Why Book Bloggers Aren’t Obliged to Support Authors

I often scroll through /r/selfpublish, which is a subreddit for self-published authors. One of the themes that often comes up is book bloggers and the difficulty that self-published authors face when trying to get reviews.

In most cases, authors are usually very understanding of the book blogging community. But in a few cases I’ve seen, authors are much more combative. They complain that book bloggers need to accept reviews from self-published authors because they have a tough time getting their works seen. They complain that we’re asking for too much when we write a review policy or ask them to read it.

The implication behind a lot of these comments is that book bloggers should be doing those things because we have an obligation to support authors.

That’s something I want to explore in this post today. Whether it’s coming from a self-published or traditional author, it’s not a statement I personally agree with.

Everyone blogs for different reasons

It’s true that authors of any background often find it very difficult to get attention for their books. And it’s nice to support authors by reviewing their books or writing about them on your blog. However, I don’t think it’s something that all book bloggers should have to do just because they’re book bloggers.

For me, blogging is a hobby that enables me to express my thoughts about books and connect with the bookish community. I see my book reviews as a record of my thoughts. I hope they’re useful to other readers who aren’t sure about whether to pick up a book or not.

Maybe authors might find value in my reviews, but it’s not something I intend to have happen when I review. I like spreading the word about authors whose work I love but promotion isn’t the goal of my blog. And in reality, there are some authors who I don’t personally support and who I don’t wish to promote, even if only indirectly.

Promotion is often a one-sided relationship

I feel like there’s almost an unspoken expectation by authors and publishers that book bloggers will be there to promote for authors. ARCs are commonly part of the marketing plans for authors, whether self-published or traditional. But those ARCs aren’t really useful if there isn’t anyone on the other end to take them! Yet, there’s always an assumption that someone will pick up an ARC and someone will post a review.

To be fair, many authors and reviewers often defend bookish content creators by emphasizing that we shouldn’t be expected to support any author. Authors are often very appreciative of the support they do get from their readers.

But generally, I think that conversations around the book blogger/author relationship often centre around what we can do to support authors – and not the other way around.

I believe that whether we’re helping self-published or traditional authors, we’re unpaid marketers. And I also believe that our time and happiness is important!

In some cases, I think that the idea that book bloggers must support authors can lead to a slippery slope. It can lead to a situation where a blogger feels pressured by the community, or by an author, to accept an ARC or do more work than they’d otherwise like. It can lead to a situation where a blogger feels pressured to speak positively about an author and a book, even if they don’t feel that same way.

If doing ARC reviews, retweeting book release info, and so on is something you don’t want to do, you shouldn’t feel pressured to do it. If that’s something that you enjoy, go for it! It should be your choice what you want to do, not a choice that stems from the idea that book bloggers are all promoters and all people that must be supportive of authors.


I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are on this. What should the relationship between book bloggers and authors be? Do book bloggers have an obligation to support authors?

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21 thoughts on “Why Book Bloggers Aren’t Obliged to Support Authors

  1. Krysta October 17, 2022 / 4:31 pm

    I agree! I see my book blog as a way to talk about books and connect with other readers. Sometimes that means that I give exposure to certain books or authors, and I end up indirectly promoting an author. I’m happy to support authors in this indirect way because I do value their work, and I want to promote reading and literacy. But promoting authors is not the primary purpose of my blog, and no blogger should feel obligated to work as an unpaid marketer for an author or a publisher.

    I think some authors and publishers sometimes forget that bloggers are working, too. Authors don’t like the idea of writing free. Well, bloggers don’t necessarily like the idea of writing promotional content free! It takes time and effort to read a book and write a review, and that time and effort are valuable.

