Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Disclosure, Transparency, and Blogger Jealousy
While I was offline, some drama erupted over Smart Bitch Sarah being affiliated with a consulting company. Said consulting company represents a number of OMG BIG NAME authors and when this relationship came to light, Sarah's objectivity was called into question. I'll direct you over to her blog to get the general run-down.
Harriet Klausner, you were the enemy. One thing I love about attending the annual RWA conference is catching up with the ladies that now run All About Romance. When I see those gals it's like a bunch of old veterans sitting around telling war stories. Back in those early days, The Romance Reader and AAR were "the enemy." Many authors did not like these sites. At all. We were accused of being unqualified hacks (to this day I'm not sure what makes a "qualified" book reviewer) or frustrated wannabe writers who were jealous of someone else's success.
All this sounds vaguely familiar doesn't it?
Dear Author and Smart Bitches were "the new devil."
For a long time, bloggers were sort of operating out in the Wild West, doing our own thing. Honestly, that's ultimately why I stopped reviewing for TRR and began focusing all my energy on my own blog. I love those ladies at TRR like chocolate cake, but I wanted to do my own thing. So, I did. Other bloggers started doing their own thing, and publishing took notice.
Now, part of the reason publishing took notice is because it's a tough business to be in. Bloggers were (and still are IMHO) seen as a "word of mouth" resource. Authors began to see that the "At The Back Fence" mentality that AAR had cultivated so many years before, was spilling out into the blogosphere. With the advent of social media? That's a lot publicity potential - you can't fault publishers and authors wanting to tap into that. You also can't fault many bloggers for this - I mean, we love books. We're whores for books. If we weren't whores for books, we wouldn't be blogging about books.
Of course this has all meant the waters have gotten murky. Where did Sarah go wrong? Why did this kerfuffle break out? My rule? Disclose early and disclose often. I don't think there's anything "wrong" with Sarah having a stake in this consulting company. I also don't think it's wrong for her to write books, promote the genre, her blog, and herself. She's putting in the work, so I say good for her. I don't have insight into Sarah's day-to-day existence, but I have a hard time believing she's had the success she's had simply handed to her on a silver platter while she's doing nothing more than eating bon-bons, rockin' a feather boa, while reclining on a chaise lounge.
Listen, I'm not sure anybody noticed - but I know that I'm an adult. If I think Sarah is disingenious, has a conflict of interest, or whatever, guess what? I'm not going to "listen" to her. I might even make the choice to ::gasp:: not read her blog. Just because it's "out there" doesn't mean anyone is holding a gun to my head to make me "do" anything. Otherwise? I'd be reading all those paranormal romances some of you love so much even though I'm burnt out on them like crazy-sauce. The blogger's job, first and foremost, is to give the review reader enough information so that they can make their own decision. If you aren't giving me that, I'm not going to waste my time on you. If I do get that, and yet I discover that the path the you're consistently steering me torwards is one I'm not wild about? Yeah, maybe we should "just be friends."
Yes, I'm talking jealousy.
Any blogger who claims it doesn't exist is walking around with their pants on fire. Just as authors can get jealous of other authors - so can bloggers be jealous of other bloggers.
Let's use me as an example. I have been blogging since 2003. Which makes me positively ancient. And yet when you think of "major romance novel blogs" - do I immediately come to mind? Uh, that would be no. Most people are going to immediatley say "Dear Author" and/or "Smart Bitches." Does this irritate me? That my almost 9 years of not having a life and blogging does not immediately leap into every online romance reader's consciousness when they're asked about "major blogs."
And I'll tell you why: the people behind Dear Author and Smart Bitches have worked really hard. I sorta, kinda do some work around the Bat Cave - but nothing like those ladies do. And you know what? I don't want to work that hard. I just don't. I want my blog to be what I want it to be. Which it is. Some of you like that, and some of you don't. Which is cool. Blogging is a lot like books. There is literally something out there for every reader. And if there isn't? Hey, why not start your own blog? Why not add your own voice to the mix?