Over the last few months (okay, probably longer), I’ve been considering how to make book space safer for both authors and readers. We’ve lost book outlets and blogs where people could share their thoughts. Publishers and retailers have closed. I’m still working on solutions to some things, such as a free communal database and other projects, especially where one genre or “pairing” isn’t centered over another. But until then, I’m offering my website/blog as a safe zone.
So, what does that mean? For now, it’s that I’m giving space for guest writing and for both standard and anonymous book reviews.
Typically, I don’t post reviews below a 6 (3 stars on Amazon/Goodreads). There are a lot of reasons for this, but primarily it has to do with an understanding that an author is probably looking to promote their work by sending it to reviewers. If I can’t assist with that, then I don’t feel it’s worth either of our time. If I can’t give a positive review on my blog, I don’t hide it. I let the author know, and I may or may not post to Amazon or Goodreads, but it won’t usually appear here. Exceptions are books I’ve purchased rather than ones I’ve been requested to review.
The reason I’m saying that is to explain why you will never see an anonymous review from me. I’m willing to be the “bad guy” and make someone angry because I pointed out something in their book which I felt was handled poorly. Does it mean I may be blacklisted as an author? Yep. It’s a risk I have to take as a reader.
The same thing applies with my regular blog posts. I screw up, but I’m fairly free to speak my mind on a subject whether others agree (publicly or privately) or not.
Unfortunately, this means that there are books I won’t read (due to content I’m unable to handle or because the genre is outside my usual). Not only that, I’m only one person. I can’t review all the books even within the types I like! I also cannot speak to every issue that could be important to authors, reviewers, and readers, especially when it comes to marginalized communities and groups I’m not part of.
Here’s where I need to rely on you. There are books which are not getting into readers’ hands, books with few or no reviewers, books with poor reviews because they were not a good match for most review sites, and books which defy genre or genre conventions and have been turned away or rated poorly. How can we help create a perfect match between readers and books? By opening up space here for you all to tell me about books you love that aren’t getting much notice.
Although many people are fine with attaching their name to a review or post, not everyone has that luxury. People whose primary income is from the book industry cannot speak freely sometimes. This includes positive feedback as well. Amazon has barred people from reviewing books by the same publisher, and that can mean losing all rights to be sold there. They’re also touchy about authors reviewing colleagues’ work. But certainly expressing a negative view can result in serious consequences elsewhere. Readers run the risk of being attacked by fans of an author or book, particularly if the author is one of the more popular ones. People on the publishing end are even less in a position to voice concerns.
Once again, the same applies for expressing opinions. I dared speak up about some things I found troubling in my book circles, and I was shocked that some people who had come to me privately then publicly said exactly the opposite, thus withdrawing any support for me. I understand why. There is a (justified) fear in going up against some forces.
What this says to me is that safe spaces are needed more than ever. So I’m offering mine. This doesn’t come without some rules. I’m not going to entertain hate speech or bigotry. Whether or not a guest post or review fits here is at my discretion. Book reviews or blog posts which attack anyone directly or name-call are not appropriate. I need folks to be clear on the guidelines before asking me to post something and also to be aware that submitting it isn’t a guarantee I’ll post it. I’m taking a risk here as well, and I’d like my space respected.
If you want to submit a guest post (anonymous or not) or a review (anonymous or not), please use the links below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.