Books as… Babies O_o? And Giambattista Valli

A few years ago, well, okay, RomCon 2010, there was a panel that was rather controversial. It was… I think about reviewing books? Something like that. But all the talk became all “books are babies.” Apparently it was an author/reviewer panel. I don’t know who the reviewers on the panel were. I do know there were people from SBTB, DA, TGTBTU, and JR at the conferences, and none of them were on that panel. I’m not commenting on the panel, just bringing up an observation someone made to me. I didn’t go to it.

I believe it was actually a (the?) reviewer who said people shouldn’t leave “negative” reviews because books are the author’s babies. I’m gagging a little as I write it. I realize it’s a lot of work to write a book. In fact, at this point in my life I doubt I could write a book, even if I wanted to. (Which I don’t.) While I don’t have any kids… I’m going to say the two – writing a book and giving birth – are not comparable. Authors who have done both, please feel free to jump in here.

I have, however, read a lot of books, reviewed them, beta’d them, and so on. And worked with a lot of kids. Generally not babies, but inner city, at-risk kids, from K-12. (Usually I work with K-5 in whatever setting.) I definitely don’t treat books the same as the “babies.”

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of “Happy Book Birthday!” tweets on Tuesday, which is generally when new books are released. This… totally skeeves me out. The whole book = baby, being born thing… *shudders* it kinda turns my stomach.

What are your thoughts? Am I being too sensitive here? I’m really curious as to what your opinion is if you’re a reader. And if you’re an author. If you’re both, mind letting me know under both hats?

I really wish I had an image to share with you. I even googled various phrases searching for such an image, and nothing. (And people, doesn’t the fact that there are no pictures in google images for any of those phrases telling? Stop! Please! So yeah. Now you know how I feel. I didn’t want to share my opinion in the fears it’d color yours, but I can’t help it. I’m also more than fine with you disagreeing with me.)

I know Tessa Dare did an experiment of sorts when that panel happened, and she diapered one of her books and observed. (Heh.) But I’m not going to try to find her twitpic or whatever client she used from ~16 months ago.

Speaking of “social experiments.” I’ve got a favor to ask of you, please. Do you have a Macy’s nearby? Do you ever go to it, or would it be possible for you to go? I want to you go check and see if they’ve got/are carrying the Giambattista Valli collection. Regardless of if they do or not, please let me know your general whereabouts? I’m curious. Here, the one we went to, there was nothing, and the clerks even looked at me beyond blankly.

0 thoughts on “Books as… Babies O_o? And Giambattista Valli

  1. Avery Flynn

    OK, I’m a reader and a writer. Also, I have three kids (9,5,3). Writing is hard, exhausting and on the bad days I wonder why in the hell am I voluntarily doing this to myself. However, my books are not my babies. As frustrating as they may be at times, my books do not puke on me. 🙂 That said, the creative process can feel a bit like birth because you are creating something where nothing existed before.

  2. Liz

    Funny post, Lime! People who compare things that aren’t babies to babies are just too strange. I’m a mother and also an author. I can tell you that while it bothers me if someone didn’t like what I wrote, it’s not even in the same ballpark as when my daughter tells me someone at school is mean to her and I want to go have a talk with their parents.

    As an author, I think you have to have a thick skin, but bad reviews aren’t a death sentence unless you let them be. The only thing I’ve never cared for – and it’s not happened to me but to a friend – is when a reviewer strays from the review of the book and attacks the author. But books aren’t babies. Even in diapers. 🙂

  3. Joanna Chambers (Tumperkin)

    I agree. As a writer, no, my books are not my babies. As a reader, I really don’t like that whole thing. I firmly believe that readers are entitled to say what they like about a book and personalising a product in that way can have an inhibiting effect on that.

  4. Paula

    Hi Lime!

    The term is used (at least the way I understand it) because it takes a lot of sweat and tears to produce a book, with the writer putting their heart and soul into it, bleeding over the page (most times…). But put me in the NOT camp – it really squicks me out when authors refer to them as babies. Sure, it’s a product that’s come from inside you and will forever be a part of you, however, IT’S A STORY. Made up. From your imagination. If a reviewer savages your book, yeah, you feel gutted, you wanna cry and yell.. ‘but why do that hate *me*??’ No, they don’t. They just didn’t like the way you strung your words together. But if someone says nasty things about your child, there is simply no comparison. You are furious because this IS YOUR CHILD and their happiness and well being is being attacked. Sorry, but saying a story you made up is awful is not the same as calling your child ugly (who the heck publicly calls someone else’s child ugly?)

