The State of the Blog Today
This started off as a little Fusenews item, then morphed into its own post. Sometimes they do that.
I’ve been out of the loop for a while here. Trying to get back into the swing of things. And then I see that Roger Sutton has linked to this interesting piece on book bloggers and the gripes some authors have with them on a site called Reviewer X. Like Roger I’m a little fascinated by the idea of a blogger asking an author for their book. Writers tend to only get a few ARCs at a time, so where they choose to send them is important. That’s why if an author sends me their book I try at the very least to read it. I know they don’t have many at their disposal, and even if I can’t review it I can pass it on to The Powers That Be here at NYPL for possible inclusion in the collection. That’s the advantage of the librarian-reviewer. But while I can’t absolutely say I’ve never asked an author for their book, I don’t think I do it very often. This discussion is mostly limited to the YA blog reviewers, but there are things to take from the children’s reviewer p.o.v. as well. Fascinating stuff.
There’s also a moment when I think A Fuse #8 Production may possibly have been invoked and I think it’s a worthy concern to address. One person wrote in the comments: "There’s a blogger who started out reviewing because of a passion for books, but now the vast majority of the blogger’s posts are promotional in some way, shape or form. Every time the blogger is invited to a preview or some event, we hear about it. Would those books have floated to the top of the TBR pile otherwise?" The commenter goes on to say that this blogger has recently gotten a book deal and that they suspect more mention will be made about their own books on the blog. Now this could be coincidental, but I think it’s a good point to raise even if it isn’t me. I do go to a lot of publisher previews and I do sum up what goes on there (yesterday’s post is a good example of this). I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now. It may look like I’ve been doing more of them lately and I suppose I have since more publishers are jumping on a bandwagon that used to be the domain of only a few. Unfortunately my bloody little wrap-ups take like a week to write. I don’t actually need to type them out, of course. I could just attend and then sit back and chill for a while. But to some extent I do write them up because I think it’s unfair that only the New York librarians get to see these previews and I think you guys should get a taste of what’s coming out in the future as well.
Gosh, reading that back to myself, clearly I see myself as some kind of saint. Break out the halo, Louise, and call the choir invisible! Sounds all noble and self-sacrificing, right? Yeah, no. I like going to the previews a lot for my own selfish reasons. It makes me feel special. And yes, it’s definitely promotion. P.R. departments adore that sort of thing. That’s why I like to include smaller publisher previews of folks like Chronicle or Kane/Miller. Because if you do ALL the publishers out there, you’re not showing a preference, right? But that could just be self-justification because I am promoting books and authors and illustrators. BUT . . . note too that if a book is mentioned in a preview, it doesn’t always get a review from me. This isn’t always the case, particularly with bigger books, but if I have to choose between reviewing a book I already spoke about in conjunction with a preview and a cool one that I haven’t heard mentioned around the blogosphere before, guess which of the two I’m going with? It’s an interesting issue, though. I actually go to a lot more events for books then I mention on the blog. Knowing that, am I more or less trustworthy if I write about them?
Now the book reviews did go down in number recently because of the doggone 100 Best Picture Books poll, but now that that’s coming to a close I think I’ll have a lot more time for reviewing from here on in. Besides, those 100 Best Picture Books ripped through me like little mini reviews in and of themselves. I don’t have much left in me when I finish one.
As for my book deal, it’s a pickle. Will I use my blog to promote myself? Yep. Oh yep yep yep. Sorry, but I got me one heckuva nice platform here. Be a fool not to use it. *begin the drumming of the fingers together and the maniacal laughter* But how different will that really be from the self-serving tone I already use. "Come to my Kidlit Drink Nights". "Come to my Children’s Literary Cafes". You can only trust a blogger so far as you do or do not know her. And if you already know me to be a yakkety yak type of gal, a little more yakking isn’t going to surprise you. Thanks to Read Roger for the link and for inspiring my interesting thoughts on the matter. It’s best that you guys know what you’re dealing with so that you can pick and choose amongst the blogs you read.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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