Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sanity Sunday: An Idea for Bloggers

When a highly anticipated book is finally released, I think all book mavens should either agree to post their assessments on the same day -- yes, every single blog, simultaneously, just to get it out of the way -- or else band together and have one, big "throw your five stars into this hat" group blog. Seriously. I can't be the only person who starts heaving mighty sighs, and yawns, when site after site after site is reviewing the same book within the same one- or two-week period and saying essentially the same things about it.

I visit blogs, including review blogs, for news, entertainment, and lively discussions that garner a variety of opinions (no matter how off the wall they are . . . Kris). I thrive on variety. I think most blog visitors thrive on variety. So please bear this in mind before climbing into the echo chamber that's forming around some hot new topic or hot new title. Lordy, I swore off blogs completely when that whole Cassie Edwards/plagiarism gig was going on:

"BAD Cassie, bad-bad-bad! And plagiarism--oh, dear, so heinous, so utterly reprehensible!"

"Yeah, all right already, we get it! Now, does anybody have an original observation to make?"

Man, it was like being surrounded by parrots that had all been taught the same freaking words! Did any of those "opinionators" really think they were saying anything new and enlightening, anything worth reading?

So, for the sake of us blog crawlers who rely on the Internet for a break from our routines, please don't make the breaks even more predictable than the routines. 'Cause, really, I don't want to feel forced into cooking or cleaning as a diversion! Noooooo . . . !


MB (Leah) said...

LOL K.Z. I have the same feeling. Actually, it can have a neg affect on me if all the blogs I read review the same book in the same few days. Zzzzz....

I will maybe want to read the book because all my favorite bloggers like it, but all the exposure turns me off then and it will go on back burner for a future date to read or maybe never.

I'm just contrary like that.

K. Z. Snow said...

"I'm just contrary like that."

Maybe I am too, Leah. Western culture seems plagued with bandwagon-jumping. The media do it every week, as does the entertainment industry, and it makes me crazy!

Kassa said...

I totally agree - even though I'm guilty of it. It's almost as if the same 10 books are reviewed every 2 wks. Then the next 10 and so on.

It's boring even though it's hard to stop doing it!

Obsidian Bookshelf said...

K.Z., this is an excellent point. We reviewers seem to be shuffling around in a big herd after the same clusters of new releases, probably from the same top publishers.

I think the new release part is fine, or at least preferrable to readers than hearing about older books, because I know I get almost no traffic on my reviews of books from authors' backlists. But maybe we reviewers are all concentrating too much on books from the top three established publishers.

Or maybe we're all doing too much in the way of reviews, which doesn't offer a lot of give-and-take, and we need to post more "op-ed" type pieces like Kris does, or like this "Sanity Sunday" post, ha, ha!

It's sometimes hard for a blogger to know how to vary the reviews and what to vary the reviews with. So people will flog an issue like the various plagiarism scandals to death (and I know what you mean about how tedious that can get).

I think that big review sites like DearAuthor have had success with a mix of reviews and industry news and op-ed pieces, but that can be hard to figure out how to do. Very thought-provoking observations you've brought up here! Thanks for getting me thinking about it.

K. Z. Snow said...

I think the number might even be fewer than ten, Kassa -- or so it seems!

It isn't too difficult to understand why reviewers target the same batch of books or bloggers pick up on the same topic. What I have a much harder time understanding is the "echo effect" -- repetition of the exact same viewpoint ad nauseum. What exactly is the purpose of this?

The echo effect pervades other aspects of life, as well. Fashion trends. Copycat news coverage of one story. Endless sequels for one movie or spinoffs of one TV show. Streams of UF novels featuring interchangeable kickass heroines battling interchangeable threats. Strings of similar-sounding pop music songs. I don't get any of it!

I neither want nor need to be told or shown the same thing by twenty (or more) different people. That's what it all comes down to. I just like to see something new brought to the table once in a while--a dissenting voice, a twist on a theme, a unique perspective. Something.

Kris said...

Gee, I wonder what could have brought this on. Hehehe. As much as I hate to agree with you (gee, that sounds familiar somehow), K Z, after cruising the blogs over the weekend I feel a bit the same way.

Like Leah, it also tends to set me off in the opposite direction in that I deliberately end up not buying the book or the latest shiney thing precisely because everyone else is raving about it.

