Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Emptier Side of Book Blogging

Really, for a lack of better words. We all know how awesome it is to get contacted by publishers and publicists to do book tours and get offered ARCs and author interviews and giveaways and so on. But how do you feel when the other side fails to hold up their end of the bargain? What do you do?

I had one publicist contact me to have an author guest post on my blog, perhaps have a giveaway. In that same email, they offered a couple of the author's books. This was earlier in my blogging days so I jumped right on in, went through the effort of having the author on and I initially responded that I'd like a couple of those books to review and giveaway. My set with the author was over but the publicist hadn't gotten back to me about the books. In fact, she avoided that mention in my email altogether, instead focusing on other aspects of my email regarding the author and more promotion. When I followed up a second time, I didn't get an answer. So basically I was used to shill for this author by the publicist and when they offered something, they Indian Gave. Awesome.

I tried contacting another publicist regarding something that should have shipped as a sort of thank you for a promotion I did. She never responded. I tried emailing again saying I hadn't received my package that she said had been sent. No response.

On top of publicists not following through on what they offer, I've had authors agree to guest post and then bail. One poor publicist was in the middle of it as she was the contact person and apologized profusely to me about it since the author wasn't getting back to her.

So as a book blogger, what do you do about this? Do you just let it go? Do you get snippy? Do you complain to someone higher up? Believe it or not (as I'm sure a lot of you might think I start to bite when I get angry), I let it all go. If they don't respond to a second (and nice) email, I just drop it. And I remember them. It's a short list but it's all noted quite soundly.

The thing is, one side of the argument would say don't complain, you get this stuff for free and you get to interact with authors. But see my side would say look at it from our shoes. We get offered something for return services, usually a guest spot for the author, advertising, whathaveyou. When something is offered to us and then recanted AFTER we've already done the work, it's a little disheartening, especially when the same publicist comes back again a little later and asks you for more work on another book.

Sometimes I feel some of these people think we're stupid. Oh we have these book bloggers that are so desperate for "celebrity" contact that they'll do anything for us so let's offer something, get them to do all the work and then "forget." Had I not let the first instance of this roll off my back, I would have become really discouraged.

Sure, my emails could be overlooked. Inboxes for these people fill up. It happens. But when they received every single one of my emails when we were working out details and all of a sudden it's a dead zone on the other end, that's a little suspect. What's even more suspect is replying to those very emails but conveniently overlooking the parts about the books that were offered.

Just to make this clear, this is a very small number of publishers/publicists/authors that I deal with. For the most part, they're all for the give and take and they understand that book blogs are genuine work and the review/guest post/giveaway isn't all that free for us, in one way or another. But, of course, the ones that leave a negative impact occupy far greater space, unfortunately. And it really irks me when people offer something after you've done a bunch of work for them and then conveniently overlook you. And it's not too much fun being so blatantly used. It's because of this stuff that I'm so strict when it comes to promotions on my blog. I mean yeah, blogging is a total volunteer process. I don't make money, I lose money on this blog. But I do it because I love doing it. That doesn't mean I'm willing to get taken advantage of.

Now I know I can't be the only one this has happened to. Has anyone else had any kind of experiences like this? Don't name names and if you want to post anonymously, go right ahead. This isn't meant to call anyone out but just let people know that when something like this happens, we do take notice and it's not something that's forgotten too easily. What we have are business relationships and they should be professional on all levels, regardless of the age or whatever of the person on the other side of the blog.

And I'm not talking about people being unresponsive from the beginning. I've contacted plenty of publishers and authors initially about guest posts or ARCs with zero response. That's not uncommon. What I'm talking about is getting into a working relationship with someone, you do all the work you promise to do and then they bail on you.


Elie said...

interesting post. I have not been in this situation yet, although all of my interviews with the exception of one, I emailed the authors to request them. I generally don't get too many review requests either, a few, but not many.

If I was in this situation, I would handle it like you did, but then keep that particular publisher/author on a list. You are right, reviewing, setting up posts, writing interview questions, it is VERY time consuming. I mean hey, you could be reading instead of promoting their book to your 500 followers.

