Exploitation in the Author-Blogger Relationship (Or, Respect is a Two-Way Street)

My novel is coming out [date redacted] and I’m hoping to put together my team again… What will be asked of you is to post something on FB, Twitter or your blog 2x a week starting [dates redacted] – which is about 10 posts. I have made graphics with quotes and will running [sic] contests and have blurbs from other authors, booksellers and bloggers.

Authors requesting publicity from fans is nothing new, and usually harmless. It’s all voluntary, and if you choose to participate, you’re usually informed that you don’t have to do ALL THE THINGS – just the ones which are right for you. So far, nothing offensive.

But the above, italicised request? I came across it the other day (the redacting is mine), and couldn’t believe the greed of it. Yes, it’s voluntary, and the volunteers are notified up front what’s expected of them. So far, nothing illegal. But ethically speaking?

(Memed by me. Image from TV Tropes. Yeah, I had to create my own meme, because the only ready-made memes are for media I don’t watch.)

You know what would be okay? Everything collated into one blog post, and then one post each from Twitter, Facebook, etc, linking to that one blog post. And that’s being generous! Usually just the cover, summary, and release date will suffice. MAYBE pre-order links. Any more than this is clearly advertising…or SPAMMING. Readers don’t like to be spammed. You can call it “marketing” or “advertising” all you like, but it’s spam.

One post is fine, as a favour to the author. Any more than that, and the author is exploiting the blogger. (“Author” may also mean “publicist” in this context.)

If a company wants their book in a newspaper or magazine ten times, they pay for it. They’re ads, or “sponsored advertorials”, and other terms I’ve forgotten from The Gruen Transfer (see also Gruen Planet, Gruen Nation, and The Checkout – these are all Australian factual TV programmes, and may not be available in your country). Key word: PAY.

And the author wants you to do it for free, with no guarantee of you getting anything in return for your time, space, and effort. Sure, you may get an ENTRY into a contest, but that’s no GUARANTEE of winning. It’s like doing your work, and getting a CHANCE to be paid. It’s like being offered HOPE, instead of something real. Because you’re just a blogger/reader/fan to them. They don’t view you as equally important as a newspaper or magazine, and therefore don’t treat you as such.

Authors should NEVER be expected to make their fiction free and available to all. They know this, and rightfully insist to be paid for doing their job. So why should bloggers be expected to provide TEN ad/content spaces for free?

In the context of my entire blog post, the author is not just an author. They’re also [occupation redacted to protect their identity], so they know exactly what they’re doing – and that’s exploiting the people who care for the author and the author’s books.

ONE post = fine. TEN posts = exploitation.

A relationship is a two-way street. Exploitation is disrespectful, and respect is vital for a relationship. The respect must go both ways – because EVERYONE deserves better than exploitation.

But it’s all voluntary, right? So you won’t be exploited unless you CHOOSE to be exploited.

I won’t stop you from volunteering. I just want you to be informed. I’ve said my piece, and the rest is up to you.

Bonus Commentary
If you’ve read this far, congratulations! Have some extra content:

graphics with quotes – These are obnoxious. If the summary of your book doesn’t interest me, the quote graphics won’t convince me otherwise.

contests – Chances are it won’t be just the “free entry” option on Rafflecopter.

blurbs from other authors, booksellers and bloggers – And they’ll all be positive, so you won’t be getting a balanced diet. Also, I don’t care what other people think – I care what I think.

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9 responses to “Exploitation in the Author-Blogger Relationship (Or, Respect is a Two-Way Street)

  1. Oooh! I actually love graphics with quotes. When I see a quote that resonates with me, it can make me interested in a book I didn’t consider before.

  2. Hmm. This does feel very “markety” and “spam-y” but what bothers me the most is that the author doesn’t tell their street team to disclose to their friends and followers they are part of a street team when they post what they will be posting to help him/her spread the word on his/her book. I feel like that’s where I’m uncomfortable. The lack of disclosure on the relationship with the author. Because if someone wants to do this for their favorite author, I mean, that’s their choice. It’s just the part where they might not be upfront that they’re promoting their favorite author that seems not so kosher? Unless that part you didn’t quote?

  3. Holy balls. I can’t believe an author would expect you to spam on their behalf. Especially FOR FREE.

    And this is a little bit of my own pet peeve, but who are these people that think spamming is an effective sales technique? I wish more authors would realize that unless they (and their team of winged monkeys and exploited bloggers) are getting hundreds of new followers by the millisecond, there’s no need to keep retweeting and reposting your book links over and over. It’s a turnoff. (I get asked to do this a lot by fellow authors and frankly, I resent it. I appreciate my followers and I don’t want to damage our relationship by flooding their timelines.)

    • It’s okay to request ONE post, but TEN? HELL, NO!

      And thanks for not flooding Twitter. Actually, I wouldn’t know, so I haven’t read Twitter feeds in days, but I’m up-to-date with Facebook, and you haven’t flooded FB πŸ˜‰

  4. I also don’t mind the graphics with quotes- in moderation, though. And I agree wholeheartedly with your key point, Tez- expecting a blogger to do your promotion is exploitation (instead of, say, the publicist or author doing their damn work), and as a reader of a blog, I would find it very spam-like and hugely off-putting to visit a blog and find a ton of squeeing posts devoted to one book. If I wanted that, I’d live on Goodreads. I value bloggers for their own voices and opinions, not ones put in their mouths.

    And yeah, the force-follow in Rafflecopter? NO. I don’t need to win the book that much just to sign up for a crapton of spam.

    • I’m okay with the Rafflecopter options for Follow the Author on FB, Twitter. But “promote this contest”? Hell, no! The more people who know about a contest, the less chance I’ll have of actually winning if I have more competition πŸ˜‰ Oh yeah, and because it’s spammy – I probably should’ve said that first, rather than an afterthought…oops πŸ˜‰

  5. Great article, Tez. Wow, I am really asking very little from bloggers right now – I should get more greedy. πŸ˜‰

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