June 8, 2012

Armchair BEA: Here’s a Tip

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Please bear with me through this, I have a point.


Over the years, I’ve heard some writers say that they feel pressured by agents or publishers to have an online presence. They need to use Twitter, have a Facebook account, blog. I agree that an author should have some place online where readers can go to find out about signings or their next book, but if an author is begrudgingly writing posts about a great cup of coffee or shoe shopping, she shouldn’t do it. They are writers not car salespeople. They shouldn’t feel they need to ABS (Always Be Selling). Unfortunately, that pressure has been spilling over into blogging, with the exception that this isn’t our livelihood.

I was stalking the Book Blogger Convention on Twitter on Monday when Booksmugglers tweeted this quote from the panel on Publishing and Blogger Relationships. (Edit: Ana gives some more insight on this and other panels in a write up).

booksmug
Booksmugglers live tweeting of BEA Panel on Publisher/Blogger Relationships

Soooo….that got a lot of people talking, including myself and Andi. We had quite a conversation about it. I’m going to play the devil’s advocate for a moment and assume that the speaker meant that quote differently. Perhaps s/he meant that a blogger that’s been around for awhile has more contacts and thus can ask for interviews and Q&As, etc without getting shot down. I don’t know I wasn’t there to hear it.

But…

If the speaker believes that “mature” bloggers do all that, s/he doesn’t know me. I’ve been doing this for 5 years, that’s pretty mature, and you’ll rarely see those things here. Here’s the thing: there is no one size fits all blogger. We all have our own tastes and value some things more than others. Every blog should not look the same. We need variety. Some people do all that stuff and are great at it and love it, but it’s not for me. It’s not for everyone! You have to do your own thing or you’ll burn out. Like most bloggers, I do this for me and for the hell of it. If I felt I had to do things a certain way, I would go bonkers.

I’m always surprised by newer bloggers who say, “You can review older books?” And I say, sure, why not? It’s your blog. You can post gifs of dancing cats if you want. Knock yourself out. Do whatever you want! Go! Do! That’s my advice. And if you love to do cover reveals and Q&As do that too.

Funny Pictures of Cats with Captions

To that speaker: you don’t need all that to promote your book. Just get the right book to the right blogger and that blogger won’t stop talking about it. We don’t see it as “promoting” as much as “loving.” You can’t shut us up once we get started! I’m still talking about books I read 6 months ago.

Since we’re talking about the future of blogging today, I can (and have) seen a lot of book bloggers saying no to that kind of publisher/blogger relationship to cultivate the smaller “you’re not just a billboard” ones or refuse review copies altogether.

Anyway, that’s how I feel. Whew! It might not be fair to write a post on 140 character tweet about an event I wasn’t attending, but there you go.

Go! Read! Blog!

42 comments :

  1. I still don't understand the big deal about cover reveals, but that's just me.
    I completely agree with everything you've written. The blogosphere would be extremely boring (and probably irrelevant) if we all looked the same -- much like the world at large, hmmmm?

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    1. They are not for me but people seem to go crazy about them. I like a nice cover but I don't get that excited about it.

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  2. I don't see what the hoopla is about cover reveals either. One thing that attracks me to a blog is the frequency of animal pics. I don't care if the blogger reads material I will never read. Those animal pics are too cute to miss.

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  3. I think the best thing that you can do for your blog is to be authentic. It would be so boring if all of the blogs were the same.

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    1. Being authentic is the best way to blog.

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  4. Do what you want. It's your blog. If you do what you like, you'll like doing it.

    Somehow that concept seems to get lost when blogging becomes competitive.

    This post is brilliance.

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    1. It's gotten very competitive over the years.

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  5. I agree so much with you. The books I promote hard are the ones I love, you couldn't pay me to shut up about. I never really got people who proselytize their religion until I became a book blogger, now I get it. Everyone should read the books I love.

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    1. I've heard of bloggers who recommend books to strangers in book stores- where they don't even work!

