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
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.