Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Yesterday I joined Goodreads. I was giddy about the prospect - a community revolving around books! Reading challenges! People who understand my joy when I squeal with delight at the prospect of another Eloisa James or Kresley Cole! Goodreads is my kind of place.

But then I signed on and they wanted me to rate books. Just like that. Pfft! My momentum was gone. My concern was not that I didn't have opinions about those books (oh, boy, do I ever have opinions). My concern was that my happy-happy author persona could not be seen to dislike any of them. I can despise Book X with the fire of a thousand suns, but Vivi Andrews is supportive of other authors and their escritorial efforts - all of them.

We are told, as authors, that professionalism is paramount... but somewhere along the line, professionalism got muddled in with "Thou shalt not say a single negative thing about anything ever." Which is so fake! And so bland.

I love to gush about books I love, but I also love to bitch about the ones that make resounding contact with my wall during the reading experience. I have opinions! Strong opinions. But if I publicly broadcast them, will I be tarred as unprofessional?

No book is going to be universally liked - but I feel like I'm not allowed to be the one who doesn't like it. Reading is so subjective. So personal. But how do you marry the personal and the professional without sacrificing one?

Since I am representing my "brand" as an author, am I even allowed to have opinions? Where does the business end and I begin? I don't believe in going through life restraining yourself, self-censoring in the hope of being universally loved, but it is such a tricky line to find - how to be sincere, but professional, opinionated, but leave a positive footprint on your industry.

Got any advice?


Leah Braemel said...

Wow, I had that conversation with someone the other day. I do rate the books I have up on Goodreads, but I don't like their rating system. Three stars is liked it, and two stars is okay? I've read a lot of books that I feel are "okay" but aren't good enough for me to say I "liked" them. But I'd rather give them three stars because "like" is too subjective, and two stars out of five to me means there are serious problems with the story. A single star means it's hit the wall (or met the fireplace). So yeah, I've given some books two stars that others would give four based upon the "liked it" text tag. ie Kresley Cole and Eloisa James -- you squee and get giddy over 'em while I ...well, I'm "just not that into them".

And yes, I worry about how someone else would view "Leah Braemel" dissing another author's book by giving it two stars. I've had 'em myself. I don't like 'em. But as you say, it's fake and bland and I love to bitch about ones I don't like too. And as I said, reading is subjective. So I bit the bullet and put my ratings up there.

Now, after that long ramble, I'm off to find you over on Goodreads.

Vivi Andrews said...

Yeah, I would definitely define 2 stars as less than okay. "Meh" maybe.

I'm working myself up to bite the bullet. So far I'm rating books I really love and avoiding rating anything less than giddy-inducing.

It is very subjective. Thanks, Leah.

Leah Braemel said...

Okay, so I just got back from the TRW meeting -- where Eve Silver said a definitive NO to leaving star ratings if you're an author. Her reasoning was that other authors, editors, agents, will look at your net history, and suppose that an editor published the book you gave 2 stars is holding your MS in her hands, do you really want to tick her off? Same with an author who may be asked to give your book an author quote.

Me? I'm too opinionated, so maybe open up a fake account so I can b*tch/rant/moan about books I don't like so no one can connect it back to me?

Vivi Andrews said...

Wow, I hadn't even considered the piss-off-an-editor angle. I've heard of editors/agents looking at people's websites/blogs/etc to see if they are raving lunatics before offering contracts, but it hadn't occurred to me that Goodreads could come back to bite me in that way. What a minefield.