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Book Blogger 101 – Book Blogger Decorum, Junkee Manners edition...

First off - I have to say the Twitter Party last Thursday was EPIC. 1K+ tweets. I landed in twitter jail (can't be a party without someone going to jail) and I think we all learned some valuable lessons. It has been suggested we make this a regular thing - so chime in on what would be a good time to host it (during the day) and how consecutively (every other Thursday -etc) .

Now for the Featured part... Decorum.

Some incidents have been occurring lately that made me realize we haven't done a Manners post in awhile. This post is coming to fruition because of questions posed to me, things that have actually been done to me and things that I have inadvertently done...can't wait for your feedback on this one.

I personally believe that the reason the world is screwed up is the fact that hardly anyone respects each other anymore. The wonderful thing about the book blogging network is the fact that most of us are very respectful, friendly and usually overly generous. Readers in general, I believe, look for the good in the world and other people because they want to believe in Happily-Ever-Afters. They might be snarky, they might be prickly at times, but as a hole, this community is one of the most welcoming and good group of people that I've come across.

That being said, some things are not always apparent. And might need to be pointed out...

Don't Sell Out.
Recently there has been some reports of “paid for reviews”. (There was a Forbes article) Nothing new. This is a typical marketing technique. I don't agree with it, but a few clients of the agency I used to work for, routinely would post their own reviews on Google Pages. You could always tell because their positive feedback matched the bullet points used in the advertising. Does wonders for your street cred via savvy shoppers (sarcasm). Yet, now it has trickled down into Amazon and book reviewers. Top reviewer Donald Mitchell (Amazon Top Five Reviewer) has made $20K with his book reviews. Combine that with the Top Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner – who most people believe is an stooge, how does this look to the consumer? Fake – that is how it looks. How can you trust someone that gets paid for a review? That is called advertising not a review.

A Book Blogger is only as good as her/his reputation. You ruin your reputation no is going to trust your reviews anymore.

Don't sell out – no one will trust your opinion anymore. I'm sure, no you are thinking: How does one sell out as a book reviewer?

  1. The obvious: Take money for your reviews
  2. Post a positive review just because you don't want to anger the author 
  3. Post a positive review just because you don't want to anger the publisher/publicist contact
  4. Post a positive review because you are on a blog tour
  5. Regurgitate the synopsis without any opinion, just because you hated the book and don't want to anger any of the aforementioned 
  6. Only post positive reviews because you don't want to anger anyone...

They even have step by step guides on how to sell out as a reviewer: 

I might make people grumpy with that list, but that is my opinion. You don't want to post negative feedback - well then you aren't giving your opinion. You agree to post that author guest post - but not post a review, because you hated the book, because you just made a contact with this particular publisher...well that my friend is called questionable reviewing aka selling out to the publisher. 

We Aren't Competing People. 
There are plenty of authors and books to go around. This isn't a competition people. With such a small/big community, with limited topics – we are all talking about books and authors – ideas are going to be passed around, changed up and regurgitated. There are hundreds of memes out there, there are thousands of crazy ideas, names, blog names and even blog designs that might be similar to one another, on the same topic, or do the same thing. Its how this thing works. What we are not, is two book stores that opened up right across the street from each other, fighting over the same clientele. Our clientele can shop at ALL of our blogs. So, stop with the snide comments. Yes, I know you think your blog is the best thing ever and that meme that you came up with rocks the freakin' house or that you wrote the BEST REVIEW for The Hunger Games ever written. Yes, we get it. Be your biggest fan – that is how you should roll. But, don't prop yourself up by trashing other people.

Just because my blog asks people to follow me in a giveaway and yours does not, doesn't make my blog a big baddie - it is just a difference in technique. Don't enter my contest if you don't like it. Just because your HOP has a few more steps to do than my HOP doesn't mean it's a terrible HOP, it just means it might take a little longer to accomplish. Differences in technique and opinion will be out there, it's not WRONG, it's different. I use a five paragraph review technique and I summarize in my own words, I know that you might hate book summaries in reviews - does it make what I do wrong? No it makes it different from what you like. Just because you don't like vanilla ice cream does not mean that it should be eradicated from the Earth. Remember that when you are going on and on about how people that participate in certain memes are just bragging, or grubbing for followers...there have been some feelings hurt and people questioning their own techniques because they think people will stop following them, or that their blog sucks. Which I think is terrible. I really hope that during these BB101s I've never made anyone feel insecure about their blog technique. I'm sorry if I have.