    Also, there are SO MANY books out there. There are definitely some authors who think they are owed the free labor and time of bloggers/reviewers, but the reality is that the competition is fierce. I read intensely and I still can’t get around to every book published this year. I can like reading and want to support authors, and still not be able to get to Author Y’s book, no matter how hard they worked on it and no matter how much they believe they are owned an audience as a result. It’s certainly not agreeable, and I am sympathetic to authors who need more exposure. At the same time, I don’t think it’s my personal duty to work as their unpaid publicist.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mint October 18, 2022 / 10:21 pm

      Well said! It’s important to appreciate the hard work and effort that bloggers – and all reviewers – put in. There’s no obligation on our end to do it. And if it’s so important to the author, they should at least recognize this.

      In defense of the writers on /r/selfpublish, I think a lot of them just haven’t done their research about the book blogging space and/or think their book is the best thing since sliced bread and a must-read for everyone. Once authors there are less starry-eyed and aware of the process, they’re often more thoughtful about the commitment required from bloggers.

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      • Krysta October 23, 2022 / 4:56 pm

        Yeah, I can see that. I think people do see publishing a book as being akin to being a celebrity. And I imagine a lot of starry-eyed feelings go along with that–which could turn into a feeling that their celebrity deserves to be recognized.

        But I think the key is to recognize that authors and bloggers are all writers (just in different formats) and all working hard. Everyone deserves kindness and respect, if nothing else. That doesn’t have to translate into deserving a review, though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ann October 17, 2022 / 5:36 pm

    Bloggers do not have an obligation to support authors. Not blogger should feel obligated to promote an author’s work or request ARCs.

    I started my blog to talk about what I like and that happens to be books and movies. I may promote an author indirectly. Only because there are tons of books that get overlook.

    There are so many books out there. That people should read freely what they are interested in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint October 17, 2022 / 6:11 pm

      Absolutely agree! There aren’t many reasons for bloggers to give up our own time and effort to read and review something we genuinely aren’t interested in.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kristina October 17, 2022 / 8:40 pm

    I agree with your take!
    It’s unfair, and quite of a superiority feeling having author think we NEED to shout them out. Not only does the bloggers have the added stress of the whole thing, but that also make the review not trustable.. was it pushed on you or did you actually enjoyed it? (And that’s not talking about the authors being mean to bloggers because they « didnt understood the book »).
    While yes, it’s more widespread now than it was.. it also isn’t fair for publicist to bet on it either. How about you pay us for our efforts? Because this is most likely than not an unpaid hobby.. clearly we aren’t gonna support everyone, and especially not if you feel like we owe you but yon’t pay for our services 😬 everybody be struggling nowadays..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint October 18, 2022 / 10:25 pm

      Maybe I should turn this into a full post – but I have mixed feelings about being paid for reviewing.

      One of the issues is that it can make the review not trustable, if the reviewer fears they will not be paid if the author does not like their review. And I generally think there are things to be cautious about when selling one’s services online – like whether an author is expecting more from a blogger than agreed upon. Or privacy concerns (especially if one has to share banking details to receive payment).

      Some kind of middle ground between authors thinking bloggers are required to support them and full payment would be nice, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kristina October 19, 2022 / 6:54 am

        Mmh yes i see! It’s definately a hard topic.. there’s no one answer

        Liked by 1 person

  4. dinipandareads October 18, 2022 / 6:28 am

    I fully agree with your take! I’m a book blogger because I want to share my love for books with other people who feel the same but this is not my full-time job and everything we do for free is on our own time. Just like you said, our time and happiness are just as important and no book blogger should ever feel obligated or pressured to promote something they don’t want to. I also feel like if a person ever feels pressured to do that it could very well lead to someone disliking a book or author and being unwilling to give them support again in the future (and honestly, they’d probably spread the word through the community if it was an unpleasant situation).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint October 18, 2022 / 10:21 pm

      I find that reviewers are generally pretty good at calling out authors who’ve treated them horribly. I really appreciate that as a reviewer, but I also wouldn’t want them being put in that position in the first place.

