Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where Are We With Blogging?

A few days back, Lenore made a post regarding book pitches thrown--sometimes literally--at her. In the comments section Lenore got three or four disgruntled authors who shared their recent experiences with book bloggers. Namely:

  • They’re getting dozens of requests a week for their book
  • Their book has been published for some time now and they’re getting “Please send a review copy of your book to ___” messages
  • They’re seeing book bloggers with a crap ton of books who don’t review a thing
  • Book bloggers who only seem to post about how they can get free books

So, yeah, there’s a bit of an issue there, don’t you think?

Additionally, some other issues that have stirred the 'sphere:

  • Clique-like behavior among the bloggers
  • Bragging about your assets, the impossible-to-get ARCs

One of those authors even claimed her/his print run had been reduced because the publisher felt the ARC distribution had covered a substantial part of her target readership. Basically, from people passing ARCs around and such. From what I understood. This really hurts her/his career.

Anyway, what they said really interested me. Many authors publicly express their love of book bloggers--sometimes even in their acknowledgments! But I’ve yet to see one openly say what they’re finding problematic in the community, which I understand (no one wants to be labeled a blogger hater). All the same, it’d be interesting what people are taking issues with.

I thought I’d bring this to the table and ask book bloggers and authors alike how they feel about books being requested. Do you, book bloggers, feel you get much more than you can read? And what about you, authors? Your thoughts? Share your experiences? I asked this back in ’08 and authors were very open to it, but those three or four over at Lenore’s makes me think something’s changed. What happened?

On a more general note, beyond requesting and getting books, what is everyone’s take on the blogosphere as it is now?

I’d prefer if we didn’t name any names and we kept this civil. Adopt an alias if you wish to remain anonymous (I have a feeling many will, and it would help if we could differentiate between all the anons).

I think it’s important to have these conversations once in a while and see where things stand: How is the community changing? It’s much different than it was even a year ago, that much I can assure you.


Abby said...

I actually don't receive a ton of review copies (being on a panel for the Cybils being the one exception). I admit that I am occasionally jealous of bloggers who get an ARC I reallyreally want, but not in a mean way. I know that I'll get my hands on the book eventually and my TBR stack is ALWAYS way bigger than what I can actually get to.

If I request a review copy of a book (which I've always gone to publishers for, never the author), I will definitely read it. I feel that it better serves my readers to post about books I love that they should check out than to post negative reviews (unless I really have something to say that I feel is important). I don't review everything I read. I guess I'm still constantly surprised that people want to send me free books at all. It makes me feel like a rock star when I request a copy of a book and someone's willing to send it to me. I'm grateful for what I get and I understand that I can't have everything.

I do sometimes get emails from authors, publishers, and marketers asking to send me items for review. I make my best effort to read everything I'm sent, but (as I state in my review policy) I don't guarantee to review everything I'm sent. I try to only accept books that look like something I'll enjoy and want to recommend to my readers.

Cranky said...

I'm a published author and I'll tell you what's really problematic lately: ARC fishing and power trips.

I have watched various bloggers sit on Twitter all day, comparing their "hit lists" for authors they plan to ask for ARCs, trading e-mail addresses and results, complaining about whether they're getting an ARC, and actually encouraging each other to send nasty mail to authors they "know" have ARCs, and just won't give them to them. As if they're entitled! (And YES, I have the transcripts. I was appalled.)

And then there's the power tripping. I've seen "reviewers" badger and beg and cajole an author for a review copy, only to trash the book in a review and then badger the author to read and comment on the negative review. I don't have a problem with negative reviews, but I do have a problem with somebody writing something deliberately cruel, and then harassing an author about whether they've read said vicious review or not.

Authors share this information. We ask each other, which reviewers who are "good" - the ones who read, and review thoughtfully, and the reviewers who are "bad"- book grubbers, book beggars who never review, power trippers who seem to take pleasure in hurting people's feelings.

I imagine that the problems are going to equalize themselves without too much help, because great bloggers will continue to be a filter, and web savvy authors will continue to share information.

Adele said...

I am newish, I was over at Sarah Dessen Diarist for awhile before PSnark. I am a little shocked mainly at the way people approach authors and publishers alike. Most of the blogosphere are exceedingly shy and won't approach anyone. But for all the shy bloggers, there are those who feel that they are entitled to be sent books.

I admit to getting a lot and I find it very overwhelming. For the last month or so I have been averaging a book a day. But that's not the time consuming part, I have cultivated relationships with people (publishers, authors, bloggers) that mean a lot to me. It's through the relationships that I might strike it lucky with an ARC or a signed book. If I got one of these things I didn't really broadcast it, I believe it's something between me and the author.I never expect anything and I also treat all people with respect, there is no demanding.

If you are reviewing properly, you'll be spending more time in the writing of your reviews. Connecting with authors and bloggers. Introducing new authors without the expectation of anything, except the joy of discovering a new book or author.

To be honest the whole contest aspect makes me uncomfortable. To be a complete hypercrite, I go in the international ones bc then I can get books not readily available here. But I am always wondering how they got so many copies or more importantly how they approached getting so many copies. I have been offering extra copies for comps twice, both times out of nowhere. I feel uncomfortable asking authors to provide books for contests. I only ever do it, if the the publishers approach me. You will never see me ask for them. Please note that I understand many people are offered them but I do worry about the small fraction who hound for them. Anytime I see a blogger write a post appealing authors for goods, I wince. But that's me. (I do have something along those lines in my publicity policy but that's it).

In terms of Australia, the blog scene is a little different. There are four YA bloggers and we support one another greatly. We don't bookmooch, etc as it's not $$friendly. I find I am getting many books sent straight to me from publishers without communication. I don't know they are coming most of the time. Why? In Aust YA authors gets NO PRESS, none. My little blog gets attention amongst Aussie writers because I am giving them a spotlight. Everything after that is cake.

I think there are a few things bloggers need to remember:
Be courteous.
Be polite.
Use your manners - simplistic but nicely worded thank yous go a long way.
Don't hound.
Email review links to publishers so they know you are doing what you are supposed.
Feeling overwhelmed, cut back,
You aren't entitled to anything (remember that.
It's about the books, not you.

I am not meaning to be condescending but I think courtesy goes a long way.

In terms of cliches, I think there are bunches of blogger friends. But seriously, if teaming up with another blogger to do an event or comp is cliche-y, we're all guilty.

In terms of blogger hierarchy. There is one - oldies and newbies, UK / Aust / US, adult bloggers vs teen bloggers - for some people. For me, I treat everyone the same, with a measure of respect. I think that's a good place to be.

Adele said...

Just want to add that my favourite thing about blogging is when I see an unread email in my inbox from an author. I am still amazed, grateful and utterly astounded when an author will respond to my email or write one to me.

That's the best feeling in the world and I like to think it's the same for them :)

Lenore Appelhans said...

Cranky - I'm thankful I've never seen any of what you are talking about, but I am appalled that such things go on - and in a public arena!

Cranky said...

Lenore- it's RARE, and I do want to say that is certainly the exception to the rule. But I'm kind of glad it goes on in public, because it makes it easier to avoid the jerks!

Saundra Mitchell said...

I'll be right up front and say that without bloggers, my book would have been remaindered. It was the fantastic support I've gotten from the blogging community that guaranteed my book will come out in paperback, that has pushed sales far, far, far beyond the publisher's expectations. It's been amazing, and I'm so grateful to all of you who do this responsibly and well.

But if I'm being honest- with a very few exceptions- I think I've gotten the most out of the reviewers that I researched, selected and queried myself. I know what my book is about, and while I can't say for sure any one particular person will LOVE it, I can pick out the ones who are going to hate it pretty effectively.

I've also discovered that anyone who asks for the book well after it's out is probably going to give me a bad review. I've discovered that bloggers who harass me about whether my publicist is going to send them a copy is probably going to give me a bad review.

I don't know whether their expectations are too set by the time the book is out and other reviewers have commented, or if they are disappointed that they begged so hard for the book and then it didn't knock their socks off, or what.

I'm happy to take my lumps when they're fair and thoughtful, but this is too significant a pattern to ignore. I've noticed it, and some of my fellow debuts this year have noticed it as well.

So I reckon on my second book- I have a list of bloggers I've already talked with, that I will query again in the future. I'll take a look at new bloggers to see if we might be a good fit, and query them as well. I probably won't provide review copies more than two weeks after the book is out, and I'll just ignore anyone who writes me multiple times about getting a copy.

Because I really do think the book blogging community, especially in YA, is rich and varied and exciting. I do think that the reviews and discussions are valuable, and worthwhile- whether I have a book to sell or not. But I do think we're in a period of refinement, where we're figuring out how to do this well, and so these are my thoughts as somebody who's done all of this for the first time recently.

Marie said...

I am a pretty new blogger and maybe my head is in the clouds but I actually find the book blog community to be one of the most friendly and supportive arenas on the Internet. If you look at other websites, message boards, youtube, or social networks, you see A LOT of hate and cliques and insults going around. The book community seems to really support everyone involved... I have not once seen a horribly misspelled insult pop up on anyone's page (a sight frequently seen in almost all other Internet areas). Maybe I am just crazy to think the clique thing is a non-issue?
In terms of ARCs- I don't get a lot and I would NEVER ask an author for one directly... I am shocked that sort of thing is going on.

Saundra Mitchell said...

To clarify- I don't mind bad reviews that are thoughtful. Everybody's take on a book is different, and I really do believe a book on the shelf is only half done- it has to be read to be done.

