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Logrolling

07 May

Do you ever read the cover of a book and see all those great quotes; then after reading, wonder what those people saw in the book that you didn’t?

Now I am not saying either of the above comments are engaging in logrolling (the art of individuals agreeing to promote each others work) but they certainly read a different book to that which I did.

My source for the below examples of blatant (and of course, it must be said alleged) logrolling is the proper journalism and satire magazine Private Eye (issue number 1460, the last issue I got my sticky mitts on before leaving home shores).  It does go a long way to explaining how so many glowing reviews for average – or bad – novels come about.

  • David Krynaston selected Joining the Dots by Juliet Gardiner in The Guardian. The two share an agent in Georgia Garrett of Rogers, Coleridge & White.
  • Debut novelist Sally Rooney ‘loved’ The Idiot by fellow first-timer Elif Batuman, with whom she bonded when they were paired in a Foyles reading.  A fortnight after the plug, Batuman was one of the judges who chose Rooney as Sunday Times/PDF young writer of the year.
  • Hollie McNish picked a book edited by Sabrina Mahfouz – not only are they pals on the spoken word circuit, but McNish and Mahfouz also write a play together.
  • Craig Raine, both a Faber poet and a former Faber poetry editor, chose Simon Armitage’s The Unaccompanied from Faber, and ‘another terrific Faber poet’ Matthew Francis as his sole TLS picks.
  • Little known Bojangles Books seems to have only published two titles, both by the investigative journalist Bob Woffinden.  Both were picked out (and nothing else) in a Spectator contribution by Richard Ingrams.  Ingrams’ book about another righter of judicial wrongs Ludovic Kennedy, (Ludovic and the Power of the Book) was by coincidence praised as ‘an important book’ in the Catholic Herald by…Bob Woffinden.

When you have to research the links between book  and critic to get a clear picture of their affiliations, it doesn’t seem worth the effort, which is where we bloggers come in.  Giving honest feedback with no agenda makes such reviewers much more compelling to read.  I only read reviews on WordPress from my fellow bloggers these days, whose opinion I hold in high regard, and appreciate the fairness with which the subject matter is treated.  Not only are the reviews thorough and engaging but when a book does catch my eye it remains in my mind due to the hard work and no compensation that being a reviewer brings.  Keep up the good work of sharing the love of books and informing potential readers of what’s about. With Amazon’s new review restrictions squeezing the field for honest reviews even more, it would seem we could have a potentially bigger role to play with authors (and maybe publishers) in the future.

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30 Comments

Posted by on 07/05/2018 in Blogging, Journalism, My Writings

 

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30 responses to “Logrolling

  1. Jill Weatherholt

    07/05/2018 at 06:50

    I agree, the Word Press reviews seem far more entertaining, don’t they?

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    • Ste J

      07/05/2018 at 06:52

      Absolutely, I am always more invested in readers who have a real passion for books they read. There isn’t enough sarcasm in the critics’ reviews either.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  2. cricketmuse

    07/05/2018 at 07:47

    I always hold those vanity quotes (logrolling is new to me) with a raised eyebrow. It’s as if they couldn’t get any reviewers to give the book notice.

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    • Ste J

      07/05/2018 at 08:56

      I wonder if it is sometimes just a sport, they see what sort of ridiculous comments they can make and then see who, if anyone, agrees with them. I can imagine an aging critic sat next to a bottle of mostly empty whisky just throwing words together for the laugh of it.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  3. Resa

    07/05/2018 at 08:58

    WordPress is my reading world. Oddly enough, I’m picking up “Ham On Rye” tomorrow, due to a chain of WP leads.

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    • Ste J

      07/05/2018 at 09:03

      I haven’t read it but the subject matter in itself will ensure an interesting read. I can’t remember the last time I read a review properly outside of Wp, I skim read the odd one from a paper if I have nothing else to do and its there but a heavy pinch of salt is always taken. I love our community.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Resa

        07/05/2018 at 09:07

        I know Bukowski is not a fave of many, but I find interesting moments in his life. Did you read Post Office?

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        • Ste J

          07/05/2018 at 09:21

          I haven’t read Bukowski despite several positive blog reviews on other sites, he is , as with so many more, on the list of books to read.

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  4. shadowoperator

    07/05/2018 at 09:41

    “Logrolling”! So that’s what it’s called! You’ve added a new word to my vocabulary. I wasn’t totally unfamiliar with the concept, but I guess I just always accepted that those more fortunate than I in the writing world, those who have actually published in a print format, all knew each other, somehow, and were qualified to give such opinions. Hoity-toities! That’ll teach me to be so naïve! Seriously, though, that’s more or less what I thought.

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    • Ste J

      07/05/2018 at 09:55

      I respect authors for the effort and skill of their books, then I research the logrolling and in some cases my respect goes down. It would be interesting to cross reference such things and predict who will give the good reviews before they do. if it got shared enough it would hold the authors to some sort of account for their chuminess and would perhaps alter how they write their reviews. Although I am sure every book would still be brilliant, breath taking and so on.

