No, really, it is.
So I started a Patreon about a month ago. It’s reached its basic goal already – which is a little startling to me – so as soon as I sort out a couple of things on the paperwork/back-end, it’ll be bringing More Book Reviews to an Internet Near You…
…ahem. Which brings us to the ethics part. It hasn’t escaped my notice that at least half a dozen of my patrons are themselves Publishing Professionals. That’s obviously a potential conflict of interest right there, so clearly I need to set forth a policy, or at least articulate my position on reviewing books that are connected to people who are providing me material support.
The thing is, book reviews are never objective. Responses to art are always personal and subjective, even when we find objective arguments to support our subjective reactions. And that’s even before we move into personal connections. I know – and feel sufficiently friendly towards – enough writers to be aware that how I think of them as people affects how I react to their work. I try my best not to let it affect how I present those arguments and reactions, but let’s be honest: if I tried to pretend it absolutely didn’t, I’d be either deluding myself or a lying hypocrite.
On the other hand, just because someone buys me a drink (or lunch, to take another example, or lets me sleep in their spare room for a couple of nights), it doesn’t mean I owe them anything other than a reciprocal drink or lunch at some future point – or if the opportunity for equivalent reciprocity never arises, to pay it forward.
With Patreon, supporters are paying for the production of reviews. The content? Will reflect my own tastes and biases, as always.
Just in case you were wondering.