Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pulling the Trigger on "Influence" in Book Blogging

I stay out of drama. I'm not about drama in the blogosphere because, generally speaking, this site is my happy place. To put things in perspective, I've been blogging for seven years as of February 21st (I've already written the happy, gushy post). I was here before review books and NetGalley. I was here before authors and bloggers started quibbling. I was here before there was a debate over what constitutes a "review" or a "reaction." I was here before it was cool. I was here before it made money. I was here and I remain here because I love to read, and I really love the friends I've made online. I adore sharing ideas with you.

Today, however, was something of a tipping point for me. I've already had icky feelings (quietly, and in my own brain) over what feels like the publishing industry gaining (or attempting to exert)  more "control" over blogging. It started with ARCs. Everyone wanted ARCs. Publishers started e-mailing, authors started e-mailing, the review copies started sliding through the door. This was years ago, mind you. But publishers started dangling carrots! Unlike most, I have never felt one iota of obligation to review a book unless it's something I specifically requested from a publisher or publicist. Even then, I make it really clear that if I don't want to review a book, I won't. If I don't like it. If I'm too busy. Because it's my blog. And my blog is mine.

After the scramble for ARCs started, the scramble for "traffic" started. Everyone wanted to talk about how to increase traffic and "brand" their blog. We came up with lists of best practices and what-not-to-dos.  Everyone hopped on Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook and Ning and Goodreads and Shelfari and had to be plugged in all the time.

Am I different? No. I'm not. I admit it 100%. My blog has a "look," I have a Twitter account and a Tumblr account and a Facebook fan page. I used to run a 'zine for BLOGGERS (not for publishers). But do you want to know why? Because I like to talk to my friends who read. Because the bloggers I know are the only friends in my life who read.

But something that "old age" in blogging has taught me and that I see more all the time is this: we are a tool. We are an available and fertile market. We publicize what needs publicizing, mostly, for free. I've also learned that I don't want to be dictated to. I don't want to be pushed or nudged or shoved into anything.

As I logged into NetGalley the other day for the first time in months, I realized something--some publishers are getting pushy! A surprising number of publishers now want to know how many visitors visit one's blog in a day or a week or a month. How many people subscribe to one's blog? How quickly one can review a book?

And do you know what I have to say to these "guidelines" and these demands?

KEEP THEM.

To the wonderful, polite, genuine publishers, publicists, and many many authors I've worked with here over the years, thank you! This anger is not for you. That's really important. But it seems like every day this idea of book blogging is becoming more mechanized and impersonal at the hands of external forces.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to me about blogging is the reading I do. It's the friends with whom I share my words. I don't want to feel pushed around. I don't want to feel purchased. I want to feel liberated because that's always what reading and blogging have done for me -- they've freed me! Freed me to open my mind and think new thoughts. They've freed me to write my experiences and send them out into the world with confidence.

Come hell or high water, ARCs, no ARCs, publisher inquiries or not. Social networking or not. Obligation or not. I will read. I will write about what I read. I will read and write what I want and what is in my heart. And I hope that as a group that is always our goal. Our ultimate and most cherished goal. To be truthful and open-minded and collegial to one another, no matter what external forces are at work, exerting influence. I can tell you this: whether it's another seven days or another seven years, this blog is mine. It is the essence of who I am as a reader, and reading is a part of my soul in a way that nothing else is. Sharing my reading and all that is literary is my job every day and my hobby, too. I am lucky. I am blessed to do what I love. I will always read what I want. I'll write what I want. And I will do so feeling strong and never intimidated by what I should do with an Internet home of my own making.

Limitations are not welcome here.

68 comments:

  1. Amen. Amen. And Amen. Well said.

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  2. First, can I just say I miss Estella's Revenge zine. Bring it back pretty please!

    Yes, there seem to be a lot more "guidelines" on the Before You Request page of many publishers. I tend to stick with the ones that don't have a list a mile long of what they want from us. Even then, I don't feel obligated to review everything I request. I'm not getting paid.

