Professionalism and Book Blogging

I’ve had a lot of things on my mind lately, but the main one has been professionalism.  Both in real life and here on my blog if I’m perfectly honest.  In real life I wear my professionalism like armour because I am in a male-dominated industry with mainly male clientele.  I’ve found that I’ve been doing the same thing here on my blog although writing certainly isn’t male-dominated any longer.

Everyone has differing opinions about whether book bloggers should conduct themselves in professional or semi-professional manners, whether they should be charging for book reviews (good or bad) and whether unpaid bloggers like myself should have a certain degree of professionalism in their conduct.  (Especially when it pertains to our dealings with authors.)

As much as I wish I could sometimes, I have no control over the conduct of others.  But I have total control over my own.  So here are some thoughts on my complex relationship with professionalism:

Professional

1.  All dealings with authors are as professional as possible until I’ve developed some sort of rapport with them.

Basically, when an author contacts me for a review and my submissions are open I try to behave like I do at work with a client.  Once an author and I develop a certain rapport, it’s okay to be a little informal.  Would I behave as I do with my closest friends?  Of course not.  But there’s nothing wrong with a little teasing and banter as long as it’s mutual.  I’ve made some pretty awesome author friends that way: Diantha Jones, Andy Szpuk and Luciana Cavallaro just to name a few.

Objectivity

2.  My personal friendships with authors don’t affect my reviews.

As you guys have noticed the author friends I’ve mentioned here are ones I’ve given good reviews to previously.  Do I give them good reviews because I consider them internet friends?  No.  I’d give my own late grandmother a bad review if I felt that her writing wasn’t up to snuff.  (As it just so happens, she wrote a beautiful memoir before she died and her writing is, in fact, excellent.)  Although it seems like a lot of authors have trouble with this concept I believe that generally the book and the author are separate.  Criticizing a book means you are criticizing someone’s work, not them personally.  It’s a thin line for some, but it’s a very important distinction from my point of view.

"Priorities" Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

3.  Blogging is important to me, but it’s not my main priority.

While I like to think I do devote quite a bit of time to my blogging I’ve always acknowledged that while my blog is high on my priorities, it’s not my top priority in life.  I work six days a week and this winter I’m taking on even more work to help subsidize my trip to BEA 2015.  So are my posts always going to be super top quality?  No, but they’re going to be the best I can do at the time.  Will I be all caught up with my author review requests by Christmas?  Sadly, probably not.

And that’s why I’ll never call myself a professional blogger.  To be a truly professional blogger I’d have to dedicate far more time to my blog than I can at the moment.  20 hours a week is more than enough at this point so I’ll stick with my semi-professionalism.

Honesty

4.  Full disclosure to my readers is not something I will compromise on.  Ever.

Call it the wannabe journalist in me, but there is one thing I will never compromise on and that’s telling the truth.  If I received a book for free from an author in exchange for a review I’ll tell you at the beginning of said review.  If an author friend asks me if I can post about this upcoming special sale they’re having I will as long as I’ve read and enjoyed their previous work and add a caveat in the post.  If I’m posting for a blog tour, I’ll also let you know.  If I’ve personally approached an author asking if I can review their book, I’ll definitely let you know.

You guys, my readers, have the right to know where my books come from and what possible influences or biases I have.  That way you can decide for yourself whether to trust me or not.  I’ve been as transparent as possible on this blog and I really hope that shows.

Questions

So now I want to hear from you guys: What do you think of my tidbits about my own professionalism?  Do you share the same philosophies?  Do you disagree with some of the things I’ve said?  I’m genuinely curious here because professionalism is a pretty hot button topic within the reading and writing communities.  Please let me know in the comments below.

11 comments

  1. Phillip McCollum

    All of what you said makes sense, Carrie. Keeping things professional is just a good idea for life in general, until as you’ve said, you’ve built a rapport with the person.

    BTW, for a “semi-professional”, I think you do a great job with this blog. With your limited scheduled, you’ve shown your audience that you’re truly in love with books. Personally, I want to thank you for taking the time to share your honest and well-reasoned thoughts.

  2. cav12

    I, for one, value your professionalism and friendship Carrie. It was your honesty and professional approach to reviewing books which prompted me to contact you.

    Thank you ever so much Carrie 😀

  3. Olive J.

    This being the first post I have read from you, I would still call you a professional blogger – you write well and engagingly, and you write about useful topics. For that reason I’m going to press that follow button and look forward to reading more from you, in the 5-6 hours I spend blogging per week.

  4. Tanya Patrice

    Also I think being “professional” on your blog doesn’t have to mean that you’re a professional blogger. I definitely try to be, because although I keep my blog separate from real life, if anyone I know ever stumbles across it, I want to be able to be proud of it, and not have something on there that’s going to embarrass me or cause someone to resent me or look at me differently (in a negative way).

    • Carrie Slager

      That’s kind of how I try to maintain my blog as well. It shouldn’t be something I’m embarrassed of and really, it’s not. I’m proud of what I’ve done here on The Mad Reviewer.

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