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  5. Alastair Savage

    07/05/2018 at 14:10

    Private Eye is brilliant for this. I particularly hate the word ‘hilarious’ which gets stamped on the cover of loads of books. Very few things in this life are ‘hilarious’ except for shows like Fawlty Towers, – producing a rueful smile every 100 pages or so just doesn’t cut it.

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    • Ste J

      07/05/2018 at 20:05

      The only book I thought of as actually hilarious was the first half of Three Men on a Boat, other than that, nothing does more than raise a halfhearted ha. Private Eye is really good for the most part, although sometimes the soft targets do get more coverage which always disappoints a tiny bit, if I had to be picky. Which I don’t

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  6. Claire 'Word by Word'

    07/05/2018 at 15:19

    There usually best ignored, I check out Goodreads if I haven’t seen any reviews from reading blogs, often the same readers but you can do a quick check of thoughts on a book one is considering. So many blurbs have hidden agendas, even if they don’t have a personal relationship, there’s often some kind of obligation that’s less pure than a straight up passion for reading literature.

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    • Ste J

      07/05/2018 at 20:12

      Yes that is spot on, Goodreads is something I briefly dabble with, usually when uploading a review but I haven’t given it enough time. The blog takes up too much of my time. It’s a shame that so much is taken away from the literature by these practise but it is the way of the business, sadly.

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  7. Andrea Stephenson

    07/05/2018 at 16:36

    It is sad when it seems that it’s who you know rather than talent that gets a book noticed so it’s good that there are now other options to help us decide which books to read.

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    • Ste J

      07/05/2018 at 20:06

      Exactly, like with the news, it’s a case of looking through more than one source to get a properly informed opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  8. Sarah

    08/05/2018 at 08:39

    Oh man, wasn’t ‘the Da Vinci Code’ just terrible? Worst. book. ever. I actually broke friendships with people who claimed to like it as I’d clearly misjudged them! *sigh* It felt good to get that off my chest.

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    • Ste J

      08/05/2018 at 16:00

      It was the worst book ever but then Fifty Shades came along and now it’s not so clear cut. I am glad it wasn’t just me that mercilessly disagreed with people who thought it was good. All my recommendations of good books (including Faucault’s Pendulum, as it has a mental conspiracy in it) fell by the wayside, people missed some opportunities there.

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      • shadowoperator

        08/05/2018 at 20:44

        Oh, man, yes, the “Fifty Shades” trilogy (which I read all three of, for my sins, so that I could report on it for the website, I’m not really that pruriently curious)! It was at least laughable though, so I guffawed all the way through it at the bad writing and the dangling modifiers. A book I will never be able to recover time from was the horribly stuffy and boring “The Book on the Shelf,” which was about–guess what?–bibliographical issues relating to books on shelves. It was so bad, but a friend had gotten it for me as a gift, so I tried my best to finish it. B-O-R-I-N-G. Now, bibliography is not a flash dance at the best of times, but I’m warning you ahead of time, only go in for this book if you’re ready for a real snooze-fest. And yet, so many had highly recommended it. Go figure out whether or not there was some logrolling going on there.

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        • Ste J

          09/05/2018 at 06:58

          Wow, the entire trilogy, I am impressed by your resilience. Crissy dragged me to the third film and kept laughing at the expressions I was pulling throughout. I seemed to be the only person there with a negative opinion and I had plenty of material to back up my opinions too. Reading gifts can always be a challenge, I always have a link to my ‘wishlist’ on hand should people mention getting me a book for some special occasion. I find bloggers so much more reliable in their willingness to fairly dissect a book they hated. I think if critics did that for books they genuinely disliked, and not just the easy targets, reading reviews would be more fun and promote a sense of honesty.

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  9. Liz

    08/05/2018 at 19:58

    Completely agree with everything you say. In fact, if a book has anything referring to ‘hilarious’ or ‘laugh out loud funny’ on its cover I find it is likely to be the complete opposite. Picking up recommendations from blog reviews is definitely the best way to go – not least because you are likely to hear about fascinating and fabulous books that you would not otherwise have come across.

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    • Ste J

      09/05/2018 at 06:51

      That is another very good point, I love discovering books I never would have come across, had it not been for bloggers. In fact I think my ongoing reading education would be decidedly less interesting and illuminating.

      Even series of books like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, which I enjoyed were always less funny that the book covers would have you believe. Enjoyable yes, very funny, sometimes, usually it was more wry smile territory.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  10. LuAnn

    10/05/2018 at 04:16

    I had not heard of the term “logrolling” but certainly take reviews with a grain of salt, whether for books or other products.

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    • Ste J

      10/05/2018 at 15:48

      I wonder how many good books (amongst other things) never got the recognition because the creators didn’t know the ‘right’ people.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • LuAnn

        12/05/2018 at 03:01

        Most likely countless books and products Ste J.

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        • Ste J

          17/05/2018 at 13:54

          Fighting back that tide is a challenge but I will volunteer to do it.

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • LuAnn

            17/05/2018 at 21:45

            You’re a good man Ste J!

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  11. macjam47

    11/05/2018 at 09:07

    I’ve learned something new today. I’ve never heard of logrolling, but now I know.

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    • Ste J

      17/05/2018 at 13:58

      Always happy to share the knowledge so you can walk into a book sale knowing the lie of the land.

      Liked by 1 person

       

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