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  3. What a fantastic post. It expresses perfectly many of the things that have been bouncing around in my own head. I haven't been doing this nearly as long as you have, but I will continue to do it for myself!

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  4. I'm just here to say HELL YEA!

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  5. Excellent!!! Agreed 100%

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  6. I give this post a big kiss. *Mwah*

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  7. They require subscriber and visitor stats? Woah... I've not been on Netgalley for quite a while so that is definitely news to me! For a time I was envious of bloggers who seemed to get ARCs all the time. But then I figured, I don't have to read the latest books. Plus I have access to a great library system!


    Well said.

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  8. Amen!! times a gazillion and six!

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  9. Love this post!

    As for publishers, I don't mind them wanting a little information about stats, but I'm not going go out of my way to build my numbers to a specific level or otherwise please publishers. I read what I want to read when I want to read it, and I blog in a way that makes me happy. If they like what I do and have a book I want to read, great! If not, great. It's not like I'm lacking in books to read :)

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  10. and BAM you come to the heart of the reason why I pulled out of book blogging. Do I still talk about and review books? YEAH! But I'm done with the businessy side of it all. I never even really was with all that side, never liked branding, rarely took an ARC, didn't even really like Netgalley! But still, I was getting offers hawked at me constantly, and I felt like I was under scrutiny all the time at my last blog, and I just wanted a place that felt like MINE again. Yeah. I love this post.

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  11. You said it, Sister!! I refuse to add anything to my blog that lessens its meaning to me...I'll read what I want, when I want. I'll also talk about a lot of other stuff besides books...cause that's who I am. I have 3 daughters and enough drama in my life to last several lifetimes...no drama on the blog! :)

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  12. Also I really really really really really miss Estella too! Emailing back and forth with you this week has really stirred the memories!

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  13. What a wonderfully thoughtful and heartfelt post.

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  14. Indeed! My sentiments exactly.

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  15. Indeed! My sentiments exactly.

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  16. And your post is why I do not read ARCs, and I only read books I want to read.

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  17. Just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of Hell Yeah! Brilliant post. Thanks for writing exactly what I have been thinking lately in such a beautiful and eloquent way.

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  18. "At the end of the day, the most important thing to me about blogging is the reading I do. It's the friends with whom I share my words. I don't want to feel pushed around. I don't want to feel purchased. I want to feel liberated because that's always what reading and blogging have done for me -- they've freed me!"

    AMEN, Sister! I'm not far behind you in the years of blogging (not seven for me, but five...certainly before Twitter and Facebook and social networks and being bought.

    The thing that resonates most deeply with me about your piercing and eloquent post is that my blog is mine; I'll do with it what I want, read what I want, and Hell's bells, even say what I want.

    Agreed.

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  19. Very very well said, Andi! I recently logged onto NetGalley after several months absence and was very surprised at what some publishers were asking for too. My blogging isn't about traffic and monthly unique visitors or how well I use keywords to get targeted visitors - it's about making connections with other readers and other writers. People who love books as much as I do. And that's exactly what my blog has done, and continues doing every day of its existence. I've met many wonderful people and continue to form new friendships - solid friendships based on a love of reading.

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  20. I'm just happy with the bookish conversation with other readers out there, too! I have by and large given up accepting AREs unless the book is something I really want to read or I already have a good relationship with a publisher/publicist--but anymore AREs are few and far between for me. And that is okay--I'm just happy reading what I want when I want to and writing (or not) about them at my own pace. It does take the fun out of it when it feels too much like work (unpaid work at that). I can see why publishers are trying not to send out excess numbers of review copies to just anyone if they might not be interested in reading a book, but the climate really is much different now than when I first started blogging. And that's okay--that wasn't why I started blogging anyway. :)

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  21. Well said! Thank-you for putting that out there- I've been rejected for a few Netgalley requests recently because I don't have updated traffic information there. You know what I say? Oh well! More books in the sea and I have a stack of amazing ones requiring my attention. I'm not going to pimp my blog just for review copies. As you said, it's my happy place!!!

