The past few days a few bloggers have been blogging about a so called group of YA authors who have been nicknamed as being part of a YA Mafia club, because of their recent actions online/blog posts about how authors/bloggers should behave.
Now this YA Mafia Club has been picked up and has basically become a Meme really because I have been seeing it everywhere on twitter/blog posts and even a few forums. I was pretty confused because I don’t think this so called club exists. I have searched high and low for this online for this so called YA Mafia Club and I can’t find it. Although there has been a few authors who have blogged about things that made them look petty or took things very personally, or dictates how others should behave: be it authors or bloggers.
This in fact has led to and highlighted again what things should be said and what should not be said and who should be saying it. I am not going to lay out my two pennies worth because a lot of writers/bloggers have said this better and more eloquently than me about what should be stated online. Frankly, I am not comfortable with the fact why people, be it authors/bloggers/reviewers should lay out on who is allowed to review books and who shouldn’t and whether authors should respond or not to reviews – be it negative, positive or on opinion posts. There is even a small group of people stating that all books should be reviewed positively and not negatively – which goes against the grain of reviewing a book. This is stifling voices and opinions. I am really tired of this issue because last year we had a hoopla about how there was a small in-crowd type of bloggers, and that some of them were mean girls too because shock horror, they actually reviewed books honestly or highlighted issues that was important that upset a few people. And I think this is the main cause behind a lot of these issues/opinion posts. People have taken things personally and have reacted this way to stop others from posting similar views which may upset authors/reviewers.
I can understand a negative post, review on a book where the author is getting upset – especially when it is personal. I think those type of posts are the worst because again it’s the personal thing. But reading is subjective and it is personal and you can’t get away from this because art and creative mediums produce strong reactions, so it will be personal for the author, the reader and the reviewer and I doubt that this new hoopla will be the last we will see on this matter. It will be under the guise of a new genre, different authors on a new day.
This is just going to lead to more divisive feelings and more tension because the past month or so I am feeling that this feeling is being festered along with the Publishers vs readers about the libraries/agency pricing issues or Authors vs Readers, about negative reactions about reviews. It is not a good thing at all stifling speech and opinion is not fair at all. The US vs Them thing has no winners in any kind of discourse – Just creates more dissension and bad feelings, this is detrimental to important issues.
But I am going to state that a few things that I think all bloggers, authors, posters and readers should be aware of and try to adopt if they want to avoid the craziness. This is a truth and universally acknowledged that if the following examples happened in a post or review, there will be a backlash or a negative reaction.
- Please don’t reply in the 3rd person when replying to a blog post/review and most certainly not as an author. It kinds of give you an air of crazy.
- Please don’t hit and run on a blog post, or write a review with a ‘Y’all mean and didn’t understand what this was about’ or ‘I hate this book and I hate you’. This is my favourite: getting your minions/friends to post any combination of: I hate you, I hate your book, and I hate your blog. And this links with the 3rd person as it goes hand in hand in the last few instances in which I have seen this happen.
- When you review a book, be honest but never get personal about the author. Don’t assume what the author had in mind, or if they had a crazy agenda when they wrote the book – especially when you assume wrongly about their intentions due to reading comprehension fail. Some people might see that as projection for your own issues and any relevant points may come across as a personal vendetta.
- Another rule about reviewing a book is this: For the LOVE of God, when reviewing & giving stars on sites like Goodreads/Amazon/B&N etc. review the book, not the price which may be due to Agency pricing. The publisher is behind that. Email/call or write a letter complaining about it and not the author. The author does not dictate price and this rule covers the formatting, and book covers, so giving one stars to complain about something they have no control is petty and silly.
- This is part of the previous point. Always back up your points clearly and coherently and never ever EVER abuse the capslock button when making a point. Yes, we know you are angry and upset but sometimes a CAPSLOCKFESTO appears crazy and incoherent. Frankly, the only person who should use this is the HULK.
- But the most important point is this: If you are going to blog/review/write a book, expect people to be upset, crazy, having gushing moments and bookgasming over it. You can’t control peoples’ reactions and stating how people should behave and what they should write in posts or books is wrong. It is stifling opinions and voices. Although some of my previous rules may contradict this point, it only helps to stop the crazy from spreading.
I have only been blogging for a few years and I see this issue crop up again and again and will see it again in the near future. There is no wrong or right approach to blogging because it is about your personal experience with the subject. I have seen a positive review get a negative response (most recently a rantage of epic proportion) and a negative review with a poster who argued some thought-provoking and positive points about why the book worked for her.
I think dictating on how blogging/reviewing should be done is wrong because I think other people will use this for their own issues and can blow a relative minor issue into an epic blowout. I really hope this Mafia thing dies down – like the Mean Girls/In Crowd blogging issue from last year.
Good bloggers review and post opinions which may not please others, but then we would live in a very boring world if we agreed with the same things and liked the same things. We need dissent and differing opinions, but we can be coherent and polite, and okay, even snarky about it, and not lumping people into groups or names because this is unfair. But I know this post will probably ruffle a few feathers and I know this might get a reaction or two, or it might not. But most reviewers and bloggers are aware of this and so are authors who write. They know when they publish a book it is out in the public sphere and therefore opinions and discussions are created. I may disagree with some bloggers and authors who have blogged about this issue but it’s their right to post it. To curtail disagreement feels wrong but I do know that everyone should have a right to blog/review/post opinions – although we may face a backlash, especially if we break any of the rules I previously highlighted. But I think ultimately, most people will realise that when someone posts unfairly then they will react to that – we don’t need to be pointed out how to behave or how to respond.