Author Behaving Graciously.

About a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from someone at Inkspell Publishing. She wanted to know if I would be interested in joining a blog tour for Brooke Moss’ new book, The Carny. If you’ve been interacting with me at all, either here or on Twitter, you’d know that I’ve stopped requesting ARCs and had also steered clear of blog tours. I’ve been blogging for almost a year now and have only been in four tours – and this is by choice. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get invited that often; but I also don’t go out of my way to join one. I have a hard time committing to a tour when I can’t foresee how I would react to a book after reading it. I also don’t like the pressure so yeah, I guess you can say that I’ve more or less realized that I am not in this for the free reads and that perhaps I’m doing this book blogging thing wrong. To each to their own, I suppose.

Anyway, I’ve worked with Brooke Moss with What If Guy so I’m not new to her work. When her publisher emailed me, I agreed to host her on the blog without any quibble. She sent me a copy of Brooke’s book for review and I, in turn sent her what I required for the Shelf Envy post that she guested on. 
I read her book, liked about 35% of it, then didn’t really like the rest. 
Herein lies the crux of my problem with blog tours: how do I provide an honest review without it becoming deterrent to what the author and the publisher was trying to accomplish? That is, to promote their book in the most positive way possible? Now, some of you would probably disagree and say, ‘bloggers are not marketing tools’ but I digress. Regardless of what our reasons were when we started blogging, our opinions on books are exactly that: a way to get our words out there regarding the books we’ve read – an advertisement, if I may. What we say about them have some sway on whether or not other people would want to read the book. So now what do I do?

I wrote my review. And then sent a copy of it to the publisher prior to posting. See, I have this policy on the blog, where I don’t post unfavourable reviews on books that were given to me specifically for review, unless the author and, or the publicist has given me the nod to do so. My email to the publisher went like this:

Hi there. 

First, I’d like to thank you and Brooke for being on the blog. Please let me know if I can help you again. 

Second, I read The Carny and unfortunately, my review is not that favourable. I have a policy on the blog that if a book was given to me for review and it turns out that it was something I didn’t like, I always give the publicist and or the author privy to the review first. This way, they could let me know whether or not they still want me to post it.  


(FULL REVIEW HERE)

This may not be the conventional way of doing things and perhaps I may be giving too much power over to the author regarding what I post on my blog, but I established this policy just so I’m not running the risk of compromising my integrity. I also feel that since they sent me a free book to read, I owe  them my honesty.

I’m not going to lie; I was on tenterhooks while I waited for her response. Since it was the weekend, I didn’t really expect any response. So I was surprised when I got an email from Brooke Moss herself.

Hi Joy,

I just got an email from my publisher, Shilpa, asking me how I felt about your review of The Carny, and whether or not I felt it should run. I left the ultimate decision up to Shilpa, but I wanted to make sure you knew what my response was, in case she tells you not to run the review. Here is what I wrote:

“You know, I think that Joy has every right to say whatever she wants to say about The Carny.  And honestly, I agree. Charlotte’s character absolutely is wishy-washy and immature. I wanted her to be that way.  Also, as a life time resident of small towns, I created the Davenport family with the intent of making them entirely too focused on social status, backwards/old fashioned thinking. Sadly, that’s the honest to goodness way things are in these towns. It’s hard for non-small-town-people to believe that this sort of old fashioned mentality still exists. So in all honesty, Joy actually read the book the way it was intended to be interpreted. I think what I’m getting from her review is that she interpreted the characters and location the way I wanted her to, but it simply didn’t sit well with her. That’s absolutely acceptable. As we all know painfully well, books are very subjective, and what touches ones heart, might piss another person off. 🙂

I say, let her put it on her website. I am not afraid of a less than stellar review, so long as it is written in a fair, honest way, and my skills as an author aren’t being insulted. I respect Joy as a book reviewer, and hope to continue a long relationship with her in the future, and with future books, so I don’t feel like we need to ask her to hide her true feelings about The Carny. However, as my publisher, you get the final say, and if you feel like it is too negative to have out there in the blogosphere, then I trust your judgment. Be sure to let me know what you choose, and I’ll support that decision.

Thanks,
Brooke”

Joy, I want you to know that I appreciate your honesty and positivity about my latest book. I have a tremendous amount of respect for book reviewers, especially those who can read a book that didn’t particularly speak to them, and still manage to write a fairly positive review. I wanted to be sure to thank you for that, thank you for your honesty, and I hope that I can continue sharing my books with you in the future.

Thanks for everything, Joy.

–Brooke

I was…speechless and awe-struck. With all the drama that has been plaguing the book reviewing blogosphere lately, I did not expect this – this gracious acceptance of criticism. I wanted to share this just because authors have been getting some pretty bad rep lately and I want everyone to know that we shouldn’t lose our faith. There are authors like Brooke who will gladly accept your not-so positive thoughts on their work with a grain of salt.

I’d like to thank Brooke Moss again for allowing me to post her email. A little positivity goes a long way. Also, Shilpa Mudiganti of Inkspell Publishing for agreeing to post my review.