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  22. Estella: As a blogger who's been around now for going on seven years too, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I am especially glad to see so many of my favorite book bloggers agreeing with you here in the comments too. I don't think I've ever received an ARC, okay, maybe once, but I'm not really not interested. Most of the books I read aren't even that recent...at least, 20 years old for most of them so they don't need the reviews. I pretty much read what I want when I want.

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  23. Can I be honest and say I'm not even sure what Netgalley is? :P

    I think you've hit the nail right on the head why there are so many "old" bloggers discontinuing the use of the Book Blogger label. For me the issue was a bit different--too much competition between actual bloggers (and continued drama) and too much pressure to read obligation stuff. Honestly I'm grateful that some of us are getting back to the old days (wish I knew you back when I started...geez!!!). I do see a very real break happening, though--those who want to do this more professionally and those who enjoy the hobby.

    What does make me sad, though, is to see some of my favorite bloggers going the way of publishers. And I hate to say that I'm saddened at my lack of interest in the drivel they're publishing on their blogs now. :X

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  24. Bravo, Andi - awesome post. I feel EXACTLY the way you do, and like you, I never feel any obligation to review a book which simply arrives on my doorstep...and those I accept for potential review I do what I can to meet any commitment I made, but I never feel obligated to kill myself to get a review posted (unless I am on a scheduled book tour). We do this for fun. No one pays us (and I don't want them to because then we would REALLY be setting ourselves up). I have been blogging a long time now (more than six years) and I hope to continue for a long time - with or without ARCs!! LOL. Of course, there are some wonderful publicists and publishers out there who do respect that this is our space and whatever we do to help market books is an added plus to what we are really here to do - talk books, connect with community and celebrate reading.

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  25. I give you a standing O! Awesome response to the whole silly crazy business!

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  26. Same goes for me and my blog. Very well said!

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  27. That last paragraph is a manifesto. THANK YOU for writing this!

    During the last several months, I've branched out a bit to do some reviewing (for pay) in places other than on my blog, and that's made me more particular and protective about my own space and the books I want to talk about there. I request very few ARCs, and probably accept even fewer offers these days.

    I've been blogging for almost 5 years now. I'd been blogging for almost a year before I got offered my first review book, and I'm feeling like I want to get back to the basics. It seems like a lot of us are feeling that way. Thanks again!

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  28. As you know, I dropped out of the blogosphere for a while there. When I got back into the blogging scene, I was startled to see the posts and comments regarding the way the blogger/publisher relationship has developed. And frankly, what I was hearing pissed me off.

    So thanks for writing this. Maybe if more bloggers stand up for their blogs the annoying publishers will get the hint and back off. Thanks, too, for being an awesome blogger. You're my inspiration :)

    Three cheers to you!

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  29. Congrats on 7 years! I adore your blog and this post. I've been blogging off and on (in many different areas of interest) since 2004 for the simple reason that I enjoy writing about things I love and meeting people who can geek out with me. So I'm going to throw in my Hell Yeah too! Fantastic post!

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  30. I think you know, based on my anniversary-like post a few weeks ago, that I agree with you completely. It's interesting in many ways that us older bloggers are tired of the ARCs and publicity stunts and just want to get back to READING now- I have a feeling that the blogging cycle follows a sort of bell curve and we are perhaps past the peak of it.

    But the friends are SO AWESOME and worth it and I hope to keep those! And I agree with the other voices here- bring back Estella's Revenge!! :) That is, if you have time....

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  31. Kudos! Awesome post, Andi. I'm right there with you, sister!!

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  32. I agree with you. It is sad to see how much things have changed over the past few years. I'm afraid that things are only going to get worse. I wonder how many of us will still be around in seven years time....

