I’m tired of book bloggers getting no respect.
by Anne R. Allen
The contempt some business people have for bloggers never ceases to amaze me. Every day I get emails demanding I do free work for companies that are obviously solvent enough to hire employees—so why do they imagine it’s okay to demand that bloggers work for them…for nothing?
Recently an employee of a tech company emailed me one of these crazy demands—using the charmingly personalized salutation, “Hey there!” They can’t use my name, because… how could anybody figure out that “Anne R. Allen’s Blog” is run by somebody named “Anne?”
She wanted me to rewrite a 5-year old blogpost in order to link to her employer’s website. Then she said, “we’re on a strict timetable here, so I need it done by the end of the week.”
No offer to pay, of course. Just “hop to it, minion!” Although I’m sure she’s being paid well.
Another email came from a woman who wanted me to read a long, pointless article about a (well-known) magazine she works for. (At least I think that’s what it was about—the writing was so convoluted and jargon-riddled, I couldn’t be sure.) She wanted us to promote this magazine’s pricey reviews.
I deleted her email. But of course she “followed up” the next day asking why I hadn’t responded immediately. How dare I waste time writing books, helping new writers, and producing good content for our subscribers? Did I think my time had any value compared with hers? After all, she’s getting PAID!
I sent her a helpful link to my article on how to write for the Web.
Yes, I can be as sweetly passive-aggressive as my heroine, Camilla, The Manners Doctor. 🙂
A Blogger Deserves the Same Respect as Any other Professional.
But seriously, would somebody email a lawyer and demand free representation because, hey, they got his address off the Internet? Would they demand free work from an accountant or dentist? And order around a doctor as if she were Alexa or Siri?
Most bloggers have a lot of education. That’s why we have good language, tech, and communication skills. Yeah. Those communication skills people want to use for their businesses.
And yet people think it’s okay to treat us like household appliances.
I get dozens of emails a day from companies who want us to run free advertisements as “guest blogposts” for everything from sunglasses to porn…for no compensation of any kind.
They always say they read the blog all the time and they “love” it, but show they have no idea it’s a writing blog.
All they’re telling me is they’re lazy, illiterate liars who can’t even read a blog subtitle before firing off a query.
Last week one of these nitwits responded to my form rejection of her make-up tips (seriously) with a hilariously furious rant. I had spelled her name wrong!! (Of course she didn’t bother to use mine.)
She was so mad, she said we couldn’t run her make-up advertisement after all. So there!
She went on: “I am outreaching, there is nothing wrong with what I am doing. It’s a natural way to build awareness and promote our site.”
She did nothing wrong? You LIED, Peggie (“with an IE”). Lying is still considered wrong in most circles.
Yes, even lying to a lowly blogger.
Okay, now I have awareness of Peggie’s site. The way I have awareness of the poop my neighbor’s dog left in my driveway. That’s “natural” too.
Social media marketing is about networking. Networking means making friends, not infantile demands.
Book Review Bloggers are Not Your Minions
Unfortunately, authors are taught to treat bloggers badly too. I don’t know how many “how to self-publish” books and blogs I’ve seen that blithely tell authors to send out ARCs to review bloggers and “get 50-100 reviews.”
As if getting reviews were like ordering cupcakes.
These articles never say that book blog reviewers work for free and any review is a favor. These gurus’ blogs and courses usually present the issue of reviews as something an author is owed, or something we’ll get if we’re just not lazy.
Many authors pay for blog tours that promise reviews, so they assume the reviewers are getting paid.
Only the blog tour organizer gets that money. The blogger is supposed to be happy with the free ebook.
For an honest and helpful post on how to get book reviews, see Penny Sansevieri’s post on Book Marketing 101.
I heard from a book blogger recently who was late with a book review because a tree fell on her house. The author wrote back telling her to remove the tree faster. (Hint to authors: This is not the best way to get a rave review. 🙂 )
These gurus also tell authors that if they just do some giveaways on Goodreads or NetGalley or do a freebie run on Amazon that hundreds of people will review your book.
