Hope you are all having a great Sunday, here’s what we learnt last week and what we have prepared for this one:
DRAMA! Mayhem! Blogging!
In the past few weeks we have seen a plethora of articles about blogging and reviewing which sparked great discussion – and drama – all over the blogosphere.
There was for example Persnickety Snark’s post on blogging conflicts and staying out of brouhahas and Lenore’s post about Bloggers Behaving Badly;
The Speculative Scotsman talked about Niche Blogging and how it should be cause for celebration. Paul Smith from the new (and MOST EXCELLENT) blog Empty Your Heart of its Mortal Dream muses about which books to review, old or new and comes to a cool conclusion:
As incredibly cheesy as it sounds, I do think in the big picture these sorts of questions are just semantics, and the important thing is that we talk about our love of books and share that with others. The Internet is great in a way because between places like Amazon and The Book Depository, and others like Abebooks, we have access to more books than ever, both old and new. The downside is that it has created a situation where there is almost too much to read, speaking from experience my wishlist has 300 books on it and I wasn’t even trying. Regardless of what we review, genre or literary, new or old, we are all in our own way providing a little direction in this massive ocean of books, and that can’t be a bad thing.
James from Speculative Horizons took issue with an old Dear Author post and blogged about how blogging should not be about getting free books, and it really HAS to be a hobby and if it’s not, guess what: You ‘r’ Doing It Wrong.
On the other side of the spectrum The Book Lady’s Blog talks about blog professionalism and marketing and creating awareness for ones blog. Her post is followed by Jessica’s thoughtful reflexion raising further questions about the subject and then The Book Chick City talks about blog promotion and whether it is a positive aspect of blogging or not.
Definitely on the negative side of blogging lies plagiarism though and the internets saw cases of Plagiarism all over the place.
Meanwhile, author Mark Charan Newton goes all controversial – and perhaps a little insulting – and talks about how reviewers probably should not criticise the editing of a book:
As an related aside, I do find it amusing when some reviewers say “the book could have done with more editing”. An editor (not mine) commented on this at Eastercon recently – it’s ridiculous for people to say that, because have they any idea just what work went into that manuscript in the first place? That an editor could have reduced a novel by half to have some clown still say it needs a good edit (when they might also mean, for example, that they didn’t agree with the pacing).
(It seems Mr. Newton is confusing criticism of the final edited product with criticism of the editing process. A book may have undergone the most amazing editing process for months and months; it may have been trimmed in excess of thousands of pages! But if the end result is still laden with grammatical/spelling errors, plot and character discontinuities, and endless, pointless repetition, it’s not such a…comic stretch that a reviewer might say the book could have used a bit more editing. Obviously, (most) reviewers don’t know what has happened during the editing process. The only thing (most) reviewers see – and, thus, review – is the final product.)
The greatest drama though came from a blog called Farm Lane Books Blog with its article about the difference between UK and US book bloggers and who creates the “Best Blogs” which ended up with a whopping – heated – 273 comments.
Then there are those who think that blogging should be all about the books and not blogging about blogging and that there should be a special place for the discussion. Hence Book Blogging Forum has been created: “A place to keep the discussions about blogging off the blogs”. Athough we like the idea of a forum for bloggers we are in the camp of those who think that people should and can blog anything they want, including blogging about blogging.
We loved seeing all these posts – we might not agree with all of the ideas behind them (understatement of the century) but we embrace discussion, opinions and the very act of reflecting about what it is that we are doing here. Carry on blogosphere!!!
We have a few winners to announce:
Steampunk Giveaway – The winner of a copy of Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti is:
The ten winners of the Master of None by Sonya Bateman giveaway are:
Danielle Yockman (comment#14)
Cindy C. (comment #28)
Julie Swaney (comment #31)
Kale L (comment# 29)
Christine M (comment #49)
Aik (comment #57)
Bethie (comment # 41)
Lexie (comment# 51)
Breia Brickey (comment #3)
Audra Holtwick (comment #38)
The ten winners of autographed copies of Embers by Laura Bickle are:
Myra C (comment#63)
care (comment #12)
Sara M (comment #43)
Elizabeth (comment# 36)
Christa (comment #24)
Tina (comment #45)
Etta (comment # 41)
meredith g (comment# 55)
Lindsay Elizabeth (comment #52)
Falling Off The Shelf (comment #76)
You all know the drill. Email us (contact AT thebooksmugglers DOT com) with your snail mail address, and we will get your winnings out to you as soon as possible. Thanks again to everyone that entered, and congratulations to all of the winners!
