The Blogger Manifesto
A Book Blogger Manifesto
Or… We’re Professionals, Too
The blogging world is no stranger to drama, controversy, and llamas. Yes, they are very cute llamas that spit sunshine and rainbows, but on their backs as they hike the Andes of controversy, they’re carrying loads of things that you never believed possible. The young adult world has been more prone to it recently, but there has been no shortage of it no matter where you look. But I don’t want to address the controversy. Call me selfish, or call me self-preserving, but I have cried over blogging drama before and I’d rather not have that again. For all drama, I will direct you to River, who will be happy to duel you in a game of thrones. Or whatever kids do these days for fun.
But in this world where authors post lists or rants against bloggers, accusing us of being thieves, liars, cows, and bitches, it brings up a good point. Bloggers are still not really considered by many as professionals in the publishing industry. We are not paid, not hired, not regulated. At the Book Bloggers Convention (BBC) at BEA 2012, many bloggers reported the publishers basically harping that same sentiment. Bloggers are, according to many, simply there for the promotion of books, authors, and promotions. I have received plenty of emails that seem to suggest this – that my blog is an extension of the publisher’s marketing department given the number of emails I receive asking me to post news about ebook sales, new promotions, and so forth.
Another thing that came out of the BBC was an apparent notion held by publishers that reviewers and bloggers should stick to the tried and true methods of newspaper and professional reviewers. Succinct, straightforward, and “professional”. No GIFs, no OMGs, no…personality, in a sense.
But we also find authors (particularly self-published ones) who feel that we exist solely to promote their book. We give a negative review and we become the target for harassment and anger because apparently we are out to destroy an author’s career.
So, after posting a rather…lengthy comment for Carroll Bryant in his Goodreads post about blacklisting reviewers who accepted a review copy and never reviewed his work, I decided to write this post in order to put forth my, well, manifesto. But first, maybe you should read what I told Carroll Bryant, which some bits edited out since I got catty).
I can perfectly understand an author’s hurt feelings when one of his review copies is never used. I have several review copies that I have never gotten to. I can understand when authors are hurt about a negative review. But can I understand when an author and his minion take to the internet crusading against something petty? No.
I am a blogger. I have taken self-publishing things on for review. In my review policy, like the policies of many other bloggers, it states that I reserve the right to read or not read something. If an author wants to email me to check the status of it, I welcome that. In over a year of blogging, I have received one such email. In this case, it wasn’t that I didn’t read the book, but a case of where I tried to and realized it wasn’t for me. No other author has ever contacted me.
I know that it sucks to put so much hard work into something only to find it wasted. In my entire life, I have done this hundreds of times only to be forgotten, ignored, etc. But I moved on with my life. Job applications? Of course I know how it is to say “We will contact you for an interview next week!” only to never hear from them again. For you, writing is like a job, isn’t it? If I contacted an employer with an application only to have them lie about one thing, they would shun me for life if I posted about them being lying little shits. I might get sued for defamation of character.
Do I think this is going to help Carroll to weed out the bad reviews? No. Honestly, no. If anything, it will turn him into an enemy, not just of bloggers, but also of other authors, readers, etc. Associating with him will be bad for business. People will add his book to their growing lists of do not read authors who have done something to anger the masses of bloggers who don’t forget.
I am not saying take this post down. That is Carroll’s own prerogative. What I am saying is stop treating bloggers like we are five year olds who stole from a cookie jar and deserve punishment. We did nothing wrong. Well, maybe one or two of us did something wrong, but the collective masses of us are hard working, honest, and dedicated to do a good job at what we do. To see posts like this makes me shake my head and wonder why I do this. To read what I read. Why do I bother? Are authors going to make me head my head in shame each time I turn my computer?
It’s up to Carroll what he does, but I can safely assure him and Jennifer that this will not end nicely. This won’t change anything. Honesty, politeness, and understanding will, and this is none of those things.
Bloggers are professionals, too. As we’ve seen time and time again over the past few months, we are a collective of like-minded individuals who do this not because we get paid but because we enjoy what we do. This is our hobby (or for some of us, one of many hobbies). This takes hours of our days to do. We do this for us. When we publish things on our blogs, it is because we think it deserves to be shared, spread, noted, and so on. Or it’s because we want more hits on our blog, but that doesn’t always work.
This is my manifesto – my rules for blogging, in a sense.
- I will blog what I want to blog when I want to blog it, while being mindful of the wishes of publishers. If I accept something for review, sign up for a blog tour, or help promote something, I will do so in a timely fashion.
- I will accept books for review that I wish to read and share with my readers. Just because something is free does not mean I will accept it. I am not in this for the freebies. I am in this because this is what I enjoy doing.
- My enjoyment and happiness comes before pleasing everyone else. If I did not like a book, I will not sugar coat it. I’ve tried this and it didn’t work.
- If drama comes my way (as in if some author or group or evil mastermind) comes my way… Okay, ignore this point, I don’t know what I would do. Either cry or call a lawyer. Neither are nice.
- More kittens.
- More GIFs. If I want to post them, that’s my style. GIFs on Book Brats have sold books. Publishers might think they aren’t very professional, but teenagers love flashy GIFs of pop stars giggling, and then will associate said pop star with this book. It works in theory.
- More GIFs of kittens. Self explanatory.
This is the Book Brats Blogging Manifesto. The manifesto I shall live by (probably not really) as I enter this brave new world of year two of blogging. Which I entered 3 weeks ago, but whatever, that’s beside the point.
So I shall start by living this brave new life now by living by rule 7. More GIFs of kittens.
I would love to know your thoughts and your own blogging manifesto. Or, if you are not a blogger, your reading manifesto, writing manifesto, communist manifesto, kitten manifesto, or whatever. So, share in the comments if you dare!