Today’s Musing by Moonlight is a Movement piece in response to Old Rocker’s proposal that we book bloggers remind the world that we are not, in fact, bullies.
What is Criticism?
Book bloggers have a right under the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and fair use laws to showcase book covers, quotes, and share our own opinions on the merits or defects of what we’re reading.
“Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
This is not bullying, but is criticism, which is allowed and even encouraged by law.
“Liberty of criticism must be allowed, or there would be neither purity of taste nor of morals.”
According to the Fair Use law, criticism is freely allowed without repercussions because “the public reaps benefits from [the] review.”
Unfortunately, in recent years, there has been an increasing backlash against those reviewers who refuse to bow down to authorial greatness, dare to write negative reviews, or merely speak up about why they don’t want to read a particular book.
Most of the time when these backlashes happen, it’s the author who kicks up a fuss first. Writes a whining blog post about a negative review (too many to link to one specific incident). Invites fanpoodles to harass the blogger. Drives to a reviewer’s house. Assaults a reviewer with a wine bottle.
Most authors are congenially fine people who simply want to share a story and understand that not everyone is going to like it.
Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of self-published authors (who have never faced gatekeepers/criticism), first-time authors, and occasionally veterans who for some reason have suffered from a temporary lobotomy seem to think that a bloggers’ job is to support them, say nice things about them both as an author/person and their book, and generate sales.
It’s about entitlement.
The authors who can’t handle negative reviews and who feel bullied by a book review think they are entitled to positive reviews, fan, and sales. Often so they can ‘continue to live their dream’. But book bloggers don’t owe anyone anything. Criticism is valued in the artistic world:
“The critic does a good service to the public who writes down any vapid or useless publication such as ought never to have appeared; and, although the author may suffer a loss from it, the law does not consider such loss an injury; because it is a loss which the party ought to sustain. It is the loss of fame and profit, to which he was never entitled.”
Most of the negative ‘bullying’ activity against authors and bloggers has eventually been uncovered to be OTHER AUTHORS. Plagiarists, sock puppets, and pseudo-anonymous ‘reviewers’ who are actually secretly authors trying to harm sales from other authors they see as competition or sell their own books.
Amazon recently sued a man who ‘sold’ fake reviews on their website. The fake reviews? NOT NEGATIVE. They are paid for 4 and 5 star reviews. Once again, it’s the author who’s behaving badly and blaming it on bloggers.
There’s no such thing as a ‘fake negative review’. Authors who claim they are OK with ‘honest’ negative reviews are simply trying to control how and what a reviewer writes. As said above, fake positive reviews help authors. That’s why they love them.
So, to sum up, book bloggers who write negative reviews aren’t bullies.
What’s bullying is using a platform to shame bloggers into silence. If you don’t do it the way I want you to do it, I’ll silence you.
Why would you want to silence someone who’s sharing their opinion?
Does the truth hurt?