During the last QueryChat on Twitter, I asked about book blogs - should an aspiring writer include them in the query letter, maybe in the signature? I wasn't surprised when one agent said she wouldn't work with a blogger who had dissed one of her client's books. I was surprised to find out that dissing could be something as seemingly innocent as a review or stating publicly (in places like Twitter, Goodreads, or a blog) that I didn't like a book.
This makes sense in a way. It also makes sense that, as Stacia Kane pointed out in her posts, an author who has received a negative review from another writer wouldn't want to help or blurb this person's book. And I can understand holding a grudge - I don't like it, wish it weren't something we have to deal with. But I can definitely understand it, knowing how deeply personal writing is and that often it's impossible to fully separate ourselves from that writing, from the book. A rejection of a novel must feel, no matter how well-meaning the reviewer means it, like a rejection of the writer.
Writing negative reviews, as an author or aspiring author, is taking a risk. Rating books on Goodreads is taking a risk. We don't always know how these risks might come back to haunt us - or not - until later on.
I see a world of difference, though, between a negative review where the reviewer honestly didn't enjoy the book and a positive review of a book that includes some negative elements. In writing a thorough review of a book, even one I love and want everyone to read, I often include the less-than-spectacular elements. It's not a negative review, but it might not be 100% glowy either. Now I wonder if it's risky, wrong, if I'm stepping on toes by even writing those reviews, by talking about books I find less than perfect and amazing. I've always believed that it is possible to be honest and genuine (not only in reviews, but also in discussing YA lit as a whole, in talking with others, in being) while also being positive and supportive. Am I wrong in thinking this?
I don't want to choose between being a public reader and pursuing writing. Being told that I must either give up the only foothold I currently have in the YA community (this blog) or give up my dream of someday joining the ranks of the authors whose books I love reading is... honestly, unfair is the word that springs to mind though I'm aware how that makes me sound like a child. But it is unfair. And even more confusing. There is a part of me that thinks I should close the blog (or at least abandon it), another part that sees nothing wrong in what I'm doing, and another part that keeps coming up with compromises, some of which I quite like. Mostly though, I feel like no answer is going to be the perfect right one.
I'm still working on figuring it out.