What do we owe publishers and authors? If we accept ARC’s do we “owe” anything to them or just an honest review to our followers? As book bloggers are we obligated to do more than just review books? Post covers – participate in book tours – host guest posts – promote authors?
I think it is important for me to preface this post by saying I don’t have publishing contacts, and I don’t utilize NetGalley, so I don’t receive copies of books specifically for review. The books I review on this blog I’ve purchased with my own money, received as birthday presents, or won from giveaways hosted by other generous book bloggers. I’m saying this because I believe it does influence my answer to this question.
Books & Tea started out and remains as a personal project to get me back into on of my favorite pastimes, reading. It was a way for me to record the books I read along with my thoughts and feelings about them (ie. reviews). So, do I feel I “owe” authors and publishers anything? No. Not really. Writing reviews is fun and rewarding. Especially if it encourages another reader to pick up a book they may not have heard of or were skeptical of. And it gives my ego a boost when an author tweets to me or leaves a comment on my blog thanking me for the review! But, I have no desire to post cover reveals (a post I usually skim over in other blogs anyway). A book tour might be fun, but I’m horrible with deadlines, so I usually avoid them. I might promote an author if I absolutely adore their work (have you read all of my Harry Potter posts?). And as for guest posts? Well, sometimes those are fun, but I don’t have the traffic to make a guest post worth while.
I’ve made the mistake of accepting an ARC or two in the past. But, again, I suck with deadlines. The blog posts got up eventually, but not as promptly as the author may have wanted, and I felt pretty bad about that. So, that’s why I don’t request or accept ARCs. At this point in my blog, I don’t want to feel obligated to read a book when I don’t feel like reading it, and I don’t want to feel obligated to write a review when I don’t feel like writing a review. Feeling obligated to read a book when I don’t really want to read a book of that genre may influence my reading experience, and that may result in a negative review. That’s not fair to the author.
I think it may be an entirely different story for bloggers who do request/accept ARCs. Especially if it’s one of their main methods of acquiring books. Writing an honest review and getting it up a week or so before a book hits the shelves is common courtesy. But, if you’re aim is to really help sell those books (that’s why you’re requesting those ARCs, right?), then I do think a blogger is obligated to put forth a little extra effort in promoting those books. I’m not sure how effective cover reveals are or the generic cover posts are. But those blog tours, those author guest posts, those creative, one-of-a-kind promotion methods are effective. But really, I think it’s up to the blogger to create a post that inspires them or a promotional method that they’re comfortable doing. Do I think bloggers who accept ARCs on a regular basis are obligated to go above and beyond for each book they review? Nope! Some books are a bust, and I wouldn’t expect someone to promote a book they simply did not like.