The digital world is ever-changing. While being a book blogger is a great way to share our love of books, we must also take stock of our roles as readers and creators. Be it writing reviews, creating content, or interacting with our community of authors and fellow bloggers.
Last month, I shared the A Book Blogger’s Bill of Rights, my take on Daniel Pennac’s Reader’s Bill of Rights. Allow me to refresh your memory.
- Right to not review every book I read
- Right to not talk about books I don’t like
- Right to read more than one book at a time
- Right to explore different formats of book blogging
- Right to not schedule posts
- Right to blog about topics other than books
- Right to participate in reading challenges
- Right to read and blog at my own pace
- Right to not stick to a TBR
- Right to charge or not charge for a book review
How to be a responsible book blogger
Rights go hand in hand with duties and responsibilities. Today I share with you what I consider my responsibilities as a book blogger and a reader to maintain ethical blogging standards. Including some book blogging do’s and don’ts.
Honesty and integrity
Authenticity. Honesty. Integrity. Not just book blogging, these are pillars of blogging in general too.
As a book blogger, we owe it to our readers to be honest and transparent when reviewing a book. An honest review does not necessarily mean a negative review. Reviews are subjective, what works for me might not work for you, and vice versa. But coming from a position of influence – the fact that readers go ahead and purchase a book we recommend – honesty while reviewing a book is imperative.
This also includes leaving a negative review without even reading the book… just because. Rating a DNF book is different. I don’t review a book I don’t finish but I am all for people who do. Leaving a negative review because one received a damaged copy or has an axe to grind with the author is pure evil.
Last but not least, transparency goes a long way and adds to your integrity. Including disclosure about a free copy in exchange for a review, sponsored content, and affiliate links.
To not tag authors on a negative review
Remember the golden rule you learned as a child? Treat others as you would want to be treated by them. It applies to book blogging too, particularly while reviewing books.
We have a right to leave a critical or a negative review for a book. But for the love of God, PLEASE don’t tag the author when sharing it on social media. This is a common courtesy. The author will read it (or choose not to) in due time. We need to remember that authors are people too.
To not add to book piracy
This is something that is a given for book blogging. It is as much about sharing your love for books as promoting your favorite authors.
You will be surprised by how prevalent book piracy (particularly e-book piracy) is in the bookish community. Really beats the purpose of it all. There are so many ways to procure genuine copies. Participating in blog tours and giveaways. Requesting copies from authors. Not to mention libraries. Authors spend years writing the book. It is their blood and sweat. We are here to promote books. Promote reading. Let’s not add to the piracy as book bloggers, shall we?
Cross-posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads
Yes, our reviews on the blog do matter. But for the sales and more publishing opportunities, reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other platforms matter too.
We often spend hours reading the book and drafting the perfect review. We do have a right to not review every book we read. But when we do publish it on our blog and Instagram, let us take a few minutes to cross-post it on Amazon and Goodreads too. It just takes a few minutes and goes a long way.
Promoting diversity and inclusivity
We are privileged to have a platform to promote books. Popular books get more traffic to our blogs but it was never the driving force we got into book blogging, right? It was our love for reading.
Promote diversity and inclusivity through books. Start conversations around them. Provide support for readers who are struggling to cope.
To not add to the toxic culture
Yellowface by R. F. Kuang had a mixed response from the book community but it was on point about the toxicity in social media and the cancel culture.
If you have been an active member of the Book Twitter (Or is it Book X now?), you would have come across some form of drama or the other. While calling out a problematic book or an author is important, it is now bordering on cyber-bullying.
We are all entitled to our opinions but let us not add to a toxicity. It has not seeped much into the Indian bookish community, thankfully. That is a saving grace.
To not plagiarise and give credit where due
Ten people receive a book to be reviewed. There are bound to be similar thoughts and reactions among a few. But that does not make it okay to plagiarize a review, just tweaking it here and there.
Similarly, there are book tags and discussion posts that might have inspired us. As always, it is common courtesy to give credit where due.
To not give out spoilers in reviews
The purpose of a book review is to create buzz around the book. To pique a reader’s interest. We all have our methodology for reviewing a book. Some of us are analytical. Some discuss it at a more “experience” level – how the book made us feel.
There is no right way to review a book and that is what makes us unique. What is a no-go is spoiling the book for a potential reader. Be it a single sentence about how the book ends. Or a chapter-by-chapter detailed analysis revealing the whole story that leaves little to explore.
Including trigger warnings in reviews
Trigger warnings are something I feel strongly about since I have been personally affected by the lack of it. Reading a romance book that included the guilt of not having done enough to save a parent. Something that sent me on a downward spiral during one of the darkest phases of my life.
As we become more and more aware of mental health issues, let us be more empathetic. Some do view trigger warnings as spoilers but the merits do outweigh.
Maintaining Ethical Standards: Our Responsibilities as Book Bloggers #BookishLeague Click To Tweet
What are your thoughts on the responsibilities I listed above that help build a positive blogging environment? What makes you a responsible book blogger? Do share in the comments below.
This post is part of the Bookish League blog hop hosted by Bohemian Bibliophile.
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