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June 1st, 2009

1:57 PM

Do bloggers need that much love and attention from authors?

Point of reference:

Okay, let's assume that I am also a blogger, since I'm online and I'm babbling about romance novels most of the time. But I guess this is where I and the rest of the other bloggers go different ways because to me, maintaining my website is a hobby even if it's a time consuming one. I never expect freebies (although I won't mind getting some), I never expect to be paid in any way, and I will keep doing this as long as I have the drive in me to do so, even if I get a traffic of 5 people a day and 4 out of them is me checking to see whether my pages have been uploaded correctly.

Of course, I'd feel curious if my current daily visitors drop from the usual 1500-2000 range to 5, but I'd just shake my head if that happens and assume that my sell-by date has passed.

Which is why I don't understand the "what bloggers want from publishers and authors" thing. I'm not saying that anyone who believes differently from me is wrong or greedy or whatever, let me make this clear, I just don't understand their way of thinking.

The points that were raised at the NYC Book Expo America were supposed to be that bloggers:

-Wants more relationships with bookstores. Would love to highlight certain bookstores from small and large to independent.

Er, why would I want to do that? What "relationships" do we need for a blogger to just highlight a bookstore when that can be done voluntarily? Maybe I am reading this wrongly, which is likely, but "relationships" seem suspiciously like a call for freebies or attention here.

-If a publisher or author is interested in a blogger reviewing a book, they should really check out the blogs review policy and if the blogger likes to read that certain book that is being asked to review. Bloggers need time to read because blogging is very much a hobby and because of real life issues, expecting a book review where a book is only given two weeks before the due date is not realistic. Publishers and authors should understand time restraints.

This is fair to me, although I find it interesting that every new blog that is started nowadays has a cry for book submission for review. I know time is hard and free books are always wonderful, but still... 

-Communication is very important. Publishers and authors should build relationships with bloggers. It is very much a give and take situation. If a blogger is going to go out of their way to take the time and energy to post a review, an author and or publisher should link the review on their site.

I am not interested in being the best friends of folks in publishing houses and I don't care if authors link to my reviews, quote me, or whatever. I can imagine why some folks do, since it's a form of recognition for their blogging "work", but me, I'd settle for way much less than direct address from authors and publishers because they do not factor in my plans at all when I started doing what I do back in 1999.

-Sometimes lesser known blogs or blogs just starting to find their footing are a great way for author promotion. These bloggers will be enthusiastic and go out of their way to promote and author's work and post contests.

Bad idea. New blogs = no traffic, so I don't understand how blogs with low traffic can help promote anyone. This is like another cry for attention. "I'm a new blogger entitled to love and freebies from authors so give them to me today!"

Am I the only one uneasy with this constant association of blogs by bloggers with author promotions? I know, this is a good way to get freebies from authors, but eh, maybe I'm just an old-fashioned conservative purist dinosaur who can't keep up with the time, but I like to imagine that the purpose of blogs should be first and foremost to inform, rather than sell things, to people.

-The bloggers could not give enough praise to Twitter. Twitter is a great way for bloggers to network. And if a book review blogger twitters a message to an author, it would be nice if an author could twitter back.

Twitter... oh don't make me laugh. Why do you need Twitter to network when you already have blog softwares like Wordpress that automatically shows all the blog entries out there that list to you? And again, the mention that book reviewers would love attention and acknowledgement from authors. Sigh.

-They also mentioned they are wary of working with big commercial book sellers like Amazon , Barnes and Noble and Borders.

Except... most of these blogs will not hesitate to carry Amazon affiliate links. There are many things wrong with Amazon, but let's face it, they are just taking advantange of a market environment that allows them to seize a monopoly on things. And why are poor Borders and B&N get lumped with Amazon?

-Would love to have advertisements on their blogs. But I think these bloggers would rather the advertisers come to them, instead of them asking for ads.

Freebies aren't enough, now they want authors to give them money too? Call me a stingy ass, but since the use of free blog services like Wordpress.com and Google Blog (Blogspot in the old days) is free, I don't understand this constant cry for advertisement revenue. Sure, I'd like to monetize my hobby too, but you don't see me gnashing my teeth and complaining that my time is money, do you?

-They feel blog tours are great.

What is this blog tour thing? Are we talking about those weird "tour" thingies where an author makes the rounds in various blogs putting up the same cut-and-pasted interviews all over the place? If I ever start interviewing authors, I would never do those canned online "please answer this list of questions" thingy - I'd buy a chat software where I can later print out the transcript and then grill the author in real life with spontaneous questions, heh. Because online interviews always have that lack of spontaneity that never appeals to me. What was I talking about again?

-Also recommend that authors should leave a comment on a blog post about their work or some peice of information posted about them. A simple "hello" is all you need.