Respect other peoples opinions and ideas. It may not be congruent with your own way of thinking – but it doesn't mean it's bad or wrong. Snide comments hurt peoples feelings. Especially when it is directed at someone's masterpiece - their blog. Think about how you would feel if another blogger made that statement about your blog...and remember this:

Twitter is forever. Everything you tweet out can be searched on Google. Even if you BLOCK someone they can still see your feed just by going to your twitter page or searching via Google. What is said on Twitter does not stay on twitter. Keep that in mind, the next time you want to send out a ranty tweet. And I'm speaking from personal experience. I've had tweets misconstrued by my friends and I probably hurt their feelings. Just because I felt a snarky, ranty tweet was in order. Think before you tweet.

Forge Ahead Yourself. 
To give you a little background on myself, I'm a JUST DO IT kind of girl. If I don't know how to do something, I GOOGLE it. Yep, great invention that Google thing. I've since compiled some of what I learned in tutorials and these Blogging 101 Posts. But, lately I've had a rash of “I've just started blogging can you tell me how to become huge?” or “Can I have a list of your contacts?” (Yeah that one never ends no matter how many times I say it's uncool) or “I have this contest, can you post about it for me?” Yes, I do these Book Blogging 101 posts and yes, I seem to be a fountain of knowledge (still don't know why you guys trust me) but I can't just sum up everything in an email and I also can't use my own resources to promote your blog for you. Blogging takes time, time, time and hard work and organization and networking. Myself and all these other great book blogs out there that have been at this game for awhile are not here to do it for you. We did it ourselves, I can point you in the right direction, but I'm sorry to say you are going to have to do the compiling, the writing, the networking and the promotion yourself. It is how this game works. 

Sending out mass emails to bloggers stating "I'm new to the book blogging world and I don't know many people, you guys blogs rock and would love to have you sponsor my blog. Help with contacts, giveaways that sort of thing. Can you help me?" is a good way for bloggers NOT to help you. Also, sending out multiple tweets to high follower count bloggers saying PLZ RT this message, even though you don't even follow these blogs is just going to get you marked as spam. Why would you do that?

Asking to have your contest featured on someone's blog is also not going to earn you brownie points. Mass emails, tweeting someone with a link that you don't know - and repetitive comments on multiple blogs is spamming...

Tips on how to get bloggers to promote you....without being considered spam.
  1. Offer to write a guest post for someone – have the CONTENT already lined up...”I have this idea, what do you think?” 
  2. Want a blogger to RT your message? Make twitter friends with that blogger! How hard is that? A friendly “Hey How Are You?” over a few days won't hurt you.
  3. Ask a fellow blogger specific questions – not just generalized “How Do I Become Mega??” I'm sure they would be willing to help if they had a roadmap
All of these things can help solidify and foster good relationships with fellow bloggers instead of forming resentful opinions. People respect others that are willing to work hard for their goals – not just sit back and let others do it for them. The established blogs you see around the internet have worked months and years establishing contacts, blogger friends and generating quality content. It is not about them hoarding the information, it is there for you – just take the time, ask the right questions and be ready to put a good bit of time into the equation.

I think that is it, rant done. Also, FYI – you might have seen this around the web lately #BBAW – Book Blogger Appreciation Week. It runs from September 12 – 16. It is a Book Blogger Appreciation that happens every September (since 2008). Awards are given, community activities take place that sort of thing. Some of you might have been nominated. Some of you might not have. This is a nomination process – so you would have needed to be nominated by a friend or reader. If you didn't get a nomination it doesn't mean your blog isn't Hot Stuff – it just means that the people that make a habit of nominating people didn't nominate you. If you did get a nomination, good for you, that type of person thought of you. Good luck to everyone on the Long List. And for those that didn't make it, be sure to poke your friends around this time next year and get them to nominate you ;)

XOXO Happy Thursday! Less Talk More Reading -- or whatever it is I usually say.

