Sunday, February 13, 2011

Funny Thing, Professionalism

There are two things to remember regarding professionals and professionalism:
  1. Just because you act professional doesn't mean you are A professional.
  2. Just because you are A professional doesn't mean you are professional by default.
As book bloggers we are well-advised to act professional in a professional setting, whether that's at a convention or in an email to a publisher/publicist/author. That's just common courtesy and sense. Act like a lobotomized chimp and you'll be treated in like kind. Have we ever, as book bloggers, cloaked ourselves as being professional book reviewers? Not that I'm aware of. In fact, we're all pretty adamant that we're not. Does that mean we can act unprofessionally? No. As book bloggers it's our job is give honest reviews/opinions/recommendations of books we receive/read, not bash the hell out of a book or author for the sheer fun of it. The majority of us follow this credo pretty closely. Of course there will be a few lemons in the bunch but that's to be expected. We're unregulated and function with a concensus on how we should act as opposed to a hard and fast set of rules.

So when I see authors coming out and bashing, by name, book bloggers for their supposedly "unprofessional" reviews (read: negative), I can't help but consider the source. When I see an author having actually formulated a blog post naming names, questioning the literacy level of these bloggers, questioning their intelligence level, belittling their reviews and condescending to them because of the unprofessional nature of their own posts, it kind of makes my eyes cross. Really, it's like trying to pull perfume from a trash can. When you criticize someone that you claim to have unprofessionally criticized you in an unprofessional manner, it kind of negates the very basis of your argument, doesn't it? You've effectively made yourself unprofessional in your deluded bid to be professional.

And then I see teachers and librarians harping at book bloggers about what they receive, about how they don't sell books, about how all they do is whore swag and ARCs. This misdirected anger is quite frankly disgusting. Why are you getting angry at book bloggers, guys? All we do is ask. In many cases we don't even do that. Many of us have publicity stuff sent to us without us asking, without us being asked and entirely unprovoked. What are we doing wrong?

The way I see it is Mommy and Daddy (publishers/publicists) have gone and had a new baby (book bloggers). As all good siblings (teachers/librarians/any other complainers) get, the green-eyed monster starts to rear its ugly head because Mommy and Daddy are paying more attention to their new bundle of joy. The baby is getting all the gifts and are getting fussed over. The siblings, instead of going to the parents and asking 'hey, why don't you pay more attention to me?', start beating the hell out of the baby. It's not the baby's fault it was born. It's not the baby's fault it's getting more attention. It just is. Bitterness at its best.

That's not to say book bloggers are bigger and better, but why doesn't some of that anger get redirected to its proper location? IE, not in our laps? Others have already come out and outlined how they help to sell books doing what they do so go hunt those out. We are not useless pieces of internet space. If we were, those publicists and publishers wouldn't be providing us with the material needed to help market their books. Can we please think this out here? We are obviously a commodity. We're not here to replace anyone. We're just here to help. So instead of flicking out those fangs, retract them, stop brow-beating us and help us. It's not going to help anyone when we're all in a boat rowing and some people stop because they think the others are doing it wrong.

And In My Mailbox? Let me make this very clear. The FTC, that's the Federal Trade Commission, a professional organization that can lay the smackdown when it needs to, views receipt of ARCs as a form of payment. Considering that, all review copies we receive must be declared. How excellent of a way to do that than in a weekly post highlighting where we got books that week? OMG, genius! That's not to say that's the intention of everyone's IMM posts but I'd say a fair number of people do that.

So let's not say IMM is a glaring example of everything that's wrong in book blogging. What a horrible thing to say. Right, how dare book lovers get excited about the books we receive. Disgusting, I know. Why would we want to share that with other book lovers? Crazy ideas, these are. Why would we want to provide exposure to these stacks of bound paper? Those aren't our intentions. We're whores! Whores, I tell you! Whores for books!

All of this book blogger hate is a disgrace and the people contributing to it should be ashamed of themselves. You call yourselves professionals. You stand on your high horse and berate us, denigrate us, belittle us, chastise us, spit on us. And for what? What does that do for you? You're not deterring anyone from starting a book blog. What you are doing is rallying a community of book lovers, of READERS, to fight for what they're doing.

While we may not be crossing uncharted land or standing up for the rights of this, that or another people, we are pioneers in what we're doing. Book blogging was all but nonexistent five years ago. Now? Look at us. The readers have risen and have taken a more active roll in their reading. They're interactive with authors, publishers and publicists and all for the love of books. Yes, free books are a big benefit but the majority of us didn't start our blogs because we were snouting for free books. We started it because we loved reading, we wanted to share that love and interact with other book junkies. The free books are just an excellent side effect of all of those intentions.

