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Blogging the Blogosphere

March 16, 2010

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of muttering about the blogosphere. It seems everyone, everywhere is discussing the online writing community.

I’m not immune. I realized the other day that it’s been almost exactly a year since I became a consistent presence online, and I can’t help thinking how much has changed in that time. A year ago, authors, bloggers, and readers were exclaiming over the number of new writing-related blogs, and yet it seems like they just keep coming, along with more and more authors hoping to use the power of the internet to market their books.

And this is (mostly) a good thing!

I love being able to tap so many different voices, opinions, and perspectives with the touch of a button, and I treasure the real friendships (many of you probably reading this now!) that I’ve made online.

And yet. And yet…

I can’t help wondering where we are with it all. I’ll admit that I’ve been having a bit of an internet identity crisis lately. I love connecting with my online friends, but I still feel hurt when someone ignores me. I enjoy talking about reading and writing with others who are passionate on the subject, but I am largely constrained in terms of what I can and cannot say without fear of pissing someone off, inadvertently offending someone, or being politically incorrect, however unintentionally.

My interactions with those of you online are important to me. They are no less valuable or authentic to me than the interactions I have with people in real life every day.

But we always come back to that, “And yet.”

Because the internet does afford one with a certain level of anonymity. And if not anonymity (for those of us who are fairly transparent), then at least distance. It can make people mean, gossipy, cliquey, exclusionary, and often, downright rude. It can blur the lines of integrity and professionalism. We’re all crammed into this fishbowl that is the reading and writing blogosphere, and in that situation, it’s impossible NOT to be faced with a lot of tough questions.

How DO we balance relationships between bloggers and authors while maintaining the integrity of both? How far is too far in online book promotion? Is it okay to offer swag for contests (I’ve done it plenty)? Is it okay to offer swag (or contest entries) for a review on Amazon or Borders or Barnes and Noble? And before you answer that one, let’s be honest; would ANYONE leave a negative review if they were hoping to win a contest sponsored or run by the author? Do bloggers like it when authors comment on their reviews of our books, or does it make them uncomfortable? Is it okay to gossip (and let’s just call talking about other people behind their back what it is, okay?) about authors and bloggers behind their backs, especially where it can have lasting implications for the person’s career? And if you’re on the receiving end of this kind of “information”, is it okay to take it at face value? To form opinions about people you don’t really know based on what you heard from someone who heard from someone who heard from someone? Is it okay to ask an author for swag? For an ARC? Is it okay to ask an author to read your work, even if you don’t know them very well?

And before you get your panties in a twist, I want to say something; I have been the biggest advocate of creating relationships between authors and bloggers. Ask any author who knows me, and they will tell you that a year ago, in ANY locked discussion about bloggers and authors, I was the most vocal advocate of building strong relationships between them.

So what’s changed? Well, it’s all changed. What was once subtle promotion mixed in with meaningful interaction is now 24/7 promotion. What were once authentic friendships based on a shared love of great books is now often a professional leg-up disguised as “real” friendship. What was once a generous, caring community of book lovers can now seem more like a high school cafeteria, and for realz, you guys, I didn’t like high school all that much the first time around. I’d just as soon pass on reliving it.

On a more personal note, I’m guilty of being naive. I’ve believed that people who said they were my friend were really my friend. I’ve let people in too close, let my guard down when I shouldn’t. It’s been a sadness to realize that there are people out there who will use you and toss you aside after they’ve gotten all they can, though you’d think I would have learned this long before the blogosphere came into play. Still, it’s changed me. I’m more careful now. There’s too much at stake. My livelihood and my ability to support (by myself, because that’s how I’m doing it, guys) my children depend, at least in part, on it. And then there’s the darker part of it all, which for me is how it affects my psyche to be treated poorly on such a grand (and public) scale. To know that people are out there – people you once TRUSTED – talking smack about you far and wide.

But even with all of this, even with all the sadness and surprise and tough lessons learned, Im trying to hang onto what I know. What I still believe.

And those things are everything they’ve always been. Everything I’ve known since I was a child.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Speak when spoken to. Ignoring someone is rude.

Don’t use people. It’s demoralizing and demeaning for you both.

Be honest about who you are.

Don’t talk about people behind their back (we all need friends we can be totally open and honest with, but it’s a lot more insidious when that circle of “friends” widens to people we don’t really know that well).

When you hear something about someone else, remember that you’re hearing it through the lens of one person’s perspective, and try to give the person on the other end the benefit of the doubt.

If you have a problem with someone, don’t nurse a grudge. It’s poisonous for both of you and unproductive besides. Be a grown up and either talk to the person or let it go.

Help people where you can. Especially when they’re good people.

Don’t forget where you came from.