It's the capriciousness of the post-launch reviews and the begging-for-a-book reviews that bother me. The reviews that are like, this book was stupid because I wanted it to be a romance (when it plainly isn't and nobody ever said it would be.) Or I hate the ending of this book because I think gay people suck. *Those* reviews are the ones that bother me.

When I research bloggers to query, I read their reviews! I can find out what they like, so I don't bother people who only want to read science fiction, or who are obviously not on the GLBT train or whatnot.

There are plenty of ways I failed in my book, and I am happy to admit that. I'm fine if a reviewer hates my book on its merits (or flaws, as the case may be!) It's when it's capricious that I get annoyed- and invariably, it's the people who ask for review copies two months after release or beg and beg and beg for a copy that write the most capricious reviews.

Mandy Hubbard said...

As an author, I'm very thankful for the review/blogging community. I can't even begin to express how amazing it is to see a post about someone being excited that Prada was in their mailbox, or to see them hosting a Prada countdown widget.

And trust me, I google incessently, so I see it all the time.

The only requests I feel annoyed/disgruntled by are the ones that say something like, "TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN. I run ____________ review blog. Please send me a review copy of your novel. Sincerely, ________."

They do not reference my book title, my name, nothing. It's something sent to every author email address they can find... I'm not stupid I can tell I was one of a hundred others!

From the author side, it is very hard to get requests that we can't accomodate beccuase I never want to offend or disapoint anyone, but I really do not mind reviewers who are GENUINEDLY INTERESTED in my novel asking for it. I think its better if they at least have one line about what interests them, becuase then I know its a legitimate request.

Reviewers should do their homework, and they should be out there reviewing books they bought to get started, and swapping links with other reviewers, commenting on review sites, etc. If they network, the blog readership will increase and they're more likley to get an ARC.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steph -

The one part about your post that caught me was "the blogosphere now" - I've read a few places that bloggers who have been around longer are slightly disgruntled by newer book bloggers. (At Lenore's, did I read that? Or the YABBA discussion? Can't remember.) It reminds me of a post Carrie Ryan put up about reading: as long as we're reading and encouraging and loving books, does it matter if there are cliques or "more popular" bloggers?

(Before the authors jump on me - the competition for ARCs/review copies is obviously not okay, or the outright trashing of someone's work. I'm just sort of mentally excluding those kinds of folks from my discussion :) )

Unknown said...

Seems to me that some blogs have a large number of followers, but not a large number of people who actually read. Because blogs do giveaways and give extra points for followers, people become followers but don't actually read the blog.

(That said, I DO actually read the blogs I follow, including this one obvs. But I've noticed on some book blog there will be 100+ followers, but only 2-3 regular commenters.

Reverie said...

I agree with Mandy.
Reviewers, I know we all want the latest and the greatest but most of the time that is inevitably impossible. We all have libraries and we all have bookstores and Amazon(or the likes). Use them first. Emailing an author shouldn't be to get a book but to get to know them. Interview them, chat with them, get to know them. It is more important not only for us as reviewers but most importantly for the authors to have good relationships with bloggers. We are the ones supporting them. WE wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them so be gentle and nice people. Don't abuse this privilege of free books and the likes.

As far as cliques are concerned- I don't see it. Or rather it doesn't affect me. I think (think...) I am friendly enough to get along with everyone. (if not plz do tell me) and cliques are meant to distance others. So if I am not distanced by cliques then they must not exist? (i don't know if that makes sense)

Michelle Zink said...

Interesting topic!

I must not be very popular, because I only get a few requests a week for my book. Heh. That said, I *do* feel badly when I have to say no, because contrary to what many people believe, we don't have an unlimited supply of ARCs. I only had four of my own until they were rejected and a scored an extra box with the old cover.

But right now, I don't mind answering emails, even if it's just to say, "Sorry, I don't have an extra!" For me, it's better than the alternative - i.e. no one being interested enough in my book to ASK! But I suppose that's a personal preference.

I may not be the best person to ask about the blogging community, because it's probably no secret that I adore you guys! From your wit and straight-forwardness to Vania's enthusiasm and art to Marie's approachable hip to all the others I don't have room to mention, well... sometimes I feel like a proud parent. You're ALL my favorite! :D

I *have* noticed certain friendship form in the blogging community, but I suppose that's only natural. Friendships DO form in any community, and as long as they aren't played out in such a way as to seem exclusionary or unkind, I don't think there's much that can be done about it.

I expect that not everyone who reads my book will enjoy it. Even those who ask for an ARC may not, ultimately, enjoy it. But as long as a review is offered thoughtfully and without malice, I'll thank the reviewer for reading and nurse my wounds in private. Ha! *whimpers*

Because I have sent so many ARC to reviewers at my own expense, I've though long an hard about the merit of doing so and whether or not it would actually cost me sales in the long run, but here's how I see it; I have a box of 20 ARCs that is nearly gone. Even if those 20 people hand the book out to a few friends, it's still only a drop in the bucket. Unless my print run is 100 (please, God, say it isn't!), it's really not going to make a big difference in the grand scheme of things. And it WILL make a difference where it counts - by generating buzz ahead of the release and (hopefully) getting people talking about my book. I trust that the reviewers who DO like the book will help spread the word whenever and wherever they can. But again, that's just my opinion.

All in all, I'm incredibly grateful to know all of you. I don't think you know how much I enjoy your virtual company or how many of you I consider friends. Your energy and enthusiasm for reading are a constant reminder why I do what I do and I <3 you all.

Diana Peterfreund said...

I agree with Saundra, I think the book blogging community is great! It was something that wasn't really around in full force when my first book came out -- you had a few romance or SF sites, but if you weren't writing that, you were out of luck. But I do think requests come that aren't necessarily well thought out.

When I got the ARCs of my most recent book, Tap & Gown, I made a list of bloggers that I knew had read the previous ones (or at least one). because it was a fourth book in a series, I didn't think there was much point in sending it to folks that weren't familiar with the others.

But I also got a few requests from book bloggers that I wasn't familiar with, and when I followed through to their site, I felt that perhaps they were under the impression that it was a different kind of book than it was. Possibly because they'd heard about my YA fantasy novel elsewhere.

They'd certainly never read any of the other books in the series, or anything like them. I found one blog that was all MG books, and they had requested my adult, yes-it-has-sex-scenes book. I felt very awkward about that one.

I think whenever you have a "contest" situation, you are going to get abusers, though, whether that means people who spam every author for free ARCs, people who make up multiple entries (this happens to me a lot when I do a book giveaway on my blog -- I'll pick different winners and shocker -- they all live at the same address. Curious) and, as I have noticed recently, people who make up blogs which consist entirely of "here's a link to this giveaway" in order to get their "extra entry" in a contest.

Someone will always try to game the system, but you can't let a few bad apples spoil the barrel.

Michelle Zink said...

Totally true, Diana!

ReaderGirl said...

Well like the cupcake witch and several others I'm newer here too (I've been trying to get it going for a long time and am now just slowly starting to do stuff regularly) so I haven't really seen a lot of this stuff but I've heard a lot of people saying how its going on and how bad it's been getting which stinks cause that stuff just makes it so much harder for people who are really passionate about doing all of this. =/ And it's hard for me to swallow mainly cause I generally tend to trust avid readers and I don't want to think that they're out there doing stuff like this! :( But anyways it's just really sad.... =/

Shalonda said...

Steph, great post. I'm loving all the discussion that has been going on in the YA blogging community.

I must admit, I have asked a few authors for a review copy of books that I am really interested in. I don't do it for a free book (I purchase a finished copy of every ARC I request for review) or because I feel entitled to read it, I do it because I am genuinely intrigued by the novel and/or the author. When I have requested a book, I have left it open for the author to turn down my request, and trust me, I would not be offended if I heard a no.

Recently, I was approached by a couple of authors to review their books, and I decided that I would no longer request books. I have always felt uncomfortable asking and I have a great library, so there is plenty out there for me to read. Plus, it feels so much better when authors actually contact you because they want to hear what you have to say about their books!

I don't review everything I read, as most of my books are purchased or checked out from the library, and I am often pressed for time with work and wedding planning. However, I do review EVERY book received from an author or publisher. And trust me, I spend a lot of time on these books--reading them carefully and planning out a thoughtful review. I read and review these books within a two week window of the release date, which is why the ARCs seen in my IMM post have not yet been reviewed. Trust me, they are coming!

But, like Cranky, I have seen some not so nice things from bloggers that have shocked me. Recently, I, too, have seen bloggers say terrible things on Twitter about authors who would not send them a book. I mean come on, that's not why most of us are here. We are here to discuss our love of books, to connect with other bloggers and fabulous authors, and to help promote books that we love and support.

So yes, Steph, the YA community has changed. I became a lurker and commenter about 8 months ago. Because everyone was so nice and welcoming, I started up my own book blog about 6 months ago. Then everyone was friendly and helpful, now there are some (not many) bloggers who are just out to be competitive and brag. I hope that after reading the posts that you, Lenore, and Kristi have written (if they even bother to read the blogs) they will realize that this is unacceptable and not what we are about.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

As an author, I love the book reviewing bloggers. I'm with a small publisher and they cannot compete with the big boys out of New York when it comes to reviews in Foreword Magazine or Kirkus. I think book bloggers carry more merit because they are real readers - and can really impact a book's success. I gladly forward any requests for ARCs to my pubisher!

L. Diane Wolfe

Lisa Schroeder said...

I heart book bloggers! I read your blogs, and not only do I read your blogs, I often decide what to read based on what you have to say!!

