I'm coming late to the recent no-hold-barred discussion about snark and reviews that waged across the romance blogosphere (no surprise for anyone with first hand knowledge of my time-keeping skills). Kate D. did an admirable job of keeping all damned scribblers up to date on the dispute and adding her own judicious opinion to the mess.
Recently, though, I've been thinking of that debate in context of the reviews on this site. I love reading snark. I visit Television Without Pity regularly. I've long been a fan of Mrs. Giggles and the Smart Bitches. They're funny! They write well. They can be mean, no question, but they make me laugh.
And they get a lot of web traffic. Far more than humble little Damned Scribbling Women. I can see why. Romance reviews--and specifically, funny, biting reviews--will appeal to far more people than the assortment of writing updates, reviews, links and rants we feature. But I don't write that way, and it's not because I'm incapable of the art of the humorous put down or because I like everything I read or because I'm just so sweet and sugary all the time and think the world is made of candy and rainbows.
For the most part, I only write reviews of books I liked. I read a lot of other books, some quite stinky, some merely mediocre, but I don't review them. It's partly because I don't enjoy revisiting a subpar book if I don't have to. But it's also, on a more cynical level, because my goal in this industry is not to be a reviewer or run a great website. It's to be a writer.
We've all heard the horror stories about ill-conceived emails that cost people jobs or dates or friends. About blogs and websites that came to the notice of employers. I hope to become a peer to the women whose books I review, and I know this website will live on in some fashion long after Kate and I accomplish our goals. So I try to review as though I am already their peer, a fellow author.
Fortunately, the web is big enough for everyone and for all kinds of reviews and voices. We can each find her particular poison, whether it's smart reviews of "trashy" books or recommendations from published authors or a sanctuary for readers or the sporadic musings of two unpublished wannabes.
Kate's philosophy may be a little different than mine (and I hope she'll elaborate in the comments), but this is what guides my reviewing. Other bloggers, what guides yours?