A few weeks back I thought it would be a great idea to ask YA authors and bloggers about what they expected of one another in the blogosphere. The list below is a collation of recommended conduct that you might use as a guide when starting a blog, or to see how your expectations match up to everyone elses. Forty YA review bloggers (new and established) and authors (unpublished, debut and established) were asked to contribute their expectations to construct a comprehensive list.
The most important message from all contributors was that being polite is essential.
Authors and bloggers alike were very honest in their contributions and as such I have chosen to keep this anonymous. Hopefully this can be a document that guides new bloggers around mistakes that all of us have made. I have learnt a considerable amount just from reading them as they came in.
One author’s suggestion really struck a chord with me and I think it’s the best piece of advice for all bloggers – “...find the right balance between professionalism and fun.”
• Do away with expectations. Don’t think you deserve a review copy because you started a blog.
• Authors would love to give ARCs to every book blogger who asks but they don’t have unlimited supplies of ARCs. If authors say that they can’t, they really can’t - but they wish they could. Say please and thank you and most importantly, don’t be bitter.
• Check the author’s review policies before contacting them as it saves everyone time.
• Avoid requesting books from authors unless they have specifically stated that they have books available for review.
• Request or accept only as many books as you can read.
• Don't beg for an ARC, but if you plan to do a large feature on a specific book or author, it's okay to ask politely. If the author can't oblige (or doesn't get back to you or in any way doesn't respond in the way you had hoped), be gracious anyway.
• Never badmouth an author, online or off, for not providing an ARC. They have all sorts of reasons for saying no, keep it professional.
• Don’t badmouth other bloggers or make assumptions about how they received ARCs. The cattiness makes authors reluctant to send ARCs to anyone.
• Even if an author can’t send an ARC, they may still be able to do an interview of guest post so make sure you ask. The author may be able to send you are ARC or finished copy next time around, so stay in touch.
• Take the time to familiarise yourself with the author and the book before contacting the author. Be sure that they book is something that genuinely strikes you interest as a reader/reviewer.
• Personalise your request. Don’t send a form email or with the incorrect information (wrong book title, misspelled names, asking for an ARC of an already released book). Tell the author about yourself and why their novel piqued your interest.
• If you request and receive a specific ARC directly from an author or publisher, you are expected to post a review.
• Don’t list the person in which you received your ARC from as it makes it easier for the masses to approach that person for a copy of their own. The publicist or author deserves privacy - list the company.
• Read the requested ARC in a reasonable amount of time. No one expects it to be read immediately but if you know you can’t get to it within 1-2 months there is no point in asking for an advance copy that might better serve another reviewer.
• Don’t sell ARCs on eBay.
• If you are giving an ARC away in a contest, consider letting the author know.
• Think before you request that an author provide prizes for the contests you are running on your blog. These requests inevitably flood an author’s inbox around the release date and it’s not financially feasible for an author to do it for everyone. If you demand swag, don’t expect a polite response.
• If the author hasn’t heard of you, you won’t be receiving swag no matter how legitimate a blog you have. When inquiring, ensure you introduce yourself and your blog to the author properly and state why you specifically would like their book.
• Correspondence between authors and bloggers is fantastic. However, it’s the bloggers responsibility to ensure that all of your reviews are unbiased, regardless of your relationship with an author.
• Ensure the content of your review is relevant and well written. Take your time when writing the reviews and ensure that all errors are caught prior to posting. People don’t read blogs that are a minefield of spelling errors and are generally careless.
• If you don't like a book, be honest but sensitive in your review. Personal attacks should be off-limits, but thoughtful comments about the work itself are not. Bloggers are very relevant to the review community but if everyone loves everything, bloggers lose relevance.
• Reviews should be honest but not harsh. If the book is terrible (in your opinion), tell the truth but realise that other readers may love it. Reviews are subjective.
• If the author has assisted you in procuring a copy of their book (directly or via their publishers), they like to know when the review is up. Make sure you send an email with the link attached.
• Check the author’s website for their interview policy. If a publicist is listed, contact them first, then the author if there is no publicist. Don’t contact both. Many authors don’t mind if you contact them directly but be polite.
• If you have asked an author for an interview and they say yes, pay close attention to what they write next. If they want the questions ASAP, then please follow these instructions.
• Don’t expect an author to answer your interview questions on a tight schedule. Give realistic timelines.
• If an author personally sends you their book for review ask them for an interview or guest blog for your blog.
• Spell the individual’s name correctly - whether author/publisher/blogger.
• Reviewers should not ask authors for their publicist’s contact information and should not expect authors to forward the blogger’s information to the publicist (unless this is something the author offers).
• Bloggers shouldn’t ask other bloggers for their publicity contacts. Don’t tweet or post this private information in public chats.
• If you like a blogger’s feature, be sure to ask permission before adopting it for your own use. Don’t assume it is a meme.
• Don’t brag about receiving an ARC that everyone wants.
• Be polite and courteous to authors. You are not to beg or threaten them.
• Be polite and courteous to publishers. Don’t ask for every title in the catalogue. You can’t possibly have the time to read them all. Publishing is a business and it’s essential that you demonstrate that you are dependable and easy to work with.
• Don’t request or accept what you don’t want to read.
• The blogging community is a great way to make friends. Commenting on other’s blogs and discussing books is equally important as your own blog.
• Cover author events that you attend – there is nothing more exciting that sharing pictures and other coverage from conferences and author signings.
• If you are talking to an author face-to-face you may need to assure them that your conversation is “off the record”. Authors are human and they might not want their gossip on your blog.
• Authors are increasingly approachable with websites, blogs and twitter. Make sure that you mention their blogs and websites whenever you review or interview.
• Be grateful.
Thanks to all who gave their two cents worth, your honesty is much appreciated.
If you'd like a copy of this document, email me and I will send it your way in a prettier format.