That said, reviewing books thoughtfully and in a way that gets at the heart of the story without giving too much away is a skill. And those of you who work at it and try to do your best day in and day out, you are the ones I as an author hope will read my book and review it.

If someone wants to be a book blogger, I say dive in and make your library your best friend. Show us your reviews without asking for ARCs first. Show us you know how to network with authors and other bloggers in a thoughtful and friendly way.

If you are an upcoming book blogger and hope to someday be on my list of possible people to sent review copies to, stop by my blog a time or two. Commenting a few times does wonders! :)

I don't mind being asked for ARCs. Once. Nicely. With reasons why he/she would love to review the book. I'll check out the site, see if they've read any of my previous books, and decide whether to pass the request on to my publisher.

I really think that in any business/industry/social setting, there will always be a few people who are difficult. Please know that we authors know these people are the exception, not the rule. You are all unique individuals with different strengths and you each add something to the blogging community. I say, keep doing what you do best, and don't worry too much about the difficult ones.

Lana said...

I don't really request books from publishers or authors because I'm not really comfortable doing that. I have been lucky enough to form a few relationships with authors and publishers who have approached me, but definitely not enough to be overwhelming.

I still consider myself a relatively 'new' blogger. So I'm not sure how much about the community has changed. I do feel that, for the most part, the community is friendly and supportive. I have seen occasional nasty remarks, and I really hope that those bloggers lose interest SOON...

Aidan Moher said...

As a blogger/reviewer, there's no way I could possibly keep up with all the books sent to me without a request. I've accepted that, and I think most of the publishing companies have accepted that to. I do, however, make a point of doing my damnedest to read every book I request, even if it does take me a while to get to them. I also try to only request novels that I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy, I don't want to waste anyone's time if I'm not going to like a book.

I think the important thing for reviewers to do is to remain polite, make it clear what kind of books you're interested in (for example, it's a waste of money, books and time to send me Paranormal Romance novels) and to stay humble and honest through it all. In the end, it's the author/publishers choice to send out those reviewable copies and if they feel you're not holding up your end of the deal (by writing honest reviews, whether they're positive or negative, and not being an self-aggrandizing prick) then they will (and should) cut you off.

It's an exciting prospect to get ARCs, especially when you're first getting started with reviewing, but it's never something that anyone's entitled to. The publishers are doing you a favour in hope that you, in turn, will do them a favour.

Unknown said...

I do not and will not beg for books, it's wrong on so many levels that it is unconceivable to me.

Yes, I've had promoter ask to me review books or publishers asking for reviewers, if its something I'm interested in, then I apply to seems offers. I've even had authors visit my blog and offer ARCs. But I will never badger an author for a book. They have so much to do, writing, editing, then promoting. They don't have an endless supply of ARCs and it cost money for publishers to make them available. It cost the authors part of their profits on these books. Look, the book industry is not a get rich means of employment. It's something that you love to do. Writing is an art. I've always treasured my books, want to share that feeling with others. I donate most of my purchases to our local library because it a small rural community and it's another way to share the book.

For those reviewers out there badgering, begging, and pleading only to hand out nasty reviews, shame on you. If an author is nice enough to send you a book, at least be courteous enough that if you didn't like it to say it wasn't right for you, but others may enjoy it.

the story siren said...

Cranky, I completely understand your frustration and let me assure you that you are not the only author that feels this way. I’ve been notified by several authors who’ve portrayed a similar story and this is what ultimately made me post a rant, when I’m usually a publically rant free person.

And Saundra, Michelle and Lisa, I’m glad to know that there are still authors who know reviewer/bloggers from the other end of the spectrum as well.

As for Steph’s points.

Yes, I request books. Not frequently but I do. I ask authors and I ask my publishing contacts. I’ve never requested a book that has been published moths previously. But if I really want a book, I ask for it. And I think that I’ve got a reputable enough blog, that I feel I have something to offer those authors and/or publicists that I’m asking.

I do get a “crap ton” of books. Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming. But I also read and review a “crap ton” of books as well. I don’t review every single book I get. I can’t. I try to, my hardest. It may be two or three months after its release date, but I’ll get it done. If I request a book, I always review those before the release date, I think that’s the least I can do.

And I do post about the books I get to. I’m that evil blogger that started the In My Mailbox post. Not to brag about my assets, but to share upcoming released. To share my excitement about these new books. And let me just say that I still get overwhelmingly excited!

Yes, there is clique like behavior between bloggers. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but when you get a group of people together, they are going to find common interests and form bonds. It’s human nature. I’m sure I probably belong these supposed cliques, but I don’t think I’ve ever excluded anyone from becoming my “friend.”

I’ve definitely noticed a change within the blog-o-sphere from when I first started blogging. Granted I’ve only been blogging for a little over a year, but I feel like blogs focusing on YA themed books have exploded. But honestly on the whole most of the bloggers I have encountered have been friendly and courteous. On another note there does seem to be competitive vibe amongst some reviewers too. To each their own.

I am appalled and embarrassed to belong to a community that has restored to begging, pleading and harass authors. I honestly cannot fathom how some people can be so very rude. Nothing upsets me more.

Lisa Mahapatra said...

Well since I've just started blogging (I'm a baby blogger, just two weeks in!) So obviously, I haven't no experience at all when it comes to either receiving or requesting books to review for my blog.

But I interned with one of India's largest read women's magazines(Femina). And I was quite enthusiastic about the review section. But one of our magazine policies was that we don't review a book unless we get a review copy. Even if the book has been out in bookstores for a while. So it was either I did into my own very meager resources and spring for the books myself(that I thought would make for great reviews), or ask the publisher/author. And I seriously had no idea that asking for a book that's already out is something that isn't done. And considering the kind of publicity the book would get (Femina is national magazine), I didn't think me requesting a book from an author/publisher was unreasonable. But I only received replies from two (out of five) authors/publishers.

And now I'm wondering, have I broken some book-requesting rule? Or are publishers really being hounded so badly so as to not even reply to requests for review copies of books? Or maybe it's cause I'm based in India, and it isn't worth the bother? And yes I know that this comment thread is about the blogosphere specifically, but I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on this for me.

Elizabeth said...

See, I'm also really turned off by some of the behavior described here (and mostly, the sense of entitlement underlying it), but I guess I don't quite... get the sense of crisis.

As for reviewers who brag about getting books but don't review them, or who harass authors, or who write thoughtlessly nasty reviews (*)... publishers are foolish to send them books. But is there really so much more to say than that?

It strikes me that this "problem" reflects the circumstances of a particular moment in time, where the YA book market is one of the few exploding parts of publishing, there's a simultaneous blossoming of book blogs, and each individual publisher wants in on this market but isn't neccessarily clear on how to do it.

From the publishers' perspective, I feel certain that the "problem" will even itself out. Publishers are too pennywise to keep sending free books out if they're not getting something out of it -- especially in an economic crisis.

In a way, as a blog reader, I worry more about the opposite phenomenon... blogs that are ostensibly for honest reviews becoming mouthpieces for a publisher's publicity department instead, because the blogger enjoys all the free books they get. (I have no objection to book promotion on blogs -- I'm a total evangelist for the books I love -- but I wonder why this side of the issue is never what I see worries about.)

The most cynical way to put it would be that publishers love sending ARCs to blogs because they believe they can develop a stable of reviewers who will keep posting positive but facile reviews in exchange for free books... and then the publishers get mad when this strategy doesn't always work.

Having said that, I wouldn't extend this cynical view to any of the blogs I read regularly (and, I'm certain, many I don't), or to most authors who, in general, I think behave quite professionally in a stressful situation where they have a lot on the line. But some of this discussion just seems a bit off to me. Like, it's proceeding as though the bloggers are the ones with all the power here. But that isn't true, is it?

(*) as opposed to just negative ones; as a blog reader, I really appreciate honest reviews, and the negative parts of my own reviews are usually the parts I think the hardest about.

H said...

I'm not really sure what to say about this. I do feel that some bloggers compete with each other to get ARCs and act like it's outrageous to buy the book themself. If a book is out and you haven't been offered it for review, it's beyond arrogant to be put out by having to buy it. Let's face it, such people can't love books nearly as much as they claim to if they're not willing to support the industry every once in a while.

That said, all the bloggers I talk to seem great. Maybe I'm just lucky in who I've met, or maybe I unconsciously avoid the blogs that feel a bit too competitive, I'm not sure.

I'm relatively new as a blogger, but I've read reviewing blogs for years and the main problem seems to be the few people who think a blog is an easy way to get free stuff. Or that they have a RIGHT to the books. Just asking politely in a rare circumstance is one thing, and I'm sure authors can always refuse politely and not mind too much. It seems to me that the problem is when bloggers ASSUME that they SHOULD get the book. The YA blogging community isn't here to massage egos but to promote great books. Because that's why most of us are here and i don't think we should ever forget it. (If I ever seem to, please someone politely yell at me :) )

a reviewer said...

As a reviewer who's been at this for more than a year, it irritates me to see posts like this, to know that there are people out starting blogs just to get free books and then not reviewing them. But then, I also think it's good
for the new bloggers to read this and know what's right and what's not. I hate to say it but when I started, I was a selfish little b*tch, I remember emailing authors within the first week, though after another reviewer mentioned she thought requesting books was rude, I immediately apologized and then bought the author's book to review myself. So I can understand a little bit of what the new bloggers have to deal with, when they see all these other bloggers getting a crap load of books and not realizing how long they've been at it.

