Blogger-Author-Publisher Relationships

by Sarah on June 2, 2009 · 7 comments



This entry is in response to posts by two other bloggers regarding the blogger panel at BookExpo America 2009, which was held in NYC this past weekend.

Katiebabs attended ‘Book Bloggers – Today’s Buzz Builders’ and wrote about it on her blog. She summarized the main points presented by the panel, plus her opinion on those points. Veteran reviewer Mrs Giggles shot back with a post of her own, asking ‘Do bloggers need that much love and attention from authors?’

Here’s my take on the points Katiebabs listed:

1Wants more relationships with bookstores. Would love to highlight certain bookstores from small and large to independent.

This point is irrelevant from my perspective as I am not a US resident and I’m reliant on internet bookstores such as Amazon or The Book Depository.

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

I haven’t even considered having a review policy on my blog as I’m not anticipating many Advanced Reading Copies coming my way. Until and unless more digital ARCS (DARCS?) are made available, I doubt authors/publishers will want to pay the extra shipping costs to send me a book to review.  

Also, I have to be upfront and say that my reading time is limited as it is. I’m averaging three books per week at the moment and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. With so little time to devote to reading, I’m not in a position to commit to reviewing a ton of ARCs. I strongly believe that a reviewer who receives an advance copy (as long as it’s solicited) has an obligation to provide a review within a timely fashion. The book is free for a price.

That said, if I ever get a copy of a much-anticipated book early, I will probably squeal with delight!

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

I don’t agree with this point. My reviews are unsolicited, so why should an author or publisher feel obligated to link to them? Be they good or bad, my reviews are my personal opinions on the books that I read.  While it could be argued that I’ve provided free publicity to the authors whose books I’ve positively reviewed, the reverse could be said for those I didn’t like. None of the authors I’ve reviewed so far have asked me to do so. Therefore, there is no obligation on either side. 

Besides which, this is a blog written by a reader for other readers. Yes, I also write. But this blog is about me as a reader. I’m not sure how I feel about publishers and authors building a relationship with me, to be frank. That seems a tad sycophantic to me and I’m not much of an ass-kisser.

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

As a newbie blogger, I vehemently disagree. Look, I’ve seen the blog statistics posted at mega blogs like Dear Author. There’s no way my 7-week-old, one-woman show can compete with that.

I feel uncomfortable with the idea of going out of my way to promote an author’s work. If I like an author’s books, I’ll say so, sometimes repeatedly.  But it has to come from the heart.

With regard to contests: I’m not sure how other blogs fund contests. Themselves? Paid advertising? I don’t currently have advertisements on my blog. What I could foresee in the future is having an interview feature whereby an author or her publisher would provide a few copies for blog visitors to win.

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

Twitter is fun, as long as you don’t take it – or yourself – too seriously. I’ve had some really interesting discussions on Twitter, which have inspired more than one blog piece, and generated several book recommendations.

I’m primarily interested in interacting with bloggers and authors who are wearing their Reader Caps. I’ve only sent tweets to a couple of authors whose books I’d enjoyed. One responded, the other didn’t. I wasn’t offended by this but I will say that authors who use Twitter shouldn’t simply use it to tweet about their latest book or blog post. It’s a social networking site, so if you’re going to use it, please interact with people.

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

Yep, agreed.

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

I haven’t considered having advertisements on my blog and don’t intend to do so at the moment. Should I change my mind, I’ll let you know.

8. They feel blog tours are great.

I don’t understand the purpose of blog tours. Interviews, yes.

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

Why should they do this? If I comment on an author’s blog, it’s nice to get a response. But then an author’s blog is a promotional tool and commenters are potential customers.  I’m not selling anything, not even their books.

I’m thrilled to get comments from readers and authors alike but I don’t expect an author to respond to a review or an opinion piece which references her. If she wants to do so, she’s more than welcome.

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

I think blogs can definitely compete with Amazon in terms of author promotion. My question to this point, though, is: why can’t authors do both? As far as I can tell, many already promote their books on Amazon and on book blogs.

As for Mrs Giggles’s question, ‘Do bloggers need that much love and attention from authors?‘… This largely depends on the purpose of their blog. If they are in it for free books, courting authors makes sense. If they want to turn a profit on their blog, or at least fund a few contests, soliciting publishers and authors is the way to go. I have no problem with bloggers looking for books or money. They invest a lot of time and effort in their blogs and if they want it to be more than a hobby, good for them.

From my personal perspective, however, I don’t see any benefit to me from actively pursuing business relationships with authors and publishers, at least not at the moment.


Jane June 2, 2009 at 01:15

One of the reasons I hate posting stats is to prevent the idea that we are in competition. Dear Author started out with just myself and a friend of mine. I agree with your take that the purpose of the blog is very important in determining what and where a blogger wants to take it. No one direction is more or less valid than the other.

Also, as for small blogs (although how we determine small, I’m not certain), I think these blogs can have a greater effect than some large blogs because of how they influence people.

Sarah June 2, 2009 at 01:24

@Jane I didn’t interpret your posting your stats as competitiveness at all. You’ve worked hard, come far and deserve to be successful. But I don’t mind saying your numbers scared the crapola out of me!

My only purpose when I started this blog was to write about what I read. I didn’t think it through any further than that. Maybe this will evolve over time.

Jane June 2, 2009 at 01:29

That’s how I started! I bet it will evolve. I know DA has. All I am saying is don’t discount the importance of your opinion just because you are new. New opinions are the lifeblood of the community.

Sarah June 2, 2009 at 01:34

@Jane Thanks! I was thinking more in terms of how interesting I would be to New York publishers. As I said, unless they have digital ARCs, I doubt I’d be top of their list to approach for reviews.

I think the blog has already changed without me realizing it. I find myself writing a lot more opinion pieces that I’d anticipated. But it’s fun, which is the main thing.

katiebabs June 2, 2009 at 03:35

I think it all comes down to what a person has planned for their blog.I have slowly evolved from writing very short reviews to now full blown ones and have a great deal of interaction with authors, publishers and both readers and others involved in the publishing world. Some bloggers want the attention from authors and publishers. At first I wanted books, because I have a book sickness (lol). Now I just love everything involving the process from a person sitting down to pen a story to how another person is able to have that work of art in their hands.
I am so glad many have been discussing this. It makes for great reading :D

Shannon C. June 2, 2009 at 07:43

I agree with much of what you’ve said. I’m still trying to figure out what my blog is supposed to be. I do know I don’t turn up my nose at free books, but after holding a couple of contests I’ve decided I’m never doing that again, and I’m that rare reader who doesn’t find them useful–the whole blindness thing sort of makes that hard.

I agree with your thoughts on twitter. I have a lot of romance industry people on my twitter feed, but I don’t think I’d enjoy twitter at all if I were trying to use it to network rather than, say, to have random conversations about odd topics, which is what I prefer.

And I don’t really need author love, either. It’s flattering when an author comments on one of my posts, but since I write for other readers, I really don’t care whether the author of whatever book I’m talking about reads what I have to say.

Lastly, I agree with you about blog tours. I tend to skip those posts when I see them.

admin June 2, 2009 at 12:32

@katiebabs As a fellow bookaholic, I can sympathize! Thanks for the informative post. For someone unable to attend, it makes for interesting reading.

@Shannon C. I checked out your blog. I like it, especially your opinion pieces. Are you the same Shannon who reviews for ‘The Good, The Bad and The Unread’?

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