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  33. I would click like here if possible (too influenced by facebook) even though compared to you and a lot of commentors I'm a newish blogger (3 years) :)

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  34. Absolutely Amen Andi!! I could not have said that better! I've been here for almost five years, you were one of the first blogs I found. I'm here to read, I'm here to write. I don't request ARCs but if a publisher comes to me and I think I'll like it, then I'll review it. With that said, if I get the book and I don't like it, I won't review it. I'm not here for free books or lots of traffic. Like you said, this blog is MY happy place.....=)

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  35. Your post today was incredible, and says all the things I have been feeling for some time now. Recent developments between publishers and bloggers have really made me angry, and have only reinforced my desire to use my space for my purposes only. I used to get all worked up about review copies, and how I was going to get to them all in a reasonable amount of time, and whether or not I was going to piss off the publicists, but now I just don't care. They don't have a lot of respect for us sometimes, and though I have worked with a lot of great and amazing publicists, some of the things I have heard and the way that people have been treated really turns me off. Your sentiments about this being your place, where you are free to do as you wish stirs up a lot of similar sentiments in me. Bravo for telling it like it is!

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  36. Definitely with you, Andi, and find myself feeling less and less interested in keeping "deadlines" on my blog these days. Working for a paper, I'm used to being under pressure to produce -- and I don't like feeling that way in my own time, too. Excellent thoughts!

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  37. Brilliant! I am right there with you--I blog books because I want to chat about what I read, not for some sort of status or competition or place within the publishing industry. When publishers/authors started getting more aggressive in review demands, I really backed off from that whole scene. Work for free? No thank you. This is my free time, my love, my joy.

    You wrote my opinion quite remarkably well. Thank you! :)

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  38. Amen! And hooray to all the similar sentiments in the comments too!

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  39. I haven't been around quite as long as you, but my 4 and a half years of blogging have put me in basically the same spot you are. I totally agree with this entire post and I love that you wrote it. I still plan to accept the occasional review copy from a trusted source/publisher/whatever, but only on my own terms.

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  40. See...these are the kind of posts I miss when I stop blogging for awhile!! You know me. It drives me nuts when I hear people talking about traffic and blog stats. It's one of the reasons I put the blog on hold for as long as I did.

    I started 5 years ago for ME! And I will continue to write for ME. Meeting people like you is just a plus!

    Great Post!

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  41. I knew there was pressure on some bloggers, but I had no idea it was like that for you to review them. How stupid of the publishers. I chose a few years ago to ignore all requests to review a book for a publisher. I just delete all the requests from my email. I don't want any ARCS, I got enough when I worked in the bookstores. I think your post is something that needed to be said so that all those people who come to blogging, realize that they don't have to do anything they don't want to, when it comes to blogging and reading for pleasure.

    I hope you stay blogging! It should be fun, and personal, and where we feel safe talking about books and with one another.

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  42. Thanks for a great post! I'm a "young" blogger and haven't gotten into the whole ARC game (and don't really know how). I've started to get a lot of requests from writers and I think that's pretty cool but I'm still going to read what I want to read. I loved reading about how and why you blog,and it's nice to learn from someone who's been doing this a while.

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  43. Wonderfully put! I had an experience in December where an author contacted me about reading a second book by her. I had read the first one and enjoyed it and said yes, I would love to.

    I received the book within a week and then... the emails started... "did I get the book?" "Could I read it before Christmas to help the Christmas sales push?"

    AND when I did not respond to said email within a day or two (Uhh... yeah its December - we are all BUSY) I would get another email -

    "not sure if you got my last email but I really need you to read the book now".

    and this continued for a total of 16 emails. I kid you not. I was annoyed that the author was so pushy... so insecure really.... and I wanted to tell her so... but I did not.

    I did tell her that it was December, I work, I work out, I have a home life, and a social life.. I would get tot he book - when I could.

