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Book Blogging 101: Copyrights and Giveaway Laws

Someone who follows my feed on a reader instead of visiting the page itself wrote me to say she has trouble reading my posts the way I currently format them and to ask me to change the way I do it. I looked into blog design to see what I could do, but ultimately it would mean completely changing a format I have had for over a year. No other reader has ever had a problem with it--at least not that I know of. What's a nice way to tell this one reader that I'm not going to change the way I blog any more than I'm going to ask her to change the way she reads? - Anonymous
A: My suggestion, do a disclaimer that says, "This post best viewed in..." and state how it is best viewed, designers do this on their fancy sites. My design is crazy. I do all sorts of things with my fonts and my colors, I have fun with it, because this blog is best viewed on the blog. That is how I test it, that is how it works best. I would not change my format for one viewer, even though I have also had complaints in about how it is viewed in reader. Just simply tell her that your blog is best viewed in blog format and to suggest that she visit your site instead of reading it through reader. All she would have to do is click on the link in reader and it would take her to your blog. Problem solved. If she doesn't want to do that, well then, you might loose a reader.

When things like this come in you should take into account the severity of the problem. If it was 100 people complaining, I would say change it. But with just one, I wouldn't worry about it as much.

Suggest, maybe do a poll to your readers and see exactly how many people have a problem with it. Majority are seeing it as a bad might be time to change things up.

I wanted to add two more columns for my footer for my blog.  How do I do that? I've tried some codes I've found online but they don't work with my blog. Every time it says that a tag isn't properly closed. I had my blog done by a good friend so I can't use bloggers template. - Aimee
A: Once you modify your templates it is sometimes a lot harder to make changes to, actually much harder then if you leave it as the blogger template. It is why I do my designs within the New Blogger Template. You step out of the confines it becomes harder for later modifications by the user. Blogger doesn't accept "regular" coding so you might want to look into what you inserted. I found sometimes if I just add a / at the end of a code line it will work. These are for those codes that in HTML don't need a closing like the image tag, but blogger is a stickler and will ask for it to close. You would not see a </img> THAT IS WRONG. So you would

<img src="yourimage.jpg" /> and add that close tag at the end.

You really should get your friend that designed the template involved though. See if you can upgrade it to the new blogger templates, sometimes it is an easy fix. If that isn't an option, email me the link to your website and I'll take a look at it. If it is an easy conversion that might be your best option.

I hope it hasn't been asked and answered, but your point about copyrights and photos brought up a question for me. I use images of books on my site (it's a book blog after all) and I was just curious if I needed to source the photo for each book image or is it fine to simply use the image.

Thanks so much!
- Rachel (Fiktshun)
A: The book images are going to fall under the "Fair Use" copyright laws. You are reviewing a product and using it in an editorial fashion so, no you do not have to cite sources. As long as you are not trying to pass off the book image as your own, or use it in an advertisement you are good to go.

I have started giveaways on my blogs. What legal stuff is there to watch out for?  - Dana
A: From experience I now state that I am not responsible for lost or damaged products that are shipped. I had a winner get upset with me because the product had been damaged in the mail. They wanted another one. Yeah that was fun. Now I can kindly refer them back to the legalities that I put in all my contests.

I've also had winners that was upset that a package never arrived, I've had this happen a few times, actually, gotta love the post office. This really upsets me just as much as the winner, you are only as good as your reputation. One time I was shipping internationally and the package just "disappeared". I had sent it USPS and the winner said it just didn't get ther. These were signed books and I was really upset because there was no replacing them. I should have done insured or something, but hindsight is 20/20 right? Then some were from publishers or direct from the authors and I think that they might just not have gotten around to it or forgotten. Emails to them were not returned. I don't like to give "Oh well" responses, but sometimes there is only so much you can do. So, I like to put disclaimers that you are not responsible for lost in shipping or books shipped from 3rd parties. It doesn't make me feel any better but at least it gives you a generic "way out" if things get ugly between you and a contest winner. Things happen with contests, I've had the opposite where contest recipients got like 30 copies of one book in three shipments. That was crazy. It can't always go smoothly, so make sure you protect yourself if something squirrly happens.

In large company giveaways they makes sure that they, have the "No Purchase Necessary" rule because technically it is illegal as stated by the FTC in some crazy out-dated law. But, technically, from what I've read, it is illegal. They are considered private lotteries. Meaning you have to this and this and this --- to get a chance to win this. But, it seems lately tons of people are doing this lately, and not just us book bloggers. Big publishers ---> Like us on Facebook to win XXX. Even my local CBS affiliate was doing a LIKE to get a TV promo. 

These are just things to think of. From what I know, there hasn't been a book blogger that has had problems with giveaways. We are small potatoes compared to some and we are giving away books, not millions of dollars. You might want to think of some scenarios and right up rules against those, to sort of have a STOP in place when people complain, but other than that, it is open range.

