Beyond the Blurb | How Blogging Has Helped Me as a Reader

Morning, darlings!

I am not ready for Monday. I wish I had a few more days to rest for the upcoming week, which is surreal for me and my family. Mom is taking her last chemo treatment, and I felt as if we’d never make it to this day. So I treasure everything in my life more.

Typically, my discussion posts highlight a negative topic. So for this new post, I want to talk about something positive. Blogging is stressful. Blogging full-time is even harder. When I first started it, I was naive. But with three years under my belt (yay blogging anniversary!), I realized it gives me a support system I needed, a place to know I’m with my own people, and a way to grow. Here are the five ways blogging has helped me as a reader:

 

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Beyond the Blurb | Why Mental Illness Rep in Books Is Needed

Morning, readers!

For the last seven months, I have struggled with my mental illnesses. And even though next week, my Mom will complete her final chemo treatment, I feel the utter power my illnesses have over me. And it doesn’t matter if I have coping mechanisms, which aren’t working anymore, if I’ve fought them before and beat them, or if I talk with friends. They’re still here.

But the only solace I’ve found is in literature. It always has been even if a reading slump finds me. Mental illness and health are prominent on my blog, and I want readers to find a safe place here. Although I’ve talked a lot about each topic, I haven’t shown why the proper mental illness rep in books is not only needed but desperately wanted from readers. Kal from Reader Voracious inspired my next discussion post, which I’ll examine why this rep is important. Let’s get to it.

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Beyond the Blurb | Should We Bloggers Stop Tagging Authors in Reviews?

Who’s ready for another discussion post?

When I first started out, I loved the fact I could interact with authors. But etiquette is a delicate matter to uphold, especially on the Internet where anything and everything can be screensaved and reposted. Over the last year, I’ve noticed that the Twitter book community has jumped on the cancel culture bandwagon. Now, some situations deserved that treatment, but not others.

So are we all that surprised there was another Twitter scandal? Give me a second to stop cackling. Let’s get to the next one. Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, announced that we reviewers should stop tagging authors in reviews. Now, at the time, the wording was slightly different from what she’d meant to say. Take a look:

Perhaps the words “good reviews” are what stuck with everyone, who took offence. That assumption is what I came up with, but I can be wrong. Maybe the mention of all authors is what bothered people. And I see why some reviewers would feel somewhat offended. Many of us find our next favourite books from other readers. And often times, I see several authors retweet reviews, which made me look at their titles.

Later on, she clarified that she meant the bad ones, which is completely understandable. I haven’t written in several years, nor have I drawn anything since high school. But as a creator, I hate criticism. Yes, it comes with the territory of creating. However, criticism easily morphs into criticizing. The two concepts blur together. So I’ll never criticize authors for separating their work and their mental wellbeing.

So how do we handle a situation that has turned into some Internet brawl? Cue the music for the upcoming tips, please:

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Beyond the Blurb | Should We Readers Ever Accept Kathleen Hale?

Morning bloggers

I feel as if we’re back in 2014. Now, I wasn’t blogging then, but I remember hearing about Kathleen Hale—the author who stalked a Goodreads reviewer who happened to give Hale’s Now One Else Can Have You a low rating—and somehow she has wormed her way back into our community again. Now, what utterly vexes me is how BookPage decided to bring more attention to Hale. Carla Jean Whitley from BookPage sat down with Hale to discuss Hale’s past and her upcoming book, which I see no point in publicizing on my blog. But the title is rather fitting, if you ask me.

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Beyond the Blurb | How Bloggers Can Protect Themselves from Threatening Authors

Listen up, bloggers!

Do you know how writing this post makes me angry? No, angry isn’t a good enough adjective. I am livid. There. Over the last week, I’ve seen people plagiarize bloggers in our community, then I witness bloggers go on the defensive because an author attacked them. Why? That said author hated their review.

Am I surprised? No, not in the least. I’ve watched how authors on Twitter fetishize incest and feel the need to attack their followers who questioned their Tweets. So, no, I am not taken aback by this action at all.

So even if you’re a seasoned blogger or a new one on the block, I have some advice you may want to follow.

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Beyond the Blurb | Stop Supporting the Sale of ARCs

Morning, friends!

