The Writer-Blogger Connection
A year and a half ago, people who wrote blogs about books seemed mysterious, organized, technologically savvy, funny, creative, opinionated, and distant to me. I was surprised and grateful when any of them reviewed my novel positively, and I learned quickly to stop reading when a review was meh because it stung. As a few bloggers began to contact me about interviews and as I emailed a handful to thank them for their kind words, I discovered some incredibly nice, generous people who love books as much as I do.
The good thing is, I feel like I have more nice friends. The bad thing is, their opinions matter more to me now that I know them, so part of me squirms knowing that my publicist has been sending out review copies of Prized. I hope the bloggers will remain as honest as they were the first time around. I also can’t help hoping they like my book. There’s the rub.
The writer-blogger connection makes me question whether a blogger can be impartial once he or she knows a little of the writer behind the book, and if that compromises reviews. Is it possible to say something nasty about a friend’s latest book? Ouch. Yet if nastiness isn’t possible, the positive comments aren’t credible anymore, either.
With hired reviewers selling fake reviews to the likes of TripAdvisors and Amazon at $5 to $10 a pop, I’m feeling shaken with new distrust. I want to be able to believe genuine people like me are sharing honest opinions, with nothing motivating us but goodwill and concern for our fellow consumers or readers. As a reader, I want the purity of the unbiased review.
I’ve read that a positive or a negative review in the New York Times can make a measurable short-term impact on a book’s sales, but beyond that, it’s hard to be convinced any single review has much influence. When bloggers reach 100-2,000 followers at a time, the power of bloggers lies in their collective ability to spread awareness and a general impression of a book. Even though one blogger alone in this buzz may have a very small voice, the integrity of all the bloggers, with the grass-roots, free-speech, devil-may-care honesty and humor that abound, is what we value.
That honesty is what I don’t want to undermine. So I’m adding my honesty, my own disclaimer, to the mix. It’s preposterous to think I would ever pay for a positive review. I’d never trade my friendship for a positive review, either. Yet at least a subtle influence seems unavoidable when there’s a writer-blogger connection. Over this past year, more than once, I’ve ended up having funny, friendly exchanges with bloggers behind the scenes. I’ve discovered several of them are writers, too, and they get what I’m going through while I’m working. We like each other. They matter to me. I’ve had kind, unexpected emails arrive just when I’m pulling out my hair with gnarly revisions, and these notes make me think There’s hope. All I can do is my best. I just have to keep trying.
My blogger friends make me a better writer. If our friendships also influence their reviews of my books, maybe it’s because we’re human. However, knowing that my friends are people I respect, I suspect I’m due to read some pretty honest reviews. I think that’s why I’m squirming.
Many thanks to my blogger friends, especially Steph of Steph Su Reads, Kari of A Good Addiction, Enna of Squeaky Books, Precious of Fragments of Life, Katie of Mundie Moms, Georgia of Eve’s Fan Garden, Rachael of The Book Muncher and most recently, Katie of Simply Kate, who shot this unbelievably sweet YouTube review. I’m delighted to count you my friends. You certainly don’t need me to tell you: go ahead and be honest.