If you were interested in reviewing a few ARCs from the same publisher publisher, would you request them in one email, or space them out separately? I don't know if it would seem rude to request three ARCs in the same email! - Anon
A: I would request each one in a separate email. You would put the BOOK'S name in the subject line for each. You might want to cite in the email that you are also requesting these books... and that you sent separate emails.

I have a really odd blogger question, but figure someone else may have gotten the same e-mail and is wondering the same question.

I received the following e-mail (I changed the names to protect the innocent):

"Dear Urban Reader Girl,

My name is Jane from Mega Inc. We have a client who would like to pay you for the opportunity to sponsor a blog post that you have recently written. We know that blogs can be expensive to run and our client would like to opportunity to support you in that endeavor.

In return our client is asking for one link that they specify placed into the body of the blog post (no porn or gambling). Feel free to contact me with any concerns or clarifications you may have.

If you would have any questions or would like to start the process, please email me at so we can begin.


Anyone know what the deal is and how would it really help my blog.

- Sherri
A: Sherri, I've never gotten anything positive out of emails like this, in fact I've never responded. From what I can make of it, it is only a link exchange to increase their "clients' page ranking, but really most of the SEO people that I have spoken with say blogs are really inconsequential when it comes to big corporations page rankings. I don't see how sponsoring a post would make good business practices for a company. That being said, my mind screams SCAM. If it was legitimate she might have stated the client's name. Good Luck. Cute "To Protect The Innocent" btw.

WTH is a Google Page Rank??? & Why do I care? - Kelley
A: I actually saved this one until I could launch the Book Blogger Directory, so sorry Kelley for the long answering time!

Google Page Rank is Google's algorithm. Fancy term for Google's magic way of ranking your web site.

Google assigns a number to your site and this number determines your significance in their eyes. The higher your number, in theory the higher you will show in their search results. This is why you should care, don't you want people to find you?

Let's say Kitty and her webpage Kitty's Kit & Pages, has a page ranking of 3 and they are primarily focused on the keywords of  < Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction and Paranormal Romance >

Her keyword competitor is Gini's Giant Genre Fest who has a page ranking of 5. Unfortunately because Gini has the happy 5 Page Rank, she is going to come up first.

You increase your Page Rank by having other sites link to you. Google thinks that if you have other "powerful sites" linking to you, well than you must be someone, so they increase your ranking. And like anything else quality is much better than quality. Because if you have 1K other blogsites linking to you, that all have a 0 Page Rank, it's not going to do anything for your Page Rank. If you have 100 links to blogs and sites with Page Ranks of 2 and your Page Rank grow. The higher Page Rank sites you link to the higher your site grows. You can surpass your highest link,  but you can match it.

So, how do you find out your Page Rank. Best way to do it is to download the Google Toolbar and it will show you the Page Rank for every page you visit. Download the bar for Firefox and go and search out high ranking blogs and ask for a link. Couldn't hurt.

Which brings us back to the Book Blogger Directory. The site is just getting started and will take a bit of time to get rolling but the general principal is...everyone will be linking to the Book Blogger Directory, so the Page Rank has to go up! But then you have a link on the Book Blogger Directory so your Page Rank has to go up! Win Win. Genius right? Yeah, I can't help it. Well, alright I didn't think of the idea, there is this thing called the Yellow Pages that already kind of thought of it. So, give them all the credit.

That's it kids. Talk less. Read more. Happy Thursday!

Ask your BB101 Questions here...


Julie said...

Wow! So informative. Thanks so much for all the info. I'm a new blogger and was curious about some of these things myself.

Julie @ Read Handed

Danny said...

Wonderful post as usual. I hate Google Rank... , simply because I have some problems with them concerning our site.
According to a Rank Check the Bookworms simply don't have one or better we have 0, which is and cannot be true. Well I now send a request to check it again, because apparently they think we have "paid links" on your site, again which is not true. Oh well I needed to get that off my chest!


Sally Sapphire said...

Okay, that's just too funny - I got the exact same "Jane from Mega Inc" email the other day. I was kind of excited (and a little bit flattered) but not so impressed by what I found.

Great job on the Book Blogger Directory (I actually signed up last night). It looks great!

Bookish Brunette said...

Great post lady!

I view you blog in reader with no issues!

theJeepDiva said...

I look forward to these posts. They are very imformative for a newbie like me. Thanks!

Shelagh said...

Thanks for taking the time to cover all of these varying topics that we bookbloggers come across. Your answers are always entertaining and informative.

It is greatly appreciated by a n00b such as myself.


Sorilla said...

Wow, thanks for great informative post!
I use Alexa ranking (just out of curiosity) and found that many quality book blogs have lower ranking if there are no giveaways of cause...
For someone like me, who are not here for freebies, it's actually good sign when blog is not highly ranked, lol.

Just my 2c,

~ Sorilla

Missie said...

I read your blog through my e-mail feed and sometime forget how awesome you are at designing stuff. It's fun to stop by and see how little things change.

April (BooksandWine) said...

