Two years ago, December 2018, I began Professor Romance. I had been reading romance for about six months, and I loved the person it allowed me to be. I am a college writing professor (to be fair, an adjunct lecturer – but by academic definitions, a professor) who earned her Master’s degree in English Literature and Languages. I was tired from teaching 100 -125 students a semester and reading their writing for over a decade. Some of those essays are inspired, while most are not. Needless to say, I was a traveler in a dry, dry desert, and romance provided some hydration. I could get lost in stories, and they kept me from the hyper thinking of my brain and the overwhelming nature of my job.
When I began Professor Romance, I did it because, for the first time since I had graduated, I had opinions about books that weren’t intended to improve them. I enjoyed most of them, and I could write (something else I had been missing) about them. I also thought, that given my background, I could elevate reviews. No disrespect, but the generic reviews that talked to the steam of a book or the ones who couldn’t “get into” a book based on its believability to reality just didn’t work for me. And so I started my journey…
Over the course of my travels, I have realized that I have a voice. And with that voice comes a bit of responsibility. This past week, people have aired their hurts and some have responded in like. Others have wanted to silence those voices because “the readers don’t need to be involved.” The problem is…the readers ARE involved. As a blogger with a small following, I haven’t received ARCs, probably for having a smaller following, and we are never really told “why” beyond “there were just too many requests.” Interestingly enough, this is for a select few authors. Most of the authors I read have offered me an ARC. But there are a few who are controlling of that (or their PR group is), and that creates a community that doesn’t feel equal.
One of my favorite authors doesn’t provide ARCs for intentional reasons: ARC readers forget to fill out a sign-up form, they have “leaked” spoilers so they’ve lost the trust of that author who wants to protect plot points, or they’ve been downright bullish towards her. For me, those are fair reasons. If you sign up for an ARC through her team or PR representative, and you haven’t broken those rules, you receive an ARC. You know the reasons if you don’t receive one.
Yet, there is another author who, I suspect, uses it like it’s a popularity contest. This type of behavior is the cause of issues in the romance community. This is where readers are influenced by the problems outlined over the course of the past week. From this author, I received ARCs for four books. I wrote impressive reviews, all positive (if I do say so myself), and I posted them on or before the release date. I also filled out my requisite forms post-review showing my links. And suddenly, I stopped receiving ARCs. No explanation. I have since stopped signing up for them because losing out on ARCs after you’ve been involved in reading and reviewing them for a particular author doesn’t make you, a READER, feel good about yourself. I liken it to the centuries-old drama of not getting picked for a team. So I’ve signed up for promos instead, taking the drama out of my life. Honestly, I thought it was just me being sensitive, but I’ve realized that I’m not alone.
Most of the writers I read and review for are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. They are incredibly complimentary of my reviews. I have slowly but surely grown my WordPress blog, my FB page, my FB group, and my Instagram account. Over the course of the two years, I’ve journeyed on this trail, I’ve embraced it. I’ve tried to push myself. I’ve created more book edits even though my reviews are still my favorite thing to do with my blog. I know that visual representations of a book are popular, but my words have always been my life, so I stick to that. I am not a popular blogger. I have some people who know me, but I’m still growing…
Why write this?
- Because I’ve given a lot of time and energy to this “hobby.” On any given day, I spend at minimum an hour a day setting promos for authors. Most days, I spend hours reading books, and on other days, I spend time writing thoughtful reviews so that the authors I love find readers and so readers know where to spend their money. Ninety-nine percent of the authors who I promo and write reviews for acknowledge my efforts through likes, views, and comments. And honestly, that is good enough for me.
- Because all is not right in the world of romancelandia when it should be because it is founded in telling stories about love overcoming obstacles and it’s predominately women positive. There should be seats at the table for EVERYONE, and anyone who wants to exclude people from that table should be brought to task.
- Because those of you who have supported me deserve to know that most of the authors are amazing people.
- Because there are some NOT great people who have actually affected readers out of some pursuit of who knows what.
- Because I will never stop moving forward, seeking out good books, and challenging myself and readers to read better, read more, and read all.
I have been excluded from this community through the process of ARC distribution which seems minute in contrast to the claims of others in the community. I have not actively been bullied by readers who disagree with me. However, the little bit of exclusion I’ve felt has made me feel, for lack of a better word, icky about myself. And this means we have to do better. This seems so ridiculous in the grand scheme of life where people’s lives are in danger of death by race, culture, socio-economic, gender issues. Yet, it still a microcosm of our world, and this community should do better.
Since it’s days before Christmas, after today, I’m taking a quick break, promoting a little bit if necessary. Also, if you’re looking for a best reads of 2020 from this blog, you won’t ever find it. There is still so much I have yet to read, and it feels reductive and exclusionary to have a list such as that.
Authors, if I read books for you this year, then you know how I feel about your books. My reviews are clear.
If you are a reader such as me looking for recommendations, you can check out my blog at https://professorromance.blog where I post my reviews (or my GoodReads or Amazon profile).
I hope everyone has a blessed Christmas, and we stay focused on the things that matter the most: family and friends and staying healthy.
In love and romance,