I’m the first to admit that I was sometimes in the minority in defending the interaction between authors and bloggers when legitimate concerns were brought up, and it’s never easy for me to admit that I was wrong.

But I’m almost there. I’m almost ready to say, “I was wrong.”

And I’m not alone. The reason I’m posting this now is because over the past two weeks, I’ve spoken to nearly ten people (authors and bloggers alike) who have the same issues and concerns with the blogosphere. These are off-the-cuff conversations, not conversations initiated by me for the purposes of this post.

This conversation is being had – publicly and privately – all over the internet. Which means it’s a nearly universal problem/concern/question. That’s really sad, because for every person who has caused me pain or disenchantment on the internet, there are ten who have enriched my life immeasurably, and I can’t help thinking something will be lost if we can’t find a way to harness the ability for readers and bloggers to interact while also preserving some sense of equilibrium, common sense, and decency.

What do you think? What’s right about the blogosphere as it is now? What’s wrong?

And what can we do to get back on track?


P.S. I have a particular hatred for people who post their opinions behind the mask of Anonymous, so I’ve turned off Anonymous comments on this post.Β  I think if we’re going to have an honest and open discussion about something like this, we should start by being honest and open about who we were, don’t you?

53 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2010 11:08 pm

    I don’t think you’re alone in become disenchanted with the blogosphere. I had to take a break due to family health issues and honestly, it was kind of nice to get away from it all for a bit. I started my blog as a way to share my opinions (so I could pretend anyone cared) and discuss my love with the world. I never imagined anyone would actually read the blog and comment.

    I’ll admit that in the beginning I think most of my readers came from the various contests that I promoted. Everyone is going to come running when you give away free stuff. I myself became a little disenchanted when I realized that the only posts being commented on were the contest ones. I figured that the blogosphere, something that was once a great way for the world to unite over common interests, had now turned into a feeding frenzy of “gimme now!”

    Imagine my surprise when I came back from my hiatus and found people actually commenting on my new posts. No contest posts yet or really anything other than knowledge given away and yet there were people welcoming me back. It gave me a little hope and really has been the driving factor in keeping me going on the uphill struggle to gain that writing momentum back.

    It’s no wonder I don’t have as many true readers as I’d like! I can’t stop rambling enough to get to my point! Yes there’s poo in the blogosphere and stuff that happens to make it a dark and dank place, but I think there’s also a little light in there. As some other people have mentioned, I get the opportunity to visit with and learn more about my favorite authors in a way that I never would have before. You guys aren’t these mystical and unattainable beings anymore (even if you want to be). Instead you’re real people who teach us and inspire us. Plus, who can beat having a whole plethora of other book junkies out there to help feed my literary habit? Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

  2. March 21, 2010 6:47 pm

    erm, yes I think it’s wrong to offer swag in exchange for a review, I didn’t know people did that!

    I agree with a lot of what you’ve said here. There can definitely be at times a user feeling to it all. I feel a little depressed after reading this post!

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 21, 2010 10:18 pm

      Oh, Amy! That wasn’t my intent at all! I’m so sorry if it’s made you feel this way.

      I don’t know the answers to most of these questions, either. I just know how *I* feel about a lot of it, but that’s all my personal opinion. It was just meant as a starting point to further thought and sicussion on the topic of blogging in relation to promotion.

      Don’t be sad! I ❀ youuuu!


  3. March 20, 2010 11:26 am

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post. It’s timely, because, you’re right, this topic of blogging has been noisy as of late. Even I’ve posted about it, and have been thinking about how to balance having an online presence that’s not solely based on promotion – for a product that I don’t even have yet! It’s tiring and a bit depressing – not to mention tinged with some desperation- all this frantic posting in hopes of building a large enough network to sell whatever it is everyone’s selling. I’ve decided to back off quite a bit, post on topics that I think are interesting or timely, and respond when appropriate – and get back to what I’m doing: writing. Thanks for a great post πŸ™‚

  4. Ayla permalink
    March 18, 2010 12:16 pm

    On one hand, I like being kept up with my favorite bloggers. But on the other hand, I hate gloggers (gossip bloggers) who are abusing the blogging service.

    Thats all I’m going to say.

  5. March 18, 2010 8:55 am

    Hi Michelle,

    I don’t know if anything I say counts or no ,cos I am new to blogging but I have seen the blogging world explode in the last 2 years when I was just standing on the sides as a regular blog reader rather than a blogger.Now that I blog I realize how thin a line it is between readers and authors. I am not very active on twitter but see a lot of conversation flying. It’s great seeing authors interact with readers and at the same time a bit weird too. Not in a bad sense but as Sarah said authors were mysterious , non palpable entities πŸ™‚ we just dreamed of meeting some day . People who made our day by writing the books we adored. Now it’s different. I found it weird at first but now the feeling has sunk in.