Just wanted to say, for the feed reader question, there's this one girl whose feed I used to follow all of her posts showed up in this irritating light pink color on white in my feed. Straight up, I'm not going to take the time to click to someone's page just to decipher what they are trying to say because I can't read the font. I think a lot of people feel that way. And just because you have only heard it from one person doesn't mean multiple people don't think the same thing. I haven't emailed light pink girl, I just dropped my subscription to her. I know that a feedburner feed shows up as black on white, regardless of your template colors. The only way the font color is changed is if someone is changing it in the post editor.

I guess the best anyone can ask for is that a person's page be easy on the eyes. You get more visitors if your site is visually appealing and you don't have to highlight to read anything.

Barbara said...

The pagerank drives me up the wall. I'm trying to avoid looking at it since one blog died and the other never went anywhere while my website slightly died in the pagerank quest. I think Google hates me but luckily I was able to take over a blog that already had a pagerank and so far it hasn't gone down so I guess I'll consider myself lucky.

Juju at Tales of said...

OMG excellent tip about contests. Thank you! :D

Dana Wright said...

Thanks for answering my question. :) You have helped me more than you know recently. I used your information to help design my contest form. I couldn't find any instructions until I by chance tried your site. Sending mental hugs your way.

The answer to the legal question relieves me. I will mention what you suggested going forward. Some things that have come up that I have already had to adapt to are:

Publishers sending the product to me when I thought they would be mailing it. Yikes.

International vs. US. I don't know about you, but my budget for mailing things isn't the biggest. Had to make sure I put that in the post.

Thanks again for everything. You really are an inspiration to us book bloggers. I have only been doing this since last autumn, but have learned so much from your Blogging 101 and design site.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you what a great idea the Blogger Directory is! Awesome. That is one thing I need to get better at-getting out there and getting my blog numbers up. I have been successful on Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn and Facebook, but blog numbers are needing some work. Love your Follow Friday!!! I try to network and post on other blogs. I also post a couple of times a week when I can.

Thank you for all the awesome info!

You totally rock! (more hugs)

Dana @ Zombie Girl Shambling

ParaJunkee said...

@ Julie – I'm glad it helped.

@ Danny – Google Rank can be frustrating, most of all because no one knows how it works but Google and they AREN'T TALKING! Ooh they accused you of “link trafficking” that is not good! Get in touch with them if you can.

@Sally Sapphire– what a great name btw. When you google search these, it never turns up good stuff.

@Bookish Brunette: Thank you for letting me know.

@theJeepDiva – XOXO thank you

@Shelagh – You are welcome. They have been very varying as of late, haven't they? I'm so glad they helped you out.

@Sorilla – I use Alexa also, but Google Page Rank is the end all. They are who everyone bases their search engines on. I would use Alexa for judging your rank, but in the end it is all about Google. If you don't show up in Google, well you should work on that.

Granted, Google Page rank has nothing to do with quality. Nothing. It is all about link backs. The crappiest blogs out there might have a high ranking. In fact the highest Page Ranks I've come across on Book Blogs seem to be 5 – and well not all of them are well laid out blogs. They just might have been around a bit longer to gain more blog rolls or they happen to have linked on a big site. Google Rank does not judge content, just links.

@Missie – I like to go to people's blogs. Makes me feel like I'm visiting them at their house.

@April – Poor light pink girl! LOL That is why I would suggest throwing up a poll and asking readers how it views. There have been a few questions that came up regarding this and I don't believe she/he has her colors changed in the post. I think it might be a template issue actually. Personally if it were me I would pick a new template and make sure my body copy was a legible color. Bad design can really turn people off.

@Barbara – I think it drives us all up the wall! I have been trying to increase mine for the last five months. Nothing.

@Juju – glad to help.

@Dana – Glad to help. I know, about the publishers, but sometimes they can't be bothered to do all the back and forth, so it is easier to send it to you, LOL. I can't afford international either. You can maybe ask international peeps to foot the bill for shipping if they want the book. Thank you again, I'm glad I can help. When I started this I spent hours researching how to do this. I made a bunch of mistakes and I'm just trying to pass it off. Plus, most of the time I learn something new also each BB101 post.

Anonymous said...

Hey, PJ! I'm the blogger who left the feed reader question. I appreciate your answer. Thanks!

I also want to respond to April, who gave me more to chew on. I'm sure we'd all like to think our blogs are so great that our loyal readers won't mind making the extra click to view it as we intended it to be viewed, but that's not the reality, is it? :-(

But it also goes both ways. Sure, it hurts my ego a bit to learn that a reader decided to drop me because one extra click was just asking too much . . . but that specific reader was a total stranger to me before I read her message asking me to change the format. If I wasn't worth an extra click, why did she think she was worth a whole new format?

Anyway, April, I totally get what you're saying about making a blog pleasing to the eyes and making everything easier on the reader, but the reason that specific request jarred me so much was that it was a major request from someone whom it was actually easier to lose. (Yeah, that sounds bad, I know.)

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