It has been a strange old week for bloggers.
If you’re a Twitterer then you couldn’t have failed to notice the attack, for attack it was, by one publisher on the blogging community. I won’t name the publisher here, but it rhymes with Baffeene Flights. Their comments – for I do not know if it was the work of one person or several; though I suspect it was one – set off a powder keg of emotion that they seemed to be totally oblivious to.
They called into question the role of the blog tour, of the bloggers who participate and therefore those who organise them. This was the text of the original tweet that kicked the whole thing off:
“Stepped away from social media for a few months. Have to say, I haven’t missed it. Closed our FB account haven’t missed FB at all. Quick word on blog tours…save your money for something that works. Most book bloggers have no reach or influence. They just think they do ”
Who the actual fuck do they think they are, and what’s with the crying with laughter emoji, ffs? With one tweet they completely disregarded and insulted every book blogger there is (and not just book bloggers, no doubt). They clearly believe that book bloggers are an arrogant breed of people who believe that they are the true key to a books success.
I don’t know about you, but that is not how I feel. Reading the replies, and from personal experience, I also know it isn’t how many publishers feel.
I blog because I love books. For me, blogging is a creative outlet that also allows me to shout about the books I love. To celebrate great talent. To help promote, and improve the awareness of the authors that I respect and admire. To enable others to discover the books that make me happy and that I love. Sure, not everyone will agree with my reviews, but, so what? That’s what makes us as human beings the wonderfully diverse people that we are; our differences of opinion. You may not agree with them, you may not like them, but that’s life.
Ok, I realise that may sound contradictory to what Baffeene Flights were saying; after all, it’s their opinion, right? Well, yes and no. As a publisher they are not only insulting us as a community, surely they are also insulting their authors? I have recently reviewed a BF book, the excellent Medium Wave by Rose Zolock (and just to rub salt into the wound you can check it out here), and I know that Rose was thrilled with it. Without the blog tour I wouldn’t have even heard of Rose or her book. Of course I have no idea if it made any difference to her sales, but people saw it on the day of the posts publication; people who may not have even been aware of its existence until that morning. I loved the book, and my review reflected that.
On that note, this was another thing that came up in the ensuing thread; that bloggers on a particular tour are biased in their reviews. I’m not someone who gushes about a book just because I’m on a tour (and I admit I am an unashamed gusher when it comes to certain books 😉 ). I gush because I love the book and I want people to know about it. If I hadn’t enjoyed it I would’ve contacted the tour organiser concerned to say so and we would work something out. I don’t write, or publish, negative reviews. I know that this is a controversial subject in itself, but that is my choice. If I enjoy/like/love/gush over a book I shall say so. If I don’t, I don’t feel the need to tell everyone about it. I feel that if someone reads a positive review it may encourage them to buy the book, or at the very least to look into it further. If they then don’t enjoy it then it’s my reputation as a reviewer that is on the line, not that of the author. But at least they may have bought the book, looked it up, downloaded it, or whatever, and that may give the author another chance. If I publish a negative review, the reader may not even consider the book, plus it seems that negative word always seems to spread fast, and then it is the author who ultimately loses out.
For me, blogging isn’t about personal gain; I don’t chase stats or want some online fame, I want the author to be the recipient of any gains. Of course I get a little buzz from seeing my name on a blog tour poster, and recently I was even quoted inside a book – I won’t lie, that was a thrill – but that is just gravy on the meat of satisfaction that people will be aware of, and hopefully buy, the books of an author they may not have heard of before.
The original BF tweet called into question a blogger’s reach. I have no idea what my reach is. Most of my posts get way less than 100 views. In fact, with the exception of my “Let’s talk about chapters baby” post, which gets daily view into double figures, all from the US – which I suspect is some kind of bot; it’s a truly bizarre thing I do not understand – I really do not care. I have a small but hardcore group of fans, which I like to call my Beardy Blog Fans, who regularly retweet and share my posts. But although I find it is often the same people who do this, and truly I love each and every one of you, they often have far more followers than me and therefore, logically, it stands to reason that more people will ultimately see my posts than If I posted to my blog alone. Surely that’s reach? People don’t have to like/comment/retweet/etc to validate that reach. I often read things and think, “that’s interesting. I’ll come back to that later” without doing any of those things. Then there are those who come across your post much later. I have, and continue to have, views or likes on posts from weeks, or even months ago. As far as I’m concerned that’s another person my blog has reached, and who is to say that they won’t then go and tell others.