Ask your BB101 Questions here...


Jamie @ Bumps in the Road said...

Great topics! I know I learned a lot from this post. Now I've got to go through the archives and put all that knowledge you've shared with us to good use! Thanks PJ!

Anonymous said...

From an author's POV, it was interesting to read what you bloggers do for the community of writers, reviewers and readers (and also about what you have to put up with). I enjoyed learning a bit about you and how fair, open minded, and generous you are with your knowledge and sharing your time in helping others just starting out. Thanks for posting. I hope your attitude catches on.

Jessi said...

I appreciate the section on not selling out. I know that popped up during the #BB101 chat and it was handled well. Honesty is the best policy, right? I seem to have trouble writing negative reviews--not because I'm "afraid" to share those feelings but because sometimes I just can't put together cohesive thoughts to express my disapproval.

Oh, also, I thoroughly enjoyed the #BB101 chat! I think they would make great biweekly chats :-)

Anonymous said...

Great 101 this week!! I think your right most of us...(the ones who have been doing this for awhile) are kind and respectful of each others blogs. Ive noticed though this past 6 months the spamming is out of control, I get the retweet this and can you blog this for me from people I dont know wanting me to promote their books. I had one email that asked if I could send her my publisher contact list and that she was going to use my feature graphic for her own Sat. Spotlight....I was just floored by her forwardness. Ill admit I wasn't that nice in my responding email...;(

Book Crook Liza said...

Great post! :) I was a little appalled by some of the stuff in here, not because it offended me personally, but I didn't realize people did things like that. This old world...

Shelagh said...

Post of win Rachel! From the word go I have been impressed by how helpful the book blogging community is, you just need to be polite and sensible about things. Many of the bloggers I follow have become my friends and that is a great bonus!

I have been approached by a magazine to review some books for them, but the genres aren't really what focus on in my blog and I can keep them separate. Plus I'm being asked for my honest opinion which is what I give on my blog anyway.

It would be great to get paid to do something we all love so much, but I think (as you pointed out in an earlier BB101 post) that advertising and affiliate programmes are better avenues as they don't influence your reviews and opinions.

Thanks for taking the time to do these BB101 posts!

The Word Fiend

Autumn @ From the TBR Pile said...

Great post! Very thoughtful insight on not selling out.

Missie said...

YES! The awesomeness of this post is EPIC.


Rex Robot Reviews said...

I love this post. I agree 100% with every single statement...!!!

Book Savvy Babe said...

Great post this week! Honestly, the more "negative" reviews you write, the easier they get, they are just part of the process, not every book is 4 or 5 star.... Good reminders on the manners too, the twitter reminder is classic, it is so easy to forget that ANYONE can see it.... Book Savvy Babe

Jen said...

I had so much fun in the Twitter chat last week. I would love to do it again! And around lunch was the perfect time for me (since my nights are busy being Mommy.) I hope it becomes a weekly thing!

ParaJunkee said...

Hey guys - just want to clarify. Being paid by a newspaper to reprint your reviews is technically not selling out. This is as if you had an opinion column in a paper. They pay you for your WORDS not as an advertisement.

On the other hand getting paid BY THE COMPANY to write a good review about a certain product is selling out.

So, if you do get paid for your reviews via a 3rd party media outlet - yeah! Make that money. Does that make sense?

Amanda @ On a Book Bender said...

One thing that I have found that works with building relationships with bloggers - big or small - is to be the kind of follower you would want for your own blog. I want interactive followers who comment and discuss things on my blog, so I try to do the same with the people I follow. I also find that Twitter is a great way to establish relationships, but only in the sense that I engage people in conversation that may or may not be book related. Obviously, book bloggers will have at least one thing in common, but it's also fun to discover other things beyond that. Some of my favorite bloggers I found through non-book Twitter conversations.

