over the years, and it’s changed the way I do some things, but I love my silly book blog (even if no one else does!) And j love reading other people’s blogs. Thanks for your encouraging words!

  10. Ali

    I’ve had the same thing happen to me a few times in the book blogging community! For one thing doing that on Instagram is against Instagram policy, you can’t repost a pic that someone else already did without permission. It’s in their policy rules. So contact instagram! Next some authors need to realize how important we are as a book blogging community to their sales. Yes sometimes a bad review can happen they need to learn to just go with and move on. I work with authors as well and I’ve always told them to say nothing to a blogger unless it’s something nice. Ignore the reviews that are negative it’s not worth getting a bad name for it. I’m so sorry this happened to you!

    • I know, it seems quite a lot of people aren’t aware of Instagram’s Terms of Use especially when it comes to reposting. That’s definitely some valuable advice for authors I think.

  11. I still can’t believe this happened, and I have never heard a threat of legal action that’s based more so on thin air than this one (apart from maybe that time when a burglar sued a family for a broken leg or arm when he was robbing them?) I’m so glad to hear about Goodreads reacting the right way though! And taking down what she said. Things like that make me shudder. And I hope I never have to live through anything like this. So sorry you had to!
    I’ve recently written a post about what’s positive about blogging. If you feel like you need a pick-me-up, you can drop by. There are so many amazing things about being a blogger, and the community is only one of them, surprisingly! (Although a very big and important one.)
    Evelina recently posted…Bookish Resolutions For 2018My Profile

    • I definitely hope it’s not something that any other blogger or reviewer ever has to go through again! It just seems so ridiculous and not based on any legal grounds. I will come and check it out when I get the chance, thanks for stopping by Evelina!

  12. I learned about this from your Twitter-feed, and I really thought we were all over authors attacking reviewers / bloggers now. I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this ugliness over the holidays. But you know the book community has your back. And we are many, and we are strong.
    I truly hope that this kind of thing will simply cease happening.
    You must feel doubly hurt, too, as you wanted to help a debut author, and then, not only did you get kicked down, you got kicked while you were down as well.
    Sending many hugs your way.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…(un)Conventionally Backwards – Best New-to-me Authors 2017My Profile

    • I know, but it seems not everyone knows the proper etiquette which is sad. I do hope that my blog post will help to raise awareness about the impact of bullying a reviewer. Thanks for understanding Lexxie, and the support, it means a lot!

  13. Good on you for not only handling this and not letting it scare you into submission, but sharing it, talking about it, and starting this conversation within the community. We need more people like you in the book blogging world. Thank you!

  14. Thanks for sharing this, and don’t let it get you down. We’re all here for you (as you already know) and obviously you did NOTHING wrong. Good for you for standing up. Hope you have a super New Years! 🙂
    Greg recently posted…Sunday Post #226My Profile

  15. I had one issue with a bad author this year. But not nearly to the extent that you did! My goodness. Sometimes people just suck 🙁

    While I’m aware I can be a bit snarky, I make every possible effort to make sure that I point out things that I like about a book, and when I really have issues to put them in a way that is constructive.

    And still, we get called trolls and other crap. Urgh.

    But that’s why I actually run something on my site where Indie Authors can basically sign up, pledging not to be a jerk to people who review their books. If they sign this, and then I find out they’ve been jackbutts, I put them on a blacklist. Thus far, I haven’t had to put anyone on that blacklist.

    You are absolutely right, we review for readers, not for the authors.

    • That makes me so sad that it seems a lot of people are coming forward with negative experiences with authors over their reviews. A REVIEW IS AN HONEST OPINION, not for author promotion (unless it’s paid, or a blog tour of course). Sadly because of a few bad experiences at the start of my blog, I no longer review indie books because of that, unless I’ve previously read the author’s work before.