    I did get to the book. I did enjoy it. I reviewed it well... but I will probably never accept another book from this author due to her pushiness.

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  44. Hi, I'm Britta, and I found your article on Twitter, it's FABULOUS! I've recently started book blogging for the same reasons you discussed, and I've found that there seems to be pressure to have a certain number of readers/ARCs, etc, in order to be 'successful'. This can turn you off of the fun and refreshment that blogging what you love can do. Everything you said is spot on, and it's exactly how I would like to keep my blog: informative and true to myself.

    -Britta
    http://novelday.blogspot.com

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  45. LOVE this post!!! Enough said :)

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  46. Thank you, Heatheroo!

    Chris, I miss it too. Terribly. I've taken to requesting books directly from the publishers. Often there's a discrepancy between what is listed on NetGalley and whether or not they'll actually send a book. The number of books I request in a year is usually counted on one hand. Given all the new "guidelines" I'm seeing, I will likely not participate in NetGalley madness anymore. While I understand why there are guidelines, it also puts pressure on bloggers that should not be there.

    Thanks, Teresa. I think being true to oneself and one's own goals in blogging is really the key. The pressure that seems to be growing is a crock.

    Thank you, Pam and Sharyla and Bibliophiliac! *MUAH*

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  47. Olduvai, they don't all require stats, but it's not unusual anymore. While I understand pubs want to have "reach" it's a crock to put that much pressure on bloggers who are doing this for free and for--what should be--FUN!

    Thank you, SuziQ!

    Teresa, building one's stats to a certain level is what chaps me. Publishers instituting these types of guidelines just builds animosity among bloggers where there should be none. And it's also very much a mechanization process for lack of a better word. The publishers, if they want my stats, can visit my blog.

    SCRUTINY is a sham, Amanda! That shouldn't even be a part of it. I know bloggers (some) will always be competitive, but they can have it. I'm blogging either way for my own purposes. Can I get a right on?!

    I hear ya, Patti!!! Enough drama in everyday life to endure it doing my favorite thing for fun!!!

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  48. Heather, this week discussing Madame Bovary brought it back for me too. I'm glad we're starting back up! (teaser for anyone reading) Ha!

    Thank you, BookGirl! I appreciate it.

    And thank you, Becca!

    Amen, BookQuoter! I'm not opposed to an ARC (I got one in the mail the other day), but I also have a collegial, professional relationship with the publishing house. They OFFER me items, no pressure. That's the way it should be.

    Right on, Natasha!

    Thank YOU for stopping in for the "hell yeah," Kathmeista! I think it's something many many many of us are feeling and I bubbled over. lol

    Bellezza, given the current environment in blogging, I think it's far too easy to get sucked into trying to achieve something quite unnecessary. The sense of competitiveness and back breaking work is simply asinine.

    Thank you, Amanda!

    Belle, the friendships are the really FUN part, too! I see a lot of very professionally successful blogs that get 3 or 4 comments per post, and I think, "You are busting your ass to create professional (profitable) content, but you're not TALKING to anyone!" What the hell??? That's missing the best part. It's not all about comments -- it's about relationships.

    Danielle, agreed! I loved everything you had to say. I also understand that pubs are not sending out as many unsolicited ARCs, but the part that really chaps me is that on pages like NetGalley, they're sending out e-pub files and not losing out on anything!! Creating the atmosphere of competitive crap for FREE REVIEWS is a crock.

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  49. Jonita, I'm amazed they visited to see if you have traffic stats posted!!! For the most part it seems like pubs visiting blogs to get sense of the blogger is becoming a thing of the past. I know it's a time suck for them, but it's a time suck for us to read the books and write the reviews! A pleasurable time suck, no doubt, but still! Take the extra step to do this relationship building the right way.

    Thanks for stopping in, Unfinishedperson. It's growing sentiment in the blogosphere for sure.