In several discussion posts, I’ve addressed ARCs on a variety of issues. And I feel as if I need to discuss them further. Book Expo and BookCon have passed, and yet seeing ARCs being sold on eBay and other sites infuriates me. But it doesn’t surprise me.

At the starting price of $99 USD, Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, sold for $255.00 USD (roughly $350 CAD) on eBay. Yes, it’s signed. And yes, this particular seller routinely offers ARCs. Unfortunately, the author and publisher will never see that money.

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Beyond the Blurb | Book Blogger Interaction Etiquette

Okay, book bloggers!

You know I can’t offer author interaction tips without giving you some. I’ve witnessed several bloggers struggle with interacting with authors. So learning proper etiquette at whatever stage in your blogging career isn’t bad. You’re growing as a blogger. And I, too, am constantly learning in this ever-changing environment.

In my last Beyond the Blurb post, I discussed how authors should interact with us. For my next one, I want to provide tips to bloggers who may not know how to communicate with authors. Again, I’m not an expert. But I wish to give any advice that has helped me.

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Beyond the Blurb | Author Interaction Etiquette

Morning, bloggers,

Who is ready for the next book community controversy? If you haven’t heard, Erin Swan, author of Bright Star, quickly learned the ire of the book community when she joked about “cyberstalking” a reviewer. The community was quick to condemn her and her actions.

We live in a constant online world. Every single act or statement will be judged, screenshot, and ridiculed. Social media has made life harder for many people, especially authors. So their online presence is a delicate balance. As a blogger, I’m always learning new and old etiquette to follow. But I know the most important tips so I don’t ruin my credibility. But I see more authors calling out readers personally.

For my next discussion, I want to discuss the proper online etiquette authors can follow to prevent any negative press. I’m not an expert. I’m still learning as a blogger. But thankfully, my publicity and marketing courses have given me valuable tips. If you’re an author who’s struggling, here are some tips you can go by:

 

Never—and I Mean NEVER—Stalk Reviewers

It’s 2019, but apparently, people have forgotten about that little fact. However, cyberstalking is somehow a joking matter, when in fact, people have had their lives ruined, have been killed, or raped. Never joke about a serious and criminal act.

If people don’t understand how serious the situation is, remember when Kathleen Hale, author of No One Else Can Have You, admitted to stalking a reviewer. The YA community rightfully refused to support her and her book. Now, she’s publishing a new essay collection about the whole incident. Appropriate? Hell no. But hey, the Guardian wrote a piece about her stalking. So I guess she’s in the clear.

Authors need to realize that joking about what Kathleen has done is beyond deplorable. I and other bloggers shouldn’t have to fear for our safety and sanity simply because we accepted a review request or bought a book, then reviewed it.

Yes, even though she has apologized for her actions and her words, Erin never went to this degree. She simply looked up the reviewer’s online presence. But not everyone stops at that curious look. People take it further, which is why heading down that path is never a good idea.

( Screenshot courtesy of Paige from The YA Kitten.)

 

Never Call Out a Reviewer

Like I’ve stated before, reviews aren’t meant for authors. Yes, they support the author. But they are meant for potential readers. Calling out reviewers because they’ve given your book a one-star review or even a slightly negative review doesn’t help your publicity campaign. Rather, it can easily harm it. We live in a cancel culture now. So we can’t fuel it any further than we should.

 

Rethink That Tweet

Sure, delete that Tweet, but I’ll bet you a ridiculous amount of money that your followers have screenshot it. And it’ll follow you forever. So think before you Tweet. It’ll save you a headache.

 

Don’t Expect Readers Owe You Anything, even a Review

I’m still debating this concept. Sure, readers agree to do a review when they accept an ARC. Sometimes though, they decided to DNF the book or didn’t feel comfortable with writing a review because the book’s content is too graphic, or it’s affected them on a personal level. I understand ARCs are expensive, and the sole reason behind them is for readers to review them. But we need to realize that this outcome doesn’t always happen.

 

If You Question What Your Next Step Should Be, Step Back and Don’t Make the Situation Worse

Listen to your inner voice. It’s there for a reason. Trust your gut. And please, do not make an already difficult situation worse. There’s no reason to inflame the problem. Your online life can be destroyed within one click.

