Friday, June 06, 2008

Are you a blogger who loves kids books?

Updating the update to add: In my blog post below, my main point though it may not come across as such, is that I'm withholding judgment until I see what it's like. I want to see it in action before I call it a bad idea.

Updated to add: I have just read Chasing Ray's analysis of this whole blog tour idea. I'll admit to several things.

First of all, when I signed up to participate--accepted the email invitation--it was before I read the fine print. I didn't know that authors were going to be paying for the privilege of having a blog tour set up for them. I didn't. If I had, I probably, would have had a few reservations about saying yes. I still might have said yes. But I wouldn't have been so quick. I knew that BLOGGERS weren't going to be paid. And the "frequently asked questions" I read concerned the blogging aspect and NOT the authors/publishers aspects. I'll never know now what my decision would have been.

Second, Colleen's post as thorough as it may seem does not happen to mention the fact that the bloggers are encouraged to be honest and genuine. In no way do bloggers guarantee anybody a "good" "gushy" "praising" review. Bloggers who dislike a book can opt out if they hate a book OR they can post a brutally honest review as part of the tour. But regardless, they are never encouraged to give anything but an honest and thoughtful review. Also, she neglects to mention that bloggers are merely invited to be a part of each tour. They choose which authors, which books interest them. They're given control of how often (the if and when) they participate in blog tours.

Third, she hints that bloggers who participate are being "bought" and "tempted" by the offer of a free book. That might lure some people in, sure, but it's awfully assuming. I will say this some bloggers wouldn't need to sign up to participate in these blog tours in order to get free books. I wouldn't *need* the blog tours in order to get free books. If free books don't change a person's review-policy/integrity generally speaking--365 days a year--why would the posts associated with the blog tour suddenly be suspect. This blog tour isn't asking anyone to change their policy or personality or integrity.

Fourth, this blog tour is more inclusive. I think this is a GOOD thing. I don't care what anyone says. I think WBBT/SBBT is too exclusive. You're either in or out. There is no room for anyone else on the block. If you're not among the dozen (or however many) blogs in the "it" group, then too bad for you.

Fifth, for some bloggers this is the first genuine opportunity out there to be part of a community, to get a chance to receive review copies. For some this is something special. And it shouldn't necessarily be negated or held suspect before it even begins.

Sixth, there is a 'big deal' made about participating in the tours and blogging in general just to get higher scores, higher traffic, more links. Assuming that people have the worst motivations for existing in the blogosphere, the kidlitosphere. Like there isn't a love of books, a love or reading, a higher goal of connecting books with people. Like the ONLY reason a blogger might want to be a part of this is to increase traffic. I don't like the assumption that she (or anyone) can "know" a bloggers motivations, judge a bloggers integrity based on little or no facts. My goals never are focused on numbers, I think about people, about individual readers. I want my posts to be read because I want to help people. I want to entertain; I want to connect. It's all about the books. All about the love of reading. It isn't about having a certain number of visitors per day, per week, per month. My content would be the same regardless if I was "hitting" a target of ten a day or three hundred a day or a thousand a day.

Also, her focus seems to be that because the tour will be assigned specific days that that negates, cheapens any review or interview. Let's say, I receive book ABC in the mail. It was sent by the publisher or author. Book ABC isn't assigned a specific time frame for reviewing. I decide if/when I want to review it. I read it. I like it. I review it. No big deal. This is what we do every single day of the year. But let's assume that ABC, which is a book or author I likely would have read or received anyway, arrives in the mail as part of the blog tour. Again, it is being sent by the author/publisher. I am given a window of when to review ABC. I read it. I like it. I write up a review. The reviews between the two scenarios are word-for-word the same. My opinions wouldn't have been influenced. My response, my reaction, my review would be just as honest, just as genuine, just as authentic as every other review I've ever written. Why--please share the logic here--because it happens to be posted the same day (same week) as other reviews/interviews is it suddenly valueless, worthless, suspect, unoriginal? If it had been posted the week before, a month before, supposedly my readers could trust it...but now's tainted by association? I just don't get it. Unless you want to slide once again on the slippery slope of bloggers receiving review copies in general, why make a big deal about a free book bribing or influencing the blogger?

