Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions: What Do We Owe Publishers/Authors


Book Blogger Confessions is a meme hosted by Karen at For What It's Worth and Tiger from All-Consuming Media. This edition is about ARCs. Oooooh, controversy! Let's get this party started.

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?

Plain and simple- If you request or accept an arc/book, you need to review it. The publisher/author didn't send it to you so it could sit on your shelf and collect dust. They sent it to you because they wanted you to review it, give it some publicity whether good or bad.

I know sometimes life gets in the way. Reading and reviewing can be incredibly time consuming and sometimes you just don't have the time. In that case, I'd recommend contacting the author or maybe the pub and seeing if you can interview them or maybe feature the book in some way. Maybe even host a giveaway or something. At some point, though, you should at least try to read and review it, even if it's a mini-review and even if the book has already released. Remember, you agreed to review it, so yes, it is your obligation to do so.

Sometimes we get those "surprise" books in the mail that we didn't ask for nor request. Occasionally, this happens to me. I somehow always end up with books that are in the middle of a series I've never read nor started. Not a bad thing! With these, I'll either buy/borrow the previous books and try to read them in a timely manner or pass them on to bloggers who I know has read the series and will read-review it at some point. I sometimes ask said blogger to also send me a link to their review. That way, I can send it to the pub and who knows? Maybe the pub will add said friend on their mailing list and said friend will receive the next book in that series. Win-win.

If you are at any point overwhelmed with the case of "too many books to read", STOP REQUESTING AND ACCEPTING BOOKS. It's that simple. I know we all want the latest and greatest read but remember that the book will eventually release. Then you can buy it and have no pressure to read-review it any time soon. I get what it's like to have way too many books to read, and I've felt that kind of deadline pressure before. If you follow my mailboxes, you'll notice there are weeks where I didn't receive anything unless I bought them or not post one at all. As my pile shrinks, I'll begin accepting requests again, but till then, c'est la vie.

I'm not going to lie, one of my pet peeves are bloggers who complain on twitter or wherever about having too many books to read, then post these giant mailbox posts every week. Remember, YOU DID THAT TO YOURSELF. No one forced these books down your throat, held a gun to your head and asked you to review them. You could have said no. You could also stop requesting so many books, but if you chose to accept these books, then it's your obligation to review them, pressure and all.

Another thing, if you receive an ARC from ALA/BEA/TLA/PLA/etc, you are obligated to read and review (or feature) the book. To me, that's the same thing as requesting a book. Whether you asked for it or a pub gave it to you, you chose to take it home with you that day. ARCs cost A LOT of money to produce and as bloggers/part of the media, it's our responsibility not to waste their time or money.

Are we obligated to host tours, post covers, participate in book tours, etc.? Honestly, this is up to the blogger. I personally participate in them because I enjoy promoting authors and books I love. Do I ever feel obligated to do so? No. When I'm asked to join a tour, the publicist makes it very clear that I can either host a giveaway, feature the author, reveal the cover, and if I'd like to review the book, she/he will send me a copy. If not, that's fine too. There really is no pressure to do so. You should do it because you want to, not because you feel obligated to.

Remember, being a blogger means you're a part of a family (the book blogging family!). That means if one person does something shameful, it makes us all look bad. Be considerate. If you are not going to review a book, put the book down or say no. Simple, right? I thought so. :-)

21 comments:

  1. Now this post is just awesome. I completely and absolutely agree! Accepting books for review means that you have a responsibility to actually review them and not just keep saying you will. I've been doing my best to whittle down my review pile, in lieu of new releases or my own books and so far, it's been working out great!

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  2. Nodding my head in agreement and so true with books that you request. I have been working on both piles :)

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  3. I'm with Alexa ... I'm working my way through my review pile and it feels great to see it get smaller and smaller. I had a period where I was completely overwhelmed and I think it was because I was so excited to be getting author requests in my email that I accepted too much. Now, I'm more in control of what I want to read -- just because you'll get a free book out of the deal isn't a good enough reason to accept a review request!

    With unsolicited books (though I've only gotten two of them), I review them at my leisure ... I'm lucky in that even though I didn't ask for them, they're both books I really want to read, so I hope to get to them at some point this year -- perhaps once I get through all my other review books that I'd like to post ASAP.

    Anyway, great post! I agree that if you're requesting books, REVIEW THEM. It's easy for a new blogger to get overwhelmed with NetGalley and request everything and anything that looks good, but then when publishers actually send them the book? So easy to feel overwhelmed. There really should be a mandatory article all new bloggers have to read when it comes to requesting books!

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  4. You are rock awesome & correct-o-mundo. Stop the freaking greed and whining!!!! It is very unappealing. You asked for it. Read it!

