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.