‘Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride’: or WTF YAlitchat

Straight up, there is a rant a-coming. So if you don’t like opinions, please exit my blog. Last night, I attempted to watch #yalitchat on tweetdeck but stopped because the tweets were going wayyy too fast for me to read. So, slightly bored during the afternoon, I thought I would read the chat over, as the topic was actually interesting to me: ARCs & Galleys & Swag.

Bad idea.

You see, I saw a lot of things which shocked me as a blogger.

People honestly think bloggers don’t sell books. People seem to also think negative reviews are unprofessional.

To which I say, are you kidding me? We book bloggers may inhabit a small corner of the internet, but we sure as hell have impact. We are on twitter. We are on facebook. We are on youtube. We are on tumblr. We are at the bookstore. We are at the library. We are at the gym. We are in school. We have jobs. We have real life friends. We have family. And we have very big mouths.

We post our reviews not only on our blogs, but on goodreads, librarything, shelfari, amazon, barnes & noble, etc. Sometimes we post them in our work newsletter. Sometimes we partner for a bookstore.

I notice some tweets thought bloggers shouldn’t receive ARCs. Tweets that said instead those ARCs should go to librarians and teachers. Now, I don’t deny that librarians and teachers have great impact, because they do. However, why should there even be a fight between librarians, teachers, and bloggers? Especially when there are a plethora of excellent librarian bloggers to follow? Why is a blogger who has potential to reach thousands through combined blog, amazon, social networks, and goodreads not worthy of a book? Is it because we don’t get paid for what we do? Is it because we aren’t afraid to express a one-star opinion? Is it because we are a non-traditional form of media? I don’t understand this vitriol for book bloggers. We aren’t trying to steal books from you, I promise. In fact, I bet if you asked a local book blogger real nicely they would be pleased as punch to share their ARCs with you, or at least, I know I would.

Then, of course, there were tweets about how bloggers are only in it for the free books. I can only assume those tweeters have never taken a basic economics course. As one who has taken basic economics understands the principle of cost-benefit analysis and the idiom ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch.’ For real, let’s do the economics on this. For every hour I spend reading a review book, that’s an hour I could use to spend time with friends, family, clean my house, walk the dog, or hey, work a second job. Let’s say I spend 20 hours a week reading, for a low estimate. Let’s say the average YA book takes me, oh, 5 hours to read. Now, let’s say instead of reading that book, I get a second job. Now, my time is semi-cheap, so let’s pretend second job pays me $8/hr. That’s $40 right there. I could have made $40 in those 5 hours of reading. But instead I give up those 5 hours to read something, that is largely monetarily valueless, as we all know selling ARCs is a no-no. Or, I suppose you could say that arc cost $20 to make, thus making my time half as valuable. So please, don’t use that free books argument, as it’s bullshit and I will know to put you on the list of people who don’t deserve my time of day.


Towards the late middle/end of the chat, the tweets were flying about negative reviews and book bashers and blah-di-blah. If ever there is a pet peeve I have, that peeve is people telling me I can’t write about something I didn’t like.

People just seemed to go on and on and on about negative reviews and bashing and such.

Is it bashing to straight-up say, Author O holds anti-gay views here are some links straight from the horse’s mouth and that colored my reading?

Is it bashing to say, the writing was subpar?

Then, of course, there’s always those Perky Peggys or Kiss-ass Kathys who say, but you can always find something POSITIVE even if you hated the book. To which I say, bullshit. What if I didn’t like anything at all about the book? Do you expect me to lie and pretend I liked something? No thank you.

And, OF COURSE we get tweets that seem to me to be completely on the fringe. I.e. ‘bloggers who bash books should be blacklisted‘ and ‘bloggers should never bash an author’s writing’? Good lord, give me a lobtomy and change my last name to Stepford, why don’t you. First off, I dare someone to blacklist me and expect me to keep my mouth shut about it, and about the books I read. Secondly, do you honestly think bloggers get all of their books for free? Dude, we purchase A LOT. We use the library A LOT. Blacklisting someone isn’t going to make them shut up. As the conclusion I often come to when I see handwringing over people ‘bashing’ on a book, is that usually the ‘bashing’ is a critique, and it’s rarely over the top. In the blogs that I follow, which is a lot, mind you, I have never actually seen bashing. Sure, I have seen plenty of negative reviews, but nothing I would call bashing. Nothing like, oh this book blows so hard it rivals Glitter, and that author, look at their fug picture. I have never in my life seen that on a book blog. Furthermore, I think it is perfectly valid to be critical as a reader, of an author’s writing. A book is a product. As a consumer who often buys books, I have a right to say I vehemently disliked this book. I have a right to explain why. Sometimes, that reason is because the writing is IMHO terrible. Am I bashing the author as a person? No way. However, some might say that’s bashing the writing to express a review that is not sunshine and puppies.

Then we have people who say it’s unprofessional to express a negative opinion. Okay, so perhaps people who aspire to be authors ought not to write negative reviews. But people who are strictly readers? Come on. Just saying that shows me ignorance. I’m going to do some name dropping:

The New York Times.


Publisher’s Weekly.

These PROFESSIONAL outlets all have posted negative reviews. Shocking, right? And a bit of a mindbender that professional/traditional media have negative reviews.

Friends, being a book blogger does not mean you live in a bubble and don’t sell books.

Book bloggers don’t ever let someone look down on you like that. As a community, we are hella strong and hella awesome.

A Few More Hella Awesome Posts

Bookalicio.us – ‘Word To Your Mother’

Chick Loves Lit – ‘Book Bloggers And Their Impact’

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Fantastic post! I have no idea what was said at the chat but I agree with you 100%! Especially since many bloggers are teachers, librarians, etc!

  2. You rock my socks April! Great post! Book bloggers are totally going to take over the world… Don’t even you worry. 🙂

    I don’t want a ton of free books, because then I get anxiety over why I’m rereading my favorite book of all time instead of the book they sent me. I’m a book blogger because the book blogger community rocks. 🙂

  3. Seriously, that litchat needs to disappear, I thought it was completely ridiculous. Everything you said is dead on, love the post!

