Despite the provocative title of this post, the authors who contributed the following want to stress that they LOVE most book bloggers and greatly appreciate us spreading the word about their books. The internet has really facilitated and fostered the relationship between book lovers and authors which can be amazing and rewarding for both sides. But this unprecedented access also has its dark side, and some book bloggers are taking advantage of their position and harassing authors. And this needs to stop.
A few authors frustrated with the current state of things e-mailed me in response to my recent April Fools Day post and shared stories that shocked me and that I think need to be heard. (NOTE: Nearly all authors who contributed to this post are authors of YA books, so I think the following issues may be more of a problem in the YA blogosphere.)
Since book blogging is relatively new, and anyone can start a book blog, all of us are pretty much winging it. We may see something that worked for another blogger...say a follower contest...and we may think that's the best way to grow our readership, when in fact it might not be right for us at all. It can become a perceived competition to see who can get the most followers, the most review copies, etc. And sometimes authors become pawns in our quests for blogosphere domination.
Our book blogs are our brands and everything we post on our blogs or social media sites, everything we write in e-mails, and every interaction we have with publishing professionals has an effect – positive or negative - on our brand. If you think your bad behavior (however infrequent it might be) goes unnoticed, well…I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t.
So what is considered bad behavior? Mainly, it’s an attitude of entitlement that bugs authors. Saying please and thank you may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at just how many bloggers don’t.
THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER ASK AN AUTHOR (all taken from actual situations):
To do an interview with you when you haven’t read their book or did not like their book. Interviews take time, both for you and the author. If you end up not liking the book, you may not use the interview which just wasted the author’s time. If you dislike the book, why do you want to interview the author anyway? Says one author (sarcastically): I get a lot of really weird requests from book bloggers who seem to think I have nothing better to do. I love the ones that say, "Hi. I haven't read your book, and I probably won't, but can you answer these 4567 questions for me? I think you'll drive some traffic to my blog." Or better yet, “Being on my blog will give you exposure!” Sure it will. I'm also a big fan of, "I hated your book and want to interview you at my blog so you can defend yourself." Uh yeah. I did that once, It was called high school. Thanks.
For a copy of their book to give as a prize after you’ve given their book a bad review. Says one author: Of course we want to get our books out there. Of course appreciate people who blog about our books. But you know what? You review our books and are all honest and sometimes you even say some mean things, and you expect us to take it, and we do. We smile and take it. But please understand that when you give my book a bad review, I am completely shocked when you write to me and ask me for things. If you don't like my book, why on EARTH would you want to offer it as a prize? And why would you think I want to bring attention to your blog and your bad review of my book? You know what that makes me think? It makes me think you are just using me. And I don't like that feeling.
To share a hotel room with you.
To pay for your plane ticket to their book signing in another state.
To do your homework for you.
To come to a reading you’ve set up for them with you and your one friend.
PLEASE DO NOT
Lie or try to trick an author into doing something. Says one author: Probably the thing that bugs me the most is when bloggers lie and say "Here are the questions for the interview!" even though I've never agreed to do an interview with them. It's sneaky and underhanded and just a bad idea to try and trick an author into doing an interview, banking on the possibility that the author might not remember saying no (or not saying yes). I have had this happen a lot.
Send your links of bad reviews to authors or @ reply them on twitter. Of course you have the right the write an honest review – but why do you want to throw a less than stellar critique in an author’s face? Says one author (sarcastically): I love when book bloggers are really rude about my books on their blog, and then tweet their reviews with my twitter name attached, so it shows up for me. And then other people RT it, because they have no idea it’s a bad review…because who would do that?
Get greedy and request all the books from an author’s backlist (especially if the backlist is extensive). Of course it’s understandable if an author pitches you a series book for review that you request the previous books in the series. But in most cases, you do not need an author’s entire backlist to give your opinion on their current book. And if for some reason you do, get them from the library or buy them. Says one author: I’ve had bloggers send review requests for all my books, even the ones that aren’t in print anymore. That just smacks of greed to me, and tells me they don’t understand the actual business of publishing.