That said, I have no problem requesting books from authors now. I feel that since I've been at this for well over a year and while I might not run the most popular blog out there, I do get quite a few hits, and I know that people will be reading my reviews. I work my butt off to spread the word about the books I love (not just on my blog) and I do think that authors may benefit from sending me their book. Of course, I've let a few authors down by being lazy with my reviews and I feel bad for that but now it just pushes me harder to do better. I also *never* expect the author to send me the book, I just say that I'm interested and tell them why, explain a little about my blog and what I offer, thank them and let them go. Getting a response, even if they say no, makes me happy because at least they gave it a thought.

There is definitely a clique thing going on in the blogosphere and in a way, it makes me angry because at times, it looks like those are the ONLY blogs authors and publishers ever look at but the bloggers who are at the top deserve to be there because they run amazing blogs.

Hmm.. Looking forward to see how this conversation goes...

Diana Dang said...

Lately, I have been overwhelmed with the books I've received. I have never asked for a review copy from an author in my life. (Only one approached me and I agreed. I have her second volume from a contest I won but was unable to get the first so I was thrilled when she requested for me to review it; which I was planning to do sooner or later.) I feel it's disrespectful to ask an author for their book unless I am on really good terms and I am absolutely desperate to read their novel.

This past month, I have contacted the authors I have talked with before if they wanted to participate in my blog-o-versary this summer. (I have reviewed their books on my own will and loved each and every one of them). They all graciously willing to donate their book(s) for the reader giveaways (it was their choice of course). But that was about it.

I have to admit, I did contact a few manga companies several months after I made my blog. A couple agreed while others never respond. (One politely turned me down). I didn't mind because I didn't give such a convincing email. But that was the last of it. I know for sure I will no longer be contacting any other publishers for review copies.

I simply stick to programs like Simon's PulseIT and Henry Holt's InGroup. School is killing me at the moment so I'm freaking out each day that I have more books to review. (Not to mention I borrow a heap from the library each time).

Sarah said...

I have just started a book blog for my YA interests and it coincides more so with my professional career as a YA Librarian. I'm going to talk about the books I read on there but I did not make a site for free books. I get all the free books I want at my library!

That being said, I am a reviewer for a number of Romance websites and have been for at least five or six years at this point. I get review requests all the time from authors, both print and ebook, and I just cannot handle them all. Particularly with now having a full time job. It wasn't so bad when I was in college and could read between classes or just sneak in a few chapters during the day somehow, but now I'm much more limited time wise so I have had to turn down authors, or recommend another reviewer/blogger who may be willing to read and review their book. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.

That being said, those books I do accept, whether romance or the few YA I've received for review, I always get a review done for it. It's how I have built my reputation within the romance reviewing world and I don't like being known as unreliable. I even write authors emails if I feel I won't get their review done in a timely manner for whatever reason.

I know I am not entitled to ARCs, therefore I feel darn lucky to receive the ones I do, and I treat the author with the respect and thanks they deserve for being willing to share. I may not always give a totally positive review, but I don't think that's a bad thing, nor do the authors. Critical reviews can be more helpful anyway.

Interesting questions!

Yan said...

I actually have no idea what to say to this post. Yes I feel this issue has quite exceeded what I hoped it might have. That after 3 over posts from various bloggers something might have cleared up, but I guess not.

It's post like these and comments as such that makes me think I should quit now. I feel like the finger is being pointed towards me and something has to be done. I have been known to request certain books but I do some research first. Whether of not the genre is for me, the summary, and whatnot. But that does not always work it seem.

Frankly I have no idea what to say. What is considered a "new" blogger? Should I be considered one since I have only been blogging for less than 5 months? I try, I try to be honest even is positive or negative. Someone touched on this before but with publishers who automatically assume that the reviews will be positive. I don't guarantee that, I even posted a small little caution sign that I AM A HARSHER REVIEWER than some.

I know some newer blogs that do quite a good job. So to classify the small group as the new blogs, I take caution for that. What defines new? Seriously.

And to the cliques. Yes I think there are cliques in this community. But it was bound to happen. Some of us click better to some than others. The whole popular bloggers yes it's like high school all over again. But you most admit there has to be a reason as to why they are popular. We flock towards them like flies...I lost my train of thought...err

Anonymous said...

I currently have 36 books in my tbr pile, 10 of which are manga. I feel slightly overwhelmed, but once summer starts I know I will have time to read them. Also, most of the books in the pile are books I bought.

My blog is relatively small, so I don't feel like I should ask for many ARCs. When I have asked for ARCs, I always contact the publisher and request books that look interesting and do not have much hype. I always include something along the lines of, "If this is not possible, then I completely understand." I also feel that there are SO many opportunities to get free ARCs by programs like In Group & LibraryThing ER.

I don't see a problem with requesting ARCs if bloggers are respectful (especially if turned down), research, and read. Reviewing every received ARC depends on the blogger. I know some bloggers would prefer not to post negative reviews.

As for contests, unless my views skyrocket or something, I refuse to ask an author for giveaway books. I'm currently hosting a contest for a book, and I will be buying that book myself for the winner.

As for cliques, there are groups, but not the high school cliques. I have not seen a popular blogger degrade less popular ones.

Elizabeth said...

Just wanted to add something: it's the authors who are in the most precarious situation here. They have a lot of hopes and dreams riding on their book, and (except for a very small minority of very lucky authors) they have quite limited funds coming from publishers to make their books known to readers who might love them.

So, I fully understand the frustration coming from authors on this and other threads. It must be very painful to see lost opportunities in promoting your book, and I imagine it's very natural to feel bitterness toward people who seem to be taking advantage of your vulnerable situation. This is exacerbated by a publishing cycle that generally creates a very short period of time for books to either take off or be remaindered.

I suppose the point of my long comment upthread is just that the bloggers and the authors are not the only players here. The publishers are playing their own game, and I'd rather think about the larger context of the publishing industry that's making authors so insecure than focus so much attention on a few over-entitled people who, frankly, still don't seem to me like they warrant much concern.

Reverie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reverie said...


Ok In following this post today I feel like its becoming a bit passive aggressive. I think those that are at fault need to be notified nicely. BY EMAIL. DO not call them out. Because otherwise they'll either a)ignore, b) think it doesn't apply and/or c)everyone will think they are at fault.

I know personally, I'm sitting here thinking, "am I cliquish? Am I doing something wrong?"
And trust me, some of us would rather know than keep getting mad at for not knowing and thinking, oh that doesn't concern me. Some (most?) are not in HS and should act maturely in this instance. If you see a problem address it with the person.

The end.

Reader Rabbit said...

I suddenly feel as if I'm doing something wrong...

And while I have requested books before (mostly from publishers), I know what I'm requesting, I've done my research and I *will* get to the book, if I've requested it. It *WILL* be reviewed, and it won't be reviewed thoughtlessly. And I also post the review on so I'm sure that will be a benefit to authors as Chapters has few reviews in comparison with Amazon. And Chapters is like the B & N of Canada.. Anyways, I'd hope that the year+ that my sister and I have been reviewing has given us some experience and that our reviews aren't crap.

Not to mention, I don't think I've ever treated an author badly. I'm honored that they'd even spend the time to converse with me. I'm sure they have way better things to do than talk to a random 17 year old blogger.

Onwards, yes there are cliques in the blogger community. I don't find myself to be really part of any; the bloggers that I'm "closer" with were people that I've met from online book clubs etc before we even became bloggers.

I don't know. Honestly, some of these "newer" (not all, some are awesome) are giving the rest of us a bad name. I miss the old blogging community from back when I started....

Amy said...

I'm not a YA reviewer, (though I'd love to review more YA!!!) but yes, I get more books than I can possibly read. I'm definitely stressed out. I mean, just today I had 5 requests.

I have a hard time saying no and what I do sometimes is give the author some other sort of publicity. A guest post or something for the immediacy with the hope of a review later. I know a lot of bloggers are opposed to that, though, and only want to put books they endorse on their blogs.

I haven't requested anything for ages. If I did, it would most likely be YA b/c this is the genre that I love to read that doesn't contact me for reviews. :) but I see that

As far as the other stuff...well I hope that it's starting to settle down. I definitely have favorite bloggers and bloggers I feel I connect with more, but I would never say who. It's probably fairly obvious, though. But I love all book bloggers who blog for the love of books. and that's probably what's changed...the possibility of acquiring ARCs or review copies of books has introduced a whole new element to book blogging. But the good bloggers...the bloggers who stay true to their voice and do it for the love of it, will endure. :) To me it's fairly obvious who spends time on their blog because they love it and who is just trying to get so-called free books. (the bloggers who think the books are free are probably not the ones who spend hours on their blogs)

Rebecca Herman said...

Hmm, I would say that while my TBR pile is way too large, that is mainly a function of me buying way too many books. I am able to keep up with the amount of review copies I get, and I usually prioritize those for a couple reasons, obviously #1 to get them reviewed in time, and #2 I usually only accept ones I really want so I'd move those to the top of the pile anyway. A lot of the times I buy the finished copy too because it was a book I was really excited about to I want to help its sales.

Kate said...

Sorry, this isn't related to the post. I just wondered if you knew you had been quoted in this article


Ms. Yingling said...

This makes me want to never request an ARC. I've been blogging for three years and getting the books from the public library. When I request ARCs, I try to go through the publisher. I want the author to be off writing a new book, not answering my e mails. I must admit that it is very nice when authors see a review I wrote and offer to send me a book. Authors are generally very nice.And Reviewer X, I am so impressed with your large readership! And jealous, but I'll try not to be nasty!

Anonymous said...