    Another part of it that bugged me was a few people talking about things like IMM being people just out to show off and blahblahbullshit. Seriously? I have *NEVER* looked at it that way. It is just another way to build interest on books and talk about what you’re reading with other bloggers/blog followers. I mean, basically all of us show books we got at Goodwill or the library or whatever too. How is that showing off? And even when we’re talking ARCs…it isn’t exactly brag worthy. I mean, you’re talking about something with no $$ value whatsoever. Yeah, we’re all attention-seeking glory hounds alright. I saw one particular author say something like that and I am going to make a point to NEVER read one of his books EVER. Hope he never gets featured on another IMM anywhere.

    • I’ve learned about a lot of books that looked interesting from people’s IMM posts. I think it’s just another way to spread the word about new books.

  4. If bloggers have no impact, then the people in my life and I have FRIGHTENINGLY SIMILAR TASTE IN BOOKS. That just can’t be normal.

    Great post, April, you’ve made some fantastic points.

  5. April… I love you. This was fantastic. I couldn’t agree with you more; I wish I had been involved with the chat so I could have put in my opinion! I actually don’t particularly like getting review books because then I feel like I have to read them.

  6. I was having a lot of these thoughts as I attempted to follow the chat last night (though it was flying by so fast it was hard to 100%). I hate that there are a percentage of bloggers who are in for the free books – as that allows people to have that argument. It really it blatantly obvious between those of us who are in blogging because we love it and those in it for free books, and the free book people are such a small percentage. I talk about books everywhere – and like you said above, my review not only is on my blog but all over in the internet as well as I’ll reccomend awesome books to my teachers and librarian, etc.

    I mean, I just got my W2 form and then looked at how much was in my bank account I realized how much I spent on books last year! I want so many people who are anti bloggers to realize that a huge percentange of bloggers would blog regardless of getting books. I mean I love blogging and am constantly like hand selling books in store or getting books shelved in stores that aren’t already on the shelves. I would just love to put an end to te anti-blogger convo.

  7. Badass post April, and I totally agree!

    I’m nothing if not the book guru for everyone at my school, so i’m definitely getting word around. To say that bloggers are just in it for the free books! While some are, not the ones who you can tell spend their time and MONEY (sending out stuff ain’t cheap!) giving out good, honest reviews and getting hated for them.

  8. Wow! Well said!

  9. I am a librarian and a blogger. Of the 115 books I read and reviewed last year, less than 10 were ARCs. Those books, after I finished them, were put in my library, for my students to READ. (Saving the public school system money!!)

    I don’t do this for the free books (hah! I work in a LIBRARY!!!) I do it because I like to read and write about books. I had no idea that my not liking a particular book would have such huge repercussions. For every book I don’t like, there are gobs of bloggers who rave about it. I have no illusions that what I say has that big of an impact, why do others?

    I DO USE BLOGS to decide which books my teens would enjoy, but I read a lot of them. One negative review doesn’t mean that much. (I, of course, use “professional” journals and other sources of review also.)

    Perhaps some people need to step back and get some perspective.

  10. Excellent post! Couldn’t agree more!

  11. Love it! Always well-done, April!

    I’m one of those that choose to not write negative reviews, but the main reason I don’t is because of the “t” word. TIME. I just ran out of time writing reviews for every book I read. I’m all about writing what you really feel!

  12. Fantastic post! I honestly love reading negative reviews because after a while all the five star reviews sound EXACTLY the same. It’s too good to be true if everyone loves the book…..

    If an author doesn’t want a bad review, they shouldn’t write. Reviews come with being published. Love it or leave it.

  13. I agree with everything that has been said. I blog because I love it, and yes its nice to get books, but I agree they are definitely not free.

  14. Like I said on Twitter this afternoon…I have no idea where these bashing book bloggers are. I would honestly love to see a link to one, because right now it feels like a strawman argument that comes up way too often.

    I do understand the critique of the In My Mailbox meme. I don’t really care about it, but I also don’t pay attention to those posts…because they don’t build excitement for me. Usually all the post is is a picture of the books and a little bit of “Yay, I can’t wait to read them!!!” The only meme that builds excitement for me is Waiting on Wednesday, because those at least include summaries (though I only read the posts if it’s a slow Wednesday for me).

    I got into book blogging because I wanted to keep in touch with YA publishing (I hope to work in the field some day soon) and the blog format let me share my thoughts publicly and prove I was staying up to date. When I started I didn’t even realize the average blogger could get ARCs. I think I had maybe half a dozen books sent to me last year? (although I did go to ALA to pick up a bunch for myself in June) I don’t do this for the free stuff: I do it because I love books and I want to share my thoughts on them – the good AND the bad!

    Also I’d love to see how blacklisting would work, lol. Sure, you can say you’re not going to send me an ARC…but there’s always the library!

  15. Tell it sister! I agree w/ every word you said.
    And I too purchase way more books than ARCS I receive (and I receive a decent amount of ARCS).
    Thanks for this post.

  16. I really liked this post. Especially the point you bring up about books being a consumer product. If publishers are allowed to print books by Hilary Duff and Snooki just because they know they will make money from them, then shouldn’t we be allowed to express our disappointment in such sub par products?

    If Apple and Microsoft told all the tech blogs to only post good reviews of their products people would just laugh at them.

  17. you are kickass, my friend. it’s hard to even argue with people that are so idiotic as to put forth the idea that no one should ever write negative reviews. all i can do is laugh.

  18. Wonderful post – I didn’t follow the chat either last night, either, but I have heard a bit about it today. I am so happy that you wrote a post like this – not doing so sets a sort of precedent that book bloggers ought to be a ‘certain’ way, and saying that we don’t deserve ARCs the same way other groups do is very disappointing. I get the vast majority of my books from my library, and I also spend a considerable amount more at bookstores than I did before I started blogging. I think if they consider all the time that we put into just because we care so much, they’d be singing a different tune. No compensation needed here – I do it because I love it, but please, don’t bash us because we are honest commentators, if not professionals.

    Thank you so much for this forthright post! I couldn’t agree more!

  19. April,

    Say it loud and say it proud! I love that you are not afraid to speak your mind.

    I said a few things on the chat last night about how I use my arcs. I loan them to friends, give them to my teacher, give them to the library, and give some away on my blog. I didn’t take the comments from the others personally.

    And, just like you, I buy lots and lots of books. My parents buy me MORE books now that I have my blog than they did before.