    As for your question, I would love it if the author read my review and commented ( πŸ™‚ ) It also makes me happy if the author replies to my mail. But gossip and using one another for benefits is so uncool. I haven’t encountered gossip which I think is because ,I am not yet old enough in blogger years to qualify for that sort of conversation and happily so. Never want any part of that. Authors I have interacted with have been genuinely nice to me. Period. Bloggers, I guess need to keep certain conversations and interactions private. You are great friends with so and so then I think you should keep it in your mail boxes or on your messengers . Building relationships is good. Showing off is some thing else. Asking favors , ARCs based on that is totally not done. High school mentality needs to be rid off. But sometimes I also feel it is a phase. A phase which needs to wear off. Eventually it will. Till then we get to enjoy the circus πŸ™‚

    Michelle as for all the gossip you encountered , let me just remind you ,that all that need not affect you. As much as I have known you , I have come to realize that you are a wonderful person. You are an awesome author and a person who values reader – author relationship. I have seen that you reply to almost every comment, a reader leaves on your blog and also on the Ning group. I have seen you voice opinions on your blog about things you care.Just keep doing that and keep writing great books. Rest of it doesn’t matter. Remember you are awesome. Period.

    Did I go too much off the topic πŸ™‚ ?

  6. March 17, 2010 11:11 pm

    I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t already been said (and I hate repeating people). I think you hit the nail on the head, Michelle, and you did it in your usual tactful way. If I’d been sharing my exact opinions on the subject, I don’t think I could have been that level-headed about it, especially if I was coming from your end of things. I don’t know whether to count myself lucky or not that I can’t fully see where you’re coming from (I say fully just because I don’t have the experiences yet that you do). On the lucky side of things, I like being naive. I like not having to know (read: experience) about the “dark side” of the blogosphere yet. I have a blog I use for my writing life, but to my knowledge I only have nine people who read it (I know that’s not exactly accurate, but like I said…I like being naive). I don’t yet have to worry about promotions or any of that fun stuff, but I still wonder about all of it. I ask the same questions that you asked.

    On a lighter note, I want to add that I think you handle all of this confusion and complication really well. For what it’s worth, I have never felt like you push promotions in your readers’ faces or anything like that. I so very much appreciate how interested you are in peoples’ lives and talents and passions and everything. I think you are definitely in the author minority. While I’ve yet to meet an author whose blog I don’t enjoy reading or whatever, you’re one of the only ones who seem to really care about their readers/followers/etc. outside of mere book promotion.

    Okay, I don’t know if anything I just said makes any sense. Deep and serious thinking when I’m tired…not a good idea. πŸ˜‰

  7. March 17, 2010 11:01 am

    This is something I’ve been thinking about too-I really don’t know how you author’s do it!! It can be hard to have an online presence because it blurs the lines a bit. When I was a teen, authors were these mysterious people who wrote books and sometimes if you wrote them a letter, they would write back. Now, you can read blogs, twitter, and websites and really feel like you get to know the person. But even though I make comments and read their blog, we’re not friends. And I feel stalker-ish if I contact them too much! I think you can connect with authors over similar interests-like on Twitter, talking about a TV show or movie-but I wouldn’t think these authors would invite me to dinner if I was in their state-we’re not really close or even really friends, we’re cyber “friends” I guess. I think it’s hard for YA authors because teens are online all the time and I’ve seen authors get bombarded with comments from the same people. This can be really easy to do online and I really don’t know how authors handle it all. I also sometimes worry about what I’ll do if I’ve started reading a blog and commenting to the author and then read their book and don’t like it! I guess I have to remember to seperate the person from my feelings on the book, if that makes sense.

    And I would love it in author commented on my blog-I love knowing that they read my blog-that anyone reads my blog! But I know authors don’t always like doing that. I have received some thank you e-mails from authors and they make my day!! Those are my ramblings on the topic!

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 18, 2010 6:50 am

      Thanks so much for your input, Sara. I’ve always felt like you’ve conducted yourself professionally, and your blog’s been around for awhile, so it’s nice to get your opinion. I try to comment when a blogger leaves me a nice review, but I’ve always wondered if it makes bloggers feel weird to know we’re reading their reviews!

      And for the record, I would never let a negative review of my book put me off the blogger giving it. I think it’s all in how it’s handled. If someone were to email me privately (Twitter is not private, guys) and say, “Hey, I wanted to let you know that while I liked A, B & C about your book, I would have liked to see more X, Y &Z. I know how subjective reading is and how many people love the book, but I wanted to let you know before the review goes up tomorrow.” Or whatever. But, you know, for me, it’s all about the professionalism, I guess.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Sarah!


  8. Jen permalink
    March 16, 2010 11:48 pm

    Great post! ❀ I totally agree with Daisy.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 18, 2010 6:44 am

      Thanks, Jen! Back atcha!