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  6. Book Blogging used to be people talking about books. Now, it's that and so much more and some bloggers who used to do it as a hobby, are now doing it for money. No problem with that. I just wish everyone would loosen up and not criticize those of us that just want to keep it simple and focus on books. Some have gotten big heads over it. Oh, and just to be clear... not referring to the Book Smugglers here.

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    1. Just to clarify, cause I don't want to get in trouble, Book Smugglers were live tweeting the panel. So they were just quoting the speaker. Actually, they didn't seem too impressed by it either.

      But yeah, I think it's becoming the expectation now. it's not just a hobby anymore.

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  7. Great post! I agree with you. I started book blogging in 2007 and I'm still at it, but doing it my way on my own terms. I get tired of hearing how I should be doing it. I may not be a star in the book-blogging community, but I am consistent and content with my choices.

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  8. Um, how is it a BLOGGER's job to promote books?! That is ridiculous. I suppose I am bound to disagree because I don't think of bloggers are being press, exactly, to the extent that we need to "cover" a book. I just read and review and that's it. I didn't even know cover reveals were a "thing," and I've never read an author interview/Q&A because I just don't find those interesting. Perhaps I'm a very old-school blogger, which is fine with me, if it gives me that much more time to actually read :-)

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    1. I was never big on Q&A's either. I just can't come up with good questions. Some people come up with the funniest ones but I'm no good at it.

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  9. I wasn't there either, but judging by the recap posts I've seen so far by people you were, I'd say you're pretty much spot on. There are has many valid ways to blog about books as there are readers, and I really wish the organisers of the convention had remembered that.

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    1. The Uncon sounds like it was very interesting. I wish more people had talked about that.

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  10. I usually ignore those tweets and posts telling us what we should or shouldn't do. If we all did Q/A and promoted like crazy, we'd all start to sound like nothing but advertisements or clones of each other and that is not only boring but a turn-off! I visit blogs because I like the individuals behind them. I want to see personality and love of books, not ads. And, dancing cat gifs. Yes, indeedy.

    I will never be a popular blogger because of all that, but that's fine. I gave up interviews when they became common and giveaways when they became a burden. I'm slowly moving to backlist titles. The last thing I want is to be a ditto. My blog, my choice. Love this post!

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    1. Giveaways are a lot of work. God love the people who do them! Especially those who mail everything themselves.

      And you will always find cats here. :)

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  11. Thanks for letting us know that Book Smuggler's was just quoting. I was about to say -- wow, that was real snobbish of her to say that! ;)

    I don't think that there is any real way to blog about books. I never read Q&As and I don't like doing interviews, myself. I don't watch vlogs. Basically when I see a review I just want to know if the book was good or bad and what it was about. The longer it is, the less likely I am to finish reading it. I have the attention span of a gnat. Short and sweet can't be beat. :)

    Allison

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    1. My reviews used to be longer. It's not that I didn't enjoy doing them but either I'm more busy now or have become more concise.

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  12. Great post! I do a mix of books, but just because I review something doesn't mean I'm going to continually "promote" it. However, it's true that if I like something I probably won't shut up about it. Also, great cat gif.

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  13. People have told you they didn't know you could review old books? Wow. I know some people say they get less traffic when they review older books, but that hasn't been true for me. I often get some of my best comments on posts about older books; people have read them and have opinions they want to share. I love that.

    There was some discussion at the UNCON about whether we'd see more bloggers abandoning review copies altogether while others get more absorbed into promotional activities, with few left occupying the middle ground of accepting a review copy now and then. I hope that doesn't happen, but I'd rather give up review copies than be expected to do cover reveals and giveaways and such--not that I've *ever* had a publisher demand something like that. Most seem happy if I accept a pitch at all, with no strings attached.

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    1. I don't know who the speaker was or who they represented but most of the pubs I've dealt with have been very accommodating. I've had some great experiences. Any that made me feel uncomfortable, I've just ignored and deleted their emails.

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  14. Love your post, have to agree with you that everyone should feel free to blog in their own way. Also can't agree with that quote either (I think it's pretty mature to write a thoughtful review or any review after you read a book.)