But guess what? Nobody owes you a review. Besides, many thoughtful reviewers are no longer allowed to review on Amazon. because of Amazon’s draconian new rules.
Yes, I know the rules combat paid reviews, which needs to be done, but Amazon’s algorithms seem to enable paid reviews and bookstuffers, while removing honest reviews. Online groups offering compensation for “verified” reviews are all over the web. Here’s one author threatening members of his group who don’t review.
Book Review Bloggers Are Under Attack
Book Blog Reviewers are a disappearing breed. Since they’re under attack from all sides right now, we need to treat them with even more kindness and respect.
In a big, unannounced change at the end of last month, Amazon has suddenly banned many reviews of free review copies (ARCs). They have some complicated rules about it, but mostly they want to ban prolific book reviewers because they assume they’re all scammers.
Unfortunately, Amazon has totally ignored their faithful book blog reviewers. As usual, they’ve installed an algorithm that throws out more babies than bathwater.
The new rule says a book can’t receive more than a certain (undisclosed) number of unverified (ARC) reviews in any five day period.
More from Nate Hoffelder at the Digital Reader.
Again book review bloggers are being punished and disrespected. Every day, Amazon continues to ban top reviewers and remove all their reviews with no explanation. This one (of many) FB support group for innocent banned reviewers has over 5000 members and is growing daily. It has become an epidemic.
Here’s the latest news on review removal from The Bookseller.
And remember: reviewers are entitled to their opinions. They may hate your book. That’s their right too.
I’ve heard so many horror stories about reviewers being attacked that I added storylines about reviewer abuse to my last two novels.
In The Queen of Staves, Camilla’s boyfriend Ronzo sees his life destroyed after he gives a band a mediocre review on his music blog. The band retaliates with death threats to his family and pets. Then they fabricate “evidence” that he has committed an unspeakable crime. It sounds over the top, but so are the real life horror stories. (The Queen of Staves is on sale on Amazon until the end of June.)
If somebody calling themselves a book blogger contacts you and says, “I know I’m going to love your book–can I review it for you?” don’t fall for it. Book review bloggers are way too busy to need to solicit books. That’s a paid review mill scam.
Not all Book Bloggers are Reviewers.
Then of course there are our fellow authors who are so clueless they don’t check to see if a blogger even writes book reviews. Ruth and I don’t. We say it in bold text on our “Guest” page.
And yet we get requests for reviews every week. Often from publicists. Who, yes, are being paid. But they expect book bloggers to do their bidding for nothing.
We all get this stuff. David Gaughran, the bestselling Irish author and industry watchdog, has a FAQ on his Contact page. His #1 answer is: “No, I won’t review your book.”
Book bloggers and reviewers have always been overworked and under-appreciated. But it’s getting worse. A lot worse. Book review bloggers now have to pay for the privilege of posting reviews to Amazon. And if they live outside the US, it’s close to impossible.
Angry, entitled authors, demanding publicists, and Amazon’s increasingly draconian rules have turned reviewing into a miserable experience for many. They’re just quitting.
I don’t know how authors get 1000s of Amazon reviews these days. I’m lucky if mine are in the 10s. I’ve recently seen the statistic that most writers get one review for every 1500 sales. It’s fewer than that in this scary reviewing climate.
Reviewers are quitting all the time and very few new bloggers are replacing them. Why would they, when they’re treated so badly?
One of my favorite book bloggers has recently quit reviewing on her blog. She couldn’t even tell me why. All she said was: “I’m no longer posting reviews on my website (can of worms.)”
Who is Teaching Businesses to Abuse Bloggers?
How did all these people get the idea that “blogger” means “Free Personal Assistant”? I fear it’s become a tenet of social media marketing, because the myth is everywhere.
The clueless emails often seem to have been written using the same template—suggesting the instructions come from the same source.