  9. March 16, 2010 11:09 pm

    Great post, Michelle! You and Sara Zarr are on the same page today…did you see her blog?

    Since my books are geared toward MG readers, I (fortunately) have missed out on some of the snark and back-stabbing that goes on in the blogosphere (either that or I’m too busy with my kid to take notice!). That being said, the few times I’ve run into bad blogging behavior has been shocking to me.

    I like to blog (when I have time), I’m on Facebook, and I enjoy connecting with readers and reviewers. I’d like to feel that we can still do that in a supportive, collegial way. Let’s try to remember that it’s all about the books. No one’s a winner, no one’s a loser, no one’s blog is better than anyone else’s–we’re here to talk about what we love: reading and writing. Right?

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 18, 2010 6:43 am



  10. Jayne permalink
    March 16, 2010 9:43 pm

    The internet offers a certain anonymity and allows people to behave in a way that they possibly (I hope) wouldn’t in real life. I’ve been on the receiving end of the sort of cliquey crap high school behaviour you speak of on an author’s bulletin board – many years ago now, but once bitten, twice shy. I am a fairly straight up person, I call a spade a spade, but this doesn’t mean I have a thick skin. Gossip hurts, it takes on a life of its own and spreads and mutates and before you know it, there’s an epidemic on your hands. When that happens, I tend to retreat to the safety of the few people I trust, those who aren’t about to stab me in the back, or sell me something I didn’t ask for. The sales pitch always shocks me. I’m tired of accepting friend requests from people I think are like-minded, that I’ve made a connection with only to find they really just want me to buy their latest book.

    And before we go any further, can I just remind you that YOU don’t do that. You are someone I treasure very much and if it weren’t for chatting to you through some of your emo moments, and discovering that you also struggle with the internal critic… I liked finding out that you were human too and I bear that in mind whenever I interact with new and published authors alike. Very few actually make it into the inner circle though :))

    Those I trust have kept me motivated, held me accountable to get words on the page and have been an incredible source of support. The negative stuff is a pain in the arse but the positive experiences have thus far exceeded the negative and been quite amazing. I often retreat for a while when there’s just too much stimulation and chatter or if things become too negative. Swings and roundabouts – people tire of gossiping about a certain subject and will move onto the next thing fairly quickly. It’s tough to rise above it whilst it’s happening. I’m quite certain not one of those women who ostracised me will remember that they did so, or even why and I wonder how high the body count is now. While you learned the same lessons I did in kindergarten, there are people for whom those lessons went in one ear and out of the other and were wasted.

    I am here for the writing, and the friendships formed around that common love of words are icing on the cake. Now, if I ever forget that and try to flog my book to you every time I speak to you, feel free to don the Docs and kick me in the pants and I will make it up to you with choc chip-laden banana bread πŸ˜‰

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 11:14 pm

      After reading this, I know for sure that we are kindred spirits, Jayne.

      Using the internet to get the word out about your work (any kind of work) is good business, but it should never come at the expense of authentic interaction with others and the knowledge that there are real people at the other end of the default picture.

      And though I, too, guard my inner circle closely, I can honestly say that my life would be emptier without those of you that I’ve come to treasure.


    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 11:14 pm

      P.S. I WOULD kick you with the Docs, but I’ve been too much of a wuss to try and break them in again.

      They still hurtttt!

      • Jayne permalink
        March 16, 2010 11:30 pm

        Haha, no way! (It’s due to that paper thin skin that comes with old age πŸ˜› )

  11. Elly permalink
    March 16, 2010 8:15 pm

    I’ve been blogging for about three years I think, but haven’t really experienced this kind of thing yet because the few people that read the writing on my blog I know. A good friend of mine, though, keeps freaking out over this type of stuff because she really wants to be noticed and to become published. Many people our age, don’t care for writing for pleasure or aspire to be a published author though.
    Almost everyone who posts their writing on the internet wants to be noticed and seem to go to great lengths just to get viewed, even if it means straying from writing to trash someone else. I personally think that even if you only have five people who read your writing daily or close to that, then you should be happy.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 11:09 pm

      That is a very good way of looking at it, Elly!


  12. March 16, 2010 6:26 pm

    When I was born, a fairy with an odd sense of humor must have gifted me with lifelong naivete, because the rude behavior people get up to never ceases to shock me.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 7:04 pm

      As painful as it sometimes is, I’d rather be afflicted with lifelong naivete than lifelong cynicism. Sounds like we are of the same ilk.


  13. March 16, 2010 5:03 pm

    Michelle, thanks for this post! I always love how honest you are in your blogs (and your Tweets, etc.), and it reminds me that it’s okay to be frank with your audience.

