March 2, 2011

Grumbly in my Tumbly?

I heard from my new editor at Heroes & Heartbreakers this morning about the second piece I sent her. She would like for pieces of this type to be my focus for now. Again, I can't reveal what type of piece it is because it will be the first of its kind, but that's not what I want to talk about here. No, I want to talk about something else, something that didn't even occur to me until bedtime last night. Once the thought struck, my stomach went to a very bad place for a few hours...hence my reference to grumbly in the tumbly. It's not related to a hungry stomach, just an angsty one.

This is the reason for my angst: Have I, or will people think that I've sold out by writing for and being paid to write for a blog sponsored by a publisher? Does this go against everything I stood for during my time at TRR and AAR?

At this point in my career, I consider myself a free-lance writer, one who focuses on mass market and other fiction. I occasionally pen pieces for the National Association of Book Critics, get paid to review books for Publishers Weekly, and when offered the opportunity to add another freelance job to my resume, I took it. Although the site is funded by a publisher, I take them at their word that they are "publisher-neutral in our selection of books, authors and materials for coverage and discussion." Indeed, my focus will likely include books published by the various Macmillan imprints only every so often; most of my energy will be spent writing about books released by other publishers.

I took this job because of the people involved in it. Megan Frampton, who heads up the blog team, once reviewed for me at AAR. She's now my editor and boss. Myretta Robens and Cheryl Sneed are both long-time online friends whom I've often turned to for advice. If the three of us sat in a room together rather than on a telephone, it would be a good, old-fashioned hen party, with lots of gossip, laughter, and most likely, liberal amounts of alcohol. Myretta and Cheryl help run The Republic of Pemberley. Myretta and Megan both published trad Regencies before the sub-genre went into that good night and Cheryl, who reviewed at AAR for quite awhile and also headed up the massive data entry project corresponding to the site's review database way back when, also writes at Rakehell.

I have a personal relationship with these women, none of whom have any difficulty differentiating between good fiction and bad. As my brief for joining H&H was all-inclusive where thumbs up or thumbs down are concerned, this looked like a win-win for me. I would be able to write again online where an actual audience could find me, I'd be paid for it, and could laud a book or criticize it at my discretion.

As I said, that was my thought process until last night, when the "Have I sold out?" thoughts began to niggle, then shout within my head. I don't think I have. What I'll be doing is no different from what I've always done, whether at TRR, AAR, Publishers Weekly, Amazon, my old blog, or this "new" one. I will continue to share my unbiased opinions, but won't act, as I did at AAR, as a reporter (although I may here on my personal blog). The only difference as far as I'm concerned is who's paying for the real estate.

I hope that doesn't make me a sell-out. I don't think it does. Do you?


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