Friday, 22 March 2013

To Letterbox Love Or Not!

Earlier today I found myself involved in a conversation concerning posting book hauls on the blog. The conversation mainly dealt with publishers getting annoyed over bloggers pestering them after seeing someone’s book haul. The conversation went on for some time and veered into the direction as to whether we should post these picture or not. I  came away with the impression that many people viewed the book haul posts as bragging. Now these posts have always sat heavily on my conscience as I do receive a lot of review books, so I am debating whether or not to continue with Letterbox Love.
In my defence there are five of us on the Serendipity Reviews team, soon to be six. As a team we are made up of aspiring and published authors who learn so much from the work of other authors and we get a feel for the publishing market as a whole.  I am also aware that certain publishers tend to retweet these posts as a way of promoting their books, so I have never been under the impression that publishers would like us to stop them. I have a good relationship with all the publishers I work with and not once have they asked me to stop these posts.
Also many of the books delivered are unsolicited. In fact, half to three quarters that arrive at my home have appeared down this route and I am always truly grateful for that. If they don’t appeal to my reviewers and I, I normally give them away internationally so another blogger gets the chance to read them.
I‘ve always viewed the book haul posts as a way of showing what books will be hitting the market very soon. I am passionate about the books coming out and I know I can be rather loud when it comes to showing people what to expect. Not once has anyone ever told me to shut up and if they don’t like what I show them, they know where to hit the unfollow button on the way out. Many of my blogging pals feel the same way and we try our best to highlight the books with publishing details such as synopsis and dates of publication.
I will admit to occasionally begging for a book. The lengths I went to get Amy Plum’s Die For Me are now legendary and Amy has since nicknamed me Hurricane Viv.  As I have progressed as a blogger, I have wisened and now quietly offer sparkling cupcakes instead of *coughs* offering to sell members of my family.
With the growth of sites such as NetGalley, offering everyone review copies, I can’t help but think the publishers really don’t mind that we ask for books and then show them off. I have never ever had a publisher give me my marching orders. At the Mira Ink event I went to last night, the love and gratitude from the staff made  us all  feel like we do a worthwhile job. Not one of us walks around as though we are owed these books - as though it is our God given right as book bloggers to receive them; each and every one of us are grateful for what we receive. I hope that our efforts to advertise books helps to sell more of them, especially as the book space in newspapers and magazines diminishes.
However with the growth of the book blogger market within the UK, I’m now beginning to feel even more uneasy about posting these posts. I don’t want to be a bragger, I can assure you I have absolutely nothing to brag about. I honestly don’t want to alienate people by showing them all the books that I receive. And I wanted to ask you as readers of this blog, whether you would like me to continue with these posts or not. What are your thoughts on the books we show? Are we coming across as bragging? Should we stop?
To Letterbox Love or Not! You decide?

30 comments:

  1. I absolutely love book haul posts, I love seeing pictures of stacks of new books haha. Of course I do feel envious when I see others get books from publishers I really want to but sometimes you just have to acknowledge they're luckier than you and they have connections that you don't so I won't pester publishers - especially as I just started blogging this year and I live in Asia, I don't really see it as my right to be requesting review books, particularly physical copy books as a lot of publishers don't ship outside the US and Canada and the UK. I feel that publishers like book haul posts because you can find out more books through them and that helps the publishers in the end.

    The bragging on the other hand really just has to do with the blogger's attitude. If they don't come across as bragging what they have, it's fine but if they come across as bragging, then it gets annoying and should just stop. Most of the times though, I don't see book haul posts as bragging, just that the blogger wants to share the book love.

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    1. Thanks Charlotte. I didn't realise you were in Asia! I would imagine NetGalley would be good for you.

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  2. Hmm.. I think I agree that the attitude is important, and the way it's put across. It can certainly be a great way to learn about upcoming books, and I've added many to my wish list that way; but I do see some more as showing off.

    I think it also helps if it's within a busy blog, so you can see that the books do in fact get reviewed - if I see more book haul posts than reviews, then I wonder if they're more concerned about acquiring the books than actually reviewing them.

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    1. That's a fair point. I hadn't thought about the ratio of reviews to book haul. That does make a difference.

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  3. I love the book haul posts Viv! I don't see it as a bragging right, however I can see why someone from the outside i.e. a non blogger or even a blogger that has just recently start - see why they might see it as bragging. What they don't realise is how much hard work goes into our blogs and our reviews. We don't get paid to review books, some people may see it as we get paid in books but regardless, even if all the publishing companies refused to send out any more books to us bloggers, I'd still review books - books that I bought with my own money. I feel that some people are in the blogging business for the wrong reasons and that clearly shows when you see whose still around years later.

    Even more so recently, I've started requesting a hell of a lot more books from NetGalley because publishing companies want to cut down on books - I can totally understand this. The cost of postage and packaging is getting higher and higher and I think more bloggers should use the likes of NetGalley. Regardless of where my books come from, where there bought or for review, I'll continue to do my showcase. I think it's a good way for us to connect with our followers and like you said, if they don't like it, hit the unfollow on the way out. It's not about bragging, it's about advertising the books that you have....and advertising is EVERYTHING to authors.

    I hope you do continue with your post hun, don't let one person spoil it for the others.

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    1. What a lovely reply Donna. Your right, a lot of new bloggers are not aware of how much time we put in. My blog is a slave driver on its own. LOL. NetGalley is definitely changing the way we receive books. It has to be a cheaper option for publishers. Although I understand it is rather costly to set up in the first place.
      I reviewed books long before I was picked up by publishers and would definitely do the same if they stopped sending them. Thanks Donna!