    I began blogging (privately) in 1999 (I know…I’m an oldie. And I’m only twenty LOL!), and have since gained a group of private bloggers that I feel comfortable with. Then last year, I feel like the blogosphere – especially for those who loved books – exploded. I felt a crazy amount of pressure to devote my once personal blog to what I was reading/writing/wanting, etc. In the end, I decided to make my personal, locked blog a bit more ‘open’ to the public, but still having locked personal entries. I now blog about both my personal life AND my book life (lol that sounds weird ‘ book life’). Because it’s important to me to stay true to my blog πŸ˜‰ and be myself, which doesn’t always include books (but totally includes midterm worries and will-my-GPA-ever-be-strong-enough-for-grad-school?). Sometimes, I write whole posts about my work-in-progress novel, but most of the time its a mix of How-I-Am-Surviving-College, worries, *and* book stuff. (Sorry for such a long post!) I just wanted to say that for me its important to be myself and to not conform and to not just have a book blog or be a book blogger — but to just be a blogger. No matter what anyone else thinks.

    *takes a deep a breath* Phew!! Now I’m done with this gigantic comment. πŸ˜›

    (In all–thank you for being honest with how you feel and what you do and how others are acting. You’re a real role model, Michelle.)


    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 7:02 pm

      Rigggght! An Oldie!

      Being true to who you are – in life AND in blogging – is the best policy of all. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you this past year, and somehow, I just know I’m going to see your name on a book in the future.

      With or without that grad-school GPA.


  14. March 16, 2010 4:56 pm

    As much as the web has helped everyone get connected and publicize, I think we’re all (especially us hopeful writers) feeling a little overwhelmed. One billion people connect on the web nowadays, and that’s a lot of competition.

    Though really, even in face-to-face contact sometimes seems to be about ‘what you can get out of someone’ (very pessimistic, I know). Because unless you’ve been friends forever, and even then, you feel that if you put effort into something (i.e. comforting a friend) then we’ve ‘earned’ comfort points for when you yourselves need that friend’s attention.

    The blogosphere is no different. I read lots of blogs but sometimes I have to remind myself to comment, even if I wouldn’t have normally, partly because I know how it feels to have a commentless blog post and partly because I want to attract more “followers.”

    Self centered? Sure. But I think that’s because the web is so…impersonal? The smallest comment or email can make me feel connected with someone and yet I hardly know these people. It’s the loneliest and most inspiring thing.

    I recently got an offer to be one of the readers for the Pacific Northwest Writters Association literary competition because a blogger I’d been mutually following didn’t have time this year and offered the position to me. Should I appreciate it when he said he thought I’d like the opportunity to see the other side of writing contests? Or should I remain doubtful, and wonder if he was merely finding a convenient person to shoulder the burden on? But I trust my gut, and my general belief in the good of people.

    I figure that’s all I can do. Great post, by the way πŸ˜‰

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 7:01 pm

      That’s a great policy, Susana. It’s important not to let the baggage of life outweigh its joy and goodness.

      And congrats on the opportunity with the PNWWA! Sounds like plain, old-fashioned networking to me, and I’ll bet you’re going to do a great job!


  15. March 16, 2010 3:53 pm

    I blog because it gives me something to do. I’m honest on my blog, and don’t pimp or promote books because I fear that I’ll get a bad rap online, but because I genuinely adore them. If I didn’t adore the book, I’ll tell you I didn’t adore it. I’m not afraid to let an author know what I think about their work. I’m not in this for ARCs, not in it for swag, not in it for any reason except that I love books and love sharing my discoveries, and making friendships that are genuine. When I started my blog, I was totally unaware that there were other book blogs out there. I was naive enough to think that mine was one of a few. I know now that I was waaaay wrong, and I’m cool with that.

    I used to think that I would blog with a philosophy that I was taught in Kindergarten, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” But, I quickly found that readers, publishers and authors alike genuinely wanted to hear what I REALLY thought. So, I’m honest.

    RE: Gossips. I hate gossiping. I have a personal policy that if I say something about someone where they can’t hear me or post something they’re not likely to see, that it is something I’d say straight to their face. I feel the same way about the books I review. When I post a review, I post it knowing that the author could see it. I don’t sugar coat. If I’m ever in their shoes, I don’t want people to sugar coat either. I want to know exactly what you think, and I love constructive criticism. Am I considerate of people’s feelings? Absolutely. I avoid negative words, and try to point out the parts of the plot, writing, etc. that I didn’t like and what would have made them better for me. Operative words? for me.

    I love meeting people online and love building relationships with authors, bloggers, and readers alike. It pains me to see you hurt like this because of people with such a high school mentality. I love it when authors interact with me on my blog, love it when they enter my contests, love it when they act like the normal people I know they are. I feel awkward asking authors for tangible things, but have done it in the past. If they ignore me, I don’t get mad. I figure they’re busy or figure that they’ve been hit up one too many times. I do ask for interviews, but only for things I’m excited about, because really? Let’s face it, if I’m not excited about it, I’m not going to spend my time on it. :o) Hope this is in line with what you’re talking about!