 

Has an author ever broke online etiquette with you or a blogger friend? What other tips do you think authors should follow? What do you think about this situation?

Beyond the Blurb | How the Stress of Reading Can Kill the Love of It

Happy Monday, darlings,

Since I’ve somewhat taken a short step back from the blogging scene, I noticed many bloggers struggle with reading challenges, marathons, and even book slumps. Now, until recently, I was in the latter. And it took me a while to get out of it. Since I’m out, I realize I’ve put too much pressure on myself to not only complete my Goodreads Challenge but also read quicker.

Have readers and bloggers turned reading into a sport, not kept it a cherished pasttime? I believe we have. And more of us are understanding the adverse effects of that shift.

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Beyond the Blurb | Do Bloggers Need to Use Trigger Warnings?

Morning, everyone!

Let’s talk about trigger warnings. They may be a hot topic in the book community. But they’re important to readers.

I know several people who believe they’re more politically correct. I disagree. People forget why others need them. They’re similar to the film and TV rating systems. You don’t see viewers complain about the system, now do you? Probably not. The systems help adults decide what their children should or shouldn’t watch. So why do people complain about trigger warnings?

Perhaps political correctness does come into play here. Maybe people have had enough warnings and being conscientious of other people’s thoughts or mental stability. Heaven forbid we people try to be, I don’t know, proactive to prevent a trigger. Their primary reason is to inform potential readers of subject matters that may adversely affect them. A good example is sexual assault in literature. I had a hard time finishing Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander because the assault and torture of Jamie Fraser are almost too much. I wish I had paid attention to some of the warnings, but I didn’t.

So in my next discussion post,  I want to discuss why I believe bloggers should use trigger warnings and why they’re essential to the reading experience.

 

Warning Readers Who Have Faced Abuse Can Prevent a Harmful Response

I have a hard time reading about any type of abuse in books, especially sexual. I am dealing with my past, and it’s hard enough to wade through my memories. But when a book contains a trigger, sometimes, I may remember what happened to me. Since I have PTSD, depression, and anxiety, I need to know how severe these scenes are in stories so I don’t need to add another outside force into the mix. I have my mind to do that for me.

Many other readers are dealing with the same issue. And they deserve to have some warning, even if it may have been seen as a spoiler so they can avert a potentially damaging reaction. But what is a reaction though?

Triggers aren’t simply a bad feeling from reading a scene in a book. A trigger can lead to suicidal thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, depression, relapses, and self-harm. As a blogger, you need to realize that it’s your responsibility and job to tell readers.

 

They Help Readers Decide if They Will Either Read or Purchase a Book

I have followed trigger warnings from other bloggers when I decided on buying a book. They gave me that warning. And if I have more concern than normal, I’ll ask for more details. I appreciate that notice. Sometimes, I don’t immediately read the book I’ve recently purchased. So if I’ve waited past the return policy, I’ve wasted a lot of money when I could have spent it on another book.

 

Not Every Author or Even Publisher Will Inform Readers of Negative Topics in Books

When I first cracked open Girls of Paper and Fire, by Natasha Ngan, I let out a sigh when I saw the trigger warning in the book. I don’t see that in most books. And most of the time, I don’t see authors telling readers about anything. Now, I’m not saying I don’t see warnings from authors at all. In fact, I see them in the reverse harem community. And I love how readers and authors are informing new readers.

 

Trigger Warnings Are Personal, so You Don’t Decide Who Does or Doesn’t Need Them

Yes, when people prevent themselves from seeing/reading triggers because they have a mental illness, that action isn’t always a healthy coping mechanism. They can’t heal from their trauma when they avoid it. However, that doesn’t mean you get to decide when they process and handle their trauma. You don’t give them a deadline. They need to make that decision, not you, the author, or the publisher.

Trigger warnings will always be personal. So do not insert yourself into someone’s decision.

 

They Will Never be a Spoiler

Do you know what a spoiler is? Someone yelling “Snape kills Dumbledore!” Trigger warnings are not. At all. Get that out of your head. They warn readers. No, they do not go into detail about topics or situations in the book.

 

So what is your opinion on trigger warnings? Do you believe they’re warranted, or do you believe readers should go in blind?