How fair is it to judge something, a project, to judge the organizer and participants individually and collectively before it even begins. There have been no tours as of yet. There have been no samples of what these bloggers can/will do for the tours. How can someone just assume/presume that something will be worthless trash when there is nothing to judge it by. There is nothing to assess, nothing to judge yet.

If this article had been written say two or three weeks after the project has begun, if it was based on something actual instead of just assumptions...then I'd be more likely to swallow it whole as the best thing ever written. Maybe just maybe she's right. She could be. I'm not denying that. But there is also a possibility, a chance, that she's wrong. Good or bad, it's too early to say yet. It has potential to be really good, to be really bad, to be somewhere in between. But why assume the worst? Why be so cynical, so judgmental? Why not wait and see? Why not allow for the possibility that she might be wrong?

Today I discovered a new site, If you're a blogger looking to join in on blog tours focusing on children's and YA fiction, then this could be something YOU need to consider investigating for yourself. There are two standards you have to meet: you must have a technorati authority of around fifty, and you must blog regularly. (Regularly doesn't mean every single day, but I'd guess it meant more than once a month.) Unsure of your technorati score?

Technorati Authority is the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months. The higher the number, the more Technorati Authority the blog has.

It is important to note that we measure the number of blogs, rather than the number of links. So, if a blog links to your blog many times, it still only count as +1 toward your authority. Of course, new links mean the +1 will last another 180 days.

Just go to Technorati's site, join (it's easy and pain free), and register or "claim" your blog

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Natasha @ Maw Books 12:12 AM  

Thanks Becky for mentioning this. I went over and got myself signed up!

Annette Laing 11:36 AM  

Hi, Becky: As an author, I get a bit leery about having to pay money (Maybe it's a Scottish thing, or perhaps it's because I'm, well, broke.) Still, I'll figure out what a blog tour thingybob is, and see if anyone wants me on their blog. Hey, I could be a cool guest: I have a great British accent (darn, guess that won't come across in writing), great sense of humor (ditto) and, urm, bear a strong resemblance to late Princess Diana (not true,but who would know?) Seriously, an interesting idea...

Noel De Vries 8:07 AM  

BRAVO, Becky!

Glad to have another blogger to call "unclean" with! ;)

Chasing Ray 9:40 PM  


I never mentioned you or any other bloggers in my post and I wish if you were this upset by some of the things I wrote that you had contacted me directly. I would have been happy to explain my thoughts further to you and clarify any confusion.

To respond to a couple of points:

I understand that some people feel the SBBT & WBBT are exclusive. The only way for those projects to work effectively is to keep them to a certain size - expanding beyond that would just be logistically very difficult. Having said that, I have repeated many times on my site that I'm happy to provide anyone else who wants to conduct similar tours with any information they might want. If you want to do this, I can tell you how we did it. I just can't open the SBBT & WBBT to everyone - it would be too hard to control.

As to the larger issue of this new blog tour site, I'm sorry, I don't think it is a good thing. In physical tours the bookstores and authors make money through sales and everyone who does the work on the floor is paid hourly (bookstore employees, etc.). It's a money maker for everyone. In a virtual tour the bloggers are not paid - not beyond the free book. But the person organizing these particular tours is charging authors money - she is charging and the bloggers are doing all the work. I think it's not a good idea and similar tours that have launched in the lit blogsphere in the past have failed, mostly because everyone wondered why one person was being paid for the work of a lot of other people. (Ed Champion infamously referred to this as a "virtual sweatshop").

For those of us who have been in the lit blogosphere working with publishers and authors for a long time it is troublesome that a tour of 50-100 sites could be organized for the sole purpose of slamming the Technorati scores for a short period. And while you can refuse to review the book, I find it unlikely that if any participating blogger refuses repeatedly that they will continue to be part of the tour. Your organizer is promising big results and she will need to have bloggers who fulfill that promise.

Basically, she can not continue to make money unless everyone who signs up for her site continues to do the work authors want to see (and while you can certainly be negative she won't get many customers if the negative outweighs the positive).

We will just have to agree to disagree on this subject.

Best Wishes.......


Jennifer, Snapshot 9:48 AM  

This is so interesting.

I don't think that paying for a blogtour is any different than paying a publicist honestly.

I sometimes participate in blog tours, and because of my review column, I get free review copies otherwise. I do find that the structure of a blog tour does give me the nudge to follow through with a review, and that's a fair thing to ask, I think.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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