Monday, October 7, 2013

I'm Conflicted

Have you ever felt that way?

I have. More than once.

Conflicts come in many forms but in this case it's regarding the making of a decision. Do I or don't I? Should I or shouldn't I? Can I or Can't I? Will I or won't I?

Doesn't matter how you ask it, the important fact is, the question has to be asked and answered.

In my last post, Everyone's a Critic, I mentioned about conflict of interest and how it can compromise your review.

This post explores a different aspect of the same beast.

When you review because you feel as though you ought, because of friend, crit partner or any other emotional bent, the previous post explained why you should say 'no'.

I want to touch upon those folks that review for more than one site, or those that like to post their review of the same book on multiple venues like Amazon, Goodreads, etc.

Writing a review for those places is fine.

What this post is hoping to achieve is to create in a reviewer an awareness of consequences.

First, I understand the emotional satisfaction of being accepted as a preferred reader for such places as NetGalley or Edelweiss. Being able to read books long before the general public has access is a natural high for any fan of the written word. It's wonderful.

When isn't it wonderful?

When it skews statistics. When it divides your loyalties. When it causes conflict. When it inadvertently leads to accusations of plagiarism. When intellectual property is threatened. All of this is possible.

Once again I need to clarify that this post is geared to those reviewers who review for a professional site. To sharpen the focus further, this is targeted to those sites who also, in their professional capacity, have contracts with those same NetGalley kinds of sites.

The question should be: Who do I review for?

The answer: One or the other, NOT BOTH.

I repeat: You can not review the Same book for BOTH sites - or a multiple of sites.

But you ask: Why not, especially if I write a completely different review?

First - and the obvious: Unless your opinion of the book (like vs dislike) has changed drastically (which it shouldn't), you are sharing the same opinion. As such, and which brings me to the second point, you are skewing the statistics. If you share reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, the review site you belong to, and anywhere else where statistics matter, then you are not allowing an honest and fair assessment of the book to occur.

It's almost like being a shill at an auction - driving the price up so the item will sell for a higher price than is warranted, than it otherwise would.

I realize that's not what most people intend. I say 'most' because there ARE unscrupulous people out there. But the effect is the same. If you share your review with four sites, it looks as though four different people are liking the book for the same reasons, but in actuality, the number is one - you. Multiply you by 100 doing the same thing and think about how that affects the book. If the publisher thinks that many great reviews are out there, they equate that to sales. But take away the You Effect and what is the reality? Three HUNDRED of those reviews are invalid.

Did you ever think about that?

Another conflict is this.

If you take a book from NetGalley under your own name, you can NOT review the book for anyone else or anywhere else. It has to be your own personal blog. That is what NetGalley expects from you because that's the agreement. By the same token, if you review for a site that also contracts with NetGalley, they can't use the book that YOU personally took from NetGalley.

Only books that THEY request from NetGalley can be reviewed on THEIR site.

In other words: NetGalley and Edelweiss expect you to post the review on your own website or blog, and don't mind that you do it on Goodreads. You'd be linking back to your own personal blog anyway. The problem arises when a professional website, like LASR, (not a personal review blog) has their own account, but their reviewers are posting the NetGalley reviews on their personal NetGalley account and not the professional website.

Do you see the conflict? Do you understand where I'm going with this?

Intellectual property is serious business. Whether you get paid or not - monetarily, in books, or you do it out of the sheer joy of sharing, when you submit a review that will reflect the site, the reputation of the site, and will be credited to the site, it becomes the property of the site.

What is NetGalley is NetGalley's. What is Edelweiss is Edelweiss'. What is a professional review site is the professional review site's. What is LASR is LASR's.

The goal of this post was to enlighten, guide and teach reviewers about another aspect of reviewing. The business side. And how every review you write has greater worth than the apparent.

You matter.
What you think, matters.
What you say, matters.
Where and how you share it, matters.

End the conflict.
Make the right decision.
Because your decision, matters.


Gloria Herrera said...

I have to say one thing in dissent...NetGalley has provided for the need to post reviews to sites other than NetGalley. When you give them your feedback and review, the form allows you to identify where you have posted the review, link to the review, etc. It also provides you a space where you can let the publisher know if you have posted your review anywhere else. This allows them a choice whether to use your review in their marketing or not. You also disclose who you review for in your profile, including if you review for publications, blogs, etc. Same thing goes for Edelweiss under your profile. Publisher can then decide whether or not to approve you for their manuscripts or not and if they will use your input if they want to quote you or not.

Xeranthemum said...

That's good to know, Gloria, and I'm glad you shared that here for future readers to see.

I don't think everyone pays attention to that information as well as you do.

If they had, maybe some of the glitches that LASR has experienced in the past might have been avoided.

I really appreciate your comment!