These are my thoughts on various trends that have me rolling my eyes, raising my eyebrows and in general wondering about the state of book blogging. I’ve discussed readathons, giveaways, blog hops, rules, reasons to start blogging, followers, comments, overdoing guest blogging, reviewing, and writing expertise.
What is it with bloggers? It seems we will take any little thing and blow it up into ridiculous proportions. Anyone remember Franzengate? How about the FTC mandate? What about a beloved blogger who dared compare U.S. bloggers with British bloggers? The furor over the BBAW awards? These are all memorable moments in the blogging world, as they quickly became scandals of epic proportions.
On the one hand, one can never fault book bloggers for being passionate. We love our books, authors, and publishers. We will defend them until we take our last breath. This passion, however, is a double-edged sword, as there is the distinct tendency to go a wee bit overboard when it comes to rallying a defense.
This passion can be a very good thing. Laurie Halse Anderson’s response to her novel, Speak, being banned because someone considered the rape scenes pornographic, with the subsequent outcry by bloggers and publishers alike, was an amazing and worthwhile event. Banned Book Week is always another phenomenal rallying point. Book bloggers use their voices to speak their minds and defend worthwhile causes every day.
My issue is when bloggers try to make something out of nothing. Last week’s debacle over William Morrow’s policy change for bloggers was a great example of this. All the publicists are trying to do is drive down costs and ensure that everyone receives the books that they want to receive. Also, they want to ensure that the money they are spending is being used to maximum effect by suggesting a time frame for bloggers to finish the reviews. Yet the furor this announcement caused was absolutely ridiculous. As someone else stated, if bloggers can have review policies and limit what books one will receive, why can’t publishers not have a similar policy? More importantly, why was this even an issue for bloggers? Publishers are not here to give us unlimited free review copies. Those review copies we receive for free cost a lot of money to print and to send. If publishers are not seeing reviews for these novels in a timely fashion, i.e. when they will have the most impact on book sales, then sending out these review copies is not helping them recoup those costs. It’s simple business.
The harsh reality is that book bloggers will quickly lose their credence and their power should they start creating a scandal over every single issue. If the furor over review copy policies implemented by publishers continues, then publishers will no longer want to work with bloggers but spend their money sending copies to those who appreciate them. If book bloggers continue to try to make scandals out of nothing, or at least fail to discuss certain hot topics with cooler heads, then our voices, which we prize so dearly, will quickly be ignored. I, for one, do not want to see this happen.
So, my fellow bloggers, let’s let cooler heads prevail. Not everything has to be scandalous. Not everything is a personal attack against bloggers. Keep your heads and keep your voices. It is the only we will continue to make our mark in the world.
It’s your turn. How do you feel about the fact that we seem to see a scandal a week in the blogger world? Is it justified or too much?
I have too much drama at work for me to want to tolerate it in my blogging life as well.
Thanks, Jenny! I guess I don't see it as a slippery slope at all. Publishers know a good thing when they have one, and I doubt they are going to do anything to harm their relationship with bloggers. I just see the WM announcement as a business decision and a request for more consideration when requesting ARCs.
Thanks, Colleen! I felt the same way, and I never want to be lumped with those who are over-reacting so badly like they were. Just because they were vocal does not mean that they spoke for everyone.
True. Weeding out the mediocre bloggers who are in it purely for the books and not for the love of reading and sharing opinions may not be a bad thing…
Exactly. After two years, I still feel the same way about ARCs. Every one of them is a treat, and I do try to get to them in a timely manner. I'm not always that good about it, but my goal for 2012 is to get much better, even if it means turning down ARCs. If anything, WM's new policy is totally in line with one I set for myself, making me scratch my head even harder at the over-reactions I saw.
I caught the tail end of it, which was enough to have me shut down Twitter for the rest of the day. I still think people made a huge deal out of nothing.
Well said. Thanks, Donna!
I understand that. I think it is precisely because there is so much drama at work that I prefer my after-work hobbies to be as drama-free as possible.
Thanks, Ti! I still don't get it. Even some of the comments here have me scratching my head.
I don't think that what WM did was out of line. They are not dictating what we write in our reviews. They are just asking us to be more careful in requesting ARCs and to post our reviews in a more timely fashion. There was nothing in the letter that indicated that they were only going to target those bloggers with higher stats. It was just a request.
Yeahhh I don't get it. So much drama. I dislike drama, except when it is hilarious, but even then it gets old.
My recent post Review: Wicked and Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire
I appreciate your insight. Having read the letter, I do not necessarily see how others were interpreting it to mean that there was the potential for greater restrictions at a later date. Maybe that's just me. WM is too well-respected to start limiting the voices they have when it comes to bloggers, and every publisher knows that we are doing this out of our own free time of our own free will. To me, it is a big leap to further restrictions on the types of reviews posted to asking that bloggers be more careful in what ARCs they request and when they post the review.
Thanks, Amy. I still don't understand why there was such a big fuss. It wasn't as if WM was establishing hard deadlines to which every blogger must adhere. I'm sure it is only a matter of time before the next scandal hits the feeds.
Oh well I'm so out of the loop because I missed all the bru-ha-ha. I do all the sides of this argument though: WM is revising their policy, it's a business decision, blogging is not supposed to be all about free books, potential slippery slope of WM policy, etc. I do not like unsolicited books anyway. Besides, the library has plenty of free books people! Mine is free, not all are i know, but how much could the yearly fee be?
I agree with you, blow up the big issues, not the inane ones. The boy who cried wolf people 🙂
My recent post Guest post, Excerpt, and Contest from Jessica James, author of Noble Cause
I thought the letter from WM made sense – book publishing is a business and sending books and ARCs costs money – there needs to be a ROI on it. I am sure they understand when life gets in the way and they are not proposing penalizing those people but rather ensuring that they don't send books to people that really have no intent of reviewing the book. I felt the reaction from many bloggers reflected poorly on the rest of us. Thanks for speaking out on this!
My recent post Virtual Advent: Ornaments from Around The World
Amen. I wish you'd been around when it all exploded. I lost two hours of my life trying to bring some sanity to the drama.
My recent post Liesl & Po [Audiobook Review]
Luckily I try to stay out of all the blogger feuds and uproars. As a high school teacher there is enough drama in my work life to last me!
My recent post Review: Commencement
I feel as you do. The whole thing is just ridiculous. A chosen few, get their panties in a wad and decide to speak on behalf of everyone. I had no problems with the Morrow letter. I think the ones who did have a problem, are probably the ones they meant to target. The ones that receive the books, yet sit on them. I mean, why get defensive about it unless you are the main reason for the letter to begin with?
They need to get over themselves.
My recent post Review: The Bungalow
But then I'm not really that invested in the book blogging community being respectable, or professional. My numbers are never going to be high enough to give me a voice the professional sphere of the book world is interested in, so my opinion differs from a lot of other people's.
PS Why does this comment form think my comment is too long, but let bart post his as one? They look about the same size.
My recent post The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Smugglivus (Guest Post)
Interesting post, I have to admit to feeling similar to you on this one!! It all seemed… a bit crazy? I mean, the time line is a bit much if it was a hard and fast rule as sometimes life does come up, it's not our job or life to review books… but as a general guideline I thought it was just the same as me saying my SEND ME ONE MORE UNSOLICITED REVIEW COPY AND I'LL NEVER READ YOUR BOOKS AGAIN rant. lol
My recent post Review: The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu