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Thursday, August 11, 2011

There's no obligation in blogging.

Dedication, passion, and enthusiam are things all bloggers have. If they didn't, they wouldn't spend countless hours reading, reviewing, blogging, and talking up books. We give up our spare time to promote the publishing industry, the wonderful books it puts out, and the authors who are at the heart of it all.

We're committed. But we aren't ruled by the publishing industry.

Supporting publishing and feeling obligated to it are two entirely different things. I, like most bloggers I know, support publishing because I love books. I know it's a tough business, and I want to see authors and the industry as a whole succeed and flourish.

I don't have any specific commitments to the publishing industry just because I blog. A statement that bloggers did have an obligation to the industry got me thinking, so I asked around and the response was unanimous. We don't have an obligation to the industry. The only obligation we have is maintaining the integrity of our blogs.

To say bloggers have an industry commitment, defined as "an obligation, promise, etc. that restricts one's freedom of action", goes directly against that.

I don't get paid to run my blog, and I don't know any bloggers who do. It's a labor of love. ARCs and swag are fantastic perks that all bloggers appreciate, but they don't hold sway over of us. In fact, most of the bloggers I talked to about this said that ARCs don't even take priority in their TBR. Many read a mix of the review copies they receive and the books they buy.

As a blogger I know said, "If you are so committed to the publishing industry that you can't read what you want, it's possible you may have lost focus."

I mean, does reading books they bought instead of ARCs mean they are less devoted to blogging or that they support publishing less? Hell no!

I'd dare say that they are more commited because they are buying books and putting money into publishing instead of relying on publishers to send them review copies. And the blogger will likely review the book to boot. After all, there's absolutely nothing wrong with spreading the word about a book that's been on the shelf a while to renew the buzz.

The bottom line is that we have to blog our way. We can't cater to the needs and wants of the industry because they don't always mesh with our own views. The only thing I feel like I owe the publishing industry is thanks for printing the books we and readers across the world love.


  1. I agree with everything you said, Susan! Blogging is a labor of love. The only influence we have is our love for reading books. We are appreciative of everything that comes along with book blogging, but hopefully that doesn't sway us from reading what we want to read. We should not be compelled to read what we don't want to read because it takes away the fun and heart from reading.

    Cheers and love your post! <3

  2. I totally agree.

    I do have some priority in my TBR pile, if I get a book from a publisher that is released a month later, I will read that book within that month and schedule the review for two days before the release date, simply because I want the book to get publicity.

    But never do I feel obligated to blog, or review certain books first!

  3. I saw your post on twitter and had to stop by and say you are absolutely right! In any given month I have a combination of books I buy, library books and ARC's to read and ultimately I decide to read by choosing what I'm in the mood for at the time. I like to feature a variety of books on my blog, not only releases. It would not be as fun to blog if my reading choices felt like an obligation.

    Awesome post - thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. This is something I spend time thinking about.

    I am obliged if I agree to do something by a date. For anything, Blogging, meeting friends. I said I would so I will. My obligation however is to the people who are kind enough to read the blogs I write. It is an obligation to point out what I Liked or didn't like. Objective facts and SUBJECTIVE opinions. I am obliged to be honest with a writer, Publisher or Publicist when they ask if I will read something. If I am not going to read it, Like medieval French Poetry written Langue d'Oc, I feel I have an obligation not to accept it so a blogger who will read it will have the opportunity. And, I am obliged, by my values, not to PERSONALLY slam an author. A book may be horrible because of X Y or Z, or there may be a distracting element like poor or incomplete research. I wouldn't say "SO and So is a stupid jerk for thinking this city is north of that one, Geez!" The worst I would say is that I thought her research could have been better because I live in the book's locale. And I may snark a bit by saying she could have easily used Google Map. And the issue there is that it is a distraction from the story and perhaps an insult to the people who live here.

    And, my relationship with the industry is a friendly but professional relationship that requires honesty and understanding. A certain amount of thanks and Pats on the Back are important--they work hard, possibly for a boss twho doesn't appreciate them, for probably not enough to live on in Manhattan without roommates--they deserve the only plus I can give them and that is my courtesy, admiration and gratitude for putting me on the list for that book I simply MUST have.

    Obligation though is to my word and blog readers. It is just basic customer and client service.

    While I love blogging, I do run it as a business at which I do someday hope to make a profit. And to do that I feel integrity and honesty all around is my obligation.

  5. I agree with you Susan! thank you for this post!

  6. I think part of the thing that sets us apart from others who review professionally is that we are true readers. It's what keeps our reviews passionate and interesting. At least, that's what I think.

  7. When you feel so dedicated to publishers it actually hurts not only your reviews but your love of reading. I've struggled with this issue myself. I feel so obligated to read a review a book in the month that it comes out that I have books that I've been dying to read just waiting there.

    It's all about finding a balance.

  8. Well said! I'm really glad you wrote this, because I think its important for us - as bloggers - to remember.

    Sometimes I become a little overwhelmed by the ARCs I have piled up to read, and I have to remind myself that this isn't a job. If the stress of feeling like I have to read review books overwhelms my love for reading than I'm not doing something right.

    This was a great reminder!

  9. I agree with you Susan, but I also agree with Steph. I do it because I love it. However, I do approach it in a business like manner. The only reviews I feel "obligated" to are the blog tours or other times when I've promised to post on a specific date.

  10. Autumn - I am by no means saying that you shouldn't treat your blog in a professional, business-like manner. I am saying that simply being a blogger does not make you somehow indebted to the publishing industry.

    If you choose to make a commitment like a blog tour or aspecific review date you agreed upon with a publicist then that is a commitment you chose to make. But I strongly dislike this idea that we have a de facto commitment because we blog.

  11. I totally agree with you. There are times when I look around and I feel guilty about the number of ARCs I have in my house. I feel like I should work harder to get them read and reviewed or something, but then the rational part of me kicks in and says "Who is making me do it?" A lot of those ARCs were unsolicited. The publishers/authors/publicists/etc. are all free to stop sending me books/arcs/ares/etc. if they feel like I'm not doing right by them. I generally read what I feel like when I feel like if I feel like. I have backed WAY off the blog tours and things like that because it got to be too much WORK.

  12. To be honest, I kind of wish I could get ARC's. I am a new blogger and have no idea how to do that but it would be annoying after awhile, I am sure.