    While I may be a bit of a Perky Peggy (glass half full girl) who can find something good in anything, I can see why you feel differently about that. Hey, it would be boring if we were all the same.

    Readers are Leaders! Just keep on being yourself April.

  20. Woohooo I didn’t get mine done before you went to bed! <3

  21. This speaks the truth so much! Thank you for this post!

  22. I love it when someone can be schooled with economics its hard to argue with numbers. Do people seriously get “blacklisted” in the blog world, thats crazy.

  23. Awesome post, April! I had no idea they were saying things like that in the YA Lit Chat yesterday. It was going on too fast for me to follow so I just replied to the ones that appeared on my timeline.

    I’m definitely not blogging for the free books because I’ve only gotten like two so far. I don’t even ask for review copies, I wait for them to be offered and since I live all the over here in the Philippines, I seldom get offers. I don’t understand why people don’t see that bloggers are actually providing free publicity for books. People tend to buy the book if they see positive reviews in the blogosphere. Also, when you start following book blogs, you can really feel that bloggers are reviewing books for the love of reading. You won’t be able to keep up with the blogging if you’re not passionate about it.

  24. Amen sister!! As a blogger, yes, I do get some free books. And I’m not gonna lie, I think it’s awesome. But I buy way more books than I receive for free and I would blog whether I got those ARCS or not.
    My blog is MY opinions of the books I read. And I don’t love all of them. If I posted positive reviews for everything, at the same time I’m receiving free books…well, I think my integrity would fly right out the window.
    And one more thing. For the record. I have bought books because of bloggers. Many times. So whoever thinks bloggers don’t sell books is out of their mind.

  25. THANK YOU for this! I hate when people think bloggers are just in it for the ARCs. I didn’t even know you could get ARCs until I’d been blogging for over five months – I started blogging to keep track of what I read and what I thought of it. As for people who think it is unprofessional to write negative reviews… wouldn’t it be more unprofessional to recommend a book that you didn’t enjoy? Anyway – good rant.

  26. Loved your post. I only looked at some of the tweets going on, bit if you publish a book criticism should be expected. I feel that if I come across something that isn’t worth reading that I should caution others. I don’t want to spend money on crap and I don’t want my friends to either. There are too many fabulous books out there. I spend far more on books than I will ever receive as “free”. What about the advertising we provide and then spend time and money to pass on the books we receive in giveaways? Thanks for being a strong voice.

  27. Hmmm, I’m pretty sure Michiko Kakutani, the esteemed NYT critic has written some negative reviews. And she actually gets paid to write them.


  29. As an aspiring author I can understand how authors can get butthurt by negative reviews. But to go as far as saying book bloggers should be blacklisted for posting negative reviews? Or that we shouldn’t crush an author’s precious soul by knocking their writing? I’m sorry, but that’s utter BS. If you don’t want people talking smack about your book, then don’t write it. Having your book reviewed is part of being published, and if an author can’t deal with it, then they should keep their novel locked up and only let their mommy read it.

    Book bloggers do sell books. I look forward to IMM every week, not because I want to show off what I get, but because I enjoy the blogger interaction, and seeing what everyone else got throughout the week-regardless of whether they’re ARCs or backlist titles I hadn’t heard of. I can name at least fifteen books I’ve purchased based on first seeing them in someone’s IMM, so if that’s not bloggers selling books, then what the hell is?

  30. I missed the #yalitchat last night, but I’ve seen quite a few disgruntled people on Twitter and now I understand precisely why. As a book blogger, I write my honest opinion and wouldn’t want to ever feel like I was being pressured to write positive reviews because of backlash from negative reviews. I never bash people, I just tell it like it is. And for the most part, my reviews are positive. I read books I feel like I’ll like, but when I do read books I don’t enjoy, I’m gonna say so.

    Who knows just how much of an impact bloggers truly make, but I know we do affect sales in some way. Like you said, we are everywhere, spreading the word about good books with anyone who will listen. Anyone who believes otherwise is deluding themselves.

    Great rant!

  31. Great post! I definitely think that book bloggers have a huge impact on book buying. Teachers and librarians definitely are very influential in people’s decisions to read books, but a lot of YA readers now are adults. No librarians or teachers for them. I’d say the majority of YA book bloggers are at least college aged. If you ignore book bloggers, you’re missing a huge marketing coup.

    As for bloggers being out for ARCs, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want ARCs. They’re fun. But that’s not why I blog. And I’ve spent a lot more money on books the past 8 months that I’ve been blogging than I used to (I still am a loyal library user but I have more trouble resisting purchases). I spend huge amounts of time reading and writing reviews (I spent 2 hrs writing reviews today). I read so many great reviews about other books that I feel that I just have to buy them. Whether or not I get free books, my blog has contributed to a lot of authors wallets through my trips to the bookstore.

  32. Alright, just had to say that, now I’ll say my piece. I spend SO MUCH MORE on books now that I blog — not just for me. I love to send people books, I love to get books out there and help promote them. I VERY RARELY ask for review books, and try always to give the reviews for them the same care I would any other — often more, because I track down info for them, post their trailers, links to sites, etc. Many of my family and friends think I’m CRAZY for the amount of time (and money) I put into blogging, and I constantly get asked “Why do you do it if you don’t get paid?”
    And here is why:
    Readers love to share books. We love to tell people about them, discuss them, get people to read. We all know, when someone we know recommends a book enthusiastically, we’re more likely to read it. THAT sells books. And that’s where book bloggers bridge the gap: unlike a faceless reviewer in a newspaper or magazine, readers get to know us. It’s almost like being recommended a book by a friend. You get to know our style and tastes, and that in turn lets you know if it’s something you want to read, and THAT SELLS BOOKS.
    And we’re doing it FOR FREE.
    COME ON!

  33. Brilliantly put together post.

  34. Can I please just say THANK YOU. The people who think we don’t have an impact need to get a clue. Book bloggers are readers. Who reads our blogs? Other readers. Who purchase books? Readers.

    This post is my fave of the week.

  35. Okay, I followed a bit of the chat last night, but I did not read all of it.

    I’m just throwing this out there: I believe that publishers can track sales stats for their sales to libraries and schools. These are real numbers that publishers can look at and see how librarians and teachers are “selling” books.