Another suggestion that pretty much boils down to "LOOK AT ME! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!"

- One important question someone raised from the audience is why would an author do on-line promotion with blogs instead of with Amazon? How can a book blog compete with such a powerhouse like Amazon? Amazon was brought up a great deal in regards to book reviews and promotion.

Why are we comparing blogs to Amazon? Apples and oranges, people! And the fact that there are bloggers out there trying to push their blogs as places an authors should shower freebies, money, love, and attention to... oi. This is like the situation with Perez Hilton or Ain't It Cool News, places that used to be about information dissemination that had soon become monumental online showcases for the creators' special relationships with "VIPs".

I am going to be frank here and say that I personally do not appreciate the idea of blogs being sold as promotional vehicles for authors. If a blog turns into such, I'd personally take it less seriously than before. A blogger selling ad space or accepting freebies is not doing something wrong or unethical, mind you - it's when the blogger goes out of her way to cultivate "special" relationships with authors and publishers that I get put off.

22 comment(s).

Posted by Richard Botchway:

I would like to recieve free girts from Mrs Giggles.
July 1st, 2009 @ 7:37 PM

Posted by XandraG:

It makes more sense if you're treating your blog as a form of citizen journalism (and acting accordingly). Political blogs have common complaints of not being granted access to relevant people/meetings, there's a correlation here w/r/t subject matter. However people should be aware that access=/=freebies (actually, if it were me, access would be worth more)
June 4th, 2009 @ 6:47 AM

Posted by KristieJ:

I agree with pretty much all you say. I don't WANT a relationship with an author, a publisher, Amazon etc. Any of those seems to me to lead to an imbalance - and I have always been and always prefer to be completely neutral. Over the course of time, I have gotten to know a couple of authors that I've become closer to than most - but it's not something I seek out.
I don't want authors sending me books and it's very rare when I say yes to them. I'm on a list for one publisher for ARC's but then it's hard to find books in the stores for this particular publisher here in Canada - and I don't ask for them. I never have asked for free books and can't see me ever doing so. And I agree with Maili and Karen - it's other bloggers who rock my socks.
June 3rd, 2009 @ 11:47 AM

Posted by Karen Scott:

I agree with all of your points. I don't blog to cultivate relationships with authors, I blog because I happen to like the sound of my own keyboard. The rest can be a pain in the arse.

I purposely refuse as many free books as I accept, because when the pressure is on to review, that book will probably not get read. I don't need freebies, I can afford my own books. In fact, I prefer to buy my own books, period.

I agree with Maili, new bloggers should try to build relationships with other readers first.
June 3rd, 2009 @ 3:31 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Don't be silly, why would I mind?

I've complained to Bravenet so many times about the ridiculous word limit and the miniscule size of the comment box, but they don't seem to be care, ugh.
June 2nd, 2009 @ 12:23 PM

Posted by Natasha @ Maw Books:

I noticed that after the second comment cut off at the very end. I hope you don't mind me leaving such a long comment.
June 2nd, 2009 @ 12:14 PM

Posted by K. Z. Snow:

Hello! (Oh, oops, I see you never mentioned me. Damn. I just wasted one of my ration of hellos for the week.)
June 2nd, 2009 @ 4:52 AM

Posted by Natasha @ Maw Books:

Ack! The last half of my comment didn't go through!

Regarding advertising, I was the one to answer that question as I was the only one slightly interested. Everybody else was kind of shaking their head. So to say that all bloggers would love advertisements just isn't true. That's one out of six. And no, I don't use any "free" services and I don't hear any cry for advertisement revenue. I have chosen to persue it simply so I can pay hosting costs, giveaway postage and to pay for trips like the one I just took. And I have no idea where "bloggers would rather advertisers come to them, instead of asking for ads" even comes from. I asked the guy to talk to me after the panel.

Blog tours. We did not even think this would be a topic of discussion, nor did we even plan for it as it wasn't on our list of possibilities. It was a audience hijacked topic. Obviously, they wanted to talk about it. What resulted from this that unlike "real" tours the reviews from virtual tours stay on the web forever and can be found later. Also, we like original tour content.

Amazon. The question was: would bloggers be willing to blog about Amazon's top 20 program or something to that effect. The answer to that question was that bloggers are nervous to tie themselves down to any single outlet of purchase. We don't want to be seen as a commercialized/promotional site for one single entity. I mean, would you? Of course, Amazon affiliates are fine. We all do it.

Yes, we love Twitter. But I don't twitter to get an author to twitter back. Ridiculous. I don't even know what Twitter and WordPress have to do with each other. They aren't even related. So that makes no sense. Pretty much all the book related industries are on Twitter, so it's a nice place to hang out. It's an information exchange service. Lot's of people don't understand but those that do know the power that it can have.