So. Just. Stop. It. You are doing nothing but hurting yourselves when you kick us down and keep stomping. Saying all book bloggers are unprofessional idiots that couldn't write their way off of a grocery list is no more true than us saying all authors are explosive asshats that couldn't handle negative reviews if they were wrapped in bubble wrap. Or all teachers are gray marms that are resistent to change and lash out at any rift in their bubble. Or all librarians are ancient, too busy huffing old book spine in the back of the library to really find out what's going on out here.

The legs have been chopped off of your high horse and you've fallen. Don't demand our professionalism when you're adamantly unwilling to give it yourself. Don't demean our writing and then expect us to write something akin to what could be found in The New York Times. Don't chastize us for getting free books when you're getting pissy because you want more. Can we please look at this rationally? Because it's just downright absurd. There are bad apples everywhere. It doesn't mean we all are.

To the book bloggers out there, I understand that all the hate, and from some people deeming themselves professionals no less, is really off-putting. Please don't let it get to you. Our voices are loud and it makes them afraid. Who was it that successfully changed the covers of two white-washed Bloomsbury titles? Book bloggers. Who gets buzz going for books? We do. We yell and people listen and it's drowning out some other voices. But instead of working with us, they're trying to work against us, break our spirits, make us feel like nothing. We are not nothing. We're far from nothing. Look at all we've accomplished already. Imagine what more we can do. We're stealing thunder and that's okay. Most of us don't view this as a competition. Obviously some do. Hopefully they'll get over it. It may be tiring to constantly defend book blogging but in reality, it's not very many that don't take us seriously. It's just that those dissenting voices are so much louder than the ones that pat us on the backs. Just turn off the volume and push them away. Remember all of the good you've gotten from being a book blogger. All of those books you've helped get the word out about, all with one little post on one little blog in a vast sea of internet space. And keep soldiering on.

We're good to go. Are you?


Rie Conley said...

Love it! Great job remaining your professional integrity while clearly stating why this drama is nonsense.

Thanks for being a positive voice for the blogging community. Which kinda sounds like a suck-up, but I mean it.

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

I want to bust out the megaphone and praise this post to the highest! I think THIS is my favorite post you've ever written!

I commented on Kristi's blog, and I'll say it here. It still baffles me the drama that comes along with book blogging. I don't understand why people get so jealous of it because about 99% of us do this because we love books, we love the world it creates, and we don't do it to show off or become popular. When I see people freaking out on twitter over this blogger or that blogger, I just roll my eyes. We're not in the race to cure the world - we're here to share our love (and sometimes our un-love) of books.

Alexia561 said...

Well said! I think this is one of my favorite responses to the blogger hatefest that's going on, and I love the comparison to jealous siblings. Genius!

LM Preston said...

First off, book bloggers do this for free. I don't recall any blogger getting paid to read books, hosts contest, support publicity or give a review. Publishers and authors appreciate the effort and support given freely, I know I do as well as other authors I know personally. I believe grouping opposing thoughts with groups or affiliations isn't fair to anyone. Not all librarians, authors, or publishers feel certain ways about bloggers. Those that have voiced their opinions should stand on their own. They can't speak for everyone. Keep doing what you are doing to support authors as long as it makes you happy. Believe it or not, bloggers are writers who have an ongoing audience of readers too.

Alex said...

Bravo! Great post! I love it! Totally and 100% true.... I don't have any insightful comment on this since you have said it all. So I will keep on doing what I am doing, and have fun with it!!

AngelicNytmare said...

I've read a few post on this topic, and I have to say I think yours is another one I love especially like one of the commenters before said I loved the part about the siblings. i love being able to tell people (I know and that will listen) about the books I've read. I know that I've gotten my sister in law interested in alot of the books I've read, and she still comes to me after finishing a book and asks what series should I read next. I'm all but thrilled to tell her. Anyways, loved the post. :)

April (BooksandWine) said...

If I wasn't at work, I would totally be fist-pumping!

I love what you write about Book Blogging being the new baby, etc.

Also, what the fuck is up with all this vitriol towards book bloggers? Whatevs, I'm going to keep on keeping on and if I never get another ARC, I'll be okay thanks to magic of the library and you know, book stores, etc.

Anonymous said...


Cleverly Inked said...

Wow, I always feel so informed after reading your posts. I have not yet been made to feel as though I shouldn't be blogging. I am not a professional and I do it for fun but WOW I guess I should pay more attention. Thank you for bringing this forth.

Donna said...

Thanks, everyone! I was standing by for a while just watching book bloggers get spit in and I just didn't understand why. I still don't. It's just creates a rancid environment that's not pleasant to be in.

Jessica said...

Awesome post Donna. You made a lot of valid points. Kudos.

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