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  5. As an author, I must say I LOVE this post! Even if you have a publisher, often the ARCs are provided at a cost to the author. Since writing is not a really lucrative business, it is great to see a commitment that investing in those ARCs will pay out!

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  6. Guys, you NEVER owe the publisher or author anything. EVER. Even if you requested the book. While you should strive to review, if you don't feel comfortable there is no reason for you to push through just because you have an ARC. As far as the ARCs costing money? My time costs money too, and I do this for free. Also 99% of the books I get are unsolicited, I feel no obligation toward those or the 1% a year I request. There is no right way to be a blogger. If you feel you have to review everything that is fine, but not everyone has to feel that way or do that to be a damn good blogger.

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    1. I agree with you Pam. We review these books for free! If we cannot get to a certain book for review, Well that is a risk the publishing company has to take. And, they do! Publishing Companies know what huge publicity bloggers do for them. You get what you pay for, plain and simple. I have zero reget, if I cannot get to a certain book. Again, they pay for ARC's to contribute. They would not do that if we did not make them money, they are not going to lose money, that's for sure!

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  7. ...unless your review policy clearly states that receiving an ARC does not guarantee a review. In which case, the publicist is aware of the risk they are taking in sending you the copy, and you are under no obligation to do anything with it.

    You say "remember, you agreed to review it." Actually, if your review policy is properly worded, you haven't.

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  8. <3 this post came at the perfect time. Sometimes it's really nice to have a reminder, I was getting really stressed out and this post reminded me about taking on too much and alternative posts instead of reviews offered to authors.
    Thanks, much appreciated

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  9. Agreeing with those who have already stated that you are not obligated to provide a review for a book you have accepted. My review policy clearly states that I never guarantee a review, including a review of a book for a book tour. Publishing people are human. They get that you can't review every book you receive. They don't want you to feel obligated to review that book because you've accepted it. They want you to be passionate about the books you blog about. That said, don't use this excuse as an out and accept every book you are pitched or grab every book you see at BEA/ALA, etc. Be responsible and professional.

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  10. Lena,
    I appreciate your post, but I can't disagree more. As a blogger, particularly one who writes about books for no compensation, you do not owe publicists/authors/publishers anything. If you request a book and don't enjoy it, you don't have to finish it let alone review it. Most authors and publishing pros don't expect that sending an ARC guarantees a review, so don't put yourself through hell plowing through your TBR pile.

    If you're interested, I posted a response here: http://kayepublicity.com/365days/

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  11. Great post. While I agree that you should review every ARC that you receive, it's not an "obligation". Some ARCs I got ended up as DNFs, some I lost interest because of the reviews that started to pop up before I got to read it convinced me that I would hate it. In DNF cases I've emailed the pub to let them know, but in no way would they require me to tough it out and read stuff I don't feel like reading anymore. If you feel bad, you can always feature the book as a giveaway on your blog instead and give your ARC to someone who might like it more.

    However, I do think people sometimes request any and all arcs simply because they can, and then get overwhelmed and not review which is a shame because those ARCs could have gone to someone else. I have needed to cut out a review book bc of a last minute thing or because I got ARCs I didn't think I was getting. I skip Netgalley galleys and prioritize print copies when that happens. This is just to say that even if you schedule well in advance and request only what you absolutely want to read, things happen and new ARCs (sometimes unsolicited) arrive and you need to skip some. I'm not a machine. My kid and life comes first. Even though it's rare that I don't review one, I'm not able to promise or guarantee a review to anyone. I think it's more of a "we should" than "we're required".

    Just my unsolicited 2 cents :)

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  12. My, my, Lena -- I'm not sure you're passionate about this topic. :) Haha! I think it all boils down to greed. We have to be realistic about what we can actually read and review - if we cannot read the number of books that we're requesting, we should cut back. My mindset is that if we really want to read a book, it shouldn't matter if we get the ARC. We'll go out and buy it anyway. It's a bookish habit we all have. If not, we can get it from the library.

    Sure we aren't getting paid to do this - in monetary terms or a monthly salary, but we're certainly getting a lot of books that cost the publishers money to send out. We HAVE to be mindful of that.

    I love this topic and the conversation happening in your comments, lady!

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  13. I love the discussion in the comments! I feel that there is a certain unwritten contract of sorts when you request an ARC. Bloggers who have huge following and receive a ton of unsolicited ARCs are the exception and should absolutely write out a policy. But if a casual blogger is going around requesting ARCs from publishers with no intention of reviewing them... what's the point? do they just want a free book? Or do they just want to have it first?

    I blogged my thoughts on ARCs and why I'm not a fan here: http://lvalcius.blogspot.ca/2012/06/arcs-are-no-fun.html

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  14. Hmmmm. Great food for thought today. I really like how there are opinions for both sides on this one. And both have valid arguments as to why they feel the way they do. I'm gaining knowledge from both sides here-thanks.

