Thanks Serena for leaving this comment, and it really made me think and want to give a direct response. I really appreciate you posting this- and I don’t know what sort of trouble you could get in (maybe I’d spike your punch with vodka?) and I’ve actually only deleted one comment in this blog’s lifespan…because it contained really hateful and racist language for the sake of being hurtful. And along with all the porn spam. But anyway, essentially:
Because Francine’s publishers are contacting all the Sweet Valley recap blogs and treating them like straightforward “fanpages” (instead of mockery done by critical readers who may remember the series with some fondness as a part of their childhood but aren’t blind to it’s faults) and giving bloggers free swag to give away in contests/asking them to promote her upcoming book…
You guys are gonna lose your edge! Please don’t sell out and cut back on the snark, especially when it comes to the new book (which the majority of first-chapter-readers seem to think is crap…except for people who were invited to meet the publishers — ooh, ahh! – to get a sneak peek and not-so-surprisingly only have positive things to say.)
I understand bloggers may be excited to be in touch with an author/publisher, and get free merch, yada yada. But the danger is that you’ll start thinking, “oh, they’ve been so nice to me…I don’t want to not-be-nice back! I’ll cut them some slack and give their product a more favorable review.”
That is a totally valid and astute observation. I was contacted by St. Martin’s press and asked to link to the Sweet Valley Confidential Website, which I did (and just did again). I wrote back when they asked me and said “Have you actually read my blog? Are you sure you want me to be associated with your product?” She wrote back and essentially said what Serena mentioned- they are considering these blogs as fanpages. To be fair to the publisher, it is their job to promote this book and get publicity- maybe even going with the idea that “any press is good press.” I can see why they are going with the plan to connect with people’s childhood memories instead of social commentary… ultimately, they need to sell books, right? I’ve also spoken to many people about SVH (I’m often introduced to friends of friends as “someone who blogs about Sweet Valley High”) and most people remember it, but not everyone wants to talk smack about it. Legit. They would rather have it as a piece of childhood nostalgia and not deconstruct it for its social implications. Totally legit, although it does frustrate me. But I’m someone who alienates 85% of the population because I’m always looking at pop culture through a sociological lens instead of “just stop taking everything so seriously….and just enjoy it”. The way I do enjoy things IS looking at it through a critical lens and understanding the social implications. Don’t get me started on Avatar. However, it makes sense for the publisher to go this route because their goal is to sell the book. Which, last I checked, is the goal of a publishing company. So I’m at peace with that.
Did I agree to link to the first Chapter? Sure, because it was of great interest to me and to my readers. Am I grateful that this blog is linked on the website? Sure, but it’s not like it has brought me a plethora of new readership. In fact, to demonstrate my own free will to be critical: wtf is with that “website”? Can it even be called that? St. Martin’s press, please splurge for a web designer. Or a class in Dream Weaver.
Was the first chapter “good”? HELLS NO. It was a living cliche of bad romance novels and trite writing. Did I enjoy it? Yes. In much of the same way I enjoy Dear Sister (not that they are even in the SAME LEAGUE of badness (goodness)). And this opinion had nothing to do with any freebies (I’ve also yet to see any freebies). A “Team Elizabeth” or “Team Jessica” t-shirt which probably doesn’t fit my body type anyhow doesn’t impress me much anyway. I actually think that is trite, overdone marketing idea. I promise you all that I’m still thinking for myself….OR AM I? I mean, I once fell for the allure of a shitty co-op and a hot cult leader from Good Friends after the tragic occurrence of my family making fun of my cooking skills. So, you never know.
And let this be considered an OPEN INVITATION TO FRANCINE PASCAL if she ever was willing to do some sort of interview or something. I’d of course be nice to her as a person (maybe), but feel no hesitation in offering a “critical response” to her life’s work. Francine, BRING IT ON!
Serena, you rock, thanks for bringing this up, and making me think more about my motivations. I am so going to nominate you for Pi Beta Alpha.