  5. wickedlilpixie

    I can take Happy Release day, but the Happy Book Birthday always makes me wanna yack. And why don’t we say Happy Book Birthday after year 1 😉 Honestly, if you don’t write a single negative review, I don’t trust your reviews.

  6. KD Sarge

    Reader and Author here! Writer and writing teacher Holly Lisle will smack down anyone referring to their book as their “baby” because then how are you going to chop the heck out of it and edit as needed? I’m completely on her side on that.

    It’s just another of those clichés that needs to go. Someone reached for an easy comparison, and it caught on. But it’s not a USEFUL comparison.


  7. shiloh walker

    FYI…. I had oral surgery today and can’t concentrate worth jack. I can barely see past the heading… but….


    I didn’t carry them for nine months. ( did that with my kids.)

    I didn’t risk my life to birth them. (did that with my kids…and yes, folks, birthing babies is still serious business…Yes, people, women still die in childbirth. In America.

    I wouldn’t throw myself in front of a bullet for my books. I would for my kids, without hesitation.

    I wouldn’t sacrifice everything I have to see to the safety and wellbeing of my books. I would do that…and more…. for my kids.

    Any author who places the value of their books at or above the value of their kids either doesn’t HAVE kids, or has seriously skewed priorities, if you ask me.

    Being able to write is a wonderful gift, yes.

    But children are infinitely more precious.

  8. Julie Leto

    My books are not my babies. My baby is my baby…even if she’s now a teen. 🙂 My books are my work. Does it hurt when people criticize? Of course. Is it anywhere NEAR how I feel if someone criticizes my child? NOT. EVEN. CLOSE.

  9. Amber

    I’ve been hearing a lot of stuff lately (though it could just be that I’m more sensitive to it these days) about how reviewers and readers need to go easy on books (ie. authors). Things like “if it was good enough to get published, then it has earned at least four stars” and “if you don’t like it, but someone could love it, then it deserves five stars anyways”. It drives me crazy. Stars have a meaning that were set a long time ago. Yes, it varies a bit person-by-person, but there is a certain shared understanding of them, and it’s NOT that everyone gets 4 and 5 stars all the time!

    The baby analogy reminds me of all this. Just another explanation for why authors need coddling. A book is not a baby, it’s a product. When I review it fairly (with my own opinion, of course), I am doing everyone a service: mostly the readers, but even the author, publisher, etc.

    I’ve had a baby and written a book. They have some things in common, though I don’t personally relate the two. I don’t find the comparison skeevy, it’s just not that accurate. Having a baby changes you’re entire life, physically and mentally and everything, and writing a book is a nice, possibly-money-making accomplishment. Not equal.

  10. Laura Anne Gilman

    I have been known to refer to my books as my “kids” – along the line of “how can you ask me to choose a favorite, it depends which one has annoyed me most today” sort of thing. So no – not “babies.” As a writer, a reader, and an editor, I can empathize with the “part of me” feeling, but I don’t have much patience with it.

    And taking negative reviews is part of the deal, along with the good ones. Anyone who can’t handle that, no matter what they may/may not call their books, needs to get out of this field, for their own mental health.

    (However, I think the “happy book birthday” has less to do with the ‘baby’ aspect, and more to do with “look! It’s out in the world! Celebrate!” Which is a pretty positive and useful wish, after so much work and worry….)

  11. beguilethysorrow

    I’ve heard the analogy of birth and the process of writing a book before but I didn’t take it seriously because I thought it as a hyperbole. And luckily I’ve never heard any authors that have used that analogy go overboard with it to the point that it worried me that they might not be sane or recognise that books aren’t as important as humans/life though. I actually am a frequent user (offender?) of hyperbole and random crazy declarations on t-shirts like “dance is my life” and “books are my world” LOL.

  12. beguilethysorrow

    oh almost forgot, I do have a Macys fairly near but I’m not planning on going any time soon. But if I do end up there I’ll be sure and ask and let u know what they say or if they have the collection:)


Join the conversation!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.