discussions genre stuff

And While We’re On That Subject…

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?

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

7 replies on “And While We’re On That Subject…”

I agree. Though I have a question towards you I would like you to answer as far as copy pasting reviews go.

I plan on doing 3000-4000 epic discussions of books, while I bring more trivia/personal insight and impression that may be random. I plan on seriazlizing these in smaller bits on my blog, but are they suitable for these sites, where brevity seems to rule?

I think posting deep critical discussions might be a bit much for the McReviews you get on some sites, and it isn’t really their place. Chopping down seems to fit nicely – but that’s just my opinion. Some part of me wishes we could get people to read more essays on fantasy fiction. 🙂

for message boards I think cut and pasting in a paragraph or 3 of a review that really captures it works well. With the terms and conditions for posting reviews at Amazon, I can’t recommend that anyone posts reviews there. Places like Goodreads and such I’m not as involve in – I just link to the blog.

I actually post all of my reviews to Amazon, GoodReads, Shelfari, and Librarything. I’m not the greatest reviewer in the world, but those locations are where most people read reviews, so…yeah. I’ve never had any problems with doing that, though. What is the negative for that, Neth?

Read the terms and conditions for Amazon – by posting a review you give up all your rights to it and Amazon can change any text without your knowledge and basically do anything they want with it without any additional consent from you. I’m just not willing to give Amazon that level of freedom with my reviews. I haven’t checked the policies for GoodReads, Shelfari, and Librarything, so I can’t comment on them.

Well, I think: of course Amazon are doing that. They’re a public corporation – anyone posting screeds on reviews (controversial comments etc), they need the rights to alter that or take them off. They’re just protecting themselves, but I’ve never once heard of a reviewer who’s had their reviews altered.

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