I think that bloggers mistakenly think authors have a zillion copies of their books lying around to send for free to anyone that wants them. And that just isn't true.

I only had 3 copies of my own ARC and had to send one to a new agent I was thinking of signing with. Why go on author sites and pester them, when they often *don't* have ARCs? Why make them have to tell you no?

If you're serious about bogging/writing reviews and contributing something, why not contact the actual publisher or publicity person at the publisher for that ARC/other ARCS you're interested in?

Also, a pet peeve of mine is bloggers that seem to only do reviews about BIG books -- let's say, Wintergirls, or Paper Towns, or whatever new Sara Dessen is out. This might just be me, so take it with a grain of salt -- but, as a reader, I go on blogs to find something OTHER than lead title books. Yet it seems bloggers only want those books too -- even if they turn out to be mediocre in the end. Those books with name authors -- that get displays and table placement in book stores -- are reviewed everywhere so they don't really need the support. That's one reason why I like Reviewer X because Steph does sometimes blog about books/authors I've never heard of.

BookChic said...

"If you're serious about bogging/writing reviews and contributing something, why not contact the actual publisher or publicity person at the publisher for that ARC/other ARCS you're interested in?"

A lot of the times I can't find the email address needed to contact the publisher or publicity person. Very few author sites have that info on their contact page and I can never seem to find any email addresses on the publisher website. How am I supposed to contact the publisher instead of the author if I can't find an email address? I'm still very serious about my blog, but I do tend to go to the author first UNLESS I have a contact at a publisher who deals with all the imprints. Otherwise, I don't know if that publicist deals with a particular book I want or if they even know who does, if it's from another imprint. If I ask the author, they can easily forward my request on to their publicist who will contact me about my address or who will send the book out to me. The authors I contact seem to be fine with doing that. So what's the harm?

As for only reviewing big name books, that would be a sad blog site, as big name books aren't released all the time. Maybe like one a month, if that? Anyway, a lot of the blogs I read have a variety of books reviewed, not just big names in the YA lit world. Sometimes we do all tend to talk about the same book or author but hey, that's good too. More buzz for that author and book. And of course we want the big name books too- it's because we love those authors as well. As a blogger, do we need to forsake the big namers because they don't need the publicity? No. As a blogger, we still have the same interests and tastes that we did before becoming a reviewer, so we still get excited about and want the books by our favorite authors who might be big namers. Why does it matter that much? The majority of YA bloggers that I know of talk about various books, big name and no-name and mid-name, and don't focus on one particular section of authors.

Anyway, I need to get going. I hope to do my SevenBookBabes vlog next week with some thoughts on this since I think I would do better talking it out than writing it out. Great discussion so far!

Becky said...

I barely threw my book blog out into the universe so that I could connect with more readers and get book ideas. I've been blogging for awhile, but didn't try to develop a readership until I realized I wanted to make friends. (Sniff, sniff...just kidding. I really did want to join in with things going on though!) To be honest though, all of these discussions have been a bit painful to read, but have refocused me on the goals I had when I first began review and enjoy books! I have received one ARC, but that was one of many offered by the author on her blog, and I was THRILLED because it was a book I wanted to read. Otherwise, I have only done "Early Reviewers" or things such as that. As a full-time teacher, I don't have time to harangue authors/publishers for books. I LOVE the public library, and do my best with what I have. As suggested by a publisher in the Book Blog forums, I did post in the sidebar of my blog that I would take ARCS, and my conditions, but only because she suggested it.

This does bring up an interesting discussion though. In many fields right now, it takes a lot of persistence to break into something that you want to do. For instance, a friend of mine is working as a copy-write editor for a medical journal. She has worked hard to try to get noticed, and realized she had to be more aggressive in requesting work, etc. I wonder if just by nature of the "business" side of publishing, if people feel they have to be pushy? I'm not saying it's right, but just adding a question here? Honestly...I don't know, but wonder if since we're talking about business objectives, and not just art (for art sake), if people are being overly persistent in the hopes of reaching the whole "I have to turn away ARCS" status that other bloggers have remarked about?

I wonder though...are the beggars only a few, and so annoying that they're being thrown out to all of us as a problem? It's uncomfortable a little, but an interesting conversation. Listen, I LOVE the book blogging community, and plan to stay in my little corner of it so that I can be around other people as CRAZY about books as I am! :)

Saundra Mitchell said...

I quote:

"I wonder though...are the beggars only a few, and so annoying that they're being thrown out to all of us as a problem?"

They are definitely the minority. I don't think any author minds being asked for a copy of their book (whether they can give you one or not,) as long as it seems like the person is actually interested in THEIR book. It's the C&P form-mail and repeat-requesters that we consider beggars and grubbers.

There's NOTHING wrong with asking an author for a review copy, seriously, as long as you ask it with the understanding that the answer might have to be no.

Sally said...

Interesting discussion. While I've noticed the same same trends, they don't seem to be of crisis proportion.
I agree with the person who alluded to a book review blog becoming more of a PR mouthpiece. There's a blogger who started out reviewing because of a passion for books, but now the vast majority of the blogger's posts are promotional in some way, shape or form. Every time the blogger is invited to a preview or some event, we hear about it. Would those books have floated to the top of the TBR pile otherwise? It seems very tit for tat. Is a reviewers' mission to call attention to good books that readers might otherwise miss, or to distinguish oneself for having jumped on the bestseller/honors bandwagons early in the game?

There is certainly a place for promotional blogs and blogs that compile relevant links. But the blogger in question seems not to know the difference. There has been hinting for ARCs (successful), which seems to encourage sycophancy (if that is even a word). Now that the blogger has garnered a book deal in the same genre the blogger reviews, we have heard about it several times already. I can only guess this will increase exponentially leading up to the book's publication.

I'm not a total curmudgeon, but I hate the celebrity-ification of the business and how it has trickled down to almost everything I used to read for information. I'm a published author and don't envy the aforementioned blogger their contracts, but I do begrudge them the platform. The platform, and notoriety, was garnered because of reviewing books. Now there's very little reviewing and lots of crowing and cross-linking. I can't help but assume the blog world and all the review world people will feel pressure to review this influential bloggers' books; although I'm not cynical enough to think this whole thing was a masterful set-up to promote an aspiring author, it does leave an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

(All of my long and winding comments can be summed up thusly: I hate when book reviews/book review blogging becomes more about the people and less about the books).

Lyle Blake Smythers said...

If I had a book published and was contacted by anyone, blogger or print reviewer, asking me for a copy of the book, I would be totally bemused and refer the person to the publicity department of my publisher. Isn't that what they're for? The only reason I can think of why anyone would write directly to the author for a copy of the book is if the book is self-published. Maybe I'm totally out of touch with the way things work nowadays.

Aidan Moher said...


That's what most authors I've worked with have done. They just forward my request to the publisher who is happy to send out a review copy.

A Dribble of Ink

Steph said...

Someone who's just getting started book blogging might not have all the contacts for each publisher's publicity group. I personally didn't know who to contact for one house in particular until like seven months into my blog. Which doesn't go to say I think newbie reviewers should fire off requests -- I think the least one can do for authors they request stuff from is have an established readership.

One thing I'd highly recommend bloggers do if they're thinking of emailing authors if they don't have a publisher contact (and if they do, that takes precedence, in my opinion) is tell the author upfront that they want to be directed to the publisher. That's what I used to do. Sometimes the author would've heard of my blog (one even heard of me from her high school student who saw I had her book on my wishlist - that was awesome!) they'll send it themselves but I never ask for it that way. Just a thought. :)

Anyway, loving this discussion you guys!


Anonymous said...

this topic has been overdone and i find it ironic that you're blogging about it. i've seen your goodreads shelf. you have a lot of books to review yet you only review around 4-6 a month. so aren't you biting off more than you can chew?

i think that it's the author's and publicist's fault that some newbie bloggers are getting the coveted ARC's and not reviewing them. authors and publicists should check the URL that's given to them and snoop around the blog to make sure that it's a blogger who WILL review the book and not just brag about it.

the blogging community has become bigger since there's been a boom of bloggers but it's still a close community. it's natural the many bloggers will become close friends and that some cliques will be formed.

Steph said...

Anon, where did I ever say I didn't feel overwhelmed? I do. I wish I'd thought over some of the requests I made because I obviously can't cover everything. But I also get a lot of random stuff which is included in there, and it's stuff I have no obligation to review but still will if it calls out to me.

Anonymous said...

"Also, a pet peeve of mine is bloggers that seem to only do reviews about BIG books -- let's say, Wintergirls, or Paper Towns, or whatever new Sara Dessen is out. That's one reason why I like Reviewer X because Steph does sometimes blog about books/authors I've never heard of."

It's very funny you say that considering ALL books you listed WAS reviewed by Steph and all got grade A reviews. And there were a lot of books I heard about before they were reviewed by Steph, maybe the only one I didn't was an E-book, it was a while back. But really I think why the hell not. It makes no difference. These so called BIG authors will get increased sales and these BIG book bloggers will get increased readership.

But ANON Author who's comment I quoted I understand what you mean. BECAUSE.....

What I hate is when one blog posts about something and BIG blogger posts about the same exact thing and does a half ass job doing so, still get LOADS more comments then the "smaller" blog.

(This goes w/wat u were saying b4?)

Okay as for the cliques, amen to Steph for pointing them out, a job well done. I recongnixed them but I didn't realize it was considered a clique, which it is.

and I agree w/ Sally hate when its about the author rather then the book itself.