    Now, I’m a blogger as well as a librarian and I would really like to believe that my blog sells books because I love books. But I honestly have no way to track whether my blog reviews result in sales. I think that’s part of the issue. Obviously, publishers believe that blogs are helpful in promoting books or else NO bloggers would be getting ARCs or free books. But where is the PROOF that bloggers sell books? I mean, actual statistics that publishers can look at and say, “Oh yeah, Abby’s blog created four sales today.” (Or whatever.)

    I’m sorry I have no solution to this problem, but I’m just putting that out there as a way to maybe explain why some people are questioning whether bloggers sell books.

  36. AMEN, this is perfect, we need more people to talk about this to those authors. I mean if they saw what an impact we do have, I was at the bookstore and looking at what a mom and daughter were arguing over I got them to buy an ENTIRE SERIES they’d never heard of, because I’d read and loved it. Thats our impact, because we read, we may not like your book but our love of books sells more books. Other peoples ignorance makes me angry.

  37. I love the rant!
    Honestly, I’m no expert on bloggers. I’m a new author and until a year ago, I didn’t know this whole online world existed. But I don’t guess publishers would spend the money to produce and mail out ARCs to bloggers if they didn’t believe they provide a valuable service.

    And personally, I think blogging is HARD WORK! I can’t imagine maintaining the blogs you maintain just to get books you could read for free at the library.

    As long as you’re respectful in your reviews, both good and bad, I’m cool with that. Keep doing what you do!

  38. I am soo tired of this SHIT!
    I love to read. I love to talk about books, promote them, the authors. You name it. I have done it.
    I Blog
    I Facebook.
    I Tweet
    I Tumblr
    I Purchase Loads of books
    I attend author events
    I Donate books to my local libraries
    Recommend books to random strangers at bookstores, coffehouses, libraries, events…you name it. I have done it and yet…apparently that is not enough.
    Because of my teenage godchild I started my blog. I enjoy it for it is something that is entirely mine. I have met many wonderful people, read amazing and not so amazing books. My blog has been a source of pleasure but all this hatred towards bloggers makes me want to close up shop and call it a day. Yet, I am not going to. My feelings are brusied and battered because I am still reeling from the other kicks and punches that bloggers are constantly barraged with. Why are we always treated as bastard step children? I may never know.

    I think I am going to get me a beer and go read a book.

  39. If a person gave a negative review to a non-fiction book there would be no question about that person’s right to do so. In fact, grad students (like me) and professors depend on book reviews to do successful research.

    That said–I think there is a real difference between bashing a book and critiquing it. A review should be a critique. You should be able to point out where improvement is needed and what the author did well–and I do think you should be able to find something the author did well even if it’s just meet the needs for a certain audience or using imagery. It got published right? So there must be something in there somebody liked.

    I’m not saying not to be true to your opinion. If you hate a book then you hate a book. But you should be constructive with your criticism. Otherwise that criticism is useless.

    To professionally offer a ‘negative’ review is acceptable, but to bash a book and use abusive language is not.

  40. Bravo! *applause*
    I couldn’t agree more.
    As far as the ARCs go… you know, when publishers decide it’s not cost effective, and they don’t want to hand them out, that’s when book bloggers will stop getting them. Obviously, it is working for the publishers, because of the publicity and buzz created, so anyone who wants to outlaw ARCs is just jealous and bad-tempered.
    As far as negative reviews go – right on! Preach it sister.
    I don’t want to be known as the person who goes, “Loved it! Totally loved it!” to EVERYTHING that comes my way. Why would I do that? An honest review means that when I rave about a book, it actually means something rather than just being another meaningless blather of random praise.

    There’s been a fascinating chat about YA books that people didn’t like on the YALSA listserve this past week, and I have to say the way some folks have leapt to the defense of authors, arguing that it could hurt somebody’s feelings to be nominated for a “YAzzie” (aka, a horrible YA book) is the most ridiculous, namby-pamby bull that I’ve ever heard!

    Sometimes, the most entertaining reviews to read are ones in which the book is panned. Often times if something gets a truly horrible review, I’ll go out and read it myself to see if it’s half as bad as they claim.

  41. I was furious reading the YA lit chat last night. I can’t believe the ignorance of some people! One girl (who was a librarian) straight out said libraries and librarians – NOT BLOGGERS – should be #1 to receive arcs! I know there are a lot of awesome librarians who blog….Why can’t we all enjoy getting the ARC’s? To completely discount the book blogging community is ridiculous. There are countless books that I have picked up that I NEVER would have, had it not been for reading a great review on someone’s blog.

    I never received a suggestion from any of the librarians when I was a teen (My library was the second largest library in Illinois, second to the massive Chicago library- my library had a HUGE YA section). I just picked up what was on the shelf, I really never heard ANY buzz from the librarians, so maybe that’s why I’m skeptical.

    The whole point of the ARC argument is what affects sales more, because the bottom line for an ARC is to build buzz (which results in SALES) for a book. The whole reason for promotion is SALES, numbers, $$$$$! I know that librarians create buzz for books and then some teens buy. But, how many of those teens just put the book on hold at the library and don’t go out and PURCHASE a copy? I’m sure there are a lot.

    Also, most teens aren’t flush with cash. I know there’s no way that I would have been able to support my book-buying habit when I was a teenager. I rarely bought books, everything was checked out through the library. Regardless of how many checkouts a book receives it only counts as ONE sale. So if 1,000 people check out the same book, still only one sale for the publisher. If no one checks out the book at the library still ONE sale. I know this is coming out all wrong and I am SO NOT trying to offend librarians at all (I LOVE THE LIBRARY I PROMISE! 🙂 It just doesn’t make sense at all to me.

    Also, when my friends want suggestions for books? They ALWAYS ask ME! I know for a fact that my friends have gone out and BOUGHT their own copies of books that I’ve received as ARC’s.

    YES, reading review books takes up a lot of time! Not to mention writing reviews and staying active on your blog, twitter etc. ALL of that is TIME CONSUMING. It’s like a part time job (an amazing PT job, but still!)…but it’s not like I can just sit back, do nothing and the free books pour in!

    I’ve bought more books now as a book blogger, than I have EVER bought in my life!

    In my head I’m hearing the song “Why can’t we be friends, Why can’t we be friends?!” lol!

  42. Lisa and Laura Roecker says

    I’m pretty sure our ARCs went out almost exclusively to book bloggers. I have no idea whether or not that’s going to translate into sales, but I am a big believer in internet buzz and word of mouth marketing and book bloggers OWN that. I’ll say this for sure, if our book is a success it will be almost completely attributed to the support of book bloggers like you. Thank you for what you do. We deeply appreciate it.

  43. I wholeheartedly agree. People who would not be completely honest in their reviews lack the integrity that I would require to trust their opinion on a book in the first place. I much prefer to be honest and have friends and readers who trust my opinion of a book when deciding if they want to read it or not. And I want to trust the opinions of the bloggers that I follow. Playing the sycophant would only demean and invalidate that process.

  44. The complaint that bloggers are just in it for the free stuff, that argument makes me roll my eyes. No one has to give out ARCs or review copies to book bloggers. But they’re likely to get more internet attention if they do. It’s their call. There are plenty of books out there that other authors can provide or that I can go buy or borrow or swap for that I can read and review in my limited amount of time on this earth. But there are so many new books out there that I’m more likely to want to buy or borrow or swap for a book if I’ve read about it in a book blog.

  45. Great post!
    I looked in on the lit chat last night but honestly couldn’t keep up.
    From a writers perspective, do negative reviews suck? Yeah. Should you expect to get them? Yeah. Is it a risk worth taking? Yeah. Should bloggers censor their thoughts? Heck no. We can’t please everyone and we shouldn’t expect to.
    For me personally, my relationship with bloggers is one that I value. I appreciate their honest feedback. So much so that I asked several of them to beta read my new novels. Some of those bloggers who loved my first book didn’t care as much for another – and that’s okay. I appreciate their honest critique. If I didn’t get honest reviews either in a public forum or in a private manner, how can I expect to improve or come to better understand what a reader is looking for in a book?
    Critique is part of the game. It goes with the territory and either writers learn to accept it or stop trying to get their work published.
    And for the record: I’ve never had the impression that bloggers were only blogging for free stuff. As far as I’m concerned, they are doing me a favor by honoring my request for them to review my book – the least I can do is provide them with a copy to do it with.
    Blogs are the future – social media is the future – the blogging community has impact and that scares some people. Doesn’t that make it even that much more fun?!

  46. Anyone who dares to tell you what you can and cannot write needs to be whacked with a mallet. Sorry, while I don’t condone violence I think Perky Peggy’s and Kiss Ass Kathy’s are, unfortunately, ignorant to the realities of life. Either that or their blinders are so thick and so dark they fail to realize that not everyone will like the same thing or have the same opinion. Gee, what a concept huh?

    I get told (or I read) that because I am a blogger I am not a *real* writer. The same goes for the fact I am not a fiction writer. To those folks, I and other bloggers/writers simply do not exist. Excuse me?! I am just as much of, if not more so considering my professional credentials, a writer than some of the wannabes just in it for fame and fortune.

    Anyone who wishes to blacklist you or any writer for giving a less than favorable review ought to spend some time reading about the consequences of censorship. Just ridiculous and very narrow-minded.

    Good for you for speaking your mind! I’m a new reader and love what you have to say. Thanks for a wonderful post!

    (Sorry if I’m scatterbrained. Apparently my caffeine supply dipped too low. Haha)

  47. Alina Klein says

    Um, I hope you saw my posts in the chat. Where I said I think book bloggers have more power than you even realize you do. I just hope *some* (dare I say *most*?) of you like my book when it comes out next year. If you promote/demote books with respect then that’s all we can ask. And It’s appreciated.

  48. FANTASTIC post and great points. I spend more on shipping out contest winners than I would on buying the books I’m sent for review.

    We ARE consumers. And while we’re consuming, we’re selling other folks on the books we like. I can’t count how many copies of my favorites I’ve been sent for review I’ve sold while at BN or Changing Hands.

    We’re an awesome bunch, us bloggers – especially with posts like this one that defends our honor. Great job, again. Love it.


    1) I am a book blogger and I’d say 97% of the stuff on my blog are books I paid for with my own cash moneyyy. Sure, I like ARCs but that is not my primary goal in blogging or I would have quit a LONG TIME AGO.

    2) As a consumer, I know that generally before I purchase something (whether that be a dinner at a new restaurant, book a hotel room, a pair of shoes) I look to see what people are saying about it. I want to know if the food SUCKS at the restaurant and the rooms smell like smoke. When I go on Urban Outfitters and see a pair of fab shoes..I scour the reviews to see if they are cheap or if they fit true to size or the picture. I WANT TO KNOW BEFORE I SPEND MY HARD EARNED DOLLARS. I would NOT be happy if people forgot to leave out at the hotel was next to a brothel and there were late night drug deals outside in the hallways or didn’t tell me that the shoes I was going to buy had razors in the sole. I WOULD BE PISSED. Likewise, seeing that a book is a PRODUCT in which I am going to exchange money for, I would like to know what others like about it. I’m going to read a few reviews before I make my decision to get the book. And I’m going to be REALLY pissed if you gave RAVE reviews to a book that you really felt not so strongly about because you were trying to kiss somebody’s ass just to get a free book because now I just WASTED my money on a book that I hated all because you had a selfish agenda. I trust certain reviewers in the way that I trust my best friend to tell me that the dress I’m trying on makes my ass look big or is so see through that she can see my hot pink underwear. Why lie? Who is going to read your blog if you don’t tell the truth? I agree that bashing the author is wrong because it is a review about the BOOK but writing is an essential part of a book and if the writing sounds like my 4 year old cousin wrote it..I WANT TO KNOW. So it makes no sense why commenting on the writing is wrong if it is bad? We surely talk about lyrical prose and all that jazz when it is good. Why do I have to ignore the writing in my review if I didn’t enjoy the style?! And please…I’m sure my boyfriend who is currently in college would LOVE if teachers didn’t comment on the writing of his latest paper. Maybe they could grade him on the font or the title or how well he put it in the laminated binder. Seriously…a book is written word..that’s kind of a big part. It’s great to talk about characters and plot but the way the book is written is an integral part of the reading experience.

  50. If I could “like” this post, I totally would. These people obviously haven’t seen my bookshelf or my wallet. I buy pretty much all of my books based on blogger recommendation. Bloggers DO have influence, like you said.