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  5. FangirlFlax October 18, 2022 / 2:01 pm

    I do struggle with the idea of reviewing (and in fact, don’t review anymore–just ‘gush’, rarely, about five star reads that have just moved right into my heart, that I’m openly biased and unfair about). But I’d never considered it from this angle, as reviewers being ‘unpaid marketers’!

    Reviewing anything is such a hot topic right now, with the whole influencer trend and not being sure how much you can trust reviews on a website to not be paid for. But there’s some reward in that, and definitely very little reward in book reviewing, in spite of how time-consuming it is. This was a really interesting post that’s provided a lot of food for thought–thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint October 18, 2022 / 10:27 pm

      Thanks for your comment! It’s a weird thing to think about, reviewers as unpaid marketers. I think a lot of readers, me included, see it as a form of art or a public good. It’s different to think about books like a product that needs to be marketed, but it’s often the mindset of authors and/or publishers when trying to earn sales.

      Liked by 1 person

      • FangirlFlax October 19, 2022 / 2:58 am

        It’s definitely not something I’ve ever thought about before! I’ve only ever thought of it as a fan and a reader–you want to shout about the things you love, and let other people onto it. But you’re right, there’s a whole business side I hadn’t considered.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. abookowlscorner October 21, 2022 / 11:55 am

    I’m 100% with you on this! Blogging has always been a hobby for me, so the ultimate control of which books I want to read and promote is mine and mine alone. There’s nothing that makes me less inclined to read a book than being forced to read it! 😅 Ultimately, though, I feel like authors who expect bloggers to unconditionally review their work are hurting themselves more than they’re hurting bloggers – because in the end, no one will really feel comfortable working with them anymore…

    Regarding bloggers being unpaid, though – I actually think it significantly shapes this community that we aren’t paid for the work we do or receive any other huge perks from authors. I feel like authors supporting bloggers more would only increase the problem that people might feel awkward about sharing their true opinions on a book they didn’t particularly love – so I kind of like that there’s this separation! Then again, blogging does require ton of time, so I would never condem anyone for trying to get at least some compensation for what they do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint October 21, 2022 / 9:39 pm

      Yeah, the bookish community can be very small at times, and if an author is known for not being good to bloggers… word can spread pretty fast.

      I agree with you about how payment shapes the dynamic of blogging. I agree, I think it would increase the problem of people feeling awkward. Especially in a time of economic difficulty for many.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Briana | Pages Unbound October 24, 2022 / 4:50 pm

    I see this attitude sometimes too and am baffled by what is unclear to these authors that 99% of book bloggers are reading whatever we feel like for fun and then reviewing it. If someone thinks I owe them hours of my life to read and review their book and access to an audience I have been building for 11 years, they can pay me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound October 24, 2022 / 4:57 pm

      I should clarify I think there are issues with paid reviews, but I just mean it’s ridiculous people think bloggers owe them free work and marketing. I read books I personally think I will enjoy. I don’t read books because I want to market them to people.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts) November 7, 2022 / 11:02 am

    Oh, hell, that’s a very hot take from them especially since we don’t even make a living from blogging (not necessarily from them, but from major publishers); I definitely don’t think we have an obligation to support authors and am constantly scratching my head at it considering most of us do it for fun. It’ll be a bit of a different story if book bloggers were like other niches and actually make a living from it (because then we’d probably have the time to boost self-published authors as well), but I also agree that it can be a slippery slope as well especially when it comes to reviews.

    In cases for posts outside of reviews like a wrap up where we usually have a haul list, a cover reveal, a mention in a list of anticipated reads, though, that might be something to consider at least (but then it also sort of leads back to that slippery slope as well) or at least somewhere in the middle where everyone is happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint November 10, 2022 / 1:14 pm

      I like what you said about finding a middle point! If a blogger does want to support an author, something like a haul list or mention in a list doesn’t take too much time for the blogger, but could drive interest in the author’s book. A full review is more involved and I don’t even know if it would lead to more sales

      Like

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