I've seen a lot of posts and complaining lately that bloggers aren't taken seriously as other groups of people. Librarians, "official" book reviewers for equal ARCs, equal respect, equal whatever.
I really started thinking about it after Well-Read Reviews did a post on how they were currently denying book bloggers review copies on NetGalley.*
What do bloggers deserve? What should publishers give us? Where do we stand on ARCS?
And most importantly, are we actually entitled to any of the things we're getting?
Just to clarify in this post: when I say review copies, I mean both any form of ARC or finished copy of a book that a blogger receives for free to review.
Bloggers have been getting review copies from publishers for a few years now, whether its review copies that they've requested, that they've picked up at expositions or that they've received unsolicited in the mail. I remember when I got my first ARC -- it was one of the most exciting things I've done so far in my meager life, because I felt I was getting somewhere.
And you know what? Getting review copies is a sign that you're getting somewhere with your blog. Publishers are trusting that your word of mouth alone will help spread their book around and help it sell.
What I said above is just the thing -- bloggers' top priority isn't to help publishers sell books. Librarians buy books. Magazines and papers guarantee books a spot that potentially millions of people will see. Book buyers buy books to put in their stores. What do bloggers do?
We get books and tell other people to read them. Our viewership is much smaller than the other three groups mentioned above, but if you hit the right fandom or the right blogger, word of mouth can carry.
So while we can guarantee a certain number of people might see our post, there's no way to track how many copies it sold.
And here's the thing: publishers love books, and publicists love books, and us bloggers love books.
Two of those groups need to make a profit and sell copies, and one of them does not.
We are not guaranteed to sell books. We are not guaranteed to do anything. Sending books to a blogger is always a risk. Will they actually post? How many people will see it? Will they say something that will make people want to read it?
And we do help promote the books in our own way. As somebody once said, "All press is good press." (Except for when it's not.) And the fact that we help promote is a great thing. That's why we do get so many copies, in the blogosphere, as a whole. In our own little corner, we do our job and we do it well.
Um, here's the thing.
We're not professionals.
Should we be treated with some form of respect? Of course. All human beings should be. But if we're going to earn respect from the people in the industry we're blogging about, it's going to take more than that.
If you want to be taken professionally, the group as a whole has to be taken professionally, not just one blogger. No more biting people at BEA for books. No more ranting on a blog because you didn't get your way.
Then keep not doing those things and understand that your view as a blogger doesn't necessarily allow you to see why publishing companies would tell you no.
Disney-Hyperion's decision showed up on NetGalley shortly after BookExpo America. This is an interesting decision on their part, but one that I understood -- especially given the things I heard from working as an intern right after BookExpo America. "We've had [#] requests for [book], but that's not surprising -- bloggers grab anything after BEA."
It could be because they're trying an experiment to see how books sell or flourish with or without bloggers.
And as for print copies of books? There's a limited number. It could be first come, first serve or on the basis of how popular your blog is or if you've worked with them in the past.
There's a lot of reasons.
Are you a consistent blogger? How long have you been blogging? What's your readership like? Have you worked with the publicist or the publishing company before? What's your audience? Is your blog layout not a hot mess? What books do you normally read? What's your reputation like? Did you do something terrible at one point that would make people not want to work with you?
A lot of different variables come into play when it comes to who gets what and they all differ according to the publishing company. It's mostly about who you know and how well you do what you do. Professionalism helps.
Publishing is a business. Bloggers are an asset to publishers and, in some cases, help out a lot with things they wouldn't think of or don't have time to do. However, because it's hard to track how bloggers impact sales, sending things to bloggers is always a risk. Just because a publishing house isn't accepting blogger requests at the moment doesn't mean they never will or that they hate bloggers -- it means there are other things that need to take priority that they can track.
It doesn't matter if you get one or you get one hundred. You may want review copies, but the publishing house is taking a big risk on you by giving you one. Even e-ARCs cost potential sales and money if it's not handled right.
Having a blog, no matter how large, doesn't mean that people should hand you over all the copies. It's a matter of trust and a matter of professionalism on the part of the blogger.
Never assume you deserve something.
As usual, feel free to discuss and debate in the comments. Remember, all nasty things will be deleted, and all controversial things will be loved!
*Please do not attack Allison's blog if you agree with me, for she and I talked on Twitter and agreed that she might not have thought the post all the way through, and she also happens to be a very nice lady.