    Also the gif of that cat dancing is quite mesmerizing. :)

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    1. I agree with your definition of "mature." ;)

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  15. Excellent advice. I saw some of the chatter on twitter about this as well.. I like your take, and thanks for linking up some wrap-up posts about the panel itself!

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  16. I do this because I love reading and talking books with other readers. If I love your book, I'll take it along for the ride.

    However, I don't do it to give *almost* free publicity, that is a marketing or PR person's job....the one they get, you know, paid for.

    I think that book blogging needs more and more individualization or we all look like sheeple. Do it your way is right.

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  17. I am shocked. Haven't you read the rule book? There are to be no dancing cat gifs on book blogs young lady.

    :)

    But seriously...I love this post and the sentiment behind it. I applaud all the bloggers who want to do interviews and cover reveals and all the other stuff they want to do but as a blogger I have neither the time nor the inclination for those things and get a bit tired of having to justify to publishing types why I don't want to host a tour/accept an ARC or do any of that.

    To be honest as a reader and a book blog surfer I'm not really interested in reading much of that other stuff either but that does't mean I don't think it should be done - I'm happy to skip those posts on blogs I otherwise read - I can live and let live.

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  18. EXACTLY!!! If I love a book, I will promote the f#%$ out of it just because I will shove it into peoples hands until everyone has read it, lol. I really can't stand this idea that bloggers have a "responsibility" to do certain things. Whatever! I started my blog because I enjoy talking about books and enjoy talking about them with other people. Maybe (certainly) I'll never have 500 followers because of that, but I'm fine with that...Truth is, I love my little circle of friends and will always welcome anyone new who wants to join that circle...but I'm not going to become a media whore for publishers....That's a bit blunt but well... :p

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    1. Tell them how you really feel, Chris! lol!

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  19. I think whoever said that has to not know very much about book blogs. Publishers naturally want publicity machines, not necessarily good blogs.

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  20. I recall seeing that the speaker was a representative from NetGalley -- which is already somewhere that doesn't seem to understand book bloggers very well with their focus on providing blog stats to procure review copies. I guess that bloggers are starting to look like an extension of the publicity department for a publisher. It's our job to differentiate ourselves, to not become a part of the machine, to provide honest reviews/discussions. I'm definitely onboard for that and I'll read blogs that do the same!

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    1. I like how you say "it's our job to differentiate ourselves." I agree, we're not just another part of the machine. I was disappointed that it had been Netgalley that said that.

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  21. I completely agree, and feel that the speaker missed the point of book blogging (though honestly the whole conference sounds like it missed the point). If people want to do those things good on them, but it's not for everyone. I personally could never come up with good questions for an interview, and I've turned down opportunities to interview because if you're scheduled to do it before reviewing the book and it turns out you didn't like the book...

    Bottom line is most of us start blogging as a hobby, no matter where we end up with it, and unless someone is going to pay you, you're not going to want to turn that hobby into a chore.

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    1. Yeah, that's an awkward situation. What do you ask when all say is, "I hated your book."

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  22. This kind of message from publishers has been popping up a bit lately I've noticed (which is saying a lot considering I don't use Twitter and I don't hang out much on the internet!). Seems to me that, aside from most publishers realising, acknowledging and even being happy with the kind of exposure bloggers give their books without being paid for the service, some of them still want to have some kind of control of the message perhaps.

    I think, if that's true, they probably can't help it - it's how they think of books after all. The internet thing is still so new for everyone, we haven't really sorted out our respective place in the scheme of things or what the "rules" are, if there can ever be any.

    Regardless of any publisher or industry person hoping that our personal book blogs could conform to some kind of standard that would do them a favour, they need to realise that they can't control book blogging and shouldn't try. On the other hand, sure I think that book bloggers, especially if you wanted to work with publishers and authors, have a responsibility to, I don't know, be somewhat professional? (As a personal feeling, not an obligation or rule. See how hard it is to talk about book blogging without falling into the same traps?! Ugh.)

    Because yeah, this isn't our job, this is our passion and our free time and our personal space and I love that they reflect our many varied different styles and tastes and interests, and that they all look different and sound different. Otherwise what's the point?

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