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:50 pm

      When I think of my favorite bloggers, of the ones who do it with a sincere heart and the best of intentions, YOU are one of those at the top of the list, Shesten.

      I have LOVED getting to know you online and in person (and having drinks when I was on tour in AZ, though what was IN that drink anyway?! Petrol?! Sheesh!). I’ve contributed swag to your contests and been grateful for your support in hosting me for interviews, and I’ve always been proud to know you and to be associated with you.

      And I agree. I LIKE a blog that is honest in its reviews, and I can honestly say that even after the occasional negative review. For me, it’s all in the intent and the language. If the reviewer offers a fair and balanced view of the book – things they both did and didn’t like – and does all they can to avoid being mean-spirited, I can totally take it with good grace. You do all of those things, hon, and in my opinion, are a PERFECT example of the RIGHT way to blog.


  16. March 16, 2010 3:15 pm

    I’m a blogger with absolutely no aspirations of being an author. I think you make some great points though, especially about gossip.

    I notice that in the blogosphere, it’s almost like a competition over who can get the most followers or the most ARCs, and yes, I do get swept up in that sometimes, sometimes I notice people’s numbers climbing, and I wonder, why don’t my numbers do that? Is my content not good enough? Is it because I hardly do contests? What is it? Sometimes, taking a step back to examine things is really beneficial to me, anyways. I mean, there’s some absolutely amazing things which have come out of my blogging, I’ve met great people. I’ve discovered amazing books. I’ve had Princess Bride quoting conversations. There’s people I’ve talked to whom I genuinely care about, even though we’ve never met face to face.

    When it comes to blogger gossip, I try to stay out of it, because god forbid I say something and it gets back to someone and I get blacklisted, or whatever. That, and you never know what’s true or what’s not, plus to me, it’s a waste of time, I could be using that time to read a book or write a review or walk the dogs. Plus, my reputation matters to me, especially my online reputation, and if you piss the wrong person off, all that work you put into your blog/online persona is shattered. Then again, maybe I take this too seriously as a blogger.

    That said, I do follow author blogs and author twitters, because you guys are like rock stars who actually give a sh-t about your fans, and I love that. However, I’d never expect an author to drop their life for their fans, yaknowwhatimean?

    Just keep on keeping on.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:43 pm

      That’s exactly what I’m talking about, April. And it’s sad, because when book blogging started out, wasn’t it about sharing a love of books? About connecting with other readers who shared your passion?

      Now, I hear more and more bloggers talk about how it HAS become a competition for ARCs, and in many cases, a competition for favor from authors as well. It’s become divisive, which is the very LAST thing it used to be back when bloggers were a community of rogue readers who took to the internet to spread the word about great books.

      I can’t speak to that aspect personally, because I see things from a totally different side, but it’s what I hear. It’s like the visibility of the internet, rather than reminding us how and why we’re on the same side, has instead made everyone vicious and competitive.

      Anyway, thanks so much for commenting. You sound like a good egg!


      • March 17, 2010 11:17 am

        I agree with April-sometimes I look at numbers and books and think-but why is my blog not there? But I just try to ignore it and focus on my blog. (I actually posted about this today on my blog!) It’s not a competition and I’ve stoppped saying yes to a lot of review requests because I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. The books I do accept are books I know I’ll enjoy and books I can then pass on to my teens at my library-they love reading and reviewing books! I also am not on Twitter that much, which is nice, because I feel like I can avoid the drama!

  17. March 16, 2010 2:12 pm

    Michelle, what a beautiful, heartfelt post. I don’t know quite what I want to say yet – or if I will say more – but I wanted you to know that I’ve read it and there’s a lot here that I’ve been thinking about lately.

    My first novel isn’t even out yet, and I’ve already had some… interesting things happen. *sigh*

    I just try to remember that online communications are so easily misunderstood, and I try so hard to think the best of people. (Probably I do that too much.)

    Anyway, great post. Thanks for getting the discussion started – I’ll check back later and hope that more people speak up.


    P.S. I am SO excited that we're going to be in Trisha's next anthology together! What an honour for me. πŸ™‚

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:38 pm

      I’ve been trying to remind myself of that more and more. It IS easy to be misunderstood online, and I’ve been making a point to give people the benefit of the doubt as much as possible while also allowing for the occasional asshole. (sorry, but it’s true)

      Thanks so much for commenting, Karen. I’m SUPER excited that we get to be in the Kiss Me Deadly anthology together. What an honor for ME.


