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Never pay for a book review: a rant

Something wicked this way comes
There's a website trying to organize children's book blog tours. It claims (wrongly) that it is the first such initiative. In fact, the Classes of 2k7 and 2k8 have done something akin to children's book blog tours as part of their joint marketing initiatives. There's the Girlfriend's tours, too, for YA authors. And let's not forget the Summer and Winter Blog Blast Tours plus some of the other single-day events that have taken place in the Kidlitosphere.

Here's what I can say about that last category of book blog tours: No money changes hands, ever. Once in a while, I've managed to score an Advance Review Copy or a Folded & Gathered picture book, but more often than not, I'm relying on books I bought myself with my own cash. And sometimes, I rely on books I borrowed from the library or borrowed from a friend. The point is, I pick the book I want to talk about and/or the author I want to talk to. I don't ever blindly sign on to review a book or interview an author. And although I have received some ARCs in the mail from publishers, I always make clear to the publishers who send them that I may or may not actually review a book if it's sent to me. And that is because I have my own preferences when it comes to reviewing, and I also have a ginormous TBR pile (largely made up of books I paid for, btw).

All this to say that while it appears some bloggers are signing on to be part of a 100-blog cadre of writers who will all plaster the internet about one book or author over a 1-3 day period, I have to say that someone, somewhere is probably getting paid for this. Not the individual bloggers, who are only promised "free books" and "access to authors", maybe, but someone.

And authors should know that the "guidelines" indicate that using hot-topic buzzwords like "abortion" are being encouraged as a way to generate hits, in the mistaken belief that hits=sales. But truly, I think that actualy, genuine buzz comes about from discussion among a community of people you know, if only virtually, and that peddling your opinion so cheaply (free book!) in order to be part of an onslaught of information is probably not the best way to make a good impression in the blogosphere. I could be wrong, of course. It's happened many times before. But in the words of the Bard, I believe that "something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

And the fact that reputable authors and poets have signed on for fall blog tours doesn't ease my mind one iota. Looks like they have to submit to the process, but the site actively encourages generation of controversy about the books, including negative reviews. Published authors shouldn't be paying (in money or in personal copies of books, as the site appears to recommend) for book reviews of any kind, in my opinion. But perhaps I'm merely naive.
/rant




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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
slayground
Jun. 6th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
Thank you for valuing true reviews and honestly good books.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 6th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
Thanks to you, too!
slayground
Jun. 6th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
:)
seaheidi
Jun. 6th, 2008 04:58 am (UTC)
i hadn't heard of this yet--sounds odd.

and bummer re snoring hub
powerpuffpunk
Jun. 6th, 2008 12:09 pm (UTC)
Snoozing Snorers
I am very peaceful and mellow during the day, but at night I wake the dead with my gutteral roar. My sig.-o. wasn't pleased, so I have been forced to wear those breathe rite nose strips. Apparently they work. Before that, I used to suck on a losange (lozenge? whatever) to numb my throat. And, um, before that, I slept on the couch.
hipwritermama
Jun. 6th, 2008 10:59 am (UTC)
Well said!
(Anonymous)
Jun. 6th, 2008 12:02 pm (UTC)
Brilliant, as always.
powerpuffpunk
Jun. 6th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't be too disconcerted about the reputables jumping on blog press; I think the blogosphere still has a [somewhat misleading] reputation of being unaffected, while still a spectacular avenue to "get the word out." I also believe most writers are becoming hugely aware of the reality of self-marketing, and Blogs and Myspace (et al.) are cheap sure-things compared to newspaper space, local TV spots, or hiring a good agent.

-- I have the sneaking suspicion my morning bloggering is baggaged by the sleepysleepy, so um, apologies.
jbknowles
Jun. 6th, 2008 12:19 pm (UTC)
Interesting! I haven't heard about this one, I don't think. Thanks for sharing the information/warning.
davidlubar
Jun. 6th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
Excellent post. I suspect the biggest impact this thing will have is to overexpose these books to the point where people think of them as the equivalent of "Head On" commercials.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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