Hoarders Extraordinaire said...

wow this is an interesting conversation. I've only had my blog up since January so I'd be a newer blogger.

I get a lot of books, I also do a lot of blog tours, cold requests from pubs and also from authors. When i started I was told that was a way to get copies. Nobody then ever said it was a bad thing to do.

I find the term "begging" for books offensive. When I contact authors/pubs I request the book by name, say why I'm interested in it...and then I lay out in detailed form where I'm going to place those reviews (that's the part that's c&p'd) I don't just place it on my blog and one other place. I do a ton of places. After I've placed it on at least 6 commercial sites, my blog, it hits countless others through my rss feed, then I email the author/pub with the links and a thank you. Believe me I work hard for the book and for the author, so I don't consider it begging. Living on a fixed income, I am very aware of the cost of a book.

My feeling has always been that if an author is kind enough to send me their book I'm going to bend over backwards for them as payment. I enjoy doing it, but it's a lot of work let me tell you.

I agree that many times you can't find what pub to send a request to, and most authors either will tell me they don't have copies or that it's been forwarded to their publisher. Either is fine. Am I disappointed sometimes? Sure. But I'll live. :)

As for some people having huge giveaways on their sites, there are a few pubs who are unbelievably generous with giveaways and give away massive quantities of books. While that's really wonderful, sometimes there are so many blogs giving away the same books it's ridiculous.

As for the 'only blog about the big name authors', I've noticed that a lot of bloggers refuse to review self published authors and non-fiction. Author's of those books are always looking for reviewers.

I tend to work hours on my blog a day...between posting and marketing my blog, studying the latest SEO information, etc. It's very time consuming, but I love it.

If author's don't want to send out books, then say so when they are approached for one.

whether it's a new blog or an older one, it's up to the author or pub who they choose to send that book to.

Steph said...

I try to do a mix of lead titles and lesser-known titles to keep things interesting. I usually get hooked to a blog when I know some of the titles they review and it helps me see how our tastes correlate if they like the same books I do. We have a greater probability of having read the same lead title than the same lesser-known title, and so I want to offer blog newcomers the chance to see what I like and dislike of the stuff they've most likely read. So they can trust my taste a little better or be wary of some of my pet peeves that may not apply to them exactly.

Also, y'all, I'm sure you realize big titles get much bigger push than midlists or no-lists and so I inevitably end up with ARCs for them.

(And I never reviewed Wintergirls. I just said I liked it. But the other two I gave As to were books I thought deserved it. I hope I'm not one of the mouthpieces you guys speak of!)

I also try to do lesser-knowns because a lot of them don't get the attention they deserve. And because I'm sure people want to see more than the books they see reviewed on every other blog. (Which also inevitably happens because so many of us receive the same books and some of them call out to every single of us and then we review them because we ended up reading them.)

But I think I could stand to do more lesser-known books. I have a ton of them here and this has just inspired me to share some buried treasure with y'all. Watch out! :)

Steph said...

OH and I said not to mention any names, I know I did, but I'm so curious to know who this blog you guys are talking about that seem to only do promotional stuff now and don't review for the sake of reviewing anymore. I know curiosity killed the cat, but I'm not a feline so I'm hoping it's safe. :P If anyone feels like emailing to clue me in, do that.


Steph said...

Oh and also, on the lead titles thing: whoever said they're a good way of getting some hits is right. When I'm having a particularly slow week I throw one of those in there. I'm sorry, I just like seeing my stats nice and shiny. It bodes well for my ego. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm Anon 10:17--

Quote from Anon 7:44... "...It's very funny you say that considering ALL books you listed WAS reviewed by Steph and all got grade A reviews...
... What I hate is when one blog posts about something and BIG blogger posts about the same exact thing and does a half ass job doing so, still get LOADS more comments then the "smaller" blog..."

Yes, I'm aware Steph did review those books, and I think that's fine, but she also reviews other books I'm completely unaware of -- this is why I like her blog. I wasn't really saying bloggers shouldn't blog about Big books if that's what they like, but it gets old, the same books on EVERYONE'S blog -- I don't get a feel for a bloggers personal taste when so many books get "A" reviews. Steph at least will say when she doesn't like a book, yet she does it in well thought out style (even the snarky ones).

Quote: (This goes w/wat u were saying b4?)

Yes! Because sometimes the least insightful blogs have tons of comments and other bloggers are knocking themselves out with all kinds of insightful comments about books, but have no followers. *Same as with certain mid-list books that simply do not get blog exposure while the "hot" books by already famous authors get publicity (that they don't need)... I'm not really complaining, but just making an observation.

Unknown said...

Authors need to offer books to be reviewed if they want a review, bloggers can ask. However some blogs take pdf or word versions that will not cost the author anything, can provide the review and be enjoyed by bloggers. I for one author am only too glad to share my work with bloggers. I beleieve and have stated this on radio, TV and blogs that the "small" bloggers who actually read, comment and hopefully enjoy your book are more important than the mass publishers, reviews etc.

Rebecca Herman said...

I review a lot of "lesser known" books on my blog too. My favorite genre is young adult historical fiction so naturally a lot of those books aren't well known/super popular. But it's a genre I've loved for years and really care about and want to get out the word about new books in this genre so that hopefully a few more readers decide to give them a try. So not all bloggers are jumping on the "just review popular books" bandwagon or just trying to get ARCs of the books everyone wants to read.

Heather said...

I don't have time to read all these comments at the moment, so if I repeat anything you've heard before, I'm sorry.

I don't ask authors for books, actually. I don't think I have at all. I don't feel right about it. If I want an unreleased book for review, I usually try to hunt down a contact at the publishing company who can see if there is a copy around for me. And I've only actually asked for one at all once. Usually, any books I get for review have been offered and if I have too many books in my tbr pile at the time, and don't feel I can review the book, and haven't been dying to read it already before it's offered, I turn down the offer and/or suggest a later date for the author/publisher to send it if they still wish to.

And as for bragging about hard-to-get ARC's, I think it's absolutely appalling. I may be mistaken, but I don't believe I've done that, unless I just mentioned how excited I was to get it at the end of another post, and said that a review would be up soon. I don't really think this is bragging, though. To brag would be to create an entire post announcing that you received a highly-coveted novel in the mail and it not be the review.

I know we are/I am guilty of having reviews only every couple of weeks or so, but it's less because I am just reading the books and not reviewing them and more because I have little time to do so. Usually, though, if a book is sent to me for free, a review is posted. It's the books I buy from the store that get less of the spotlight, because I know there isn't anyone waiting for a review.

I also want to address the "clique-like" behavior. I don't think that many book bloggers participate in this cliquing, and some of those that do don't mean to. we at Plenty of Paper used to be frequently visited by many of these people, then something changed at the end of last summer, and even those that follow our blog don't come and comment and give their input. It's like there is this large group that sticks together, comments every single one of each others posts, mentions each other in many of their posts, and generally secludes others. Then there are the rest of us just floating around in the blogosphere, lending our attention where we feel it's necessary or wanted, or where we want to. I'm not saying the book blogging community is a high school movie from the eighties, where everyone has their place and if they leave it, they're beat up, but there are a few instances where some bloggers and excluded from things.

I'm bad about going around and reading posts and commenting, but that's because, just as it is with reviewing, I have little time. I try to get things done, but it's a lot of reading to do in one sitting, especially when I share a computer with 4 other people, one of which works at home and needs it for the majority of the day.

For the most part, though, book bloggers are warm, welcoming people that are friendly and have a common interest--great literature.

I'm not sure I said what I came to say, but that's what came out.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:17-

Thanks for clarifying and now I understand where your coming from, I did before too. But it helps when relating to being a blogger and etc. My suggestion-promote your book online, every which way possible. Trust me, no matter what we say about book blogs they ARE affective. I can attest to that. ;)

As for Heather: Yep your right about the mass of bloggers commenting on each others blogs and all. Oh well, what can you do?

-Anon 7:44.

Elizabeth said...

Okay, I have to confess that I am also now very curious about which blog is getting called out for being a PR site. Oh well.

Just a thought on the cliquishness: part of what I'm really enjoying about blogging is the interactivity. On our blog, we talk a ton about our Favorite TV Show of All Time (My So-Called Life), and some of that discussion carries over across different posts. Some of it even carries over into other commenters' blogs. I am *thrilled* that there are other people who are freakish enthusiasts like me who want to talk about this all the time. Finding some of them is part of why I'm glad I started my blog!

Yeah, I love to visit the blogs of people who comment on our site, and I love to link posts that made me think and share my thoughts on them -- because for me, the fun is the conversation.

Is this cliquish? Well sure, I suppose so. But it surely isn't meant to exclude anyone. And more to the point, it's hard for me to imagine why anyone would care. It's not like high school, where we'll all forced together like it or not, and a status hierarchy kind of has consequences for our lives.

Alternatively, maybe I just don't understand what's being described by the label "cliquishness."

Cheryl said...

I've scanned through some of the comments here and I doubt I have anything new to add, but here is how it went down with me.

I began blogging in Dec 2005 and planned a very personal type of blog about being a mom, a writer and an aspiring author. Through networking with other writers I became a virtual book tour host. People liked my interviews with authors and I enjoyed learning about new books, so I got more involved.

Over time, the blog became less about me and more about others; so in July 2007 I started my book blog.

In the very beginning, when I decided to add reading back into my regular schedule, I did ask some writer friends if they would like me to review their books. They sent them to me and I reviewed them. But honestly, at this point, between my virtual book tour clients and authors or publicists who contact me, I haven't had to request a book in quite a long time.

