Privilege vs Entitlement

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.

117 comments

  1. Jill. Thank you so much for these words. You have such a way with words, you seem to be able to say what I think, and say it so well and so much better than I can.
    It’s certainly been a strange week or so in Blogger land
    With love, Anne x

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A really great post. I admire and respect bloggers so much (and am very grateful to them). I’m amazed at the abuse of the system mentioned here (which I haven’t personally noticed or experienced) but I’m glad thee are so many bloggers, like you, with such integrity

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an eloquent and wonderful piece Jill. Thank you so much for this piece. I’ve been offered payment for reviews and endorsements so many times but I always turn it down. I blog to be able to share book love and support authors who frequently struggle to be seen amongst the over 3500 books a week published in the UK alone. Your words are measured, wise and very much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a great post, Jill, and I think sms up perfectly how most of us feel about what we do. It is a huge privilege to be taken seriously as part of the book blogging community and one I am grateful for and value every day and is the forefront of my mind with every word I type. Disappointing that not everyone feels this way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well Jill I think you’ve said what those of us who haven’t necessarily commented on various threads also believe. I don’t tend to comment because I have too many other things to get wound up about and as with my colleagues at work I go on the premise if I believe I’m doing the right thing, then whatever others do is not really any concern of mine. That’s not to say that I don’t understand that ‘book bloggers’ are considered a group and therefore others may see it as we all work to the same standards, but I’m sure those people we have built relationships with realise that isn’t the case.
    I believe and this is in line with complaints about how NetGalley books are dished out to the ‘undeserving’ is for the publishers to control and not other bloggers. If they want to waste money by giving books to bloggers who provide no review, a shoddy review or sell their proofs on eBay that’s their loss and not mine. As you say unfortunately for many diligent bloggers they feel that this random assigning of arcs diminishes their worth and the hard work that we all know goes into serious book blogging.
    As for the blogger, and I will be careful here as she has been in contact with me in the past by email – even at that time when I looked at her blog I did wonder about the depth of her reviews – she won’t be receiving many requests for blog tours now she’s done that – the book blogging world which I’m delighted to be a part of is of course too small for that. No doubt she will blame others for this too.
    Well for someone who doesn’t comment about this subject I’ve managed to put a whole year’s worth of rant onto your post – sorry!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughts Cleo and apologies for late response. That will teach me to write what turned out to be a very emotive blog post just before I go away! I agree that this is an issue that needs to be sorted by those supplying books and filling tours rather than other bloggers. Though I guess it maybe needs other bloggers to complain before some ‘suppliers’ might act. Netgalley does seem to be bandied about on forums as a place to go for free books with little comment being made that a review is expected in return. I don’t tend to use NetGalley these days as I have a big enough back log without requesting more, and I don’t know whether it is actually easier to be approved. I’m still trying to crack Orion who refuse to grant my requests!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Standing ovation to you Jill.
    I cannot get my head around bloggers doing these things. Selling ARCs is such an abuse of the delicate system we have going.
    Yes many of us would love to make a living off of a hobby we love but I certainly didn’t start my blog looking for a way to ‘pay my rent’. I feel bad enough to write a negative review of a book I got from an author… far less if I was paid for it! Lol. Nope I don’t want to be paid for writing reviews on my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It feels a bit premature for me to comment on something like this, but as a new book blogger who’s just starting to find his way, I would say that this is a blueprint for the kind of book blogger I want to be. Honest, humble and doing it for the love of doing it rather than a bottom line.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Book bloggers reviewing books for free helps level the playing field for indie authors like me. We don’t have the big budgets traditional publishers have, but every review we get – whether on Amazon or part of a blog tour – makes a massive difference to how many people consider reading our books. So THANK YOU! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well said. I blog because I miss talking to customers in the library about books I love. I do get ARCs and do some blog tour but feel privileged someone would want me to review a book and am thrilled when I get an unexpected retweet or comment. If an author comments it is as if a rock star has spoken to me. Writers are my heros and grateful there are many books to discover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As an ex librarian I miss that interaction too, I think this allows me to share my book loves. I do consider it a privilege and feel sorry and annoyed when I perceive others to be abusing it.

