I don’t often weigh in on things like this, but any book bloggers that follow me will likely be aware of a controversy that has flared up this week. A publisher (who shall remain nameless in this piece) posted comments on Twitter which demeaned book bloggers and described our community as useless and egotistical, specifically framed around the effectiveness of blog tours.
Being described as either of those things is going to get my back up somewhat and that certainly is what happened across twitter this week. I took huge solace in the way the community came together though and the way certain other publishes weighed in to show their support. I’m thinking specifically of Orenda, Fox Spirit and my friends over at Fahrenheit. I am sure that many more also jumped in to our defense.
My biggest issue with all of this though was the out and out negativity the responsible individual was putting out into the world of indie publishing. This is a world that struggles to stay on its feet, it relies on a community of authors, publishers, readers, bloggers who are passionate about the stories that are being written, in all their forms. Nobody is making any real money from this, it’s a passion. I’m writing this on a Saturday morning as my day job doesn’t require I work on the weekend most of the time. Reading is a joy for me. Has been since for as long as I can remember, my Mum instilled it in me from a very young age for which I will always be grateful. My blog is simply about sharing that and taking the opportunity to shout about books I love. I do believe that these kinds of blogs have value in the publishing world. I have certainly bought books based on views online, social media was my gateway into the indie world. All of the books I have reviewed on this site since I launched in July I have found via social media. All of the books on this site I have paid for out of my own pocket. I only accept advance copies that are paid for, one of my key principles is contributing financially to this world that I have come to love. If I take the Fahrenheit example alone, I have around 40 of their books across the two labels (Fahrenheit and Fahrenheit 13). Without twitter and the bloggers that supported them before I got on board, I wouldn’t have any. That’s value right there!
I also love the diversity of our community, the varied voices across twitter are crucial to success. We all do things differently, I touched above on my refusal to accept books I haven’t paid for – that’s just my way of doing things. I am very conscious that not everyone is in a position to be able to do so, I am privileged to be able to afford to buy the books I review and whilst I promote spending money on indie books, I hope that never gets to the point of lecturing or of looking down on others, being aware of my privilege is why I certainly don’t disparage ARCs (and don’t get me started on those that think second hand books are wrong!). If we are going to continue to thrive, we all need to support each other, respect each other and our own unique approaches to our reading and blogging lives. If someone is blogging in a way you don’t approve of and you feel the need to comment on that, my first question to you is to challenge the harm they are doing. If there is no harm, you just don’t like it, then shut the fuck up!
Obviously, I’m not saying don’t debate books. I love book debate! I just feel that we as a community need to stay focused on the positive, if anything is to be taken from this week’s controversy its that bloggers came together and showed the very best side of what we as a group are all about. Lets keep that up.