  16. YESS Jeann, this is all so very true. I am terribly sorry that you have had to go through this, but the way you stood up for yourself has, in my opinion, done a huge service to the book community at large. Now perhaps an author will think twice before bullying someone- maybe that someone wouldn’t have been able to handle themselves as well as you did. Maybe the author would have turned them off of blogging/reviewing in general, but your example that reviewers/bloggers won’t be bullied into silence is so, so necessary. So thank you, for all that you do, and for being the lovely inspiration that you always are and always have been ♥♥

    Also, I am still shaking my head at the author, and feel like she needs some kind of help before she ventures out into ANY career where her work will be critiqued, because frankly, it’s clear she can’t handle it. And I *might* still be low key chuckling because like, how many people would have even really thought twice about one low review before? And now…. well, things aren’t looking great.
    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted…Review: The Key to Everything by Paula StokesMy Profile

  17. Jeann, you are one of the kindest and most supportive people I’ve ever met in the blogging community so it makes me so sad to see that you had to go through this. 🙁 You don’t deserve this at all! You’ve handled this wonderfully though – in such a professional and polite manner – and I really applaud that. Thank you for sharing this. <3
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…Predictability in MysteriesMy Profile

  18. Jen

    Jeann – you are the nicest, most generous person, so I was very sorry to hear about this. I’m sure it must be disappointing for an author to learn that someone didn’t like their book. But it’s also incredibly sad and stressful for a blogger to volunteer their free time to read and review a book and then be threatened.
    Wishing you a very happy and non-stressful 2018!

  19. I really hope someone has had a talk with this author about why threatening readers who don’t write reviews she likes is not a good move, either ethically or for her career. As I said on Twitter, I seriously cannot believe an adult (who, presumably, reads things and knows enough about the publishing industry to,,,you know, get published) would honestly believe it’s even possible to sue for something like changing a review or writing a two star review.

    Luckily, I agree these types of authors are rare, and I hope people won’t be afraid of blogging, reviewing, reading, etc. in general. However, I do personally draw the line at supporting authors like this and like Kathleen Hale. I don’t care if they’re Shakespeare himself; I’m not going to put myself in the position of being stalked, threatened, or sued for the sake of reading a book. It’s not worth it, and I think this author may learn that this was a really bad PR move because, no, readers, are not going to take the chance that reading her YA novel is going to get them personally attacked by her.
    Briana @ Pages Unbound recently posted…Ten Books That Blew Me Away in 2017My Profile

  20. Thank you for sharing your experience and for being so professional about it. I hope bloggers and authors can learn from your post.

  21. Thanks for sharing your story, Jeann, and for always sticking up for yourself and for your fellow book bloggers. You’re such an important part of this community, and I’m so sorry you had to go through this.

  22. I’m sorry this happened to you. I also keep my fingers crossed this is where it ends with her and she’ll let it go. But I am glad that you got the support you did as I saw on twitter. Sending you all the love.

  23. I’m so sorry this happened to you, Jeann, it’s really terrible how authors treat reviewers sometimes, they shouldn’t even THINK of doing this, yet somehow, some people still do. It’s just… awful. The community is always here and always so supportive, it is one of my favorite thing about blogging, for sure. Thank you for speaking up and sharing your experience, it’s so important to remind ourselves of why we’re doing this, that it’s free and that we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do. Our voices matter and we matter. We are all dedicated and will hold each other’s hand if we fall.
    Thank you for this <3
    Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books recently posted…Review: Together At Midnight, Jennifer CastleMy Profile

  24. I am so sorry you had to go through this, Jeann. Thank you for sharing your experience – it’s incredibly important for bloggers to know that authors who behave like this are not okay and that there are a wealth of people who have their backs. This community has achieved such beautiful things and it’s people like you who keep it going strong. Take care of yourself and don’t stop doing what you love. Have a wonderful 2018 <3
    Helia @ Rose Quartz Reads recently posted…Mini Reviews #3 // Science Fiction editionMy Profile

  25. Excellent post. I agree with your thoughts on negative reviews, I’ve found some books I loved because the reviewer explained what they didn’t like…and it happened to be a favourite theme of mine.

    I hope you are doing okay and I’m proud to see the book blogging community offer support. We have your back. You’ve handled this with grace and dignity.

  26. I still can’t get over how disgusting this whole situation is but you did the right thing by standing your ground. I’m glad we have such a supportive community!! That author who threatened you has only done damage to herself in this whole situation. I know that I definitely won’t be reading her book anytime soon because I have no interest in supporting someone who sends threats and steals content. We’ve all got your back!!
    Lara @ Words With Lara recently posted…Which 2018 Reading Challenges Will I Be Taking Part In?My Profile

  27. Wow Jeann, thanks so much for bringing this to our attention! I definitely won’t be reading this!
    I’m sorry you had to deal with this wacko. We shouldn’t be afraid to leave an honest review and I think she is going to be sorry she TRIED to come after you! Stay strong!!