    Trish, the competition and downright tackiness between bloggers just BLOWS MY MIND. I actually saw a grown woman call another woman a "cunt" on Twitter. Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME?!!?!!! I have no idea, but I don't want to EVER be associated with things like that. I won't be denouncing my "book blogging" any time soon, but I will definitely lead a charge for more collegiality among bloggers.

    Wendy, I agree with you that there are a number of publishers and authors who still do this whole thing right. Sourcebooks should be a model for treating bloggers with respect and maintaining professionalism (I'll talk more about that next week).

    Thanks, Suey and Terri B.!

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  50. Florinda, it definitely does seem to be a new current in the book blogging community to get back to basics. As far as professional reviews and those written for outside publications, I do think pubs and publicists have every right to institute guidelines and rules for those situations. When it's a freelance blogger who writes for fun, limitations and guidelines are of no interest to me. Just wanted to make that distinction. :)

    Emily, thanks so much for your kind words! You know I *heart* you. :) The relationship between publishers and bloggers is growing in some interesting and troubling ways, but I think the more we speak out the more we'll be taken seriously. Bloggers are not to be trampled upon.

    Thank you, Brooke! I'm tickled to have found your blog and love reading all your posts. Cheers to blogging what we want!

    Aarti, wish granted! Estella's Revenge 'zine will be back shortly. Feeling quite inspired these days despite the drama. :) And I think you said it...we're ready to get back to READING now.

    Thanks, Les!

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  51. Jackie, I actually feel better about our book blogging situation now that I've read all the comments to this post. It looks as if many many of us are feeling the same way about this issue, and I think we'll see more "back to basics" bloggers.

    Jodie, I'm addicted to the "Like" button, too! Three years is still a heck of a bloggy effort. Mine has ebbed and flowed depending on what's going on in my life, but I'm happy to have been here and made so many friends these last 7 years.

    Amen, Kristina! Here for the reading and the fun, not the pressure and the drama!

    Thanks so much, Heather! I hope we continue to see bloggers standing up and saying, "I just want to read!"

    Meg, I tooootally agree with you. I have plenty of deadlines and madness at the college and to feel pressure in my down time is just crazy. No more!

    Thanks for chiming in, Melody. So many of my fave bloggers are piping up, and I'm so so so glad to know we're all on the same page.

    Right on, Carrie!

    Heather, I think that's really the key -- on my OWN TERMS. I refuse to be pushed around. I've had very good luck with publishers and authors personally, but the more I see and hear out of trusted sources, the more inflamed I become!

    Right on, Stephanie!!!

    Susan, I'm definitely here to stay. I was simply grossed out by the rising demands I see from publishers on sites like NetGalley. And the more bloggers have this type of conversation the more unreasonable demands come to light! Ridiculous!

    Thanks for being here, bookstop! The e-mails and requests are really cool. And it's very rewarding when you start to build a relationship of mutual respect with an author or a specific publisher. It can get overwhelming -- all the more when demands and pushiness come into the mix.

    Sheila, that type of disregard for a blogger's personal life is just crazy. I haven't had anything that intense happen, thank goodness, because I might've lost my cool for a minute. The mutual respect is #1 in accepting books for review.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Britta! I'll be sure to visit your blog! I hope you're having fun so far, and I hope you have great luck with pubs and authors who request reviews. It'll happen if it hasn't already!!! Have fun and be yourself!

    Thank you, Samantha and Wendy!

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  52. OMG, Andi. I LOVE this post. You have put into words something I have been feeling for a while but have not been willing to admit openly. Thank you for this!

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  53. I just saw your reference to this post in your post for today. I'm not serious enough about blogging to be very current anymore.

    I used to be very jealous of people who got ARCS. For my first year and a half of blogging I got none, then I started getting a few here and there, mostly B-level books, never the hot titles. Eventually, I started getting a few "hot" titles along with the B-level books.