The arrogance of this publisher was truly staggering. Even amongst all of the passionate defence of bloggers that followed they still didn’t back down. They even found the distress they caused, “fascinating”. At one point they even appeared to personally attack one blogger via Direct Message. They claimed to have been hacked and that it was “Fake News”, but it still left a distinctly rotten taste. There was, and continues to be, no apology or signs that they understood the upset they caused. Of course they are entitled to their opinion, but to fail to offer even the smallest of apologies to the community that supports them is quite disturbing (though they did try to distance themselves from the personal attack mentioned earlier, but not with very much effort). I have seen little comment from their authors, but I guess that is to be expected. I would imagine they wouldn’t want to rock the boat even further. I have also noticed that their follower count has not changed. I admit, although I was sorely tempted to, that I haven’t unfollowed them on Twitter as I feel to do so will hurt their authors, and I will be less likely to see any new book releases. But this particular publisher is clearly dismissive of social media. They deleted their Facebook account, claiming to not miss it, and obviously couldn’t care less for Twitter either. To be honest, even though I have it, I don’t use FB, but as a publisher, to dismiss its value as a promotional tool is very short sighted. It reaches millions, assuming your profile is public as a business profile most likely will be. After all, they are a publisher and their job, amongst others, surely is to promote and publish their authors to as many people as possible; to enable them to earn money doing they thing they love, which is writing and bringing their books to as many people as possible? Maybe it isn’t. What would I know?
I realise that I’m picking on Baffeene Flights here, but that is only because they kicked this whole thing off. They aren’t the only ones to have done so though. There have been other Twitter users – and I only say Twitter here as that’s my social media outlet of choice – who have had similar views on blog tours and blitzes. Twitter is well known for things getting out of hand where no real offence was meant. It is difficult to get across in 280 characters what you may really intend to say; it is very easy to be misunderstood or to be misinterpreted. But that just means that one needs to be that more careful when constructing one’s tweets. In this case however, I feel that there was no misunderstanding; the intention was clear from the outset.
There have been some blog tours I’ve seen where the posts have mostly been spotlights – where the basic blurb and author profile/purchase links are posted. I’m not remotely being snobbish here – this is still a valid form of promotion – I just think that, on the whole, reviews are more valuable as they give an opinion on the book in question. The more reviews there are, surely the more of a diverse and informed opinion the blog tour visitor will get? There’s nothing wrong with a spotlight, of course. I did my first one recently (and you can find that here), and it genuinely piqued my interest in the book – in fact I ordered it on the strength of it. I did it because I didn’t have time to read and review the book before the tour started, but it genuinely looked interesting from the email I received. I tend to think that you don’t get a proper feel for the book from a spotlight alone though (unless it’s one of my spotlights that is, as I have clearly demonstrated 😉 ).
The original tweet was also an attack on the blog tour organisers. Tour organisers are a remarkable species: they have a very tough job generating interest in books and authors that many will not have heard of before. We are most often asked to take the plunge on an unknown author purely on the strength of the blurb alone most of the time. But that’s the excitement of the blog tour for me; will I enjoy it? The discovery of a new author is quite thrilling. Plus many, if not all, blog tour organisers are bloggers themselves and do it in their spare time; fitting it around work, home life, kids, etc whether for payment or for free.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that blog tours as a whole, and not just the individual blogger, are a invaluable tool in the marketing, promotion and word-of-mouth of a book and author; whether it be a review, spotlight, interview, or a cover reveal. To say otherwise – to allude, as BF did, that bloggers are a deluded bunch who think that they are all important and whose word is sacrosanct – is to deny, and insult, a community of people who love what they do. Who gives a shit anyway if a blogger enjoys the limelight or exposure it may bring? Is that such a bad thing? Of course it bloody well isn’t. Everyone gets something different out of the experience. For me it’s the enjoyment of the writing of the review. I try to do it a little differently. I attempt to inject some humour into my posts, whatever they are (except for this one it seems, ha.). I want my readers to take notice and for my reviews to stick in their minds, but not at the expense of the book. I want it to stick so that they remember it and buy the book 😉 It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be, too. The pressure to read and review books, fitting them around my day job as the deadline looms, is quite stressful. There are days when I just can’t think of anything to write. Not because I didn’t enjoy the book, but because I’m knackered and, as I mentioned above, I try to do something different with my reviews and therefore I have kinda shot myself in the foot a little 😉 But it’s ultimately great fun and when things come together it feels fantastic and very satisfying.
This post isn’t meant to speak for every blogger out there. It’s a personal viewpoint. But I can’t help but think that others will feel the same way, at least for some of the points. Rarely, and I do mean rarely, do I feel compelled to comment on anything controversial, but this tweet, and the subsequent replies from BF, really pissed me off.
I do not charge for my reviews – another thing alluded to by BF. A family member recently suggested that I should, but that just isn’t why I started blogging in the first place. I do it for the love, as corny as that sounds. Yes I love it when others read my reviews and enjoy them, of course I do, but I get a much bigger thrill when the authors and publishers do, and you all know who you are 😉 Since I began blogging back in February ’18, I have had fantastic support from both authors and publishers alike, including the publisher who started this off, which makes this all the more frustrating and surreal. I guess they were just having a bad day? It can’t be easy running a small independent publishing company, but there’s no need to take it out on us. Sometimes you just need to know when to hold your tongue.
Peace and book love, TBBB. X