Okay, I hope this comment goes through okay. Thanks for letting me clarify a f
June 2nd, 2009 @ 4:47 AM

Posted by veinglory:

I think the blogverse frequently over-estimates its own importancem individually and as a collective. That said, if you have a blog of any kind and ask for a book many publishers will be nice enough to send you a copy. A fact that constantly amazes me.
June 2nd, 2009 @ 4:28 AM

Posted by Natasha @ Maw Books:

Hi! I'd like to address some of the concerns that you brought up, point by point, if you will be so kind to allow me too. I kind of feel like this is all third person. Being there and hearing the panel is much different than hearing about it on somebody else's blog. The nice thing is that the panel will be available for you to listen to after 6pm EST time tonight on Blog Talk Radio. I hope you take some time to listen to it. Who knows, maybe it will just be adding more fuel to the fire though. :)

Bookseller/bookstore & blogger relationships: This panel took place at a conference that was geared towards booksellers with many of them in the audience. Why wouldn't you talk about this? I can't imagine going up there and saying bloggers have no desire to work with bookstores. That would have gotten the crowd into a frenzy. Yes, not all bloggers have any desire to work with bookstores BUT there are some bloggers who already do and that option is out there and the panel was a nice way to let people know that.

In regards to the whole publishers linking back to reviews, this can sometimes go back to the question, "How did the reviewer get the book in the first place?" When an author or publisher sent the book for review, we read it, we blogged about it and then we told the publisher/author about it, why in the world would they not continue to push the book by not linking to it? They did so much to get it into our hands, why not link to the review? And if it's a good review. Why not? Doesn't hurt them. It's a win/win situation. Even if they didn't send them a book, linking to a good review is easy and doesn't take but a moment. It's good for their business and good for the blogger too.

New blogs = no traffic. I do tend to agree with you on this one. Not all of the opinions on the panel were agreed with everyone but I will say that if an author is having a difficult time getting his/her book onto a popular blog then something is better than nothing.
June 2nd, 2009 @ 3:29 AM

Posted by Tuscan Capo:

Remember the days of yore when a blog was just a place to post ye olde thoughts or have fun? If in the event you make a friend via a blog, that's cool..but I don't get why anyone has a "need" to reach out and expect others touch their lives with a relationship.
June 2nd, 2009 @ 12:03 AM

Posted by JenB:

I'm gonna have to go with you on this one, Mrs. G. All very good points, and ones I've brought up several times myself. Great post.
June 1st, 2009 @ 11:58 PM

Posted by Natasha @ Maw Books:

When I have a moment later today I'd like to post a counter comment that addresses a lot of the points that you brought up. Many of the questions/concerns that you have were in answer to very specific questions that were raised to us on the panel and there are a few things that are a little bit out of contex (for example, I was the only one on the panel interested in advertising - nobody else was cared but it's hard to see this from just a recap).
June 1st, 2009 @ 11:42 PM

Posted by Amy @ My Friend Amy:

Thanks for your thoughts! As the person who said I would be happy to build relationships with bookstores, the main reason is that I have received a lot of grief in the past from indie stores for linking to Amazon. Quite honestly, yes it's all about a bit of back scratching. If you want me to link to you, what are you going to do for me?

From my experience in blogging and blogging other than book blogging, blogging is about reciprocity. We know that we didn't represent everyone, and some things we didn't plan to talk about got harped on, but while I don't see my blog as a promotional vehicle solely, I hope that my favorite authors and the books I love are promoted through it. As far as advertising, I don't do it, but I don't blame the blogger who does.
Anyway thanks for taking the time to share your opinion.
June 1st, 2009 @ 11:15 PM

Posted by KMont:

I swear there wasn't much more, but my last bit got cut off.

Basically, I don't need or want a personal relationship with a bookstore or publisher.
June 1st, 2009 @ 10:40 PM

Posted by KMont:

I agree that reviews are for readers. Period. If it makes an author happy, then that is great. Wouldn't take that happiness away.

When I do an author interview - it's for the reader. It's fun to do them with the author, but ultimately it's one more way to get info back to the reader, no matter how the questions might come across, canned or not. It's the answers that matter, how the author makes use of the opportunity to inform readers. That's the interesting part.

Personally, I do not like chats, where software is used and hundreds of people come in chatting while questions are haphazardly answered. The format's usually too fast to enjoy first hand. A transcript is all well and good, but I don't see how the different venue makes for any better questions. It's usually the same kind of things that readers want to know, what's found in a chat and in an interview. Too, chat's feel more formal to me and are often in control of the author and/or their crew; so that format definitely feels more promo to me. That's just me though.

I don't expect freebies, but should an author or publisher demand I buy their book in order to read it I probably wouldn't, not unless it's one I really wanted to read already. Why they'd go to the trouble to demand anything from a blog like mine is ... well, they wouldn't. I'm small beans. In that regard, free books to review can be nice, and I'll do my part in form of reviews or other ways.

