Oh dear, another weekend and another Facebook/Twitter storm to get our average, normal book blogger foaming at the mouth – me included this time.
Normally when things ‘kick off’ I read through, get silently annoyed and pass on by. Largely due to using a tablet, which is a pain in the proverbial to type on, due to its diabolical auto-correct which means I start something and give up in despair.
But over the past couple of weeks, several subjects have raised their heads, ARC’s being sold on Ebay (presumably by a blogger); the notion that book bloggers should be paid (from some-one disgruntled that we devalue their work for doing it for free); and today, the ‘blogger’ who signs up for Blog Tours then disregards all the rules (not to mention basic reviewing/blogging standards) presumably in return for free books.
I have problems with all of these. Selling ARC’s on Ebay is not only illegal, but is also a blatant abuse of the relationship between author/publisher and blogger that is created when we accept and agree to read and review. The fact that these are being sold unread, is an even bigger abuse as there isn’t even an upside of an attempted review. Though in the case of my last example that might be a bonus.
The notion that a blogger should be paid, is more contentious. Yes we spend time and effort reading, writing, preparing and scheduling posts but the majority of us do so by choice. We do it as a hobby, we do it to share our love of books, we do it because we can. Traditionally, book blogs have never been commercial blogs, unlike those for fashion or cosmetics for example. Book blogs have been the domain of the book lover who wants to share their passion with the world, however big or small that world may be. That is also the joy of book blogging. Most of us, I believe, didn’t start out blogs with the intention of reaching world domination. I started mine to bring all my reviews together. I originally posted on Netgalley, Goodreads and Amazon and wanted one place that was mine to ‘record’ them. It was a big step, as it meant entering into a world of, what I considered ‘real’ bloggers. To an extent, I still feel that way after two years, I often feel like I’m playing at blogging, because I do my own thing and post as and when I want, I don’t do tours and don’t get involved in other bloggy things. But that’s OK, that’s my choice and that’s the point of having your own blog – it’s your blog, your rules. The book blogging community that I’m happy and delighted to be a part of, is accepting of all. There’s no snobbery, no looking down on newcomers, no hierarchy – except, in our own heads. I know I have bloggers that I look up to as being role models, as being top-notch and feel honoured that they treat me the same as every-one else, that’s what makes the blogging community great.
So money, yes I can see that book reviews and blogs etc promote particular titles and authors and in any other field you might be expected to be paid. But who is doing the paying and how much exactly would you charge. Would you be paid on results? and who decides? What hasn’t been mentioned yet is of course, the real issue that raises its head once money is mentioned, integrity. Right now, we read a book and write a review, that should reflect our honest opinions. I’m not being side-tracked down the blind alley of how many of us don’t give bad reviews. We are all, for the most part by now, experienced to know what we like, what we don’t and are pretty adept at choosing a ‘good’ book. Consequently, by default we like what we read and mark it accordingly. When I chose most of my reading from the library, I rarely picked a book I didn’t like and the word bias would never have applied because I wasn’t writing about it. Once it’s monetarised and someone is paying for our opinion, then the readers of our reviews, would quite rightly start to ask questions as to who we are ‘working’ for. I write my reviews for other readers, as an ex-librarian, it’s my way of sharing the books via the internet instead of over the desk. Of course, I’m happy to help author’s whose books I like, and help to introduce readers to new authors, but I’m not being paid to do so. When someone extols the virtues of a new £50 face cream they were given by the manufacturer, and paid to feature, then I would rightly question those views, so why wouldn’t some one do the same with our reviews. The best (worst) justification I heard was that people have rent to pay and food to put on the table. My response quite frankly is get a job then. Do not try to make a career out of a role that has never traditionally been paid for. Just leave blogging to those who want to do it – and for free
Now finally, today’s issue involves a blogger joining Blog Tours and yet refusing to comply with standard blog tour rules. The current post includes all her June Blog Tour posts as one post, thereby debasing and devaluing the premise of the tour and all the work put in by others. Further more her posts are mostly rants as to why she hasn’t got what she wanted on time and whether or not she did (or didn’t) get a proof copy. Her reviews consist of rudimentary comments which seem to be based on the blurb and for the most part don’t suggest she has actually read the book. Though she also feels she should also be mentioned on the covers. I think she may be getting mentioned soon enough, but not on the covers and for all the wrong reasons. While bloggers are quite rightly getting up in arms about how she is devaluing what they do, my concern is also with the publishers and publicists who are supplying her. Where is the quality control? Where is the checking that features are being posted as agreed? It also makes me wonder whether this might also be how individuals are getting ARC’s to sell on E-bay. As an author, I’d be concerned about how my work was being presented and promoted. As a blogger I’d be asking how this individual is getting ARC’s and a place on prestigious tours that other respected bloggers are being turned down for. My gripe as a side issue is that I rarely get ARC’s as I don’t do tours. I get approached but once I mention I don’t do tours, I don’t get offered even an e-copy to review!
So, back to the title of this piece as I believe it perfectly demonstrates the problem we have here, as well no doubt in wider society – that of privilege vs entitlement.
Privilege has been defined as a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group. I feel that the relationship we have with authors and publishers is a privileged one. It’s one to be respected and earned and enjoyed. We are privileged to be able to do what we do and most of us respect the perks that come with it. I get excited if an author retweets one of my reviews – forget being mentioned on a cover.
Entitlement has been defined as the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. It appears that some people new to the blogging world are too ready to assume that by calling themselves a blogger they are entitled to the privileges that many of us have either earned or are working towards. Privileges are earned – they are not a right. We are not entitled to demand ARC’s, I don’t believe we have the right to expect, let alone demand payment and I acknowledge that the privileges we might enjoy are not always commensurate with the work that we may put in. But hey that’s life – no-one is entitled.
So to my fellow bloggers I say, keep on doing what you’re doing for all the right reasons, your peers acknowledge what you do and so do the authors and publishers you help. In the end, integrity and hard work will win, or at least keep you sleeping well at night.