I’m sure many of you have read the posts on various blogs regarding the Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a brief summary:
My Friend Amy started Book Blogger Appreciation Week last year. The idea is for it to be a community building exercise for book bloggers and also recognize particularly worthy blogs through the distribution of awards. Anyone can be nominated for these awards, and anyone can nominate themselves. The controversy which erupted over the weekend concerns the nomination of a blog which allegedly takes money for the reviews they write. Rat’s Reading and Book Binge blogged about this and suggested that this is unethical and that the blog should be disqualified. My Friend Amy declined to do so. As a result, Jane from Dear Author has opted to withdraw her blog from BBAW and SB Sarah is considering doing the same.
I totally understand and respect Jane and Sarah’s points of view. I thought about withdrawing my blog but chose not to do so. So far, my experience of BBAW has been mixed to say the least. I hesitated writing about my personal experience of the BBAW nominations for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I thought it would come off as sour grapes and would negatively impact on my chances at winning in the categories for which I’ve been nominated. Secondly, I think the basic idea of BBAW is wonderful, but its execution leaves much to be desired. I realize by writing this post I may well destroy any chance I have at winning, but if one is really discounted on the basis of expressing an opinion, then it’s not something I would want to be associated with in any case.
When I first heard about BBAW, I thought it was a brilliant idea. I registered for the event, volunteered for an interview exchange, and filled in the nomination list. The list of categories certainly gave me pause as some are confusing. It’s hard to define what speciality some blogs have. We’ll take The Book Smugglers as an example. I like their blog and wanted to nominate them in at least one category. I was unsure which one to choose. I eventually went with YA on the basis that they review a number of Young Adult books, and did a great job during their Young Adult Appreciation Month. On the other hand, they also review a lot of speculative fiction and romance, so defining them as a YA review blog is not entirely accurate. To be frank, I’d have a hard time defining my own blog. I review a lot of romance novels but I also read a number of mysteries and YA novels. Also, my blog is also not exclusively a review blog as I frequently write opinion pieces on a variety of book and blog-related topics.
As mine is still a relatively new blog, I had no expectation of receiving a nomination. It wasn’t clear on the site whether a blog needed to be nominated once or several times to be included on the long list. When the nomination e-mails started flooding in, Twitter and Blogland were abuzz with excitement and people mentioning their various nominations. At first, I was simply delighted to see so many blogs I admire receive recognition. People were genuinely thrilled and that was lovely to see. After a couple of days, though, the cynical side of me kicked. It seemed as though absolutely everyone had made the long list – except me. Yep, I had (at that point) received zero nominations, so you can interpret my cynicism to be sour grapes if you choose. It was rather like being part of a class of 35 and being one of the two people not invited to a party. Even if the rational side is genuinely pleased for those who were nominated, the emotional side wonders what you did wrong not to be included when it seems just about everyone else was.
Nominated bloggers were asked to submit links to five posts which they felt best reflected their blog’s eligibility to win an award. The deadline was the 21st of August. On the 20th, I received an e-mail from BBAW saying that I had, after all, been nominated for an award, but they hadn’t been able to contact me. Note: I registered for the event, so my e-mail address should have been on record, plus I have a contact form on my site.
To be honest, my reaction at that point was mixed. Had I received notice at the same as everyone else, I would have been excited. As it was, I wondered if I’d bother submitting five posts for consideration at such short notice. In the end, I did, out of respect for the person who was kind enough to nominate me in the first place. Within a couple of days, I received notice of another category nomination. Oddly enough, one blogger mentioned she’d nominated me for a category for which I’ve never received a nomination letter from BBAW, so go figure. Also, I nominated Jill Shalvis for Best Author Blog. When she blogged about her BBAW nominations, she never mentioned receiving a nomination in this category, which makes me wonder if she even received a nomination letter for it. Furthermore, I have yet to get contact information for the person I’m supposed to exchange interviews with. I’ve e-mailed the BBAW team but so far, still no interview information.
To conclude: I support the idea of BBAW but I feel the nomination process is flawed and the organization chaotic. If over 1000 blogs made the long list anyway, and people could nominate themselves if they felt so inclined, why not have all book bloggers enter themselves in the categories they feel best reflect their blog? Alternatively, the long list could be confined to those blogs which receive at least five nominations in a particular category. In other words, make it open to absolutely everyone, or make eligibility for the long list more exclusive.
I realize BBAW is a work in progress. I admire Amy and her friends greatly for the enormous time and effort they put into this. I know they’re probably overwhelmed by the large number of blogs nominated this year in comparison to last year and will work to improve the system for next year. This is why I don’t want to withdraw my blog from BBAW. Like the RITAs, BBAW can only be improved from within. As the basic concept is a good one, I’d hate to see it disappear because Amy becomes disillusioned by negative reactions to this year’s event.