My Thoughts on the Bingo Card

Yesterday on Twitter, someone posted a Reviewer Bingo Card for authors who could play if they had the types of reviews that matched up on the card. I’m not going to post a picture of the card here, or even a link, because it caused so much turbulence in Twitterverse and I’m not about turbulence. It also seemed to widen the already yawning chasm between author and reviewer. WE’VE GOT TO STOP THIS.

I will say this about the bingo card: I seriously doubt it was created to hurt anyone, or to lash out at the blogging/reviewing community. Before you throw something at me, hear me out. I think/assume/hope it was done to drum up some easy giggles and feelings of camaraderie between authors. I don’t think authors who commented on the card or claimed bingo meant to hurt reviewers or alienate anyone. I really, really don’t. You see, sometimes writing feels like slow-dancing without a partner in an empty room. It’s lonely. We need each other. It’s that simple. When another author reaches out we want to grasp their hand and dance awhile. Then we go back to writing.

But here’s the kicker: That bingo card? It was actually a victory for bloggers/reviewers. I mean geez, did you see how specific it was? How many types of reviews it covered? It showed how much power reviewers have over authors. It showed that we do read your reviews and we do have feelings about them, and we do want to please you. Oh, we can act as blasé as we want, or even poke fun at the beast that is our fragile authorly pride, and we can make bingo cards that reflect our insecurities as writers. OR, we could take all those feelings and pour them into the batter of our next book. Sometimes we do the right thing, but not all the time. Just yesterday, YESTERDAY BEFORE THIS HAPPENED, I was complaining to my agent about something on Goodreads. We are not impervious. At least, I’m not. We make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes are public ones.

But bloggers/reviewers have a choice, too. You could make an author Jenga game. For each book, you’ve got the Jenga blocks and each time the author uses a tired old trope or gimmick or cliché, you could take away a block until eventually, that book collapses in a tumbling heap. You could do your reviews this way from here on out. There would hardly be a book that would be left standing, and it would give authors a taste of their own medicine. I’m betting it would be quite fun.

But what does that solve? Where does that get us? Nowhere, at warp speed.

So then, what do we do? I’ll bet you were expecting me to come up with a solution here, but I don’t have one. I can’t make people be nice, and I can’t un-hurt people’s feelings. But just like rage, positive thinking can be contagious. What do YOU think we should do to close this rift between author and reviewer? How can we personally handle a situation like this positively? How can we make harmony contagious?

Because as long as there are books, there are going to be authors and there are going to be reviewers. We’ve got to get this figured out. This is a war where both sides will most certainly lose.

5 Responses

  • Feb 5, 2015

    I missed most of the drama yesterday on this, but I did see the tail end and someone forwarded me the card and out of context yes it does come across as snarky and feels as if it picks apart every type of review out there that isn’t glowing.

    And if a blogger were to make a similar card that poked at every “tired trope” or “gimmick” used in a book, then there would be someone or someones out there screaming that that blogger is a bully. And on. And on.

    I think, though, instead of getting everyone nowhere, it will escalate things very, very quickly and take everyone to a very bad place.

    But isn’t it just so hard to remain quiet, let someone have the podium for their rant and sit back, say nothing, and let the storm pass? It’s hard to turn the other cheek when the attack feels so personal. It’s hard not to jump to the defensive when someone criticizes a book or a review for being not good enough. Because, like judging or attacking a book, judging or attacking a review feels so very personal. It makes the reviewer feel like their thoughts and words are not good enough, that their opinion doesn’t matter, that they’re not entitled to feel as they do.

    What I think we all, on both sides, have to understand is that given what we both do comes with critical feedback. Some of it not so nice. And try to ignore it. And at the very least not take it to social media so that it forces people to choose sides.

    Sadly, I don’t think there is a win. I don’t think there will be harmony across the board. I think we’re at a time in this world (and not just the world of bloggers and authors) where everyone is super sensitive. Everyone wants to have a very public voice. I think the only solution would be for everyone to take a beat, to share their most personal feelings amongst friends versus looking for that larger audience on social media – twitter/facebook – so that they can get the “troops rallied” to support their cause.

    If the card was just to get support among author friends it could have been distributed by email or the new “group DM” on Twitter. But going to Twitter is someone looking for a larger audience, looking to be heard globally, looking to stir things up, not taking into consideration someone else’s reactions or feelings before they spout their own. That action is almost begging for a fight versus a chuckle among author friends, empathy and camaraderie.

    But I do think there are many, many authors and bloggers who have great relationships, who are considerate and respectful (from both sides). There are many authors who understand that not every review will be glowing and quietly lament their frustration to their partners, friends, family instead of blowing up on social media. There are many bloggers who understand that their reviews/thoughts may not be widely appreciated. There are many reviewers who take the hurt they feel when someone mocks their reviews, down votes them, or criticizes them, and remain quiet, sharing their hurt with only those they trust.

    We aren’t going to change globally. We are all going to have bad days. We are all going to say something stupid. We are all going to be inconsiderate from time to time. We can only just try to be less reactive, to stop and think about others before we act, and to apologize when we have acted in a way that we aren’t proud of.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment. Your post really provided some ideas for thought. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter and putting yourself out there for comment and criticism and judgment as you do every day as a writer.

    Rachel Feb 5, 2015
  • Anna Banks
    Feb 5, 2015

    Hi Rachel,
    I agree, the card could have been shared privately. Sometimes we make public mistakes though, and I wish we had get-out-of-jail free cards for those moments of bad judgment. We can’t change globally, you’re right, but it gives us something to think about. If each of us redirected when we got mad over something, maybe we could change *almost* globally you know?

    Anna Banks Feb 5, 2015
  • Well,I never saw this bingo card from an author’s perspective,and maybe it was just a harmless joke among authors.But still,posting it on a social media where a lot of bloggers can view it was ill done of her.It not only angered reviewers,but also offended them a lot.
    I personally was really hurt by the card mostly because I have written a negative review for her book before,and I couldn’t help but feel like the card also talked about me.
    I am a new blogger.I’ve been just blogging for one and a half months,so I am quite insecure when it comes to my reviews.So when I see something like this,my feelings are bound to get hurt.

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