  28. Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry this has happened to you and I am glad you are continuing to find blogger support on this. Authors should never treat reviewers this way. We all need to treat each other with respect, and I am glad I have not run in to an issue like this, but I know that if I do, I will find support in our community from honest, strong bloggers like you!

  29. Great piece of writing Jeann! Hope you will not experience attack from any other author again *pat your back. I am thinking to write review policies on my blog to remind author/publisher that agreeing to review a book is not the same with giving 4/5 star review. Thank you for the reminder that every single voice matters and I am glad to meet you through book blogging community ✨
    Hana Bilqisthi recently posted…Easy Steps to Write a Bilingual Book Review (Indonesia & English) / Cara Mudah Menulis Ulasan Buku Secara Bilingual (Bahasa Indonesia & Inggris)My Profile

  30. If I’m being honest, I was concerned that this author might go full out Kathleen Hale on you…so knock on wood that doesn’t happen.

    This is an wildly important post for anyone in the community, Jeann, so thanks for sharing this difficult experience. It’s important for us/bloggers to recognize that our time is more valuable than we often give credit for and so it’s more than okay to step back from commitments like tours or the latest reading/blogging trend if there’s lacking capacity of fulfillment; especially true if it’s not a paid gig. And more true if it’s for self care.

    But social media is a powerful thing and the author’s plummeting rating is a reflection of what happens when you make remarks like hers over a reasonable 2-star rating. It’s funny because by her reasoning, 90% of us would be serving life in lieu of our glowing negative reviews (which, as you mentioned, also gain traction for its importance).

    Anyways, I’m glad this community banded together in this event and I hope this shit doesn’t repeat because yikes was this an awful knee-jerk of a reaction. Keep on keeping, Jeann.

  31. Thank you for sharing your experience. This is part of why I’ve considered distancing form Goodreads. Sometimes I think some of the readers are being unfair with dishonest ratings, but then I remember some of these authors are so unprofessional and need a reality check!

    • Woke up to a notification of this reply in my email. I don’t know why because it’s not directed toward me.
      First of all, you aren’t being “objective” so just stop.
      She was THREATENED. Yet you lose trust of the reviewer, not the author? Wow. Are you working for this author or something? If you were being “objective”, you’d say that it’s completely unethical for an author to threaten a reader. Did you not read her post? Secondly, she said WHY she lowered her review. She probably gave it 2 stars as not to be harsh but felt it was 1 star the whole time.

      Your issues with OTHER reviewers on Goodreads has nothing to do with her. She has no control over the response of others (not yours either apparently). She never asked anyone to do that so why are you taking it out on her? Also, why do you care so much? How about take your rant to your own blog. Or read the book and see if it deserves any praise. If you do, then rate it yourself. Goodreads is not the end all be all. I don’t take ratings on there as “law”. If I want to read a book I’ll read it regardless of the rating. She IS being honest. What’s done is done. I think you need to move forward and let this go. Again, from what it seems like she probably already thought the book deserved 1 star and tried to generous by giving it 2 stars, so *after* being threatened she went with her gut because the author wasn’t doing her any favors so why should she.
      If you care so much, read the book (Spoiler Alert: It’s poorly written).
      If you don’t trust her so much, then why even bother coming to this blog with this rant? Just follow other reviewers. There are literally thousands of other book reviewers. Do you know how many rate a book 5 stars after being paid even if they don’t like it? Clearly, Jeann isn’t bought and paid for.

      Have a nice day.

      • Hi Vanessa, thanks for responding to the comment and defending honest reviewers! I’ve removed it now because they have no right to come into my space and continue trolling me (not the first troll I’ve had, and I doubt it’d be the last).

        Reviewers have every right to change their opinion, and most times you can’t separate an author’s art from their behaviour – especially when there are so many other authors out there that you could be giving your time and energy to supporting. Seems to be a small minority of people out there who think authors are entitled to positive reviews, but we all know there’s no point in that. What’s the point of art if there’s no interpretation? I think at the end of the day, there’s a consensus that reviews are for other readers and if they’re not honest then there’s no point.