    But for the last two years, maybe longer, I've neither sought nor recieved an ARC. Just sort of lost interest in them.

    But I think someone "giving" you a book can basically ask for anything they want. You can say no thanks. I still get requests to review books. I usually say nothing or "no thanks."

    I don't twitter or use good reads or net galley so I'm so far out of the loop I sometimes wonder if anyone knows I'm here.

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  54. Great article! It really helps those who succeed online. Wish I can use this blogging in some of my online businesses. Thanks!

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  55. Hurrah! Beauteously put! (Yup. I'm still lurking out there. :-)

    Lezlie

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  56. Love it!
    'this blog is mine' 'I will always read what I want' My feelings exactly.

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  57. This post says much that I want to say! Things that bother you, bother me. I stopped using NetGalley because it was getting stressful (and I don't have any idea what my traffic is...). I also have been blogging since before review copies, NetGalley, and all the drama that comes with it, so I try and ignore most of it. I also don't review books just because they are review books. It really depends on the circumstances at the time. As a result I tend to avoid any of the publishing companies that this is a big deal for because I don't want the stress... I still receive review copies of books, but my blog is mine and I do what I want to. :)

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  58. Congrats on the BlogHer syndication!

    I've been blogging for five years, and I'm with you. I don't like the control that publishers are trying to assert over book reviewers and bloggers. The required stats irritates me, as does the idea that we're somehow obligated to review and review nicely.

    Most of my book reviews are positive because I can't stand wasting time on a book that I don't like. I don't see the point. But the idea of a publisher expecting a positive review just because they sent a copy of the book chaps my hide. Reviews are meant to be honest, not ass-kissing, glowing thanks for that free book.

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  59. Hey Andi! I'm relatively new to the world of book blogs, so missed the Good Old Days completely. And, so far, I'm not really on any publisher's radars...but I've sensed irritation about this from a lot of bloggers and appreciate the stance you take in this post! Reading and chatting about books should be fun, spontaneous, and no-pressure, always :)

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  60. BRAVO! LOVE this post.

    I'm glad that I have my project. It gives me a good excuse to say "No, sorry, not interested." :) But I don't think I'll ever be someone who worries about traffic, numbers, and getting free stuff. That isn't my purpose in blogging, and if it ever gets that way, you have my permission to call me out. :)

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  61. Thank you. I have, what, 3? drafts of post that never really managed to express this. Never being able to find the words. And now, I don't need to, I can just put up a link ;). I want to just say EXACTLY. I do feel rather weird since I've only been around for 2 years, so I hardly know any better, though I feel it's changed a lot in this past year. I really enjoyed seeing so many people agree with this. My comment is completely incoherent, isn't it?

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  62. Please allow this publisher to say... I completely agree.

    Book reviews are essentially worthless if they don't come from the heart. Bloggers who choose what to read and how/when to give reviews are creating genuine feedback that enriches the whole discussion of reading. What reader will trust or engage with a blog that issues to an author or publisher's orders?

    Personally, I couldn't care less about stats. Also, it's absolutely worth the time for anyone marketing a book to spend some time actually reading book blogs -- not for stats or to count comments, but to get to know the bloggers and their communities. Anyone who thinks otherwise is pretty much missing the point.

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  63. Hear, hear! I can't entirely blame the publishers for wanting to know that books they are giving away for free are going to get publicity and I'm sure it's because there are so many book bloggers these days. But I'm entirely with you on not wanting my blog to be a business. I started it for fun and I want it to continue to be fun.

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  64. Found this blog today thanks to FridayReads on Twitter. Blogging being a fertile ground brings to mind an interesting article in March 2012 issue of Atlantic Monthly about reading. AM author says only classics are worth reading. My husband michaeljmartinez.net, a genre fiction author currently on submission, disagrees saying this dismisses great online writing and reading and I agree. Props to Estella for sticking her ground and posting cool reads to people who want more than War and Peace.

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