Spoilers and I have a sordid history. Early in my book blogging career I found 3 bloggers discussing one of my reviews on twitter. According to the ringleader I had x amount of semi-major spoilers and x number of minor spoilers. Her message to me: I was to be avoided in the book community.
Since then I’ve worried over spoilers. I obviously had a very different view about what constitutes a spoiler. That review she criticized? Yeah when I re-read it to check, I didn’t find a single spoiler. To this day I don’t believe there was one. But what it taught me is there isn’t a finite definition of spoilers in the book community. It ranges according to what each individual book blogger believes.
Is that really a spoiler?!
I do believe if a reader chooses to read a review about a book then it stands to reason there are some topics that will be talked about. For example, love interests. I try really hard not to touch on anything to do with the romance in my reviews that I would consider shocking or unexpected. But I do talk about the love interest. That isn’t a spoiler!
But my discussion today isn’t to debate what a spoiler is or isn’t. Many wonderful book bloggers have written posts about spoilers, some in the last 6 months alone that touch on spoilers in profound ways. (If you want to link your spoiler discussion with your comment that would be excellent!)
I want to talk about book spoiler responsibility.
Back in October while I was in the midst of learning some terrible news about a loved one’s health and going in and out of the hospital with this person… I received a very nicely worded message on twitter from a lovely book blogger accusing me of spoiling them on Goodreads.
The message started out so apologetic that I was very shocked and surprised that I made this blunder and spoiled this book for this lovely person. As they started to explain I became quite confused. Apparently there is a small link on each book page in Goodreads that will show you all the status updates from recent readers of that particular book.
And if you choose to click on that link, horrible offenders, like me, may have included a spoiler in their status update. Irregardless of whether what I posted was really a spoiler or not…
Why the hell are you checking status updates about a book you haven’t read yet… but plan to soon?!
You’re so worried about being spoiled but you check out this obscure link where you know you’re getting updates from all of Goodreads and not just from your specially curated list of friends. What did you expect?!
Nevertheless I was truly sorry this book blogger felt spoiled. While I disagree that what I wrote were spoilers I know that what constitutes a spoiler is different for everyone. It didn’t change this person felt spoiled.
#1 – Are you reading about a book where there could be spoilers?
If the answer is yes, then you’re responsible for your spoiling! Places like reviews, Goodreads book pages, and book articles could have unintended or intended spoilers. (I don’t know who would include deliberate spoilers without a tag but you never know.)
Other places you choose to go that may have book spoilers is twitter and Instagram. I personally don’t have experience with this one…? But random messages from twitter aside, you curate who you follow. You can also choose to avoid twitter around the time of a major book release. On Instagram don’t click into pictures of books you’re anticipating.
The risk isn’t worth it. But remember you chose. No one is forcing you to look.
#2 – Don’t fret if you are spoiled; spoilers are about context.
Fred Weasley killed Professor Plum in the conservatory with a poisoned chocolate frog.
Yup, I’m mega pissed off! That is a major twist I never saw coming. I won’t be able to forget that little fact. It’ll haunt me the entire time I read the book. That is a spoiler. It has specific information with all the context you need to understand how it fits into the story.
I was shocked at who the murderer was, his method was too ingenious!
This isn’t a spoiler because it lacks enough facts to determine anything concrete. It’s totally the opinion of the reviewer. There is no context. And because there is no frame of reference it’s easily forgotten too. Read a couple other reviews and all you’ll end up remembering is that one reviewer seemed to enjoy the murder mystery. It may register with you strong enough for you to be intrigued as to whether you’ll be shocked too. But that is quite the gifted reviewer.
#3 – Try not to spoil others. But also remember it’s your review. It’s your status update.
Being consistent is the best service to others. If you don’t consider talking about the love interest as a spoiler then go for it. Those reading your reviews will pick up on what you write about. Own your opinion. You can’t please everyone without totally white washing your reviews. No one wants to read reviews that say nothing!