Oh, and I never thought you would bite, not that hard at least:)

chelleyreads said...

this is a very interesting post. i haven't been in the situation you described because i just recently got into blogging. i am kinda iffy though about taking review requests from authors/publishers if they ever contact me because i am too busy and not sure i can do my part--but you've given me a new perspective so thank you for this post!!

i have recently started contacting authors to do guest post and participated in the hachette blog tours but i think this is all i'm going to do for now in the near future.

Sherry @ Flipping Pages for All Ages said...

Very interesting. I can't really contribute to this convo much because I have never been contacted by publishers, only authors. And when I want to do an interview/guest post with an author I get in touch with them. So far everyone I have gotten in touch with has been great to communicate with, minus a few very slow responses but I know how busy authors can be so I have no qualms.

If I was in this situation I would def. be disheartened. I know how much time it takes to do these things, countless emails back and forth, reading the book in the first place, typing up the reviews. And even though I do it for me and because I enjoy it, I also do it for everyone else so they can experience the same great things I get to and for someone, wether it be an author or publisher, to "indian give" when you went out of your way when they contacted you in the first place, well that's just wrong in my opinion. Wrong and rude.

Lexie said...

lol I like to say I am a bigger person, but I keep a little black book with the authors/publishers/etc that have wronged me in some way. I don't publicly denounce them, but I do have a polite form letter explaining why I can not work with them if they contact me again.

There was the one publicist who failed to send out a rather substantial prize pack to a winner--I had to scramble to get together a similar pack because I felt bad for the blogger (and that ruined my vacation budget money), two authors who reneged on Q&A's I set up and worked hard on, one publisher who said they'd send me some review books and did not, another publicist who failed to respond to my reply e-mail stating I would be interested in something with the e-publisher she represented and at twice I've been 'lost in the shuffle' from publishers/authors/publicists who owed me books for contests I won (though the contest holders claimed no responsibility when I mentioned it). Oh and once from a blogger who refused to send me the contest win that I won, after announcing I had won, simply because after looking at my blog she 'found it wasn't at all to her liking and didn't feel it represented the genre she felt comfortable with'.


but like I said I don't make a big deal about it mainly because what does it get you? Its not like in a RL situation where you can demand the person respond to you face to face, e-mails are so easy to delete you know?

Lenore said...

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, stuff like this happens. I chose not to make a big deal of it. Just make a note and don't work with that person again.

Kim said...

I'm an extremely new book blogger. I haven't even started blogging about books I've read, because I haven't received any ARCs from publishers. I emailed SO many publishers, all of which except one never wrote back. The one that did, though, asked me what my book interests are. I emailed her back, and then she never responded. This was towards the end of January, so I don't know if my ARC is in the mail, or what. It's bad publicity if the publishing company doesn't email it's customers back, so I don't know why they do that! I don't know where to go from here, or what publishing company to pursue next.

Arya said...

I haven't really had this problem yet. When I first started reviewing for a certain publishing company they had trouble getting the books to me in the beginning (they were supposed to be sent and didn't show up) but they publicist was extrememly nice and got it all sorted out, and we've been doing good every since.
I guess it depends on who your talking to. If its a very small publishing house or (not all but some) self published author they might not be as professional as the larger ones. But I do know I'd be upset too. Blogging is like a job to me. Getting books is nice but we help these people too, while they get paid and we don't. We deserve some respect.

Great post! =)

Donna said...

Lexie, sounds like you're in my boat! And that's horrible about that blogger denying you a contest you won simply because she wasn't a fan of your blog. WTF? That I would have called out. That's just wrong.

Kim, I sent you an email about what you said. Your tactic isn't the most conducive to book blogging or obtaining ARCs.

Thanks for your comments, everyone! It's nice to know I'm not in this boat alone. I think it tweaks me a little more only because I'm such an organized person and not following through on something seriously bothers me.

Jill said...

I have resisted doing author interviews because of the work involved. I have agreed to review books that I have been approached about but if they don't show up I haven't worried about it. I figure they changed their mind and no longer want the review. That has only happened a few times. It seems like you have a pretty good attitude about it.

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