Glancing over at the table where my TBR pile sits, I can see 11 titles and I also have two 2 eBooks.

If there is a clique of book bloggers, I guess I'm not part of it. I guess I'll have to live with that. :)

Overall, I think the blogosphere has given self-published authors and authors who work with small presses a voice. There are a lot of excellent books out there that I never would have found without my book blog. Yes, it's thrilling to receive a book from a publicist of a well-known author, but it's also just as wonderful to discover a new author who is reaching out to the online world.


Lisa Mahapatra said...

"OH and I said not to mention any names, I know I did, but I'm so curious to know who this blog you guys are talking about that seem to only do promotional stuff now and don't review for the sake of reviewing anymore. I know curiosity killed the cat, but I'm not a feline so I'm hoping it's safe. :P If anyone feels like emailing to clue me in, do that." - Steph

Ok, now I'm really curious too. Pray, do tell.

Ivy said...

Oh man I never knew asking authors to donate a book for giveaway is bad!

We currently host a YA Readers' Choice Awards over at yaReads where readers vote for their favorite books released on a specific month. To motivate people to vote, we giveaway books by debut authors. I thought it was a great way to help authors out. I had to email them and ask them if they want to donate their book. They seem to be excited about it. But now, from reading several comments above, I'm worried that I might have committed a serious book blogger blunder!

Blogging is a learning process though. Some people might not be aware that they're doing something wrong. That's why I'm glad for posts and discussions like these. They are very helpful. =D

Anonymous said...

I agree with Cranky's first comment: sending one sentence, vague emails demanding an ARC- and then sending hate mail if the author says no- is definitely not okay. BUT, for example, I have weekly contests in which I make a review video out of one of my reviews and then give away a copy of that book (called Movie Monday). Because these are weekly, it means I am constantly emailing authors, asking if they would be willing to supply a copy of their book. And I don't see anything wrong with it. True, the feature brings in a few more hits for me, but I do it because I honestly believe it is a unique way to promote an author's book. Now, anyone can get their book reviewed, and anyone can be interviewed, but not many bloggers are willing to make videos out of their reviews. So, technically, I see it as me trying to help the author out, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

Before I realized some people considered it rude, I did request ARCs. But I made sure all my emails were personal, polite, and not demanding- and I would certainly never send hate mail if an author said no! After I found out many people actually did not like being approached, I stopped. So of course I understand that authors would get extremely frustrated by rude, demanding requests, but I still don't understand why it is a bad thing if the email is professionally done. The author always has the power to say no.

Mrs. Magoo said...

Also, not to be rude, but I would like to remind authors that while writing is your career, many bloggers are still in school and have other activities as well. I don't think it is fair to expect teens to constantly be reviewing books. Again, I hope I don't sound rude by saying this.

Mrs. Magoo said...

AND... (sorry for the third comment) if I were a so-called "bad" blogger, I would want to be contacted in a private, politely worded email. No offense, but I don't think general comments on general posts are going to stop anything.

Doret said...

The few ARC's I get come directly from publishers so I never feel obiligated to review them. However I do make a point to put these books to the top of my TBR list. I figure its the least I can do when publishers send titles I requested in a timely fashion. Though the bulk of the books I review come from the bookstore I work at and the library. I do my best to have a wide range of post, I want the few people who visit my blog to discover new authors. One of my pet peeves is seeing the same books reviewed again and again on various YA blogs. I love Sarah Dessen(love as in squeal like a girl 10 yrs my junior) and I am really looking forward to reading her new book but I won't review it. I used to try and find new YA blogs to visit but I've pretty much given up. I'll scroll through, pages and pages,everyone seems to be reading and talking about similar titles or authors. I also only see a few books reviewed by authors of color and thats very frustrating. So I'll just continue to enjoy the few blogs I go to.

Liv said...

I rarely get books for review anymore, to be honest. I'm not reading as much as I used to which means I'm not producing as many reviews. I also have around 40 books sitting in a stack in my room that still have to be read. And honestly, I couldn't deal with the influx of high profile ARCs that some bloggers get.

I used to email a few authors and ask for a review copy if it was a book I was really into, but I've stopped doing that. I never know how long it'll be until I actually have time to read it so I'd rather the book go to someone who's actually going to get buzz going. I do still accept some review copies from authors who email me but those are few and far between. I like the situation that I'm in because it leaves me more free to read whatever I want to and write the kind of reviews that I want.

I run a little homely blog and I'm proud of it. I'm appalled at some of the ARC flashing and bragging that goes on. And then those same people that get the fancy ARCs write crappy reviews. Reviews that are 2 sentences long.

I'd rather buy or mooch the books myself and let the publishers and the authors make a little money off of me rather than take their earnings from them.

I'm self-sufficient.

Melissa Walker said...

Hey, guys.

I just wanted to chime in and say that I love the reviewers and I really do try--with my publicist--to get books out to anyone with a blog. You never know who's reading them! And even if it's just a "got this in the mail today" post, I still get a thrill out of seeing my cover posted. That's publicity! It all helps, I think.

And I'm also surprised that authors don't want to send older books out upon request--I love when Violet on the Runway, from 2007, gets a new review. I figure it'll give it some new life!

Really interesting discussion.

Anonymous said...

It's really depressing when the few bad apples ruin it for everyone. It's because of people who horde their ARC's and make them out to be some sort of elite trading card, that the people who really do want to read the ARC and review it get shafted.

What's going to happen is that eventually ARC's are no longer going to be given out, and it's going to ruin it for everyone.

Fuse #8 said...

"Okay, I have to confess that I am also now very curious about which blog is getting called out for being a PR site."

I think that might have been me. It sort of fits. I recently got a two book picture book deal. I do a lot of publisher's previews. And since I've been counting down the Top 100 Picture Books on my blog my book reviews have gone down (because I've essentially been reviewing the Top 100 Picture Books, but that's neither here nor there). In my defense, I've always reviewed publishers previews because I think it's unfair that only New York librarians get to see upcoming seasons. I try to do ALL the publishers I can, not just the big guys. And I don't tend to review books mentioned in my previews. But I could see how you'd be inclined to label me as a PR extension. I just don't happen to agree.

Anonymous said...

This is an intense discussion. I hope hope hope I'm not included as one of the "cliquey" bloggers or a disrespectful blogger. I've had my blog since the beginning of '09 (and still consider myself a newbie), have asked for copies from authors twice - both of them were debut novels that I really really really wanted to read - they were not at all c&p'd emails - more fangirling about the fact that I'm excited for the book's release than asking for a review copy.

I have heard of other bloggers talking about all the ARCs they get, but in a lot of cases these are blogs that have been around for a long time and have an established record, and I don't think they're trying to brag - it's more of an excitement over getting some good books they're eager to read. I personally don't do IMM because (1) I don't have much to brag about and, (2) I think it can get a little competitive even if people don't mean for it to be. Also I find the IMMs boring, just my opinion.

As for how the blogosphere is now... personally I love it. It's really nice not only getting to talk about all the books I love, but also being involved in the YA community and making friends. (Is that what others are calling clique-ish? Friendships in the blogosphere?)
For me the best thing is helping authors get the word out about their books.

Basically I love it.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that this is a big issue for me. I get a lot of requests for review copies every single week, often for my book that has already come out. I'm very happy to send out copies to legit review blogs that are valuable uses of bucks (the finished copies are ones I bought myself for giveaways, and ARCs are lost royalties and increased publisher cost, so it's money either way). So when I got a request, the first thing I do is to see how many hits/ how popular a blog is.

It really, really annoys me as an author when a new blog or a blog with fewer hits that my own blog requests a copy of a book that's already out. It seems to me that being a successful review blog is about more than just reviewing books. Being a successful blogger means you take the time to build your audience, and that means you read and review books that you got from the library or the bookstore or however regular people get them. You prove yourself and make your blog something that authors would love to be on, and THEN you can request a copy. Otherwise, BUY THE BOOK. Free books are for publicity, and if you are not providing a good bang for the buck, understand that and be decent about it and make it a goal.

And this is from someone who loves book bloggers. I have about a dozen of them on my blog reader -- but you better believe that dozen are reliable, well-spoken, and completely coherent. They are also the first ones that I will send an ARC or review copy to -- they wouldn't have to ask.

You want to be that blogger. Not the one that the author has to stare at their inbox and wonder how to say "no" nicely or ask about your stats because your site doesn't look so hot, etc.

Also, I disagree RABIDLY with the idea that you should just email the author if you can't find the info for the publicist. The number of emails I get each much is in the thousands, and forwarding a request to a publicist multiple times a month adds up in a hurry. Let's put this another way. You're trying to get a FREE book. So that's no royalty for the author. And also, you'd like them to dedicate some time to giving you that FREE book.

You should do the work, bloggers, if you aren't getting them sent to you. Not the authors.

BookChic said...

To the anonymous above me, how should we go about finding publicist and publisher info? It's usually not in an easy place to find, unless the author has put the info on their Contact page (like Justine Larbalestier has) or if the publisher has put that info on their website (usually they don't seem to, though it could just be hard to find). So where are we going to get this info? We can't necessarily wait around for a publicist to contact us because it just may never happen. Only very rarely have publicists contacted me directly about a certain book or even to just tell me what titles they're offering. I've always had to go through the author or every so often, the publicist I'm in contact with will tell me who's dealing with a certain book (like I had to do with Vast Fields of Ordinary, as there seemed to be like no info about that book anywhere). It would require a lot of work that may not even pay off in the end. A lot of bloggers go to school or have a day job and just don't have the kind of time to spend hours searching the internet for a publicist's email.