Trash an author’s book to punish them for not giving into your demands – whether on your blog, in the comments of a GoodReads review, on twitter, or anywhere public. Says one author: [Some bloggers] feel like they deserve things, and are completely entitled. Then they power trip on that as if their bad review of your book will actually mean you’ll feel sorry you didn’t say yes.
E-mail an author excessively “just to chat”. Says one author: I have a policy that I try to reply to every e-mail I get, but some bloggers take it to the extreme and e-mail me constantly. It’s definitely fun to interact with fans and book bloggers, but if I spend all my time chatting, I won’t have time to write my next book. I’ve had times where I tried to distance myself from especially exuberant bloggers and they have become stalkerish. It’s scary sometimes.
IN MOST CASES, IT IS PREFERRED THAT YOU DO NOT
Request an ARC from an author for review. Authors get very limited ARCs (if any) and in most cases, their ARCs are already promised to others. If you want to review a forthcoming book, please contact an author’s publicist (if you can’t find that information on an author’s website, you may write to ask the author for that info, politely.) Or sign-up for one of the many traveling ARC programs currently running (BookMac has a comprehensive list!) Says one author: I wish someone would let bloggers know that we don't have a never-ending supply of free books to give out.
Request an ARC or a finished copy of an author’s book to use in a contest that has nothing to do with their book - unless of course you know the author (that is, you’ve had meaningful contact with them before) and are a fan of the book. Says one author: Having a one-year anniversary of your blog, or having a birthday, or having your wisdom teeth removed or whatever --- those are all very important to celebrate, but no, I don't want to donate a book in honor of it and mail it out to your winner. And I especially don't want to do it when you act all flip about it, as if it's no big deal for me to send stuff your way. It is a big deal. A trip to the post office is an hour minimum out of my day and basically $15 for the book and postage.
WHEN YOU SHOULD CONTACT AN AUTHOR
You’ve read their book, loved it (or at least really liked it) and:
1) Want to tell them that you loved it and/or send a link to your positive review.
2) Want to do an interview with them. In this case keep your questions to a minimum and give them plenty of time to answer.
3) Want to do a giveaway of their book to coincide with your interview or review (if they are unable to provide you with one, they may refer you to their publicist). In this case, make sure to ask for then respect an author’s geographical shipping restrictions if they agree to provide a copy. Do not choose a winner from Indonesia when they have specified US only.
You are responding to their open offer of swag, review copies, a place on their street team, etc on twitter or on their blogs/websites. Always include a link to your blog and your mailing address if applicable.
You are giving away a copy of their book on your blog (provided by you or publisher) and you want to let them know. Oftentimes, they would LOVE to help by tweeting or blogging about it, to get more people to your blog.
You are trying to raise money or awareness for your library, your reading group, your book club or a reading-related cause and need donations, promotional material, information or support. Make sure to provide all pertinent information in your first e-mail.
You just want to connect and say hi. Says one author: I think most authors are open to a general hello from bloggers. We are a friendly group of people, and we really do appreciate what many book bloggers do for us and for our books. I recently got a "How you doing? Can't wait for your next book" email from a blogger who I did an interview with for my last book. We wrote back and forth for a day or two. It was awesome. Growing relationships is totally possible and it happens all the time between authors and bloggers. I really adore my blogger friends.
You are interested in knowing more about their work. Do your research first, but if there’s something you want to know and you can’t the find the answer anywhere, feel free to send a polite e-mail. One author said: I love hearing from bloggers who haven't read my work, and are excited about it because they only just heard about me. That's so great!
I hope no one takes this post the wrong way. Like I said at the beginning, authors LOVE most bloggers. They are just concerned about the few bad apples who purposely take advantage of their position and the growing number of uneducated bloggers who do not realize that they are stirring up ill will. Also keep in mind that the above guidelines may vary from author to author, but one thing never goes out of style: treating authors with the respect you hope to be afforded yourself.
One author wrote: You know, book bloggers were the number one champions of my books. I feel like I owe them a lot, and I try to give back as much as I can. Lately, I've been getting emails from bloggers who act like I owe them a lot, but they never read my books and they don't know who I am. The more of these emails I get, the more I feel bad for the great bloggers who would never do this. I feel like these people are going to give all book bloggers a bad name, and I think that would be a shame for all the great bloggers out there.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Let's hear them in the comments.