Speaking of contests:
Rose Lerner author of the GLORIOUS romance novel In For a Penny is currently running a contest on her website. Here is the deal:
I want to write a short story for my website set in the In for a Penny universe, but I’m low on ideas. This is where you come in! Send me your ideas and I’ll write a story based on my favorite suggestion. Anything goes!
The winner will receive a signed presentation hard-copy of the story and the story will be available for free on her website. Go here to read more about it.
This Week On The Book Smugglers
On Monday, Thea writes her report on The LA Times Book Festival which is taking place this weekend. She gets to attend panels, see authors, meet loads of bloggers and then tell us all about it! She then later reviews the much acclaimed Fantasy novel Spellwright by Blake Charlton.
On Tuesday, we post our April issue of Cover Matters. This time we chat with author Celine Kiernan about the different, numerous covers her Moorehawke trilogy has and then analyze the results of our recent Survey.
On Wednesday, we post author Sam Sykes’ review of The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner as this month’s Guest Dare. His post is followed by this month’s A Dude Reads PNR entry when Harry, our resident, honorary smuggler, posts his review of The Shattered Sylph by L.J.McDonald.
On Thursday, Ana reviews the romance novel Wicked Becomes You by one of her favorite romance novelists: Meredith Duran. Later in the day, Thea reviews The World Inside by Robert Silverburg (for reals this time).
Finally, on Friday we post our joint review of White Cat By Holly Black.
And, this is it from us today!
We remain, as usual:
~ Your friendly neighborhood Book Smugglers
sue brandesApril 25, 2010 at 4:48 am
Guess it’s safest to be a blogger. LOL. Congrads to all the winners. 😀
danielleApril 25, 2010 at 6:46 am
MarkApril 25, 2010 at 8:39 am
Gosh, you ladies take offence easily. This is internet language – it’s automatically twice as snarky as I’d intend. 🙂
What I still mean, though, is that you can’t take into account what the author refuses – they might decline all editorial suggestions. Also, a lot of stuff comes down to opinion (well, it’s an art, so nearly all!), so perhaps it would be more effective and beneficial to speak in terms of pacing issues, and structure, or areas of underdevelopment, rather than the edit (again, it’s a totally invisible treatment, which we know little about)?
MeljeanApril 25, 2010 at 12:56 pm
Congratulations, Gillian! (And thanks again to Thea and Ana for hosting the Clockwork Heart giveaway/steampunk week post! The turnout and fantastic questions just blew me away, seriously.)
katiebabsApril 25, 2010 at 5:46 pm
There are no rules to blogging. if those want to blog about books, so be it. If you want to blog about cute kittens, hot men or dust bunnies under the bed, do whatever makes you happy.
Hm, now that I think of it, I don’t think there is a blog dedicated to dust bunnies under the bed…
Kate L @ YzhaBella's BookShelfApril 25, 2010 at 7:25 pm
Thank you! I look forward to reading “Master of None”!
Thanks for the great events!
MissieApril 25, 2010 at 7:59 pm
Wow! Great post! Thanks for bring everything together in such an organized fashion. I’ve see blog posts here and there related to all that has been going on and it is a bit overwhelming.
For the love of books, can we just get back to reading?! LOL!
In other news: I love this blog! 😉
Book Chick CityApril 25, 2010 at 11:38 pm
I agree with you totally about editing, and after reading Marks comment it’s still obvious that he doesn’t understand what you are saying! 🙄
I am also in the camp of those who believe a blogger should blog about anything they want! And Katiebabs, I’ll be waiting for the ‘dust bunnies under the bed’ post 😉
Also, thanks for adding my post to your great list of links 🙂
MarkApril 26, 2010 at 12:20 am
BCC – “plot and character discontinuities, and endless, pointless repetition” have all been things that on manuscripts I’ve known through my prior years in editorial, an author does indeed refuse to change, so when we say the book needs more editing, it doesn’t fairly represent that an editor might have cried him or herself to sleep each night trying to get those changes!
(At this point, we could get technical and say that, for example, things like repetition could be a valid literary technique (DH Lawrence).)
What I’m rambling on about is, it seems rather… curious, to focus on this suggesting that a book needed more editing. All books would benefit from more editing. But some readers enjoy bloated novels, the self-indulgence (I love John Cowper Powys’s over-indulgence, for example, while others abhor it). I just think saying a book needs more editing is a little bit of a cop-out, when we could engage with the author’s style being – subjectively – problematic or a good thing.