Lupdilup said...

Great advice! this just came at a perfect time, I just finished "Lord of the Vampires" audiobook, and it was painfully bad, I'm going to read it, to see if it was the narrator that just blew it(horrible male voices), but I was thinking about not reviewing, but I guess I should.

fairypenguin said...

Awesome post! I'm new to the blogging world, and I'm pretty laid back about the whole thing. It's something I do mainly for myself, and I'm not insanely worried about followers and pageviews and and all that stuff. So naturally I was surprised to discover that so many people care A LOT. I'd like to see more bloggers just writing about what they love, and not worrying so much about having the flashy gimmicks or making money.

Juju at Tales of said...

Great thoughts.

I don't know how those paid reviewers get any credibility among their readers.


Amy J said...

Great post Rachel! I missed the Twitter chat due to family...darn kids ;)...But definitely would like to jump in on the next one.

I love your BB101 posts because it has helped me learn new things to adapt onto my blog. Very helpful and for new bloggers this is the place to learn.

Thanks for the awesome post as always!

Aimee said...

Great post! The whole fun of having your own blog is to do what you want with it! Not what other people think you should do. Followers are cool and awesome, but it takes time to develop relationships and followers. If you have good content, followers will come on their own!

Taking It One Book at a Time said...

Amen! I completely believe that there are those reviewers/bloggers out there who would sell their first born if they thought it would get them the next release of their favorite "big" author. I have been blogging for almost a year now, my following has expanded by leaps and bounds by simply staying true to who I am, joining forces with fellow bloggers, and trying to be an all around good time. Yes, I may be goofy, outspoken, but that's WHO I AM. No one wants to read candy coated reviews, though I'm blessed to have actually liked the majority of the books I've been offered to review. I adore every single person who reads my rants, raves and general non-sense. They are the reason I keep it up and I would never want to mis-lead them on a book. If I don't like it, then I don't like it, end of story.

Jenni Elyse said...

Fantastic post! I loved all you had to say and I agree with your whole-heartedly. I appreciate your willingness to do Book Blogger 101. I know you don't have to do it, but I'm glad you do. Thanks for all the great work you put into your blog and helping others!

Cristina said...

And I posted my comment in the wrong box. Sorry Rachel. I really enjoy your blog! I have found so much information here. I am a newbie to blogging. I hope I do not do any of those things. I had no idea people get money for writing a good review. I put up the disclaimer but I really did not believe someone would do that. Shoddy on both parts. If you need to pay someone for a good review how good,(or bad), is your book? I read for pleasure. I blog my review for pleasure. I like to let people know about new books or even old books they may not have heard of. I can't imagine saying a book is good if it isn't. You would lose all credibility. as for Twitter, I am always grateful for a RT but I do not usually seek them. If I am friends with someone or it is to an author I am trying to help I may say to them RT. But that is rare. I do RT ones that I come across that I find interesting or if someone is promoting a giveaway even if I am not participating in the giveaway, ( I actually won one that way my first week at Twitter - I didn't even know the Tweet had entered me LOL). I love having followers of course but I hope it is never at the expense of someone else. If I do something wrong trust me it is unintentional and if you bring it to my attention, (respectfully please), I will try to fix it. I learn so much from you Rachel. Thanks for the help you give us all. I love being a part of a community of helpful supportive bloggers.

Penelope Lolohea said...

Great post! You brought up some good points, especially in the section on not selling out. Thanks for always having fabulous BB101 posts! :)

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

I really appreciated how you handled the selling out portion of your post. I also love how you were extremely specific. Sometimes we can be a bit vague in the book blogging community because we don't want to hurt feelings.

Fiktshun said...

Seriously awesome post. Google was my best friend when I started blogging. It actually lead me right to your blog - I think you were the third blog I ever discovered! And you've had such amazing tips.

I agree that everyone's style is different and that's so not a bad thing. It's why I love stalking different blogs. If I wanted to read the same thing said the same way, over and over, I'd probably just visit one.