What could be done to make it easier is to have more authors put their publicist's info on their website, but a lot of them don't have it. They just have their own email address, which is why that's usually the first thing we try when requesting a book.

On a side note, I'm also very curious about the blog that has become a PR site and the one who just brags about the books they get but don't post any reviews. I'm very nosy that way, lol. Feel free to email me about it. :)

Lyle Blake said...

Every publisher's website I have ever seen has a section marked CONTACT US or words to that effect; clicking on it will take you to the page giving mailing address and/or email address (sometimes one or the other, sometimes both). Contacting the author should be your LAST resort, not your first.

Anon Author said...

I'm an author and I generally agree with much of what's been said, but there's one particular point that I want to bring up (and sorry I'm late to the party). In a previous post, Michelle Zink brings up the point that if she sends out 20 ARCs and a few bloggers share those with friends, isn't that just a drop in the bucket? And it made me realize that some bloggers (and authors) might not be aware of what kinds of numbers we're actually discussing here.

I think we can assume that a publisher or author is sending out more than 20 ARCs, but let's just go with the 20 number and assume that those 20 people share the ARC with 5 friends -- nice easy number of 100. Since we're estimating low on these things, let's just assume that's 100 sales the author's lost.

For Michelle Zink who has a reported print run of 100k, she's right, that would be a drop in the bucket (.1% of sales). But the actual average print run of a book is usually 5-10k (and in this economy is often 3-7k) so that's about 1-3% of the print run (if they actually print that many). But what about actual sales?

I asked my agent to look up some bookscan numbers for me for books that the publishers are quite pleased with -- books that the publishers are putting out in paperback after hardcover releases (not leads, but solid midlists). Bookscan shows sales of less than 1k for four of them.

One book that Steph loved, raved about, and held a huge contest for has sold less than 1,500 books. Another author who is often raved about with a large lead title book coming out later this year has also sold less than 1,500 books of his/her debut (which has had multiple printings). Another paperback that Steph is quoted on the back of has sold just around 1,500 books.

These are not big numbers. Books really don't sell as many copies as people think they do. So that 100 copies in lost sales is more like 5-10% (or more in many cases) of an author's sales. And I only bring these numbers up so that we all have more information when we're talking about this issue (and so that you can understand why some authors do get upset when we think we're losing sales because of ARCs being passed around).

Steph said...

Anon, I had a feeling most books didn't see past 5k, but are those numbers real? I mean, even admitting that BookScan gets on average 70% of a book's sales...that's 2142 books for the ones reported at 1500. Although the extra 30% is accounted for by Walmart and the likes, right? So are those numbers it?

That's surprising.

And I can guess which books you're talking about except for the bestselling lead title later this year. My guess would be an author whose initials are JL and whose book is titled a one-letter word, though.

BookChic said...

"Every publisher's website I have ever seen has a section marked CONTACT US or words to that effect; clicking on it will take you to the page giving mailing address and/or email address (sometimes one or the other, sometimes both). Contacting the author should be your LAST resort, not your first."

I have seen those, and have used them sometimes, but I never hear back nor do I ever receive what I asked for. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't hear back but got the books anyway, but having neither one happen?

What I mean to say is there's never any SPECIFIC publicist email address that's easily accessible. It's always a general email address for the whole publicity department. Do they even check that or do anything with it? Whenever I've used it, it seems like my email is not even read. But whenever I email someone specifically, I hear back from them pretty much right away.

So I still stand by my original comment. If you want bloggers to email the publicists instead, put that information on your website on your Contact page.

Anon Author said...

Hey Steph,

A book actually seeing 5k, especially for many midlist authors, is actually doing really well in many cases. Yes, the numbers I cited are for real -- taken from Bookscan in the last week or two. Everyone argues over what percentage of the total sales Bookscan represents (and no one can know sales for sure until seeing a royalty statement) but the key with Bookscan is that it's the number that a new publisher might use to sign a deal or a store might use to decide how many of your books to stock or a magazine to determine bestseller lists. So it can still be a really important number.

You raise another good point re: Walmart -- most authors aren't stocked at Walmart. Getting stocked at Walmart is a HUGE HUGE deal. In fact, a large number of authors aren't even stocked by Borders! (just go to the Verla Kay boards to see authors discuss being skipped by Borders -- award winning, starred review authors who are lead titles aren't getting stocked).

So the gap in bookscan numbers usually comes from things like library sales (and I don't know if all indie store sales are reported to Bookscan).

So yeah, you can assume that sales are likely larger than Bookscan reports, but the Bookscan number is still critical and the sales might not be that much higher.

As for the titles you're guessing, the lead title this year that I'm talking about isn't JL, it's an author whose first two books are with a smaller press (same press as another I gave numbers for) and third is with a very large NYC house.

Looking down my list of other titles I got Bookscan numbers for, most of them had less than 15k sales so far (mostly hardcovers) and many of those are NYT books. Even a #1 NYT trade paperback has sold around 50k. When we talk about book sales, with the exception of Meyer, the numbers just aren't as big as a lot of people think they are. Especially when you realize that the print runs announced in PW are usually huge exaggerations (an announced 100k print run in PW might in reality be anywhere from 20-50k actually printed). Beyond that, a 50% sell through (actual sales of books printed) is considered to be solid (so, an author is often doing okay if they sell 20k of a 40k print run -- or, more realistically, if they sell 1.5k of a 3k print run).

Anonymous said...

So I still stand by my original comment. If you want bloggers to email the publicists instead, put that information on your website on your Contact page.Am I the only one who finds this attitude extraordinarily entitled? Basically, the framework of BookChic's comment is that if authors don't want to get bloggers asking them for free books, they should publicly post the contact information of a publicist who may or may not want that information put out in the open?

And it's quite possible that if the publisher is contacted and no response happens, your blog hasn't been judged useful/ big enough for that particular book's ARC print run. Every ARC that is sent to a blogger is one that isn't sent to a librarian, etc. - so is your blog reaching more people than a really talkative librarian or bookseller? If not, maybe the only way you'd get an ARC is by badgering a publicist after getting their email from their badgered author.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - No, I agree with BookChic. I understand that some publicists may not their info posted publicly but we need a way to get to it.

I would say that his blog probably connects to more people than most talkative librarians. He's been at this for longer than most of us and if you look at his myspace page, you'll see just how many followers he has. He does not get books by badgering, he gets books because his site gets more hits than most and he knows what he's doing. Perhaps you should check the site before assuming.

Anonymous said...

Harmony -- I did check his sites before I posted. Total number of friends on Myspace doesn't equal number of blog readers on Myspace. I also didn't say that he personally was badgering publicists or authors. Please don't assume that I haven't done my homework or know nothing about checking another blog's stats.

Brooke Reviews said...

Wow, I finally just read all the comments. I've been reviewing books for a little over a year now. I've never badgered an author for a book, and I may have asked ONCE for one. I try to help by joining the author's street teams, or just spreading the word on my own through my blog. When I receive an ARC, I ALWAYS post the review within a week of the release date not only on my blog, but on every book site that I visit regularly. Sometimes I randomly receive books that aren't in the genre I review, and unless it's really good and I think people should know about it, I won't write a review.

I'm not a YA book blogger, although I do write reviews for Paranormal YA books on my blog. I'm an adult, and I've noticed the cliques within the YA bloggers out there. It doesn't bother me because I'm not a teen, but I can see how it would bother others.

I don't always comment on the blogs I follow, but I do read. I don't think the amount of comments is a good gauge of whether or not people are reading. Sometimes I read, and I just really have nothing to say. Plus, I just don't have the time to sit around commenting on blogs and twittering all day. I'd rather be reading, writing, reviewing, or doing school work.

I have noticed that people will talk about how large their TBR pile is, but they rarely post reviews. I myself have a huge stack of books to read, BUT these are NOT ARCs. These are books that I've bought or have received.

I noticed a commenter above saying that they asked authors to donate for contest. Which I think is pretty crazy. I'm holding a contest right now for two books, that I bought at a book signing, and asked the authors if they could sign them and if it was okay for me to have the contest. I don't think these books should just come out of the authors money, and they shouldn't feel bad when they don't have ARCs to give out.

Steph - Just wanted to let you know that you along with a few other YA bloggers are the ones I read consistently, because you are honest, and you always have book news for your readers. So thank you for that!

BookChic said...

Anonymous- Well, I think an author would definitely need to talk it over first with their publicist. Because some authors do have their publicist contact info on their website, so obviously some publicists are fine with having their email out there. That's all I ask- that the publicists who don't mind have their info readily available. Or maybe put the head PR person's email on the publisher's website somewhere.

This reminds me of job hunting. I'd go on interviews and they would reject me because I didn't have any experience (this was a few years ago when I was finding my first job). Which is stupid because if no one hires me, how am I supposed to get experience? It's the same thing with this. If there's no way to get a specific publicist's info, how are we supposed to contact them instead of the author?

I don't see what's so entitled about getting information. I mean, if we're not allowed to contact the author, but have no access to publicist info, who are we supposed to contact?

Brooke Reviews- I don't see what's so crazy about asking an author to donate a book for a contest. If they don't have an extra copy, they can say so and if they're dealing with a good blogger, it won't be a big deal. I always mention doing a contest when I feature an author and some of them are able and willing to do it and others aren't. It doesn't matter either way as we're the only ones who know about it. Or sometimes if the author can't offer up a giveaway copy, I'll just use my advance copy and then buy a final version for myself eventually.

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