Note from Mike Mullin: "There are a lot of good points in this post, and as an author, I agree. I'll just add that I appreciate reviewers who keep their reviews focused on whatever aspects of the author are relevant to her/his books. I've seen reviews critical of the author's weight, clothing, or hairstyle, which I find mean and ridiculous. Usually those type of "reviews" are directed at female authors, which also bugs me."
A lot of you read this blog because you are friends with me on GoodReads. Heck, I get more feedback about the blog from that website than I do on the actual blog. But I'll be distancing myself from the site. That doesn't mean I'll be gone, but due to recent policy changes I will be posting full reviews only on the blog and on Booklikes.
What policy changes are these?
Well, to put it bluntly GoodReads is now deleting shelves and reviews that aren't about the contents of book. Well, sort of. To put it more precisely they're deleting anything that regards bad author behavior. If you five star a book because OMG it's the bestest most awesomest author ever and give it five stars, you're probably okay.
Look, I get it, GoodReads you're involved with Amazon now and want to sell books especially books that are published via Amazon. Which sad to say a lot of the bad author behavior derives from self pubs who publish a lot of the time through only Amazon. But at the same time, the site has been marketed since it's introduction as a site for readers. And to tell me I can't review a book based on author behavior is making me question my English degree since about seventy-five percent of the term papers I wrote had to do with authors and their views on society.
Also, I guess it would make my senior thesis on female empowerment in literature invalid too since I cited Charlotte Bronte's comments on Jane Austen. OMG Charlotte Bronte's talking about the actual author got to delete that review.
But author behavior isn't related to books you claim....
Well, put it through this perspective would you hire a painter to paint your house who cussed out your friend, told them that they didn't know what they were talking about when said friend claimed they didn't like the job they did.
Said friend would probably call their superior or at least leave a scathing review on Angie's List or whatever and that would be fine. In fact, if there was a superior it probably would be appreciated for improvement purposes.
Case in point, in March I had a terrible experience at a local Starbucks. The barista was downright rude to me. She claimed they were out of a syrup when the syrup was right in front of her. And proceeded to act like I was stupid when I asked her to add extra hazelnut syrup in my mocha. I called the company about that. And you know what, calling to complain about a bad employee was just as valid as complaining about a bad cup of coffee. So much, I got three free beverages from the company. And yeah, I continue to buy coffee from Starbucks today.
The point I'm trying to make here, is authors do play a role in how we view there books and that extends to their behavior outside of the book. Look at literary theory. The postmodern trend is towards new historicism which looks at outside interferences of the work. Current events, the author's life, figures in their life, etc. are all fair game when it comes to analyzing the book. The fat that the author can't take criticism is actually a valid point when analyzing work in the academic setting. Not to mention in the consumer setting, you sort of want to know what your'e getting into especially if you're a young blogger who doesn't want to get harassed.
And really how can you not review the author? When I review I don't judge the writer I'm reviewing but I do notice their quirks. Case in point, Meg Cabot loves to use quirky protagonists from the midwest. Jennifer L Armentrout (who has an awesome article on some other policies GR has decided to enact) likes to have a tough girl main character. Tera Lynn Childs is the queen of fluff. PC and Kristin Cast like using tropes to the max degree and then some. I feel like these are the sorts of things that should be mentioned in a review and how the author utilizes their quirks in their latest project.
And yes, I get marking a book on a list for author behavior and then writing something like: I'm not going to read this book by Meanie Author because she harassed reviewers, has horrible grammar, it's p2p fiction, and spams people isn't the same thing as calling out author quirks, but as I stated before these reviews serve a purpose for the person shelving the book and as an advisory notice for someone who might not want to read a book. And it's also used as a cataloging tool too.
Furthermore, I hate the fact that there are some people claiming that think reviewing a book like this is slander or libel or any sort of defamation. First of all, slander is spoken not written. And then.....you know what, I'm not even going to get into a discussion of what libel is for dummies. Internet lawyers just need to go to law school if they want to discuss the law. I'm sure that their torts professor will terrorize them and then some and then they'll shut up.
Anyway, I've said my peace and am getting off my soapbox now. Harriet Klausner just needs to come over already and become GR's number one reader because that, my friends, is where the site is headed.