      • March 19, 2010 12:39 pm

        Aww… *hugs*

        I can’t wait to read your story!! I can’t wait for GUARDIAN… too. πŸ™‚

        I am such a fangirl. LOL!

  18. March 16, 2010 1:48 pm

    Michelle, you are such a caring and loving soul and I’ve always appreciated your honesty with your readers.

    I think sometimes people forget that their favorite authors are people with lives and responsibilities outside of being an author. And with the instant access of the internet everyone wants what they want right now. It’s sad.

    I also think that the blogosphere can be very “high school”. Sometimes it’s like a popularity contest out there.

    When I love a book and want to reach out to the author, I don’t expect a response. I want to express what their book meant to me. If I receive a comment from the author, I’m giddy. I think it’s awesome, but not expected.

    Because I’ve been known to babble, I’ll end now with this:

    Michelle, I appreciate your existence. Not because I can get something from you, not because you’ve praised my writing, not because you’ve emailed me back or follow me on twitter or comment on FB, but because you are a wonderful storyteller, an inspiring person and a wonderful woman who cares about her family, friends and readers.

    ❀ ❀ ❀ Lots of ice cream cones for you!


    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:36 pm

      You’re the BEST, Danielle. When I think of you, I somehow feel like I KNOW you, even though we’ve never met.

      Well, first, I think of Grim, but THEN I think of what a warm, wonderful, and talented person you are.

      Seriously, though. Your presence online is one that unequivocally makes me happy. It’s a gift, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.


  19. March 16, 2010 1:13 pm

    The publishing business is a small one. And the reality is karma matters. Be good. (You, Michelle, are!)

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:33 pm

      So true. It always comes back to karma.

      And right back atcha, Daisy!


  20. March 16, 2010 12:11 pm

    I have noticed this on some of the other author’s blogs that I look at. Trying to maintain who you are online and offline is difficult. I am sure even more so by being published. Something I am hoping for in the next few years.

    Great topic Michelle. It’s horrible that some people act the way they do online.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:32 pm

      Ha! You’ll be published before you know it. Then you’ll know what I meeeeeean!


  21. March 16, 2010 12:05 pm

    Michelle, just had to respond. I’ve been blogging since 2001, a full year before my first novel was published. I used to have a really active blog and kept up with a bunch of other authors who blogged, etc. But then the blogosphere exploded, and I didn’t have the time/energy to keep up, and I kind of cooled my heels the past two years.

    But something else happened that drove me away from the Internet, and it was a handful of other YA authors. I used to be very active on some bulletin boards for published authors, listservs through YahooGroups, etc. Then a “friend” and I had a falling out over something sort of stupid – I made a comment about something, she blew it out proportion, and the next thing I know she went bat-shit crazy and started a smear campaign about me on her blog and these shared boards and listservs. I wasn’t the first author she tangled with – in fact, I’ve since heard from at least a dozen others that they most people don’t actually like her so much as fear her – but the whole sordid mess made me question my “friendships” with other authors I’d connected with over the years.

    A second, somewhat unrelated incident involved someone I’d grown quite close to and would spend time with several times a year. One of the things I used to say I loved about her was that she had the best gossip with the most juice. Me being naive, I never assumed she was gossiping to others about the things I was confiding to her, but lo and behold, she was. The loss of that particular friendship is still quite painful, because this was someone I genuinely cared for and I’m still perplexed as to how could’ve lied about certain things in such a nasty way.

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable to keep your distance and let people show you that they’re worthy of your trust and confidence.

    Lastly: I’m very much sick of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. being 24/7 promotion. One of the things I loved about having a blog was being able to write about my pop culture obsessions somewhere, esp. when it comes to TV. I miss that. The few blogs I do follow regularly tend not to be 100% about the industry, but maybe 25% about writing and publishing and75% people’s own quirky pop culture analysis.

    Just my two cents (or a dollar, really, because this ended up LONG!).

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:31 pm

      Eeee-gads, Lara. What a freaking nightmare. I’m sorry you had to go through all of that, but having been through some of it myself, I can’t say that I’m surprised.

      One of the most interesting aspects of the online writing community is how the perception of perceived power affects people so differently. Some people maintain such amazing integrity and grace (Ellen Hopkins, Tamora Pierce, and Maggie Stiefvater come to mind) even when they have a tremendous following, and others wield it (I call it “faux power”) carelessly and with a bit too much enjoyment.

      I hope I am never, ever one of those. And if I ever am, someone please give me a good slap!

      Thanks so much for commenting.


  22. Harmony permalink
    March 16, 2010 11:42 am

    Wow. This came as a surprise to me…I wasn’t aware that all of this stuff was happening. Then again, I haven’t been around the blogosphere much lately. But wow.