    As for ARCs, I don’t think sending them to bloggers is a waste. Internet hype is the new way to hear about something (rarely does one pick up a copy of PW. Seriously)! And with the new eGalley thing, it’s even less expensive to give bloggers a chance to build that hype. I get that it seems like ARCs are status symbols, and that bloggers are eager to build up their followers to get ARCs, but there ARE bloggers out there who aren’t in it for the “free” books, and who feel humbled and honored to receive them (and who do their best to promote/pimp the ARC if they love it).

    And that thing about the negative reviews? Pfft. Censorship is not cool, especially if it’s our opinions being censored. You can’t tell us we’re wrong if we dislike a book! That makes no sense! *shakes head*

  51. I am actually quite interested in reading that conversation…

    As a book blogger who has received one ARC, I can honestly say that I do it for the fun of reading. I love to read and I love to share what I read, and so I blog about it. And I tweet about it. And I’m on Goodreads. And Random Buzzers. And Amazon. Etc.

    You can pick out the bloggers who are only in it for the ARCs. And THOSE are the bloggers that shouldn’t get them. Bloggers who, like me, do it for the fun of blogging, will blog whether they get ARCs or not. I know I would.

    And as far as librarians being the ones who should get the ARC because they will promote it better… well, that may be true to a certain extent. But I do recall my librarian following my blog, asking me for book recommendations, copying my Wish List… she came to me for advice. Perhaps its true that Librarians are great for spreading word about a book. Actually, I completely agree with that statement. I listen to my librarian like… 90% of the time when it comes to book recs. However, when I read a good book and share it, my librarian considers me to be a reliable source because I’m a teenager who knows what teens like me like to read, and so when I recommend a book she listens. And then she spreads the word. And I’m sure plenty of other YA bloggers could say the same thing about their librarians. Or they spread the word in other ways, such as to friends, family, coworkers, classmates… There are so many ways a teenager can spread info about their favorite books.

    And I know for a fact that bloggers DO sell books. I just glanced at my bookshelf and I counted ten books that I only bought because of other bloggers’ reviews. Contrary to popular belief, not every blogger gets ARCs of every book they read. And if there’s a book that they want to read badly enough… they BUY it! And as a reader, I know that if I walk into a bookstore and buy the first pretty book, I know it probably isn’t the best choice. So I will ALWAYS google a book and look at reviews online before buying it. If it has good buzz, then I’ll buy it. If it has medium buzz, I’ll still buy it. And if it has bad buzz, I might not buy it but I will still probably check it out from the library just to see what the deal is. And checking books out from the library generates buzz even though it may not seem like it to the average person. When a book gets checked out from the library it indicates to the library that there is a need for the book. If it gets checked out enough times… they buy more copies. And the cycle continues.

    And calling a negative review “bashing” is completely wrong. It’s freedom of speech. If we don’t like a book, we say it. That’s what we’re entitled to do. That’s why people follow us: because they can expect an HONEST review whether it’s good or bad. And you’re absolutely right: if professionals can do it, why can’t we?

    Okay, done now. You’ve posted a good rant, and all of your ideas are spot on.


  52. Great post – I totally agree. Reading the chat just made me angry. Book bloggers don’t sell books? For years now, the only books I’ve bought/borrowed have been ones that have either been given positive reviews by my people I know through book blogging. And I’ve gotten at least a dozen comments on reviews I’ve blogged before from people saying they’d want to read that book after my review.

    Also, in it for money/ARCs? I was blogging for MONTHS before I was even offered a review copy of a book. When I started blogging, I didn’t even realise that was possible!

  53. Sigh.

    April, you are my hero.

    When I started book blogging, I had no idea what an ARC was. I knew that I had found blogs like Kristi’s and thought THAT IS SO DAMN COOL, she posts reviews, and people talk to her about books. No one in my life ever wanted to chat books with me. That is why I started my blog. ARCs became kind of a cool bonus, but I still purchase books and use my library (A LOT!)

    Between this chat, and the #querychat where some authors said aspiring writers shouldn’t write book reviews, I’m a little frustrated with the community as a whole.

  54. I agree with so much that was said in this post! Book bloggers are definitely really influential, because we love books. Yes, I purchase most of my books and review them on my blog. If I love those books, then I will push them on my blogging friends and real life friends, and I might even buy a copy to donate to my library. I want others to enjoy the books that I love.

    I also have to say that I think that some people underestimate how much our community shares ARCs. Not everyone does, but a lot of people hold giveaways, loan ARCs, or donate them to tours or libraries. That can add up to quite a decent amount of circulation for one book.

    I’m just going to finish this comment by saying I wonder if this whole chat started by someone looking at a blog of someone who got tons of ARCs and maybe didn’t write a lot of positive reviews. I think people don’t quite get that every single blogger is different, in terms of what they get, how they get it, an how pick they are when they review it. But my theory could be wrong.

  55. April, you rock. I agree with everything you wrote. I got into book blogging when I discovered a book blog while surfing the Net, and thought it would be a great outlet for me, a ginormous bookworm from birth. Only after did I start being offered ARCs and realized I could get books because I have said book blog. That was only the icing on the cake. I read way more from bargain books and library books than I do ARCs, and I share freely. So what if I don’t have a boss and get payed, it doesn’t mean I am not capable of using intelligence and professionalism. In fact, I have seen many book bloggers lose money to hold numerous giveaways for their loyal followers. Giving a single book to a book blogger with hundreds of readers is more efficient advertising than any tv commercial or sign in a bookstore that *might* catch the eye of a few people.
    How I would love to get in on one of these ridiculous chats!

  56. Well written and well said. 🙂

  57. How could you bash Glitter?!!! *GASP*!!! That was a fine and super awesome movie! hahaha…I could say that, but honestly, I didn’t make it through the movie.

    I agree with you. I don’t see why negative reviews are necessarily a bad thing. If you are a writer and want people to read your stuff, you have to expect that not everyone will like it. I went to a talk where an author was a little dismayed at a negative review for his book written by the NYT, and to be honest, I was a little conflicted about that. I understood that his goal was to sell books (so he obviously wasn’t about the starving artist angle) and that a high profile negative review hurt the sale of his book. However, I just saw the book get chosen for a very high profile book club on a television show so I think he’s now doing just fine. He didn’t have anything to worry about.