A whole lot of the people who want free advertising via a guest blogpost say, in these words:
“The thing is, I write on topics very similar to those covered on your site, and I already have a few ideas for a guest post in mind that I’m sure will be interesting for your readers.”
Does anybody know where this template comes from? Do tell us in the comments!
The impatient “follow-up” emails follow a formula, too. They’re all the same. Somebody is teaching these people to be rude.
And that’s a bad thing. For us and for them.
Ruth and I have worked long and hard to build a substantial audience here. Why would we abuse that audience by putting a bunch of ads in front of you? Without pay? For no reason except that a nasty, clueless stranger demanded it?
Spend eight years building your own audience, queriers. Then approach us about guest posts.
And try using a little respect.
Here’s How to Query a Book Blogger.
And remember we only get paid when people buy our books. Do consider picking up one if you appreciate our blog.
What about you, Scriveners? Do you blog? Do you get treated like a minion by random people who get hold of your email address? How do you respond? Does anybody know where the “thing is, I write on topics similar…” template comes from?
BOOK OF THE WEEK
After giving a band a mediocre review, music blogger Ronzo Zolek’s life is destroyed by the vindictive band leader, Mack Rattlebag. The death threats, doxing and accusations of unspeakable crimes lead Ronzo to fake his own death. His only refuge is a California homeless camp. He tries to keep his relationship with Camilla secret, so Rattlebag doesn’t target Camilla as well.
Rattlebag has more nasty plans in store, but Ronzo has a secret weapon: his ability to read Tarot, handed down from his Roma great aunt.
It’s #6 in the series, but can be read as a stand-alone
“A pure delight to read! Chock full of interesting characters, mystery, and humor that just won’t stop (“Never ask a favor of a Capricorn. They have spreadsheets where their heart should be…”), this page-turning stand-alone novel offers readers eccentric characters…and a tarot-infused story that moves effortlessly through 66 chapters, each chapter opening with a picture from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.
Themes from the famous deck resonate throughout the story, weaving its way into dialogue, storyline, and character (including a handyman-turned-tarot-reader), even setting as evidenced in the description of a home of a tarot client that resembles the fortress on the Tower card (complete with a rocky cliff and the dangers it brings). I found the Wheel of Fortune to be the perfect card to bring closure to the novel.”….Julie Valerie
Owl Canyon Press Short Story Hackathon. FREE! Writers are invited to submit a short story consisting of 50 paragraphs. The contest provides the first and last paragraph. Prizes: $1000, 500, and $250. Twenty-four Finalists will be included in an anthology. Deadline: June 30, 2018.
Nowhere Magazine’s Spring Contest. The literary travel magazine is looking for stories with a powerful sense of place. $20 fee. Fiction or nonfiction. 800-5000 words. Previously published work is okay. $1000 prize plus publication. Deadline July 1st.
ORISON BOOKS ANTHOLOGY$15 ENTRY FEE. They’re looking for spiritual/literary poetry, fiction and essays for their next anthology. $500 cash prize as well as publication in The Orison Anthology. Submit up to three poems, one work of fiction or nonfiction up to 8,000 words. Deadline August 1, 2018
Have you been harassed online? PEN America has launched the Online Harassment Field Manual, a first-of-its-kind resource to equip and empower writers, journalists, and all those active online with practical tools and tactics to defend against hateful speech and trolling.
13 Imprints of Big 5 publishers who take unagented submissions. From the good people at Authors Publish Magazine.
48 Small Presses looking for children’s books. Collated and vetted by Authors Publish magazine. (Great resource!)
UNO PRESS PUBLISHING LAB PRIZE For book-length fiction. Any genre. $18 ENTRY FEE. The University of New Orleans Press is looking for full-length fiction manuscripts, either novels or short story collections, for the fourth annual Publishing Lab Prize. The selected author will receive a $1,000 advance on royalties and a contract to publish their winning manuscript with UNO Press. Deadline August 15, 2018.