Is there a coziness in the kid-lit blog world that affects reviewing? Probably.
Is there a chumminess in the kid-lit publishing world that affects reviewing? Probably.
We have blog tours, shout-outs, and round-ups. They have publisher lunches, book launches, and award ceremonies. We know some authors. They know some authors. We might get free books. They definitely get free books. We don’t get paid. They do. Other than the fact that we do this for free, what’s the difference that would make bloggers more likely to be soft on authors?
Roger suggests that here we’re all one community, and it’s tricky to knock someone you know. Well, maybe that’s true.
I’ll take that chance.
Because what is gained here outweighs the hazards of mixing authors and reviewers in one big blog party. Maybe sometimes an author gets a softer review than deserved, but I can live with that for the opportunity to have a book dialogue that involves librarians, teachers, authors, mothers, editors, poets, and book lovers. We don’t just have book reviews, we have an opening for discussion. It’s a new paradigm that even involves a type of cross-promotion and targeted marketing.
In a way, it all comes down to marketing. Publishers’ lunches, book launches, blog tours, author interviews, ads in Horn Book, ALA exhibits, book signings, book awards, etc. Down at the base, we’re all promoting what we love, whether that’s our magazine, our new book, our own blog, or even just reading in general. Maybe even just being in love with our own voice. Talk about influence. I would say that we are influenced by all of the above, including our own angle.
For more influence, look to the baggage we bring to any review. Do I like cats or dogs? Do I hate abstract imagery? Does it matter if I have a good relationship with my parents or my kids? If I love the South? Or dislike the books where the mother is dead? The influence of a free book or an interview seems silly when you look at all the ways we are influenced before we’ve even seen the book.
Here, I want to embrace the subjective review. Know me, know my kind of books. Like me, like my kind of books. My blog peeps are the closest I get to having a friend to share her favorite titles. In fact, I don’t want to do book reviewing. I want to do book sharing. I want to be able to say, “Hey this is what I thought about this book. Me, with my two school-age children and my love of summer and corn. Me, with my propensity for humor and aversion to china rabbits. Me, with my disorganized house and my reformed hippie parents. This is what I thought about this book. What about you?”
Now, how cozy is that?