My Apology to the Book Industry (And What We All Can Learn)

This apology is primarily for authors, secondly for publishers, and thirdly for agents, booksellers, bloggers, and readers.

On multiple occasions I have shared book information without obtaining permission from the author. I am a repeat offender. This was selfish and thoughtless. I didn’t stop to consider the authors, publishers and everyone else my actions affected. I never thought that maybe my “helping to promote” was actually damaging. My selfishness and thoughtlessness was inappropriate. My naïveté, presumptuousness, misunderstanding, misinterpreting, stupidity, and callousness are horrible misdeeds. I was wrong to do all these things, and I am sorry. I apologise and fully accept all the blame for my offences, though I don’t expect forgiveness.

I am well aware that any and all apologies I give cannot make up for the inconvenience, annoyance, irritation, frustration, and anxiety that have been caused. But now I know how what I do affects others, I vow to do my best to obtain permission from the relevant people going forward. I know my intentions to do better from now on are only words until my actions prove them true.

If any authors, publishers, and anyone else affected would like me to address this apology specifically to you, I will do so at your command. (I didn’t automatically name you here, because I was concerned my readers would search for the information that’s not supposed to be public.)

I make this apology open, rather than private, so that other bloggers and readers can learn from my numerous, repetitive mistakes:

-I naïvely believed that all information on a publisher’s and/or bookseller’s website is correct. I was wrong, and I am sorry.

-I foolishly believed that all information on a publisher’s and/or bookseller’s website is public. I was wrong, and I am sorry.

-I selfishly believed that all public information on a publisher’s and/or bookseller’s website is okay to share and promote immediately. I was wrong, and I am sorry.

I am guilty and apologetic for all of the above, and more:

-I never took into account that the employee who posted the information on the publisher’s website might not have yet received the official go-ahead from their superiors.

-I never took into account that there are certain circumstances when word-of-mouth, no matter how positive, is a hindrance rather than a help.

-I never took into account that my deeds might negatively affect authors.

-I committed one of the biggest sins in journalism: Not checking with the people involved.

I was wrong, and I am sorry.

I have well learned my lessons:

-Just because information is freely available on the publisher’s website, this does NOT mean I should find it and share it. (And no, I don’t have mad hacking skills. I simply type authors’ names into publishers’ and booksellers’ search engines, no passwords or hacking required.)

-Just because SOME authors like to be informed of when their titles, release dates, and covers are on their publishers’ and booksellers’ websites, this does NOT mean that ALL authors like to be informed.

-Before I announce or share anything that the author hasn’t already officially revealed, ASK THE AUTHOR. If they don’t grant permission to share, DON’T SHARE.

My fellow bloggers, you may wonder, “why aren’t we allowed to share when IT’S ON THE PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE, FOR FARK’S SAKE?” I haven’t asked anyone in the know, but these are my educated guesses:

Official reveals, whether they’re titles or covers. These are usually reserved for big-name websites to exclusively reveal, such as MTV, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, and other venues whose existence people outside of the book industry know. If it’s a cover, it may appear with the website’s watermark. I have no idea if money is involved with official reveals, or just conditional publicity (e.g. will only publicise if granted official, exclusive rights to reveal the cover/title before anyone else). Because nothing says “reader-friendly and inclusive” quite like…exclusivity.

-Sharing information shouldn’t be about the readers, or the bloggers, or even the publisher. WITHOUT THE AUTHOR, THERE IS NO BOOK. Authors, like anyone else, want to be the bearers of good news, bestowing info upon their fans like gifts. Let’s let them do it.

And if you’ve read all the way through this post, you could do with some comic relief. This is Wikileaks, founder of South Park Elementary gossip site Eavesdropper. I don’t think he had a happy ending. People often shoot the messenger.

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10 responses to “My Apology to the Book Industry (And What We All Can Learn)

  1. …nope, I got nuthin’.

  2. Tez, I get where this came from, 100%. I saw the author (and I’m being nice by not naming her even though I want to) who I believe inspired this post, be rather snotty to you on Twitter and in my opinion, she was in the wrong. If she can’t or keep in touch with someone at her publishing house so that she knows when her own damn book is coming out, it’s her problem, not yours. It had a cover and everything, so it’s not like you broke the news that it had been written.

    The publisher has the obligation to make sure what’s on their website is factual. You just placed a bigger burden for accuracy on yourself than the publisher, which, while admirable, is impossible if you don’t have access to the same kind of information. You’ll never be able to fact-check everything with every author, every publishing house and every retail outlet plus make sure you’re not upsetting anyone, so the alternative is that you never post anything about new releases again.

    Obviously, you have to do what your gut tells you is good but I think you’re apologizing for way too much and putting too much of a burden on yourself. That author (I really want to name her and stick my foot in her butt for being rude) was out of line for blaming you for “ruining” her announcements.

    • Thanks, Barbara. Actually the incident that inspired this post only involved titles – no covers that I’ve seen. So we may be thinking of different people, or different books. Someone else months ago asked me to take down a cover, and I did. She was really nice about it, so while I didn’t like it, I understood and granted her request.

  3. It turns out that I do have something. It would never occur to me that something I found on a publisher’s website would need confirmation or that I would have to ask the author for permission to talk about it.

    From the moment I saw your first post about this I was hoping you were posting with the sarcasm font on. I mean, really? If the author had a problem then the author needed to address that issue with her publisher. Once the information was posted then it is fair game for discussion.

    I would have to ask that since she knew it was out there what was she waiting for? Is she tracking down every blogger/reviewer/reader who has seen it and mentioned it and chastised them? Absolutely brilliant publicity idea.

    I’m with Barb- the author needs a boot in the butt.

    There is an apology owed but TO you not FROM you.

    • Maybe I just took the author’s words a little too harshly. And she didn’t know it was listed on Amazon until I brought it to her attention – at least, that’s what I figure.

      I think we all know that authors can’t complain to their publishers, because the publisher may deem them “difficult” and therefore choose not to contract that author again. Which has nothing to do with me, except that I find and share supposedly public information.

      I haven’t seen any other blogger/reader mention the titles, but I can’t be the only one checking the Amazons for my favourite authors’ upcoming releases on a weekly basis… Or am I? 😉

  4. Why in the world would an author complain about a popular book blogger publicizing their book? For what it’s worth, you can beat me to the punch any day, darling!

  5. So yeah…. I’ve no idea what’s going on here. Care to share privately?

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