I don't do a heck of a lot of reviews. Well, certainly not as many as I used to do for Wave, etc, but there is - or seemed to be - a certain expectation that a review blog would do quick turn arounds of reviews for new releases. As a marketing strategy, it does make sense to catch the customers while it is new annd pretty AND before it fades into the stacks. That being said, it can make for boring blog hopping at times.

But c'mon I'm not that off the wall... am I? Well, at least I stop you from doing housework that's gotta count for something. Right??

K. Z. Snow said...

Let's clear this up, first. Yes, you are off the wall. But that's why I like you. [*[choke}*}

Yeah, it's pretty much been a dreadful weekend on the entertainment front. One of those "Gee, let me guess what I'll find when I get in my car or turn on the TV or get online. Oh, imagine that, my brakes are still shit! Oh, imagine that, more coverage of Senator Kennedy's funeral! Oh, imagine that, another collective squeefest! With all those ditto marks flying around, I'd best find something else to do lest one lodges in my eye!"

Blogging always makes me feel so much better! ;-)

Tam said...

Well, I avoid said problem by only visiting 3 blogs. See? Problem solved. Hmm. Being a smartass perhaps not being appreciated.

But I really don't go to many review blogs unless I know you. Once I get to know you I'll visit your blog. :-) I have a ton of friends I follow which are just random crap blogs that make me laugh so I kind of tune out blogs of people I don't really know. If I know you and you review books I'll read it, but not an unknown entity. So I guess I don't run into the same issue as people who check out review blogs more faithfully than I.

K. Z. Snow said...

You're doing it right, Tam. I've been altering my blog-crawling habits, too. It's just harder for a writer to avoid the book-related sites. (BTW, you should be good to go at the Liquid Silver forums!)

Jenre said...

Now I feel bad because the book I think you are referring to is one I'm reviewing on Monday.

To be honest, I tend to review quite a lot of books from TQ because out of the crop of reviewers at Wave's blog, Wave and I are the only ones who like TQ books. This means I often miss out on the big name publisher books unless I get in early and fight for them ;). I do read the popular books from the big name publishers but I don't always review them on my blog. This is partly because by the time I get around to reading them I often think that anything I may wish to say has already been said by at least 5 other reviewers so what is the point and partly because sometimes I want to read something and not feel the pressure to review.

It's interesting that Val said that she doesn't get as many hits for her reviews of books which have been out for a while because once the dust settles, the pages that get most hits are old reviews. The review I did for 'Tigers and Devils' still gets lots of hits by people Googling for a review and also a review I did in the first few weeks of blogging 'To the Highest Bidder' by Kate Steele is still getting lots of hits months later. The bigger name reviews get a lot of hits on the day and for a couple of days afterwards and then are never looked at again.

Strange that.

K. Z. Snow said...

I think it's great you review TQ books and especially their shorts, Jen. Most every work deserves a chance.

I was discussing this subject recently with one of my author pals, and she, too, said that when certain books are released, everybody else "falls off the radar." That's one of the things that bugs me (and others), since we all put a lot of effort into what we do. Another irritant has to do with your comment about reviewing something that's already been done to death. My feeling is, unless a reviewer can bring some new perspective to bear on that work, she or he should just give it a pass. Most people don't like having the same point repeatedly hammered into their heads.

You and Val and Kassa do a good job of covering somewhat more obscure titles, and I'm sure your readers appreciate that. (I know I do, because I like discovering new-to-me authors.)

Jenre said...

I actually quite like reviewing books by new authors or those who don't get reviewed other than on one or two sites. Sometimes I find some really great books by doing that. I also like reviewing the short fiction because some authors are at the stage of only being able to offer up shorts at the moment and why shouldn't they gain some recognition for that?

Then again, it's only natural that when a big named author (such as there are in m/m) has a new release then many m/m readers are going to be interested in that book and want to read reviews. This often means that reviewers are keen to offer up reviews of those books because we know they will be popular for a while (yes, we are shallow and crave attention too!).

I'm completely unabashed in my pimpage of certain authors (you being one of them, KZ) and I'll often review books by my favourite authors at the expense of those whose books I may not enjoy as much - whether they are 'big names' or not. I don't think this is a bad thing as long as I'm upfront about my love of an author's writing.