Sunday, July 15, 2012
Book Blogger Confessions
Book Blogger Confessions is a meme that posts the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month, where book bloggers "confess" and vent about topics that are unique to us. Feel free to share, vent and offer solutions.
Just keep it respectful - no bashing authors or other bloggers!
If you want to participate just grab our button and include it in your post with a link to either Tiger's All Consuming Media or For What It's Worth.
Question: What do we owe publishers and authors? If we accept ARC’s do we “owe” anything to them or just an honest review to our followers? As book bloggers are we obligated to do more than just review books? Post covers – participate in book tours – host guest posts - promote authors?
Relationships with publishers are a tricky thing. One I have mostly stayed away from. I don’t see an issue with requesting books for review or forming relationships with publishers as long as you stay professional and remain honest with your followers. It's when you start blogging in a way that you're more worried about offending the publisher than being honest with your followers that I think leads to problems.
In just over two years of blogging I have only requested a handful of books. (10 tops) from publishers and on Netgalley I've requested @20. Even after finally being brave enough to make a few (3) publisher contacts, I’m very hesitant to request too many books.
For me it seems fairly simple. You owe a honest and timely review. That’s it. Most publishers give you a time frame of when they want your review posted, usually within a month of the books release date.
I do think the publisher has the right to give deadlines and require links to the review or the right to turn down future requests if the blogger repeatedly misses those obligations. We shouldn’t be requesting more books than we are able to read and review during their required time frame. It’s a privilege to be offered free books (often 6 months in advance of the public) for review. Being overwhelmed with 30 books to read doesn’t seem like a good excuse to me. You kind of know you can’t read & review that many on time so only request what you can handle.
I have to admit that this happened to me early on in my blogging days. I accepted too many author requests and couldn’t get to them all and I felt horrible. Lesson learned.
Publishers are usually very flexible and even understand if you don’t wish to review a book after you've read it or if something came up and you really didn’t have time to meet the review deadline. Just make sure you keep the line of communication open with your contact if you have one.
The follower/stat requirements for which bloggers get on their mailing lists seem quite arbitrary & frustrating at times but that’s their prerogative. We aren’t owed a damn thing just because we have a blog. ARC’s cost money and publishers expect to get something in return. There’s nothing wrong with that. It's up to them who the books go to.
The question of whether we owe more than reviews was brought up during the Book Blogger Con 2012 in NYC (coinciding the same week as BEA). I did not attend the Blogger Con but from the blog posts I read from those who attended, it seems that publishers think we should be doing much more than just writing reviews. (correct me if I'm wrong BBC attendees)
I do have a problem with that. Not the idea of participating in cover reveals or blog tours or anything like that but the idea that we SHOULD be doing it to be taken seriously as a blogger.
This is a hobby for almost all of us. I promote books because I love reading, authors because I love their work. I do not do it out of any sense of obligation or as quid pro quo. One problem I see with becoming a conduit for publishers is that your followers quickly get turned off knowing you haven’t actually read the books your pushing. It’s just promotion and they can sense that. One of the reasons for the explosion in popularity of book review blogs IMO is that our passion and joy of books shines through unlike the traditional press. We connect and discuss books in a way that they can't. Once you only become a publicity machine on behalf of publishers you lose that credibility.
Please don’t get me wrong – if you want to host guest posts or hop on a book tour because you enjoy doing it – go for it!!!! I do all of those things. I mean don’t do it just to get on the publishers good side so you might be able to score yourself an ARC. Oh…… those ARC’s make some bloggers behave in very strange, mysterious ways…..lol
I don’t think we should be obligated to do any of those things to prove our worth to the industry though. This may come off rude or arrogant and I apologize if it does but we’ve become a huge enthusiastic fan base that basically provides free publicity for books and authors. We shouldn't have to prove anything. We don't *work* for publishers - we blog for ourselves.
I think it's tough for the publishing industry to deal with such a diverse group of people with an unknown outcome when they hand that book over. I think we'll hit some rough patches figuring out what we want from vs what we owe each other but I'm hopeful that it will work out in the end. I was very pleased with the interactions that I had with every publisher at BEA this year. Past years hadn't been so pleasant. I think we need to start listening to each other and have more realistic expectations from both sides.
So that’s my long rambling way of saying I have no problem with the publisher/blogger relationship. As long as you are respectful of their requirements and don’t view it as something they *owe* us. Also blog honestly – not for the next book score.
What do you think? Even if you’ve never received a book for review do you still think it’s a bloggers *job* to promote books for publishers?