So apparently, some people are talking about bloggers and whether or not they are entitled to advanced review copies (ARCs)-- or at least they were last week. One nice thing about NOT being on Twitter is that I used to stay pretty oblivious to these things. It still seems a lot like a tempest in a teapot to me, but here's my thirteen cents on this one.
However, I think I'm just going to stay away from who said what and who was right or wrong and go in more of a navel-gazing direction. Because it's all about ME!
- When I started blogging, I hoped for some ARCs but never expected any. (I also didn't know they were called ARCs, but I'm a quick study).
- The first one I got was through a contest at the author's blog and I was SO EXCITED. I was also naively surprised to realize how much traffic an advance review for a popular author might drive to my site.
- I thought that "success" would mean a close personal relationship with publishers who would ask me for reviews and cover quotes for my favorite auto-buy authors, and that my recommendations would influence thousands of adoring romance fans, who would have no idea what to read without me.
- And maybe a few hundred bucks a month from the Amazon affiliate program (hahahahhaha!).
- Reality: I do have at least a semi-personal with a half-dozen or so publicists, whose email mass-mailers insert my name in the emails to me. (In all fairness, there are definitely a few who address me directly and know my blog).
- Reality: Most (not all!) of the ARCs I have access to are for authors that... how can I put this delicately... have a greater need for more extensive publicity campaigns.
- Reality: I actually have been quoted in at least two print books that I know of. In one case the author told me about it. In the other, I looked it up on a hunch. But as far as I know, bloggers are not formally notified when a quote is pulled. (It's still INCREDIBLY COOL though, and there are few things that I'm prouder of.)
- Reality: I'm pretty sure that my 30 or so regular readers all have their own blogs.
- When I first read that Jessica at Read, React, Review would not accept review copies, I thought she was taking the high road to kind of a ridiculous extreme. However, I have to admit, I do feel a certain pressure/responsibility to be upbeat about books I receive, more so than books I buy. I would like to say that isn't true, and I do work hard for impartiality. Receiving unsolicited ARCs actually makes me a little anxious - I don't like to let people down, but I also don't want my reading to be an obligatory thing. As the internet draws authors and bloggers together even more, via Facebook and Twitter and blogs (and conferences!) it gets even harder for me to write a blasty ranty post. I'm lucky enough that I can afford to buy the books I want (although I may choose to wait for mass-market pricing vs. first release), but in the end, not getting an ARC will never stand between me and a book I really want to read. I am giving some thought about adopting Jessica's policy.
- The publishing industry is changing, and the metamorphosis is painful. Book bloggers are part of the new world order, but how? Don't answer that, because even if you're a little right, you're also going to be a lot wrong, because there is no one role for bloggers to play. I don't post throw-away memes, naked male model pics or content-free posts just to drive stats. My blog has a tiny hit rate, but I like to think that they are fairly high-quality hits. The search terms that bring people here are more likely to be specific authors or characters, and a large percentage of my hits are from feed readers. What does that mean to a publicist? I don't know, and to be honest, I don't care. Being a part of the publicity machine is incidental to why, how and what I blog about.
- If I can help out an author whose work I enjoy, that's really cool and I'm happy to do so, but it's also not the main reason I'm here.
- I'm also not here to "build a platform." I'm not an author. My career goals have nothing to do with publishing. (Apparently it's easier to figure out the things that are NOT why I blog).
- In the wake of my experience at RT2012, I've been thinking a lot about what "success" means for me and Alpha Heroes. It certainly isn't about getting ARCs. I think... OK, sorry, this is going to be sappy, but I mean it -- success really is about the community I've found. It means knowing where I can go to talk (and hear) about the latest book I loved, and connecting with people who understand what it means to be carried away to a different world between the covers of a book. It's having a forum to express my opinion. It's knowing who I can ping about books that include cross-dressing, secret babies, the best historical m/m, or sheiks. It might mean I go to a book-signing or conference because I can meet so many of those people; or shuffling my posting schedule a bit to give precedence to an author I love, or helping spread the word about a blog event. Ultimately, I think success is developing friendships with other romance-lovers, whether they are readers, writers, librarians, bloggers, agents, editors, publicists -- or many of the above.
Find more Thirteeners at Thursday-13. Participants are welcome and encouraged to leave links in comments.