      Like

  10. I am so impressed with this article and with your thoughts that mirror most book bloggers thoughts as well. This is the first post I’ve read on your blog but I will definitely be back. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Book bloggers are one of the most positive developments in publishing in the last couple of years – they enrich the book world and authors benefit from their support. So I’m dismayed to hear that some new entries to the blogging world are spoiling things. But as long as there are articulate, enthusiastic and hard-working bloggers like you Jill, then the online book community will continue to thrive 🙂

    Like

  12. Jill, I’ve never read your blog (or even heard of it, sorry!) but this was very well expressed and written. I’m a retired librarian who just started a blog and I’m very lucky to be able to continue my relationships with the publishers in getting just about anything I want in ARC or DRC format (more often DRC). BUT I am also very grateful and would never break their trust in me by selling my print galleys online and it makes me furious to see those who do. I think publishers need to do more with providing e-galleys to those who request them (whether they be bloggers or librarians) and if someone prefers a print because “they like the feel of a book,” then tough beans; wait for a library copy. Anyway, even though many of the books you read haven’t yet made it to the U.S., I’ll start following your blog.

    RE: making money from a blog. Do you know of bloggers who have an Amazon affiliate for obtaining rebates when someone purchases a book via their website? There is a travel blogger in the US who does quite well with her affiliation.

    Thanks,
    Robin

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robin, no need to apologise for never having heard of me. The reality is there are lots of us and sometimes it’s just luck that causes us to hit someone’s radar. I am aware of the Amazon affiliation scheme and when I mentioned making money from a blog, I didn’t have this option in mind. This is a legitimate way of making money and isn’t abusing anyone’s trust (as long as it’s clear that you’re using affiliate links). I know of several book bloggers that use affiliate links but the feedback has been that it doesn’t generate a lot of income, but that maybe because of the preponderance of book bloggers.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This was refreshing to read – when there is so much bad publicity around about the scams etc happening in the book world to read something from someone who not only mentions and values integrity, but obviously lives by it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was wondering the same thing about a “blog tour,” but can answer the ARC question.

      ARC is an Advance Reading Copy provided by publishers for early reviewing by booksellers, librarians, reviewers, and others who read books in advance for promotional purposes. They are also known as “galleys.” There are also DRC’s which are Digital Review Copies, aka e-galleys. Many of the DRCs are provided by Netgalley, and in the U.S., Above the Treeline/Edelweiss. To further muddy the water, publishers will sometimes send bound manuscripts, which can be in the fairly raw side without much copy editing (I’ve received these and unless the publisher wants an immediate quote, prefer to wait for an ARC or DRC edition).

      I’ll add that some ARC/Galleys are pretty basic with cheap paper and no cover art but some are quite elaborate with published copy artwork, quality paper, and deckled edges, and some even come with extras (such as Finn’s WOMAN IN THE WINDOW which came with a film canister) to get our attention.

      I could go on but I this may already be TMI. Perhaps Jill will have more to say about this topic.

      Robin from Oregon, USA

      Liked by 2 people

  14. A massive thank you to all who’ve taken the time to read this post and left their comments. I was at the theatre last night and in an hour or so I’m disappearing on a reading retreat. Consequently I can’t respond to comments as I’d like at the minute, but I will once I’m back and in front of my PC. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Jill, I’m stunned!!! Just tweeted this – excellent article. I love your comment about ‘get a job then’ – don’t expect to be paid for your hobby!!! And yes, how could a paid review be anything other than positive, whatever the book is like?

    Selling Arcs on ebay – that amazes me! Every day I see more, new book bloggers suggested to me on Twitter – I wonder if these are the people who are doing all this. Lots of emojis, a claim to love books, a site with only glowing reviews, often without even having links to where you can buy the book. I expect this article will be read by many and passed around for a long time….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Terry, and apologies for late response. That’ll teach me to write my most popular post just before I go away! I don’t know why book blogging is suddenly the thing to do (or bloggers the people to bash). It’s not an instant route to free books (nor should it be). It takes time and effort to build a blog, not to mention readers and any ‘perks’ are a reward for the effort expended. Blogging isn’t just about saying something is great and expecting to be offered everything on a plate. Relationships with authors, publishers and publicists have to be built. As someone who has just hit several peoples radar for the first time (in over 3 years of blogging) because of this post, I know it takes time.

      Like

  16. No idea what’s gone on but it all sounds appalling.
    You’ve hit the nail right on the head with it all though Jill.
    I hope those concerned read your post.

    Sadly, it’ll probably still go on but hopefully it’ll be seen that we’re not all the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I have to say, Jill, that my experience of book bloggers has been fantastic, and I agree with all the points you make here. From an author’s perspective, the input of book bloggers has been invaluable. To pick up on one of your points, I would also add that, if they were to become more monetised, their credibility would be diminished, and that means any reviews my books receive will be devalued.
    As for bloggers who try to work the system, that’s not really a blogging issue. It’s a reflection of their character. Sadly, in all walks of life, we find people who are less than fair in the way they conduct themselves, and the world of book blogging isn’t exempt from this. But, as in all those walks of life, the vast majority do strive for high standards, and I’m grateful for that in general, but particularly this kind and accepting world of book blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Graham, I’m also pleased to say that my personal experience has been a positive one. You are correct that there will always be someone blagging rather than blogging, it’s the upset that it caused to other bloggers in this instance though that prompted this post. It just seems to have been a bad few weeks whereby those playing by the rules feel undermined and diminished by those who choose not to.