Note – this is all aside from books riddled with spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. Though I can’t honestly say I’ve read a finished (non-ARC) book like that, but I don’t get through as many genres and publishers as you guys do, so my scope is much more limited.
Book Chick CityApril 26, 2010 at 1:51 am
To be honest Mark, my eyes have now glazed over 😯 You can continue to repeat the same thing, but I will continue to agree with the Smugglers
MarkApril 26, 2010 at 5:20 am
No worries – such is the way of internet discussions!
Carolyn HApril 26, 2010 at 10:45 am
Go winners. Woot woot 😀
TheaApril 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm
Hi everyone, and thanks for the comments!
Danielle – a fellow Futurama fan, I see? I loves me some Zoidberg.
Mark – Thanks for popping in and commenting. We were taken a bit aback with that comment over at your blog a while back, but we get where you are coming from – teh internets make it hard to convey tone, etc. And I’m sure many a kerfuffle has been born in this way.
As to the rest of your comment, well, fair enough. What Ana and I try to do with our reviews (and believe you me, those babies get looooooong) is evaluate what worked for us, what didn’t work – which does include a discussion of pacing, character development, general writing style, narrative voice, etc. We mention editing usually when there are clearly some continuity problems (a character hangs up a phone but then continues her phone conversation in Strange Angels; a character’s name repeatedly changes spelling throughout the novel in Dead Witch Walking; stuff like that).
In fact, we’ve only really called out “editing foul” in the manner that you’re talking about once – and that was in our review of Tome of the Undergates, which felt long, repetitious, and wearying. Now, we love Sam Sykes and we know he’s a talented guy – there were parts of that book that were awesome…but those awesome parts were strangled by truly unnecessary length and repetitive character interactions. Ultimately, our complaint with that book was that it felt like a rough, first draft with a lot of potential, but needing some serious direction.
Is that a matter of subjectivity and personal taste? Perhaps. I do think there is a general consensus to gauge these sorts of things though. (i.e. though art is subjective, there *is* a difference between The Name of the Wind and The Left Hand of God)
As neither Ana nor myself are authors and we don’t know what goes on in the editorial process, it’s cool to know that there are other factors involved in the production of a book and that an editor’s edits may go unheeded. So thank you for that!
MarkApril 27, 2010 at 1:00 am
Indeed – and I really ought to restrain my inner-snark in future, so apologies there.
Yes, I must say your reviews are very thorough indeed – which is all to the good, and you do dig into a book in a way which other review sites don’t.
I think it’s worth adding there’s no right or wrong way of going about reviews, just clearly more and less effective techniques, which is where this point of debate became so interesting. And I think calling out the problems like continuity is still valid – only that the blame should lie with the book and not the editor, if that makes sense, since he or she might have flagged it, but the author rejected it, or whatever.
It’s also worth saying that the editorial process differs hugely from publisher to publisher, which makes generalising awkward. I can only speak of my own experiences, but Tor UK are so thorough – there are structural changes (this character sucks, that plot is ridiculous), a line-edit (sentence by sentence deconstruction), a copy-edit and then proofreading. (I normally want to kill myself by the line-edit stage.) And with Random House, that editor wants to get involved too, so in future I’ll get about four people with an input. A small press I worked with a few years ago barely did anything – no suggestions, just a light proof, and even now that makes me shudder.
(It’s interesting you mention Tome of the Undergates, since Simon Spanton, the editor, is one of the most respected in the business.)
Anyway, it is an interesting point of discussion, and I know I can sound like a know-it-all (I try not to!), but it’s worth exposing publishing’s innards a little more. 🙂
Moonsanity (Brenda H.)April 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm
The last time there was a big blow-up on twitter and the book blogs about author/blogger/reader treatment I got all frustrated, didn’t blog for almost a week, and then I realized all I could do is share what I thought people would like to see- they like my opinions on books or so it seems, so I put the crap aside and started blogging again. I sort of look at this blow-up like that– I took away some stuff from the posts, then moved on. Discussion = good. Fighting= bad. 😆
Stumbling Over Chaos :: An Epic Episode of LinkityApril 29, 2010 at 12:03 am
[…] cool bookcases, Monday Stepback at ReadReactReview, Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog, Dear Author, or the Book Smugglers post on blogging drama (featuring hysterical […]
ChristaMay 1, 2010 at 8:33 am
Hey Book Smugglers!
I just wanted to make sure you did get my email with my address in it for Embers. I’m almost 100% too suspicious of spam filters & worried that my email will get caught. 😀
If you haven’t gotten my email, please let me know…