Saturday, July 7, 2012

Would You Say That to My Face?

I've been getting a lot of attention lately on a review that I now wish I'd written differently. Sometimes I have written reviews forgetting that people outside my circle of friends and family, people who don't know me, will read them. My goal is to be professional about how I present my opinions regarding the books I read and movies I watch, even if I don't like them. This is especially important to me when I write book reviews because I know that movies are a bigger industry with no one person to pin blame on but books are very carefully crafted by a single person.

As a writer who enjoys writing a bit of fiction myself, I understand that an author puts a great deal of him or herself into a book. Many of the books I review are advance reader's copies, which often means they are by first-time authors. There are only so many reviews out there about them, and I imagine my blog might pop up here and there as people seek information about these books. It's possible even the authors might find my blog while searching for reader feedback.

That's why I'm rather embarrassed about one or two reviews I've written. I didn't like the books, and I poured out my sarcasm on them in my reviews, knowing it might entertain my acquaintances but forgetting, or perhaps not daring to hope, I would reach a larger audience. I'm humbled and grateful to know that strangers read my reviews, but I do want to apologize over one in particular. Last I checked, when I searched for the middle school novel There's a New Name in School (The Ashleys, Book 1), my blog was near the top of Google's list. Immediately, I wanted to erase the review and hide in shame, not because my opinion is any different now about the book but because of the way I'd written about it. But I also felt like that would be cheating somehow. It feels dishonest to remove a review. I wrote what I wrote. People have read it, and it is what it is.

I'm sorry I wrote the review the way I did, and if the author should ever stumble across my blog, I hope she reads this post and accepts my apology for being so undiplomatic in describing my reactions to her work. Even if I don't like a book, I appreciate the work that went into getting it published. I'll freely admit it's far easier to be a critic than to create.

With these things in mind, I need to be careful from now on about how I craft my reviews. I'll still tell you if I don't like a book and what I found wrong with it. Hopefully I'll even entertain you as I do. But what I want to avoid is being downright hurtful and mean. It's easy to be mean on the Internet. I see it so often, especially when I read comments. When there's no face to speak to, we think we can get away with saying anything. But not only does the person we are speaking to read what we say, it's also exposed for the world to see, and it reflects badly on us. I want to be different. I want to be better. I want to be the person that, even if you don't agree with me, you'd be happy to have a conversation with face-to-face. It's the small things that make the world better, and I hope you think of that the next time you're posting something to the unknown universe. I know I will.

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