      Like

  18. Great post!! I completely agree with the fact that we know what kind of books we like, so are not going to deliberately chose ones that we won’t enjoy. It’s so frustrating that this has all come to head like this. I would never expect to be paid for a review: I do this because I love it, not because I have to. I’m going to stop myself there, but this is such a good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great post Jill, so well said and true. I personally contact all reviewers/bloggers myself to ask if they would like to review, and provide a free copy if they do. I’ve never done a blog tour so whether a blogger does take part in them or not is immaterial to me. I contact bloggers whose blogs I read, who I feel make intelligent and reasoned comments on the books they read, who I think might enjoy my books and also who I feel might give me useful feedback to improve my writing. If bloggers are selling ARCs on ebay, that is clearly entirely wrong. But as none of my books has ever had a price of more than £2.99, one does have to wonder just how desperate these people are for money… I do write reviews for my own website but I never take a book for free because I don’t want to be obliged to do so – and also I know that the vast majority of authors need every penny they get from sales just to enable them to keep writing. Despite having three moderately successful books published, I’m nowhere near being able to give up my full-time job which involves me being at work 12 hours a day, Monday to Friday. Hope you carry on the good work, Jill – you are greatly respected.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Rose, and I very much appreciate your closing comment. It was an eye opener looking on Ebay and seeing how many proof copies were being sold by one individual, and for a minimum of £4.99 each. These were ARC’s of books still to be published and described as unread, so clearly not even used for review purposes.

      Like

  20. Jill
    Thank you for writing such a good piece. I am quite a new-ish blogger just over a year. Over the years I have utilised my local libraries, I buy books and receive books from friends and family. I have always loved reading. I found NetGalley and was amazed that you could receive books (e-books), mainly prior to publication (ARCs), in return for an honest review. Then at the beginning of this year I attended a publisher event promoting new writers where I was given each of the writers books, met some of the writers chatting about their books, the publishers and other bloggers! Everyone was so nice, what a community of people who love to read and want to share that with others and when I spoke with the publishers they said all that was asked for was that if I read the book(s) would I honestly review them. Then publishers contacted me directly for reviews/blog tours and other bloggers to be part of a Blog Tour. So this has been my book year for 2018. I am not a particularly good blogger I feel lucky and I have enjoyed it, I am enjoying it – reading new writers (either first books or new to me) – although I have promised myself to get a better balance next year between books I have bought and those I am given for review. So when I see that bloggers are selling ARCs and so on well I was astounded. Reading your blog, and the comments, it was good to see that so many felt the same.

    That you have put those thoughts so eloquently into words is wonderful, thank you.
    Janet

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janet, and good to read that 2018 has been a good year for you. Don’t want to worry you, but that issue of getting the balance between review books and own books is one we all suffer from and haven’t found an easy answer too.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Mercy, I’m a sheltered soul as I didn’t realize this was going on–glad I didn’t. Blogging and book reviewing takes so much time to do it justice. I do enjoy blog tours. It’s like being part of a specialized group within a community and has been rewarding. Of course, having an author thank you with a personal happy comment is also very rewarding! Good job, Jill.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Excellent post Jill, and am in complete agreement with you. I have suspicions that I too have crossed paths with this blogger, and could not believe the tosh that is posted as a ‘review’ on her site. Having been wracked by guilt recently at falling behind on my reviews and blog tour commitments, and that’s without being paid, I think most bloggers just get pleasure from doing what we love to do: reading and eagerly sharing what we’ve read- we’re all about the book joy! We all have a pride in what and how we read and blog, and luckily there are many, many of us who feel the same. Let’s ignore the bad apples, and hope that publishers get the opportunity to do the same… ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Raven, I think we’re all with you on the falling behind guilt trip. That’s what makes it so galling when others don’t seem to care and profit from it. But you are quite right in that we need to do our own thing with pride and that will ultimately shine through.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I’d love to have a job where i get a salary to read, review and write about books, like at a magazine or newspaper or something. But the blog is my hobby so i don’t expect to get paid for it. Like i also don’t expect to get paid for going to the gym for example 😂 Even tho that would also be awesome…

    Liked by 1 person

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