Fortunately I'm not a big enough blog to have to go through everything you have. I think I was only asked once to do certain things I felt were over the top. I didn't realize it was such a common practice. Wow.

And as far as competition, it isn't. Totally agree! There is room for everyone.

Thanks for the info about paid reviews. I had no idea that was happening. And I always questioned that Harriet Klausner. Hmph.

I always worry that people will think I'm a sell-out as I have mostly positive reviews. But it's really only because I try to avoid books I won't like. I'm too busy to spend hours reading a book that I can't get into.

Thanks so much your great posts!

Rywn said...

Thanks Parajunkee :)

I've been giving neutral reviews if that's realistically how I felt about the book and since I'm new I've felt a bit iffy about doing it - haven't wanted to burn any bridges, and I appreciate you pointing out what should've been obvious to me, to just DO IT.

I LOVED BB101 - there was so much knowledge flying around that half the time I'd go to type a question only to find someone else asking it. I made a few friends out of it of fellow newbies! I think monthly would be great for BB101, maybe with a rotating time slot though for those of us at work... (looks the other way.. not me, not at all!)

Jinny ( said...

I completely agree with your not-selling-out section. I've come across many blogs where, when I read their reviews, even the ones with a low rating, the reviews are just glowing. All the time. Nothing bad is ever said. I've also come across blogs where the blogger explicitly states she does not post reviews of books she doesn't like. It makes me lose a lot of respect for the blogger, and credibility for them as well. I don't visit those blogs as often because they aren't useful to me at all, if all they are going to do is spit out rainbows and shooting stars about everything they read :(

Denise Z said...

WOW, what a wonderful post and thank you for addressing some of the issues I have been tackling:)

Anonymous said...

Great post! I am also new to blogging. Actually I got into it by mere happenstance. I was trying to leave a comment on one of the blogs(was new to the whole blog scene)so I created a blog to be able to that. And tada!! I created a blog. I am so proud of it and yes it was a lot of work. Of course it is not as elaborate as others and yes I used some formates as others. But this was just for me. Just recently I got bold/some courage and shared it with the blog world. I even have some followers. Having followers on your blog is a scary thing to me. I don't want to offend anyone nor do I want to bore anyone. So I try to keep my content simple and always think about what I like about other blogs. I admire bloggers such as yourself who put in the hardwork and even though I have my own blog I enjoy going to other blogs because everyone have their own unique style. Your tips are great and on point. Especially about the reviews. I take my reviews very seriously and write what I would want to know about the book. While writing negative reviews is not a pleasant thing, I feel it helps the author to grow. After all, it is just one person's opinion. I will have to look at your BB101 archives to pick up more tips!

Tia said...

As a new book blogger, it's good to learn the Do's and Don'ts very early on! Great, helpful post.

Tia @ Falling For Books

Emily said...

Maybe this is a weird position to take, but I feel a lot better about guest posts from other bloggers if we set up an exchange- I do a post for you, you do a post for me. That way we're all invested in the process- when people approach me and seem to want something for nothing I get wary. Maybe come up with some themes and get different people on board?

Alison Can Read said...

Lovely post as always! Could you schedule some of your Twitter chats at night - at least 7 or 8 PM Central time? I can't do them during the day and I'm guessing lots of others can't either. It'd be fun to be able to do some of them.

I haven't posted a negative review in awhile. Almost all my reviews have some criticism in it. I don't like posting purely raving reviews unless I think it really deserves it. But it's unusual to post reviews that are mostly negative. I like most of the books that I read. If I'm not feeling it, I usually stop reading it. So if I finish the book, there's a good chance that I really liked it.

Bookish Brunette said...

I want a bumper sticker that says, "Think Before You Tweet." Seriously dude...

Here's MY take on writing BAD reviews... (2 stars and under) I'm not really concerned about making anyone mad etc... I just feel like WHY should I take up an entire post about a book that I disliked immensely? I have posted bad reviews when I felt like my opinion NEEDED to be shared... Which means it was BAD.

Maybe I'll make a list and post it... ;) "Don't Read These Books... EVER!"

