Aggressions, Micro-aggressions, and the Power of Thanks

TRIGGER WARNING: References to racism, sexism, and victim-blaming (with details at the links).

I’ve read four books in a row, and haven’t reviewed any of them. Not even a brief sentence. (Well, except for a spoiler I posted on Goodreads – behind a spoiler-tag, of course – that made me side-eye.) I rated the books: two of them 4 stars, and two of them 3 stars, so nothing terrible. Yet I have no motivation to review any of them.

Reading recently about other bloggers trying to keep blogging fun and identifying troublesome aspects, I checked my archives. I wondered if maybe it’s been one year since #HaleNo and the Blogger Blackout, but no – it’s only been seven months.

Author-blogger relations weren’t great in January, when some authors seemed to feel that people who questioned a particular crowd-funding campaign as a business model simply didn’t value an artist’s time or money.

Relations worsened in February, when an author and her colleagues collaborated on a bingo card listing their pet peeves when it comes to reviews and reviewers. (The authors were right to point out homophobia and racism, but to have those issues on the same card as trivial matters such as lists star rating in precise fractions and Reviewer expresses opinions only in gif form puts the complaints on seemingly equal footing, and that’s not fair.)

In March, a male author said sexist things, and then said those who called out his sexism are fools and assholes. But that wasn’t against bloggers as much as it was against girls and women in general. (This doesn’t make it better – it makes it WORSE.) And in late April, an author made a racist Tweet, and her apology was more of a fauxpology. (Again, not blogger-specific, but still awful.)

And that’s just in the YA community. There is also A.R., whose complaints involve her wanting to strip Amazon reviewers of their privacy and thus endanger them, people who dare use the Was this review helpful? Yes / No buttons on Amazon, and probably countless other things.

What triggered me writing this post was reading a report on a YA lit fest. I have nothing against the bloggers in question, though I haven’t encountered the brutal parts of Goodreads that they have. And about those who purposely write mean reviews to get attention – who are these people, and have they stated this motivation, or are people just surmising?

But what really bothered me was the glamorous and not so glamorous truths about being a writer panel. Namely, the authors’ list of things they don’t like bloggers saying:

They don’t like it when bloggers say that the author isn’t a good writer. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot that SOME (not all) authors don’t like bloggers saying – namely anything “negative”.

They don’t understand why bloggers say that the protagonist isn’t likable. They feel like unlikable people are more interesting. A character can be interesting whether they’re “likable” or not. So again, this comes across as a complaint against “negativity”.

Authors don’t like it when bloggers/reviews say the book was, “okay.” For them, that is worse than saying it was bad. I still can’t wrap my head around this one, but I’m not an author. “Your book was shite” seems way worse than “Your book was OK” to me. Are these authors saying they would prefer a one-star review than a three-star review? Because that’s what three stars mean – OK. This is not just tone-policing; it’s review-policing. It’s basically saying, “If you’re going to review my book, only use superlatives to describe it.”

I won’t paint all authors with the same brush – not even just the authors on that panel. ONE of the authors listed early on in the article is associated with the infamous petition that campaigned to strip Amazon reviewers of their pseudonymity – and thus endanger them. I wasn’t at the panel and haven’t read a transcript, so I can’t verify which author said what but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear confirmation.

But sometimes the things I take too personally are the micro-aggressions, often passive in nature. If you follow authors’ Facebook Pages or Profiles, you’ve likely seen the graphics about How to support an author, and even more specifically How to support an indie author. (Though the “indie” part seems redundant, because indie authors don’t require special treatment different from other authors as far as I know.)

I’m a blogger; I’m on social media. I promote books via various methods: sharing cover art, pre-order links, monthly release info, daily release info, and even reviews. I do all of this WITHOUT being asked. WITHOUT being prompted. WITHOUT being bribed with a contest entry. I do this because I CARE about authors and I CARE about books. No guarantee that any of my promotions result in book sales, but I try.

And then I see these how to support an author graphics, and my teeth grind. The authors probably don’t intend it, but by posting/sharing these graphics they’re basically saying, “Whatever you’re doing now is not enough. Your time and efforts and even money in supporting my books and my career are not enough.” Again, that may not be their intention, but that’s how it comes across.

I don’t expect to be paid for my efforts. I don’t expect Shares or ReTweets, Likes or Favourites. I know better than to expect ANYTHING, really. But when an author manages to personally acknowledge my efforts in some way, it means a lot. Hearing “thank you”, or “thanks”, or even “thx” makes me feel better, that my efforts aren’t in vain, that the author actually appreciates my contributions whether they lead to book sales or not.

But maybe the biggest appreciation of all is NOT posting/sharing those how to support an author graphics. I’m not the person you need to tell how to support you. Tell your family and friends, who don’t know much about the book industry. But pushing these graphics in public to all your readers is a micro-aggression, and completely ignores the time, efforts, and money of those who already do support you.

This Tweet implies that the relationship between authors and reviewers should be mutually beneficial. Sometimes, it seems like only the authors benefit from the relationship. I don’t alert authors of my reviews, but I do link them in when I promote their books via my other methods. Giving thanks goes a lot towards giving back, and it means way more than you may realise.

For those already sending thank-you notes, your time and effort sending them are very much appreciated.

And if thanking, Liking, Favouriting, Sharing, or ReTweeting isn’t your thing – hopefully this post has educated you about a passive micro-aggression to which you may have been previously unaware.

Thank you for reading.

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One response to “Aggressions, Micro-aggressions, and the Power of Thanks

  1. 3 stars is “I liked it” not “okay” (unless you are talking about reviews on Amazon, unlike goodreads, where 3 stars = “okay”).

    Psst…that infamous petition to review only under “real name” was started by an editor who 5-stars every book he edits under a different name — without disclosing the material connection as legally required on U.S. sites with consumer reviews (goodreads would still allow the review with the dusclosure; Amazon would only allow quoted in editorial rather than customer reviews).

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