I feel like I have to vent a little more about what happened recently on the Avon Board, primarily because it all started with a simple posting by yours truly.
Sybil has very eloquently depicted the snarkfest that hit the Avon message boards yesterday. I myself am still in a state of utter disbelief (yeah, right) as to why anyone would attack another poster for expressing their own opinions. Message boards are communities in which posters are supposed to feel comfortable asking questions, giving opinions, being themselves. No one ever said the opinions have to be well-liked or conform with the norm. Or did they and I wasn’t informed? I am still new at the message board thing, so anything is possible. I’m learning though…quickly!
Avon Authors is a forum paid for by authors associated with Harper Collins Publishing Company (a.k.a. Avon), in which authors get in touch with fans, inform them of upcoming releases and gain insight into what a reader likes and dislikes.
I started posting on the board a little bit more than a year ago. I enjoyed getting advice from fellow fans on what books to read and what to avoid. It saved me time and money and I appreciated it greatly. Sometimes discussions would ensue on controversial topics, such as what turns you off a romance novel, an author and the like. Each time, at least one poster would come out, appalled that anyone would dare not like a book by one of the avon authors. I’m not surprised when people get defensive about their favorite writers; I am surprised though when these same people lash out and viciously attack other posters.
The post started like any other. A reader wanted to know if anyone could name any books or authors they didn’t like. Ok…ok…maybe the post wasn’t phrased in the most positive of ways. I admit…perhaps it did welcome exclusively negative views, but the posts following this didn’t quite fall under the definition of bashing, in my opinion. Posters gave a few names of books they didn’t care for. I threw in my two cents, mentioned Stephanie Laurens’ PROMISE IN A KISS because of the adultery issue I couldn’t get over and that was that. Or was it? A poster claiming to be the voice of reason came on and condescendingly told everyone to cool it (big big paraphrasing here). I didn’t think anyone was doing anything wrong. No one ON THE BOARD was saying anything derogatory or vulgar. Books were mentioned. Ok…I can see how an author could get offended, but I thought (maybe erroneously) that such discussion was also welcome, if done tactfully. I posted again; stated no one was trying to offend any of the authors; merely wanted to discuss books they didn’t care for and the like. Mayhem soon followed. The poster, apparently a reader of my blog since last July, proceeded to rip me a new one, stating that “that's NOT the sentiment you've been sprouting quite vulgarly, callously, ruthlessly and vociferously about Avon, it's authors and their books for the last 9 months. Your motto is "How Avon Publishing is slowly destroying the romance genre....help me in my quest to expose them!" but, I'm not going to tell people the name of your blog, they'll have to figure it out for themselves.” Which begs the question, if said reader was so offended by my alleged vulgarity, why was she reading my blog for 9 months straight?
Her post misrepresented my blog in so many ways; she seemed to almost thrive on “outing” my identity, like some sort of Enron whistleblower, as if I were trying to hide it. The blog is public. I’m not ashamed of my opinions. I write what I feel about books I’ve read. Some are good; others aren’t (and honestly recently I’ve been reading some pretty good ones). Anyone who’s ever read my blog should know by now that, as much as I say I HATE AVON, I spend more money on books by Avon authors than most people I know. Obviously, people with a sense of humor would see the humor in that and just chuckle. I know I do.
Poster continued with “Grumpy (that’s me on Avon Board) also says "These are only books, after all...not life or death situations that we can't get out of…" Just who are you trying to convince with this statement ~ YOURSELF? Anyone who reads your blog for 5 min. can figure out you have a Lisa Kleypas fixation and are sadly in need of a reality check!!!"
I found it very interesting that someone who called my blogging callous and ruthless would then proceed to fling poison at me (pot calling kettle black?). The comments above hurt my feelings (that time of the moment, you know…very sensitive lately) and shocked me because I didn’t do anything to deserve them, expect state my opinion. What amused me though was that the poster, with a couple of words, (LISA KLEYPAS FIXATION) managed to insult pretty much everyone on the board (don’t we all have a favorite writer? Aren’t we all fixated on romance novels?).
Am I in need of a reality check? I don’t think so…I think I’ve received enough in the last few years to keep me sitting still for a while.
My blog is my own, a venting tool and a way to connect with fellow romance lovers in the world. I’m not going to apologize for anything I’m said in it. I won’t like every single romance novel and, if I don’t, I’ll tell you so.
I want to say more…vent a little more, but it’s a done issue. Why am I telling you all this? Again I NEED TO VENT SOME MORE (been doing it a lot), want to understand what the hell happened the other day, and, since the poster made it SO DIFFICULT (sarcasm) to find my blog, I want Avon message board posters to hear my side and get the truth (not the distorted BS the poster was spewing) about my blog. Also, I want to express other frustrations…
What happened after the fiasco? The event forced the site administrators to set guidelines for posting. Initially, it sounded like negative comments were not acceptable because the site was created to promote, not diss, authors. Now they’re saying, negative reviews can be posted but only if they don’t encourage negativity and author bashing. What defines bashing? That’s another issue altogether…Ok…
Honestly, no matter what they say, the Avon Board will no longer be a place where readers, fans, posters go to express their true and honest feelings about a book they’ve read. No post will reflect an honest review of a novel. Be prepared for the big kudo party. If you’re not willing to bring in kudos only, then be prepared to have 1) your posts maliciously attacked eventually by a holier than thou poster or 2) the post immediately deleted by the site administrator, if it ignites another poster’s ire.
They can say whatever they want on that board, that no one is saying that negative reviews aren’t welcome, that they merely have to be phrased in a way that doesn’t invite negativity or bashing…whatever. Say what you will…no one is going to feel comfortable saying anything that remotely sounds like a set down. I myself will only go to check on excerpts, new releases and to occasionally ask an author questions. I don’t mind giving an author a kudo. I do plenty of it on my blog and when I post. I will continue to do it, but I’m not fooling myself. If I want to comment on something that bothered me about an author’s book, I’ll think not twice but five times the next time.
The Avon board is not what it used to be. A board in which adults cannot have free discussion about books read is just plain sad. Welcome to the RA RA RA board!