Book Buzz or Manipulation?

Posted November 16, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 8 Comments

Recently I found myself reading, and discussing on twitter, a particular piece found on the NetGalley tumblr page. This article is a typical puff piece about how great NetGalley is and what they can do to create book buzz and make a book popular. It was transcript of a speech Lindsey Rudnickas (NetGalley’s Digital Marketing Manager) gave on ‘“Book Buzz & Discoverability in the Future of Storytelling’. Basically she was saying, give NetGalley your business and we can make your upcoming book a hit.

Sure, this was a typical marketing pitch but it left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt more like a tool (the literal meaning of tool) rather than a book blogger. I use NetGalley and have enjoyed the benefits of getting to read a book before it’s released from publishers as well. I just wondered are we just tools used to manipulate people into buying the books they want to promote.

This is a little cynical but it was worth taking the time to think about. I have the opportunity to be in direct contact with some people who work marketing for a publisher. Most of them are friendly and supportive of book bloggers. We just have to remember this whole thing is a win-win situation for both the blogger and the publisher.

I know most people know this but this article made me feel more manipulated that I wanted. Should I feel manipulated? Out of the 272 reviews post so far (as of the 4th of November) 64% of the books are book I own, 19% are provided by a publisher, NetGalley or a similar service and 17% are library books. This is nothing to be ashamed of; I think if I read what I want to read then I shouldn’t feel this way.

It was just something to think about; I’ve often said these publicists could save money by being selective with what books they send to the bloggers. I know some of them will be more selective or communicate with the blogger before sending out books. This whole strategy of sending every blogger the same book may seem weird but reading this article I can see what they want to achieve. If there are a heap of reviews on the one book (positive or negative) the book will be recognised, talked about and there we have buzz.

So how do you feel about ARCs or Galleys? Do they over take your life? As a blogger do you think you have a healthy balance between what you want to read and what has been sent to you? Do you feel manipulated? Let me know in the comments; maybe I’m one of the few but at least it was something to think about.

8 responses to “Book Buzz or Manipulation?

  1. frellathon

    Netgalley is great yes but the choice is the bloggers on what they will accept. When you send an unsolicited copy though print or ebook its just strange to me. For example not long ago I came home to find a package waiting for me. Great exciting I could tell it was a book, opened it up and inside was a book I’m not interested in and have no desire to read. Now I feel annoyed that I have it and the implication is clearly there to read and review it but then I also feel guilty, I ask for books I do want so shouldn’t you review this one they sent who knows you may like it. Being manipulated sucks.

  2. tanya boughtflower

    Having worked in publishing as a marketer I guess I always have known that book bloggers are tools of the industry. But i feel it is a symbiotic relationship. My book budget can go a lot further considering how many free books I get. I feel no pressure to give a good review unless I feel the book deserves it. And I feel free to admit when i’ve DNF’d a book. The flip side is I get to read (for free) many of my favorite authors before their books even come out. That excites me and if I can pass that excitement onto others, all the better. If a publisher sends me a book I have not requested, I always thank them for it, but since I did not request it, i feel no pressure about reading it.

    • I try not to feel pressure, and for the most part I don’t. I’m just perplexed about the send books to everyone method. Sure it probably works but I would rather a relationship with a publisher that is a little more personalised. Most publishers are great and I don’t really complain, I just wanted to think about the topic of book buzz

  3. lectus

    I only request ARCs that I find really interesting, and just about four at a time. If I didn’t like the book, it pains me ti say so, but I say it. I know some bloggers request tons of books that they never read. I don’t see the point of that, though.

  4. Violet

    I think that reviewers probably get the better end of the deal with Netgalley. It seems that many people request books and don’t post a review, which kind of defeats the purpose, as NG is a paid-for marketing service. ( I read that it costs a publisher $200-300 to list each title. ) Basically, publishers and authors are buying reviews and readers are getting free books, so it’s a win/win situation if the reader posts a review.

    I don’t have anything to do with ARCs, either digital or print. I wouldn’t mind being given free books, but I doubt that I’d want to read “buzz” books. Besides that, I’d feel under a moral obligation to read and review every book I was given, because I think that’s the right thing to do, but that’s just me. 🙂

    • I do believe NG are taking steps to make the request/review ratio more visible to stop the manipulators. But sometimes I think it might be better if I didn’t request ARCs. I like getting them and I only request from NG if I’m sure I’ll read the book. The world of book blogging is so complicated.

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