As always darling... Love these posts!

Lenmeo said...

Thank you. This was very well written and I appreciate the time you took to do so. I have a newer outlook on blogging as a whole. Thank you.

Amy @ bookgoonie said...

Thanks girl.

Mari - Escape In A Book said...

Pheew, a long 101 post today. My goal was to finish reading it before my baby girl woke from her nap(she is still sleeping), I was afraid I might miss some great advice. As always your 101 post was brilliant.

Shelley Koon said...

Oh look - I'm late as usual... TY so much for the twitter 101 - I was popping in and out but was so thankful for the helpful folks there!

As far as pay for reviews? As a writer I would be horrified and embarrassed to have a good review that was paid for - I'd take a free so-so or bad review before I would pay for a good one ;)

Cari said...

I hate the idea of paid reviews. What is the point? Second it sounds like you had a lot to get off your plate and it is good that you did it.

You are so right about people respecting one and other! Also you can learn from bloggers just by visiting their sites often. What someone does might inspire you to do something a bit different. I'm like you if I can't figure something out I google until I get it. I believe you work hard at what you want because nothing is handed to you and you value it so much more when you do it on your own.

If you ever want to talk or vent you can always reach me via email or twitter! It was so great meeting you at ALA!

Vampyre Gurls Book Club Blog said...

This was really awesome. TY.

While I did not send out the mass email as a newbie a few months ago, I do remember a few notes I did send out that probably sounded like what you wrote in your post * embarrassed* *apologies*

I truly was overwhelmed in the beginning. I was trying to do too much too fast.
I got frustrated and impatient and wanted to do it all perfectly from the get go.
I placed unrealistic demands on myself.

I was given very nice advice "RELAX Fran, the established bloggers began just as you did and had to work hard to get to where they are at now. Take a breath and do your homework. Have fun and remember not everyone is in it for the same reasons so chose friends & mentors wisely, learn the rules, ask for advice but don't expect anyone to do it for you, always be sincere, be honest in reviews, don't be mean,judgey,condemning,etc.and most of all RELAX"
lol. I am told to relax a lot.

I lived and learned. I figured others were in the same boat as I. It is nice to meet new and older established bloggers. To have ppl to learn from and to have ppl to pass it on to.

Hope everyone has a great night, Hurricane Irene is coming right towards my area so we are prepping now. I hope all stay safe and see you soon :)

Scarlett said...

I just recently posted a 2 1/2 mustache review. I feel bad, only because I can sympathize with an author spending a lot of time and putting a lot of themselves into the book, but I don't try and bash it. I try and inform others what I liked about a book or what I didn't like. That's why I read other reviews, to see if a book is worth my time. TBR piles can be ginormous so it's important to prioritize and help others see what they may or may not like.

Thanks for being willing to help spread the love (and manners)! Always appreciate your hard work!

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries said...

Love this! (as someone who almost always summarizes in my own reviews). I must admit that I've been guilty of simply doing a book feature here and there for books that I don't care for, but I've been doing this for a while now, and I think that I'm ready to start posting more reviews that simply state what I didn't like about the book is much more fair to my readers. But .. lately, I've been able to pick and choose which books to review, and have been smart enough to look up ratings when available ahead of time, so almost every book that comes to me is one I at least mostly like. :)

I'm sure you've covered this one on a post somewhere, but I simply HATE it when someone comes to my blog, posts a comment like: Great blog! I'm a new follower, follow me back! - OR - puts a generic comment and then adds a link to their website in their comment when I haven't specifically stated in the post that it's OK to do so (other than memes or participatory things like readathons).

Rather than gettin' all steamy about it, though, I just delete the comment :)

Jennifer (An Abundance of Books) said...

Does anybody read or trust the Amazon reviews any more? I post my reviews there, but I always check goodreads and favorite book blogs for actual recommendations.

Re: selling out vs always having a positive review
I can't remember the blog I originally read this on, but loved that she stated on her main page that she only reviews the books she liked b/c she didn't want to waste time on the ones she didn't like. I can respect that.

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