Mark Chadbourn writes a fine blog post on what it’s like to be a writer in the digital age, compared to sixteen years ago.
The net now is like a city centre pub. You’ve got the group getting drunk and having a laugh. The intense couples ruminating over a glass of claret. And you’ve got the swivel-eyed, shaven-headed men in brown leather jackets at the end of the bar who bellow at anyone who will listen. And they’ve all got an opinion, and they all want to tell you.
This analogy isn’t just about bloggers. It’s about anyone who chimes in with their take on a book – on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Good Reads, wherever. If you’re a writer, it’s nigh on impossible not to hear what people think about your book.
It didn’t use to be like that. You’d get a flurry of print reviews when the book came out, and then silence for months while you worked on the next one. Now they come in a torrent, every week, every day.
Back then, reviews were carefully considered. Today some are still carefully considered. But as in that city centre pub, some are rants, abusive, vitriolic, opinions filtered through prejudices. And that’s how it should be – the net has given people a voice, and it’s up to them what they want to say.
Read it. I think it’s very important.
Also, I think you good blog reviewers (those who write the more considered reviews) have a opportunity to change things, to a degree – to cut and paste the fine work you do, and promote it to the widest audience possible, be it Amazon, forums, Goodreads, B&N, Waterstone’s reviews etc. (I know some of you do, which is fantastic.)
Why? The more you show how things should be done, the more others might – might! – be forced to consider what is typed before venom is injected into the computer. At the very least, the insane barking will be drowned out. Standards might be raised, but it needs a lot of bloggers to do this before we see any improvements. Or I might just be being hopelessly optimistic?