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.

  • Grab a copy of either of my books, Jo…The What If Guy and The Carny are both available on Amazon and B&N. Thanks for your support! I hope you enjoy them…

    –Brooke

  • Jo

    And now I need to read one of Brooke's books. Which one do I choose?

  • So nice to hear the positivity! I'm friends with lots of authors, and they're some of the sweetest folks. I know a few get out of control, and we've been trying to find a volcano big enough to throw them all into, but … these things are frowned upon, generally.

  • Thanks, everyone! I'm so flattered that everyone appreciated what I did so much! <3

    The truth is, I was just doing what I thought was right. I've had reviews that are snarky and rude and insulting, and I feel angry and resentful. But the reviews that express that while the book wasn't really their cup of tea, the author has talent and potential, and they'll read their future work….those are every bit as important as the stellar reviews.

    And I think that more authors need to remind themselves that reviewers don't get paid for what they do. And I know some friends who buy books based on bad reviews alone, and won't touch books that get all 5 star reviews. They want to go for the not so shiny reviews to see what all of the controversy is about. So all in all, Joy's review helped me, helped my publisher, and helped my book.

    Thanks for the support, everyone.

    –Brooke Moss

  • How heartening! I agree with Kara, Miss Brooke is definitely a class act.

  • Thanks, girl! 🙂

  • 🙂 Mine as well. Thanks, Christina.

  • Thanks, Jessica. 🙂

  • Word.

  • Aw. Thanks, Tiff. You should give Brooke Moss' books a try. 🙂

  • That's amazing. I read the What if Guy and loved it too. Brooke is a class act and I would be more than honored to work with her in the future. I am sharing this with my followers.

  • My thoughts exactly! Thank you.

  • Wow, that's fantastic. My faith in humanity- well, at least in authors- has been marginally restored. 😀

    Thanks for sharing!

  • I think that is amazing! I love to see authors who view reviewers in the right way. Especially with all the controversies going on. I'm going to link this to my weekly update post so my followers can read about it. It is just great to see an awesome author like that who can take an honest review and see the bright side. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!

  • Thanks, Ana.

  • Thanks, Andrea. She truly is, a class act.

  • THAT is how you get people to want to read your books – or at the very least, not put them off them. Act gracious and professional and people will respect you and your work. Well handled all round.

  • Awesome post Joy!! You do such tasteful reviews that negative isn't really how I would put your lower rated ones. You don't rip people apart or even the book, you merely state why you don't like it and normally add something positive. It's why I love you so much as a blogger!! I am glad that you got such a positive reaction from Brooke and her publisher allowed you to post the review <3

  • This is great. Honestly, as a writer, all I ever want is genuine criticism. And Brooke is right! Sometimes our characters are not meant to be likable all the time. This can be something the reader misinterprets. Being frustrated with a character is not the worst thing. Sure it may cut into your enjoyment but…well, especially in YA, teens are not always perfect, and pleasant and fun to be around.

    Thanks for posting this! It's great to hear something positive for once.

  • LOVE this post. And LOVE Brooke Moss! She will forever remain a class act to me.

  • it's true reaction like this gives us hope so thank you to both Brooke and her publisher