    I don’t know what to say other than yes, sometimes I ask authors for swag items or an ARC to review but the swag items get passed out, the ARC gets reviewed, and often sent on to be used for the ARC Tours. I also talk to certain authors quite a bit. I don’t know if I’d call any of them “close friends” but there’s a few that I do talk about things other than books too and honestly, I don’t expect anything in return. Sure, I’d love it if I was able to review their next book but I wouldn’t expect that just because I talk to them, I get special privileges and I hope they know that just because we talk a lot, I’m not going to give a good review.

    Also, I think authors offering swag and whatnot for reviews or offering contests for it is fine. People love that. And if they didn’t like the book, why would they want swag of it anyway? I see it more as an incentive to post the review on Amazon or where ever.

    Just because certain people have turned into back-stabbers that are just in it for the books or popularity doesn’t mean that everyone has.

    Great post!

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:26 pm

      Honestly, I don’t mind being asked if I’d like to participate in a promotion for a blogger, either through answering interview questions or donating swag. I do it if I can and say no if I can’t and hope that either way the person on the other end takes it with good grace.

      But I can’t speak for other authors, and I know many have been treated unkindly and even openly bad-mouthed for declining to contribute. I haven’t had that experience (thank God), but I imagine I would feel differently if I had.

      It sounds like you have a very grounded view of how the relationship between bloggers and authors should work, Harmony! I feel fortunate to know you in the blogosphere!


  23. March 16, 2010 11:23 am

    I think you put it brilliantly. WELL said. ((hugs))

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:23 pm

      *hugs* back!

  24. March 16, 2010 11:20 am

    Great post! I especially love the “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” style list at the end. πŸ™‚ So sad that common courtesy and just plain good sense gets lost in this world of bloggery, but I guess that is happening everywhere to a degree. As we become more “connected,” we become less connected sometimes.

    I still think overall this plethora of blogs is good. Anytime you are finding and using your voice, I am for that. Some don’t use it for good, unfortunately. As someone now writing a book, I sought out authors of books I genuinely liked, including YOU. πŸ™‚ And I am so happy to count you among my friends, even “virtually.”

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:23 pm

      Thank you so much, Kelly! You got me smiling with this. Please know that I feel equally fortunate to count you among mine.

      And THIS is a gem of an thought;

      “As we become more β€œconnected,” we become less connected sometimes.”

      We MUST not let that happen.


  25. March 16, 2010 10:50 am

    EXCELLENT post, Michelle. I am saddened by some of what has happened to you. “What was once subtle promotion mixed in with meaningful interaction is now 24/7 promotion. What were once authentic friendships based on a shared love of great books is now often a professional leg-up disguised as β€œreal” friendship. What was once a generous, caring community of book lovers can now seem more like a high school cafeteria”–you said it!!! You really have to be careful. I’m not even a published author (yet! lol) and I’ve had TWO stalkers, one of whom erased my entire harddrive from afar. It’s spooky. I’ve had people be rude, ignore me, accuse me of untrue things. And I am barely even an internet presence. I can only imagine how much harder, when you’re a visible writing presence trying to promote her great works. But…don’t stop giving out swag!!! lolz **HUGS**

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:21 pm

      You have had MORE Than your share of the creepers, Sav!

      And I have to LMAO about the swag. Will definitely take it under advisement!


  26. March 16, 2010 10:41 am

    Well said, Michelle! The idea of an online persona is just that, a persona. I hope to project the better sides of myself, frankly, because the disappointed, scared, and whiny side just isn’t that nice to be around.

    In this game, I’ve felt pretty downtrodden, like I’ll never get anywhere. Dear God, I could go on and on about that. On the other hand, complaining is infectious and leads to waaaay to much negativity. So I do my best to reframe negativity and use it to grow and learn.

    The payoff? I’ve met some pretty fantastic people.

    Of course, we all want to be “noticed,” supported, offered representation, published. Well, each person comes to it at a different time in a different way. I’m rambling, but I guess what I’m saying is, without my online community, I probably would have given up a long time ago. I’m sure I have a LOT to learn still, but my writing is getting better, I’m understanding “the biz” more, and I’m putting effort in developing relationships–ALL pretty darn enriching stuff, if you ask me.

    Thanks for posting on this topic!

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      March 16, 2010 4:20 pm

      I’m so glad you’ve experienced the very best the internet has to offer! It’s true that there are many, many amazing resources and people out there. I feel fortunate to have met so many incredible people – authors, bloggers, and readers alike.


      • mak...XD permalink
        March 16, 2010 4:38 pm

        hey michelle…..i really want you to read my last post on Open Mic…..plzzzzz i’m just dying to know what you think….thank you…..exams this week soo lil me soo busy!!!!!
        thanks a million!!!!!!


  1. Everybody’s Got An Agenda: Self-Promotion and the Blogosphere «

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