I don't want ads on my blog. I rarely find them useful on other blogs. People using them have their reasons, though, so it's no skin off my back.

I can understand the question about Amazon. They've been building themselves as a community, too, in addition to their selling power with author blogs and discussion forums everywhere you look. But I don't think I'm in competition with them. Blogs are personalized, not Amazonized. However, if you look over there, many readers enjoy Amazon as a community and once again, that's not hurting me. They ou
June 1st, 2009 @ 10:36 PM

Posted by MotherReader:

Thanks for pointing out that other bloggers have other views on the blogger/publisher relationship. In fact, until the session - which I attended - I would have said that all I wanted from the publishers in our relationship is that they respect what we're doing and make it a bit easier to request copies (though they still have the option not to send them if they don't "know" the blog.)

I do disagree about blog tours. Done well, they can be a win/win for blogger and author. An author, particularly a first-time author, is often charged with promoting their own book. Unfair, yes. But blogs then are in the unique position of championing the good books that fall under the radar. They also get the chance to interact with an author, which furthers their skills as writers and bloggers. It's my experience that bloggers say yes to blog tours when they like the book already and/or know the author's other books and are willing to take the chance on the new book. A good blog tour will focus on different types of bloggers who ask different questions and hit slightly different audiences.
June 1st, 2009 @ 10:28 PM

Posted by Victoria Janssen:

You raise some excellent points.

I found this interesting from the BEA report: If a blogger is going to go out of their way to take the time and energy to post a review, an author and or publisher should link the review on their site. If I find a review of my work, and it's easy to comment, I will thank the reviewer in the blog comments. But I don't think politeness requires a reciprocal link. There's nothing wrong with linking to a review, but I think most publishers do not have the resources to track all reviews of all books they publish, much less provide links.
June 1st, 2009 @ 10:20 PM

Posted by Heather (errantdreams):

I agree with a whole lot of this. I feel very strongly that reviews exist to help readers figure out which books they'd enjoy reading, not to help authors sell books. Sure it's nice to be able to tell an author I loved her book, but I'm not going to say that if it isn't true!

I do, however, use Amazon links & Google ads. Health problems keep me from holding a regular job, and I feel strongly about wanting to contribute to the household finances, so this is how I do it. I don't expect to get rich doing it, but I'm not too proud to take a few bucks from Google, either. Mind you, I don't feel that I'm somehow "entitled" to traffic & thus revenue... it's just nice to be able to make a few bucks doing something I love!
June 1st, 2009 @ 9:42 PM

Posted by RfP:

"How can a book blog compete with such a powerhouse like Amazon?"

For large-volume sales, a blog can't compete. To sell lots of books, authors are better off increasing their visibility at bookstores--both online and brick-and-mortar.

"Frankly, I think a book tour is a waste of time. I usually skip it, even at blogs I frequently visit."

Yes. My RSS feeds are precious because they bring me FRESH content. When I see the same content on too many blogs, I tune them out and eventually unsubscribe.
June 1st, 2009 @ 9:41 PM

Posted by Maili:

I agreed with some of your points, especially these:

"Am I the only one uneasy with this constant association of blogs by bloggers with author promotions?"
- Nope. I wrote about this at my blog a couple of months ago. When I returned after a couple of years away, the first thing I noticed was how promotion-friendly some blogs were. It was disconcerting and perhaps, disappointing.

"This is fair to me, although I find it interesting that every new blog that is started nowadays has a cry for book submission for review. I know time is hard and free books are always wonderful, but still... "
- I have to admit that some new blogs surprised me by talking openly about wanting ARCs (and dropping a hint they will "love" every book they received).

"Bad idea. New blogs = no traffic, so I don't understand how blogs with low traffic can help promote anyone. This is like another cry for attention. "I'm a new blogger entitled to love and freebies from authors so give them to me today!""

- I agree. New bloggers should focus on building their relationships with readers and other bloggers as well as their own reputation as reviewers.

"What is this blog tour thing?"
- Frankly, I think a book tour is a waste of time. I usually skip it, even at blogs I frequently visit.

However, this bit: "Sure, I'd like to monetize my hobby too, but you don't see me gnashing my teeth and complaining that my time is money, do you?"
- I think it's fine for blogs that regularly send out winning copies to their readers because of postage costs.
June 1st, 2009 @ 9:10 PM

Posted by B:

Eh, wot? Why the heck should authors and publishers have to build relationships with bloggers?

When I review, it's for the reader, not the author or publisher. If the author likes it and wants to comment or post a link, great, but it's far from necessary. I don't run a promotional service. (Though sometimes I'm not sure the owner of the site I work on is really aware of that anymore...)
June 1st, 2009 @ 3:53 PM