    Anyway, great post. I agree with all of it. 🙂

  58. Great post!
    Actually, I’m new to book blogging. Most of the books I reviewed are personally bought if not given to me as a gift. I never receive any ARC since I’m outside US (Philippines) but I love to get one of course ^__^ . I have a huge passion in reading but not so much in writing thats why I don’t usually write book reviews until I discover the online community of book bloggers. I’m loving the community online. They are so much active and supportive. I gain friends online and I’m learning so much from them.
    Book bloggers are really influential!

  59. I absolutely agree. It costs money to run a website. I doubt many book bloggers make a profit from it, they do it because they like to read and discuss what they read. Also, the occasional negative review is necessary for me to respect a reviewer. No-one likes everything they read, especially not if they read a lot, so if a book blog has nothing negative to say then it’s not being honest and that’s a real turn-off.

  60. Thanks for this post. I’ve only been blogging since August of this year and yeah ARCs are nice but I’ve won more/borrowed more then have actually been given to me. I too have had people comment that they’ll look at/want to read a book after reading my reviews.

    Couldn’t agree more about the negative reviews, I think if you can’t be honest in your reviews then what’s the point of writing them. As long as you don’t say that the author of so and so book should be bludgeoned or advocate a book burning then you have every right to your opinion. I know I’ll always write an honest review and if I don’t like a book I’ll tell you why.

    Thanks again for this great post. 🙂

  61. I’ve always thought that the book bloggers I read are in some way employed in the book world or connected to literacy. If not, they have a hell of a lot of passion! I know that the few times I’ve requested an ARC, I’ve stated that it is for review on my blog. If publishers didn’t want me to have the ARC, they wouldn’t send me the book. I think they see sending me a book as a really cheap way to advertise.
    When I read those blogs, when they only gush about what they like, I get the feeling they like everything they read and I don’t trust them so much. As a reviewer of books of color, I think its important that my readers know that I don’t like every book written by authors of color just because they’re written by authors of color! I think I have to show I do have some taste! I do like to balance a review when I can. Most books are neither all good or all bad.
    Those tweeters surprise me! Thanks for sharing that insight.

  62. I think we all need to take a step back and realize several things. For the most part authors and book bloggers have a very positive relationship based on mutual respect. I would also say that there are always going to be a few “bad eggs” in every population who make it bad for everyone else giving the general population the impression that everyone in the community is “that way.” Think about it. How often do you hear about hero cops or firemen or judges or lawyers or teachers? Not very often. WE EXPECT them to well–be heroic and nice and awesome all the time. But no one is perfect. And so when they disappoint us, and do something wrong–it is all over the news for weeks anfd weeks. Then we talk about how corrrupt cops are, and how there aren’t any good cops or lawyers or teachers and it hurts every cop or lawyer or teacher who is good and decent and trying to do their job and care for their families.

    I have been a part of the whole blogger/author comversation for some time–or at least as many times as we’ve discussed during YALITCHAT. I apologize but I happened to have missed this latest one as I have Mono now and had a replacement host for the night. Had I been there hosting, I most likely would have curbed some of the comments that were made and steered the conversation to a more positive direction. Whlie we encourage chatters to express their opinions freely during chat, we also wwant those opinoins to be expressed in a way that is positive and unoffensive (as much as possible).

    Having said all of that. On both sides of the fence I believe there are legitimate concerns and reasons to raise questions. I don’t believe that either opinion is all right or all wrong. I do believe that we benefit from continued discussion about ways to move closer to a better understanding of one another.

    In fact, just today we decided to implement a feature on YALITCHAT.ORG whereby we feature our blogger members monthly in a spotlight on our homepage and in our newsletter. We have many blogger members and aim for a stronger relationships. Additionally, many of our bloggers are also writers. So this sense of division has got to end. It is not healthy for anyone.

    I do hope that you will continue to chat with us and share your opinions. The entire reason for chatting is to share and learn from one another. But we can only learn and truly share when we have open minds–and of course, this must be the case on both sides.

    Finally–I apologize for any hurt feelings or negative experience you may have had as a result of participating in #yalitchat. It is never my intent that anyone should walk away from a chat feeling this way. I hope you and the folks who have commented below (some of whom I recognize) will consider chatting with us again. We are all part of the same community. We all have a part to play.

    Georgia McBride
    Founder and President of YALITCHAT.ORG

    • I agree with a lot of what you said. The point of this wasn’t to dog on #yalitchat because usually it is awesome, usually the conversation is interesting and I learn something from reading it. It just bothers me when people hate on bloggers and say we are isolated to the blogosphere, when we aren’t. We work very hard to get the word out on books, not just on our blogs but through other outlets. And I do realize #yalitchat is not anti-blogger all the time from what I’ve seen.

      You do a really excellent job, Georgia. 🙂

  63. Wow. I have not yet read the #yachatlit, but I came from Georgia’s blog and have to say again, W-O-W. What is with the book blogger bashing? I for one am so greatful that so many wonderful people have turned their passion for books into a medium that spreads the word, educates and promote writing of all types!

    I’m unpublished as of yet, and I don’t book blog. I have nothing to gain here by my comments, but book bloggers get nothing but respect from me. I realize maybe there could possibly be a few people who troll and get off on negative bash reviews, but I have yet to see it. Every book blogger I’ve ‘met’ online tells it straight in a respectible fashion.

    So, from me, my most heartfelt thanks for all you do, for giving your free time to bring attention to this industry. We all know how hard it is to get published, and all those who do make it deserve our respect, whether we ultimatly click with their book or not. Book blogging is only one extention of spreading book passion, but a very valuable powerful one. Book bloggers, you get Kudos all the way from my end!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  64. Wow, I didn’t realize all the drama I missed. I had the same problem with tweetdeck so I was only participating in the tail end of the chat on my iphone. It must have mellowed out towards the end. I need to go back and read the whole chat because it’s sad that what is normally a great chat for me turned so negative.

    I can’t honestly say for sure my blog sells books, I hope it may influence people to check out the ones I love but I have no hard facts other than comments people may leave. Still I love doing it and it’s because I love books and reading, not because I get free books. And honestly it’s not just on my blog that I talk about the books I’ve read. I also participate in an online book club where I’ll mention the books I loved, I talk to random people in book stores, in the doctor’s office, pretty much any where I happen to stumble into a fellow reader.

