Media, be it large conglomerates or itty bitty blogs, tends to focus on the negative. Numbers prove over and over that bad things - such as yesterday's blog post about my experience with Crown's Blogging for Books program - garner far more attention than happy stories. This isn't always a bad thing, though, especially when we're trying to draw attention to a wrong we'd like to be fixed. Frequently, though, the good news gets buried on page 6 news under the ads for septic cleaners. Today I'd like to feature the good news front and center.
In this particular case, I'm very happy to say that you all managed to garner some attention yesterday. I received some wonderful communications from the folks at Crown and they have been extremely willing to clarify and make changes where needed.
First and foremost: the conditions for cross-posting reviews on commercial book selling websites, as well as Facebook and Twitter. The folks at Crown inform me that these actions are "absolutely optional" for the reviewer, despite presentation otherwise. They assure me that they are going to review that portion of the website and make certain that this is "crystal clear" to the reviewer.
As to the unfortunate choice of wording to describe bloggers - evil warlord book hoarding blogger - I've been assured that this attempt at snark is being removed. I'm probably more forgiving than most here given the number of times I've had my own snark boomerang back on me. Ouch. It hurts. But a good mea culpa goes a long way in my book. I'm good.
And this brings us to the Klout Score. Ah, Klout, you antiquated technological trickery. While the folks at Crown acknowledge the imperfection of Klout, they also lament the lack of any substitute (for more on the flaws of Klout, read here). And sadly, they're correct. There are several programs designed to measure online presence like Klout does - Kred and Peer Index being two - but neither of them do any better than Klout (which is to say, lousy). Short of Crown dedicating an entire division of employees to researching each individual blogger, there simply is no other program available. Personally, I would argue for a points-earned by reviews system ala Penguin's First to Read Program which seems to even the playing field a bit more, but I'm just a piano player in this whorehouse.
Regardless, I'm certainly heartened by Crown's willingness to work with their loyal reviewers. The changes and clarifications are being implemented even as I type and I would encourage all bloggers to take a look at the program to ensure you like what you see.
Whether you participate in programs like Blogging for Books or not, it seems like a good time to reiterate for those who are new to the book reviewing game, that the quality of your book blog is never, ever predicated on the recency of the books you review. Reviewing an advance copy of a book is neither here nor there. As a reader - who has already blown through 63 books this year, the vast majority recommended by YOU - I am always drawn to blogs where the reviews are thoughtful, complete (and a little humor is never amiss), even if the books being reviewed are last year's releases. This is vastly preferable to a mindless blurb about some new release.
So continue to be mindful of the conditions under which you accept a book for review. If you feel uncomfortable, don't accept it. There's nothing shameful in that...it's called having ethics. And since you're not paid to do this thing you love so very much, all you have is your ethical standards. Don't give those up. Not for a blog tour, not to snag some author interview, not to drive up your blog traffic, not for a higher Klout Score (HA!)....not for anything. Always go with your gut feeling. If the conditions for reviewing a book feel wrong to you, they are wrong. With time, patience, and an unfailing adherence to your ethical standards you'll end up earning a lot of respect from your peers.
And now we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming....where did I put that damned review....