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  15. I totally, totally agree! I've just recently started getting really overwhelmed with the amount of books I have as ARCs, for blog tours, along with the ones I'm reading casually for myself. I just realized I was in too deep and I don't want to have these authors wait months for my review/promotion of their book to be posted because A) that's not professional, as I liked to be and B) that's not fair to them. They provided me with a copy and I always feel that it's my duty (and I like to!) to review honestly and promote the book as much as I can. It's a really great topic and gives us a lot a lot to think about too! I always remember, just as bloggers can spread the word around to other people if an author/publisher has treated them badly, authors can spread the word about bloggers too! It's your own name you're probably hurting by not reviewing ARCs, I think!
    Great discussion :)

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  16. Hi! I love the conversation going on here today. I also like how you approached this subject very naturally and cheerfully! Go you! I have definitely said "omg I have so much to read" on many occasions but it's kind of like me saying "oh gee I have so much to write" (when that's all my own fault too). I still love it and have definitely had a wonderful time going through my recent ARCs/Netgalley books. There's so much to discover from ARCs and it's rare that I request/receive a book that I don't finish. In fact, it has not happened.

    I do believe if you receive a book for review there should be some kind of "marketing" done on your blog. Whether it's a mention in a vlog, a list, or whatever. If you do love an ARC so much, you are not even going to think about giving it props and recommending it to people and that will just happen naturally.

    I'm sure publishers know you are not going to like everything. A few marketing people I've talked to seem to really take into consideration who M & I are, who our audience is, and our own distinct tastes. After awhile you sort of figure what books might catch the attention of your readers. Even if it is one person.

    This is a long comment. I'm exhausted today! I just want to say thanks for answering this question so well and creating quite a discussion. I wish more people would approach "controversial" subjects the same way.

    Another question: WHY WAS I NOT FOLLOWING YOUR BLOG? I fail. I fail in a big way but I will make it up to you!!

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  17. Hey guys!

    Thank you so much for keeping this discussion civil and polite. I love reading the different opinions you guys have about this topic.

    I do agree with Giselle when it comes to books we don't like. I have a DNF list as well, but just like her, I let the pub know that the book just wasn't for me. I also like to ask if I can pass the book along to another blogger or give it away on my blog. Hey, someone out there might want it, love it and review it, right? And if I just can't afford a giveaway (because shipping can get expensive!), my library accepts ARCs for their youth reading programs, various giveaways, etc. I donate my books to them. It's definitely a option for any of you out there with too many books and not enough room in your house. :-)

    Again, thank you so much to everyone for understanding that this is just my opinion and how I like to operate my blog. Hey, I write contracts for a living and part of my job is making sure people live up to their end of the deal. With that said, I just have a very business-like approach to blogging because, well, it's natural to me.

    Like some of you guys have mentioned, whenever I make a dent in my TBR pile, it gives me this weird sense of accomplishment. "HONEY, I MADE A DENT IN MY READING PILE! LOOK! NOW GIVE ME A COOKIE!". Word. Me likey the cookie!

    Obviously, like Pam stated, there is no right or wrong way to blog. To each their own. Everyone should do whatever feels comfortable and right to them. :-)

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  18. Thanks for this post, I could hug you for it.
    Lately I have felt a bit disconnected to how some people in the book blogging community think and act, but posts like yours assure me that there are all kinds of bloggers and that there is room for all kinds of attitudes. And btw, I agree with everything you said.

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  19. I agree more with Pam and Giselle than with the original post.

    I have cut way back on requesting NetGalley copies since I also have a few publicists that send me both solicited and unsolicited books each month. I try to keep a list in order of publication date, but it can sometimes be challenging to keep up with because I also review a couple books here and there for other blogs as well.

    I do not, nor will I ever, give priority to unsolicited books. Since I did not ask for them, I don't feel guilty about not reviewing them. But if they seem like something that I would read, then I will certainly give the book a chance.

    I have even added a couple friends to my blog to help me get the number of review requests from indie/self-pub authors down and we are making great progress.

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  20. Hi Sita!

    I agree with you about having less priority for unsolicited arcs than solicited ones. My whole post is mainly about requesting arcs and not reviewing them. There are a small handful of people out there who request dozens of arcs a month and don't review them, and that's not something I agree with. My whole thing is, if I'm going to request it, I'm going to review it, and if I don't like it or just can't review it, I'll contact the publicist to let them know. That's the point I'm mainly trying to get across. :-)

    I'm so glad to hear you added a couple friends to your blog and are making great progress with your review requests! That's definitely something to be proud of.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting!!!

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