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Saturday, February 12, 2011

You have to grow where you're planted, or, why you shouldn't let people tell you how to write.

By now everyone is probably familiar with all the drama that is spewing all over the blogging universe.  Authors behaving badly, shameless solicitation of book purchases, people opting to bitch instead of just skipping things they'd rather not read, and, of course, the endless abuse of dead equines (beating of dead horses.)  I'm not going to link to any of these eyeroll extravaganzas as most of them have gotten way more than their fair share of attention already, but my reactions can be summed up in the following statements:

Write the reviews, posts and content that you personally want to read.  There will always be someone who doesn't like the way you review books, or thinks you should be nicer/meaner/taller/thinner/whatever-er.  If you read a book and liked it, write about what you liked.  If you read a book and didn't like it, write about that.  If you have memes you like, participate in them and have fun.  If you don't like memes, don't participate.  And I'll just say this once, and then I'll shut up about it, but

If you don't like In My Mailbox, don't read it and don't participate, and let other people have their fun.  I have no idea why this particular weekly meme seems to attract so much acrimony and frankly I don't care.  If you don't want to see what kinds of books other people are receiving then click the next button in your feed reader and move on.  Why spend time kvetching about something that a) won't change and that b) is not adversely affecting you anyway?

When someone decides to claim that all bloggers only blog so they can receive ARCs, we as a community should just ignore this person.  This is the fail safe argument and response from folks who don't understand the blogging community and it's guaranteed to get a response.  We all know it's not true, so why do we insist on defending ourselves from this pointless argument?  Sticks and stones, friends, sticks and stones.  And hey, if there is someone out there who's just blogging for ARCs and doesn't care a whit for the tons of other cool things about the book blogging community, then hey, refer to my first statement and leave everybody alone.  Everyone has their own reasons for doing what they do; we can always choose to not follow blogs we don't want to read, true?

People who say that book bloggers don't sell books do not understand how word of mouth advertising works.  Here's the thing: when I say I love a book, I tell over five hundred of my nearest and dearest (hi everyone!) how I feel and encourage them to spend their money on that, as opposed to something else.  When I say that a book, to put it bluntly, sucked on toast, I am telling those same people that they should spend their time and money elsewhere.  If even one person buys or reads a book based on something I said, then I just got a reader for that author.  If even one person passes on a book because of something I said, then I cost that author a reader.  That's a pretty big influence.

But wait, let's take this a step further!  Let's say that I review and love the first book in a ten book series.  I pimp that book out so hard that someone goes and reads the first book.  They share my high opinion of the book and then go out and buy the rest of the series.  And maybe, just maybe, the person who bought all these books is a blogger, who is now going to crow in post upon post about just how hard these books rocked.  If you were in charge of promoting a creative endeavor, specifically, one you made yourself, isn't that something you'd like?

I am a consumer: I buy a lot of books.  Saying things that insult me, a community I belong to, and implying that I have no more writing skills than one of my cats is not the way to make me want to kick some of my money your way.  So even if you think my argument about book bloggers selling books is a lot of claptrap, just remember: book bloggers buy a lot of books too.

If you are new to the blogging community, you are just as valuable a participant as anyone else and don't let people make you think otherwise.  At the end of the day, book bloggers are people who love books, who love talking about them, promoting them, experiencing them, and looking forward to new titles and adventures.  You can learn probably 99% of the "stuff" that goes along with blogging- formatting, technical issues, networking, etc. etc., but what you bring to the table is your enjoyment of reading.  If you enjoy reading books, and you want to talk about that with other people who feel the same way, then you will be okay.  I promise.

And just so we don't leave on a sad note, here's a Motivational Speech!  Listen to the whole thing.  I'm just saying.

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