Today’s second Armchair BEA topic is ethics in blogging. I’ve already read a ton of posts centering on plagiarism. As an English teacher, I’m just going to sum it up by saying: DON’T PLAGIARIZE. Don’t steal someone’s words. Don’t copy a URL on pictures (download and upload on your blog’s server) and credit all works of art that you can to the author/artist.
The ethics I want to talk about is the responsibility a blogger has to their review readers, the authors, and anyone else involved in the book making and book buying process. I can say from my point of view, book blogging is an EXCELLENT way to promote and sell books. I’ve bought so many books due to the reviews of others.
The responsibility then becomes transparency and honesty. It isn’t fair to anyone to boost a book (give it a better review than you really felt) or sink a book (give it lower review than it really deserves). It isn’t fair to the authors and publishers who work hard to write, promote and sell those books. And it certainly isn’t fair to the readers. I would hate for a less than honest review of mine to cause someone to buy a book they didn’t like. Now obviously my opinion is going to be different than yours, and what I may like you may hate. But if I deceive you, that just isn’t fair.
This is where the transparency comes in. You can’t merely offer a “I didn’t like it” or a low review. No one knows WHY you felt that way, and they can’t use that to gauge their own experience. I can’t tell you how many times a well-written one star review has actually convinced me to read a book. So don’t be afraid to make your true feelings known. That said, you should also respect the effort that went into the world — criticism can be constructive without being vicious.
On the flip side, it is also important to not boast about a book you really didn’t like, especially if you received it from the publisher as an ARC or a galley. They aren’t giving you that book to be an a PR rep — they want real honest opinions. That’s why you add (or should!) the disclosure statement about being given the book in return for an honest review. I know it can be daunting in this time of social media to write something that the author may end up reading. But I believe if it is written constructively, it is the right thing to do.
Those are my beliefs. They may not be yours. That’s the thing about ethics and moral compasses — they are different for everyone. My perspective as a reader is different from someone who has been in the professional side of books for years. And that’s okay! But hopefully, my POV on this topic will help keep me honest and open for my readers.
Special shout-out to the awesome Sarah of Puss Reboots for the Armchair BEA