    As for other blogs I know they cause me to go out and buy books. My book spending sky rocketed when I discovered book blogs because there were so many new books I wanted to read.

    Anyhoo, just wanted to stop by and say this was a great post. Thanks for getting me all caught up on what I missed 🙂

  65. Have to say, agree with everything you said 🙂

  66. Megan no h says

    since i only recently started blogging, i was kind of surprised to find out how many ‘rules’ and ‘nos-nos’ there were. i pick and choose what feels right for me and have tried not to worry much about it.

    i’m sure there a couple of people who are only in it for free books or what not, but it doesn’t seem like there would be enough for people to fuss over. besides, if that’s someone’s only motivation, they’ll burn out on blogging soon enough.

    enjoyed your post. what can I say, I love a good rant 🙂

  67. This whole issue about book bloggers only being in it for the ARCs really ticks me off. We blog because we love books. Do we all want ARCs? Of course we do! Who wouldn’t want to read a book before it’s available to the public at large? It’s like members of musician fan clubs getting first crack at concert tix or the fact that I’m a Verizon customer and I got to order an iPhone before the rest of the public at large. Now granted, the concert tix and the iPhone weren’t free, but I have yet to come across a book blogger who gets ARCs regularly and doesn’t go out and buy a plethora of books with his/her own money.

    And the whole thing about giving the ARCs to teachers and librarians? Well, a lot of us book bloggers ARE teachers and librarians! But, why bother giving a book to a teacher who’s not going to read it? I mean, I am a teacher that pimps books left and right in my classroom, but all the other LA teachers in my building don’t read for enjoyment and don’t model the love of reading for their students. Would you rather have THOSE teachers getting those ARCs or the book bloggers who are going to read the book and publicize it on their blog? Sounds like a no-brainer to me!

  68. Thanks for posting this article! I was also there the other night trying desperately to catch up with the conversation. It was hopping! I am always shocked when people say that bloggers shouldn’t express their true opinions of the book if they didn’t like it. I think book bloggers should be applauded for their honesty. The people who read their blogs are there to find out what they want to read next. These aren’t commercials!

    As a writer, I’m sure I would be hurt if a reviewer hated my books, but at the same time, you’ve got to respect people’s right to their own opinion. Continue to be yourself and to do what you do. Your site is awesome!

  69. Hmm

    Well, I’d have to say that probably 80-90% of my sales have come from reviews.

    Both reviews from review sites and people I’ve sent the book to and just asked for reviews.

    Of course book review blogs impact sales–it’s absurd to think they don’t.

    Out of 600k e-books on Amazon, it’s unrealistic of me to think that hundreds of people found that book without reading about it.

    Negative reviews–shrug–no author likes them. Sometimes we can learn from them–other times we simply won’t agree. So what? There are different strokes for different folks. Not everyone will like my book. Others have really loved it. Depends on the reader.

    I don’t think bashing an author is right–but saying a book doesn’t work for you for x, y, and z reasons? Sure, that’s the point.

    In today’s market-we are competing with thousands of other books–hell, hundreds of thousands–something has to make your book stand out. It’s sure not going to be the 10-20 you sell to friends–it’ll be the reviews–good and bad.

    🙂 I’m actually guilty of buying books with bad reviews just to see if they are as bad as a reviewer thought, LOL

    Good post.

    Personally, I love book bloggers! You help pay my bills, and are very much appreciated.

  70. Amen sister.

    *high five*

    I actually like reading negative reviews from time to time. In some cases, it makes me want a book more. Because I want to see where I will fall.

    Case in point: Halo.
    I read tons of reviews that didn’t dig it.
    It made me want to read it.
    In the end, I loved it and sang it’s praises.

    GREAT post.

  71. BTW, Amen on vitrol. It’s always amazed and confounded me. I am always giving away books to local charities and libraries. I get but I continuously give.

  72. Well, being an author, I value an honest review, no matter what that review may be. I’m fully aware I can’t possibly please everyone with my story. I too have review a few books, and not all of them were glowing reviews. I like to give like I like to get, but I do try hard to be diplomatic. Yes, I look for something to like, but I don’t always find it. Frankly, if it’s that bad I don’t bother reading it, and by logical connection, there’s no bad review on that book, not from me anyway.

    Anyway, what kind of books do you like to review? If you’re interested in mine, I’d be happy to get a copy to you.
    KING BY RIGHT OF BLOOD AND MIGHT is my book – available on Amazon.

  73. girl, you are preaching to the choir.

    I often wonder what publishers think we do with ARCs once we review them. I’ve kept maybe 3? All told? Others are either giveaways*, donated to the library or high school, or given to teenaged kids of coworkers. I ain’t collecting them to build a fort of typos, or anything.

    The simple truth is that there are more books published and needing press than any one blogger has funds to purchase (unless you guys have a winning lotto ticket, in which case I believe we’ve already discussed our impending marriage). ARCs help that disparity a bit. The rest? Well, all you have to do is look at my pitiful bank account to see where I get most of my books.

    *when we aren’t directly purchasing a book to give away

  74. For me, the apparent free books is a bonus. And if the idiots who are saying that bloggers are only doing it for the free books, look at it my way – I’m English, I don’t get free ARC’s. I get free eBook galleys, if I enjoy the Galley, I will then buy the book when it’s released. Suddenly, not so free. I have had one ARC since I joined the blogging community. Where did I get that from? Holly, it was part of a tour and I had to pay heavy postage o send it to New Zealand afterwards. I didn’t even enjoy the book that much to be honest! XD

    Clearly, publishers believe that Bloggers have the ability to sell books and have honest opinions, that’s why every time I see a publisher offering a Galley, a book blog is a requirement.

    Jealousy? I think so. Stop hating people, use a keyboard and make your own reviews.

  75. saraweather says

    I was waiting for someone else to be annoyed by this negative reviews are bashing thing. You summed up why this whole thing annoys me. Why are reader talking themselves into giving only positive reviews?


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by thestorysiren, Danielle Smith, Allison , Tahleen Ovian, Allison and others. Allison said: love it April! RT @booksandwine: ‘Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride’: or WTF YAlitchat http://goo.gl/fb/BARWs […]

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