Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Batten down the damned hatches! I said batten down the damned hatches! Oh, never mind."

Well, the last few months RomanceLandia has lived nowhere in the vicinity of that name. No loving feels given. Then again, it only does sometimes. Oh, at times it can be extremely congratulatory to its members and at other times one would think it was a Roman arena from the set of Spartacus. I have said this and I will say it again, the sisterhood of women can be wonderful but when that sisterhood is not, it's a bitch. That said, the land of alpha, tight-torsoed males, firm-tittied females, the land of image is all and the bottom line counts on it, crashed and hit the median big time last week. My sole consolation was that no PoC authors were harmed in the making of this fiasco. Cue the sarcasm.

A YA author ,with an obvious privilege complex, went batshit crazy. And I do mean crazy. As in call-the-cops crazy over a less than favorable review of her book. This behavior seems to be becoming par for the course for some authors. And it seems to be plaguing the ones who pen YA. Personally, I expected these meltdowns to come from self-pubbed authors of NA. All that angst, drugs, booze and sex that gets stirred up in that genre would be ripe for nuttiness on an author's part if his/her book was not given a glowing review. Cue the sarcasm.

Anyhoo, this author woman STALKED a blogger/reviewer because the person didn't care for her book. Obtained the person's work phone umber, WENT TO HER HOME, and even CALLED the blogger at her JOB to complain. REALLY? REALLY? Now, I'm a writer not a book reviewer. But if I were one, and that chick had turned up on my doorstep...hon, let me count the ways! I don't care if the reviewer talked about your Mama; you never have the right to STALK someone. Alright, add this incident to the ish being perpetrated by Ellora's Cave against a blogger and well you get what you've got now. Several romance book blogging/review sites will NOT be doing any business as usual until October 27th. A sort of united front action in sympathy with the lady who got harassed.

The author in question got a platform to defend her actions in a rant printed in The Guardian. The Guardian! I said The-- Never mind. I think it's part of a publicity stunt to get eyes on her work because we all know there is no such thing as bad publicity. But there is such a thing as bad manners and bad judgment. Another belief I hold is, this era of publishing has opened the floodgates, for better or for worse, to folks with talent or without talent and enough free space on their credit card to push that "print" button. Oh yes, this influx fills that punch bowl holding a block of frozen concentrate but it also dilutes it. And don't forget it fattens someone's coffers. Apparently, these authors have images of J. K. Rowling's wealth dancing in their heads. The writer in question is pubbed by a traditional publisher but her tactics to be seen remind of the self-pubbed faction who take promo to a frenzied level. She also has major book world connections. That's what puzzles me. She's got folks in key places to push her work regardless of what one blogger says about it. Whatever. She decided to take the path of writers who depend on a reviewer's opinion to sell her book. She is like many who live by the 5-star reviews on Goodreads, and passable reviews from established blogs to GUARANTEE BANK! Makes no never mind that the ouevre may be sub par. In these people's eyes bloggers/reviewers are the last word.

Which brings me to observation two: romance book blog/review sites. I read them for fun. I like to see what's out there and what readers are interested in. Do I follow them for recs? No. I pick books to read all by my lonesome. I rely on my instincts. No one person's taste is like mine. Just because I like so-and-so does not mean I'll like so-and-so-2. No. That's why I DETEST that feature on Amazon. Back on track. I read a thread on a popular romance blog which asked readers who they put faith in when considering buying books. To my surprise, the vast majority of them rely on other people and these review sites. I was shocked. Floored. And another thing that floored me was, it was not due to possible wasted money that they trusted the blogs instead of their own tastes. It was due to not wanting to waste time on a possibly unworthy tome. My question is, what if they found the blog's rec to be sucky? Who would they blame then? The rec sucked, you've wasted money and time. And it wasn't even your choice. Which leads me to believe that this is one of the reasons why snowflakes like Miss Privileged go apeshit when they get anything less than "stupendous" praise for their books. They follow the path of the reader and the reader trusts the blogs. Now before you get your panties in a bunch, listen. No reviewer deserves anything less than thanks and appreciation from an author that his/her book was chosen for review. They do it for free and don't need the grief.

But it's become a Catch-22. These unhinged writers see these sites as a route to the promised land of moolah and recognition. It's a given that if an author's book makes the cut for review, readers do take it into consideration when making book purchases. And if it's a glowing one, readers flock to the book and it's gonna sell. I get the madness but I in no way condone it.

Reviewers, expect this sort of behavior as the romance business scrambles to find its footing in this new Wild West. Expect it more and more as publishers have made review sites the new slushpiles. And have foisted promo off on these sites' shoulders. Bloggers do not get paid for their service and major publishers use them as FREE PROMO as they spend next to nothing on promo anymore. Hopefuls are looking to  review sites, not capable authorship, to lift them out of the swiftly moving current of the slushpile. And since promo for this new kind of slush pile has been re-directed to book review sites, these sites have every right to slime the ill-prepared when they present unpolished work and they have every right to sink the ill-mannered when they show their asses.

My solution if I were a book blogger? I'd draw up some sort of document stating that any bad behavior directed at a blog/review site, by an author, because said author's work was given a less than stellar review, would result in a boycott of reviewing any books by that author's publisher for a loooong period of time and a lifetime ban for the offending author on submitting anything else to that blog for review. Let the author go bitch elsewhere about that.

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