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    2. Your welcome hun! I just think it all comes down to jealously but don't worry what other people think. I know so many bloggers that share their ARC's with other people/bloggers...myself included in that - I think we should all do that because it's about the books at the end of the day and we all love letterbox love or our showcase's....do what works best for you! =)

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  4. I don't think you are bragging. I like seeing the books publishers send to you. If I like something you review I'll go and buy it/get it from the library, not feel envy that you have it. Also it is interesting to see what bloggers get really excited about for example Follow me Down by Tanya Byrne. I think it instills a sense of anticipation in the reading community. I think on the whole bloggers do a great job and you should carry on just as you are.

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    1. I do tend to get over excited by books! Thank you though for such kind words. I would hate for people to think we are bragging.

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  5. See thats just wrong!! Why should bloggers stop showing what they get. I love seeing the books other people get!!! I dont blog but I know how much time and energy goes into blogging and how much work goes into writing a review. So what if bloggers gets a whole load of books, they deserve it and if someone is jealous then that person needs to take a long look at themselves. I dont consider it bragging to show your mailbox and I constantly find new books this way.

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    1. Aw thank you Natalie. That's is good to hear coming from a non blogger.

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  6. Just popping up here. I'm new to your blog--spotted the link to this post via another book blogger and thought I'd see what the post was about. I do book blog over at Bookaroo-Ju, but I'm also an author, and blog there. I chose to do my book review blog separately, because I read as much--sometimes more--than I write, and I review everything I read, and so decided to do the reviewing separately because of the amount of posts I suspected there would be.
    I'm also new to your Letterbox Love meme, however I do participate in Showcase Sunday, which is similar. Personally, I don't see these kinds of posts as bragging, because I, in turn, love visiting the other blogs and seeing what they have. It's a great way to learn about new authors and books, and I love that. Because I work full-time from home with my writing, I don't have the time to constantly scour the Internet myself looking to see what's hot off the press, or soon-to-be hot off the press, and so these weekly memes are of a great help to me. Plus, it's a great way for me to learn which titles are 'hotter' and more greatly coveted. Whilst I have, on occasion, contacted a publisher regarding an ARC, I only ever ask once, and if they say no, they say no. Once or twice, my request has been fruitful. I'm not on any blogging/reviewers lists for publishers--only one publisher sends me print ARCs. I get the rest from NetGalley (and I'm quite happy with that), and am auto-approved for titles by a couple of publishers on there. If there are bloggers who are running off to hound publishers from seeing titles on other bloggers memes, then that is bad form on their behalf, not the blogger participating in the meme, in my opinion. Plus, the book blogging industry, from what I've learned over the past 12 months, is a community, more than anything. You all have awed me with the support I've seen, and experienced, and the entire experience has been a huge learning curve--and an eye opener--as to just how tight-knit everyone is. All it takes is a little bit of interaction and time to fully participate, and there are heaps of book bloggers out there who will willingly loan books to others. I know, because I already have a great blogging friend, who constantly loans me books by posting them out to me, and as my collection grows, I'm now able to return the favour. So there's no need for jealousy, or claims that others are bragging, because I've never been made to feel as though book blogging is a competition--I've only ever been made to feel as though everyone is in it together.

    That's my twopenneth, anyway.

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  7. Thank you for joining in with the conversation and welcome. We are most definitely a close knit community and I can safely say some of my closest friends are people I've met through blogging. And you're right there is a lot of sharing that goes on.

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  8. I honestly have never come across a book haul post (or video) and thought 'Gosh. I wish they'd stop bragging'. I see people that are excited about books and reading! But unfortunately people can think the negative, which is a shame. I hope I certainly don't come across that way.

    I think book hauls are popular across social media (not just with bloggers but vloggers too) because people simply like to know what other people are reading! It's a fantastic way to find out about new books in a snapshot. I also like to know why people have bought/asked for those books and what their assumptions are before reading them.

    I do occasionally wonder if I should stop posting book hauls for fear of people assuming I'm 'bragging' or 'showing off', but they're also some of my favourite posts to share. It's tricky.

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    1. I think after reading the comments left here today I shall definitely continue with it. The response has been outstanding.

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  9. (And I get to take pretty photos of books!).

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  10. Ah it's taken me ages to think of a response to this, because there are so many things I want to say without blathering on like an idiot.

    Firstly, I don't see your book haul as bragging, so please please continue if you want to - it's your blog and you can do whatever you like ;-)

    And maybe I'm naive (or lucky), but I've never really come across any haul posts that seemed to be outright bragging. Maybe there are a select few that I don't understand WHY they get so many books when they hardly ever post reviews, but if I come across a blog like that, I just click that little x and move on.

    I can understand how new bloggers can perhaps find it disheartening to see more experienced bloggers getting the books they want, but that's a fact of life as well...

    We can never make everyone happy, but Viv, if you love doing hauls, then do them :)

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    1. I think new bloggers may be the ones who struggle with this the most. But they probably have very little idea how much time and effort is put into each blog. I do love doing them so I probably will continue.

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  11. I've never seen these as bragging, usually just overwhelmingly thankful to the publishers in question. I love these posts mainly for the eye candy of front covers of new and upcoming books!

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    1. LOL, well you hopefully benefit from these posts!

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  12. I have never thought of these posts as bragging. Simply just a way to show THANKS to the publishers - as well as advertising each new and upcoming title. Not once has a UK book blogger ever made me think that they are posting for any other reason than to share their gratitude and love of reading with the world.

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    1. I wish everyone thought the way you did. Thanks for joining in the conversation. It's good to get everyone's views.

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  13. I really don't think there's anything wrong with posting book hauls and even though many of us say we're jealous of other people's hauls, we never actually mean it.
    I've always seen book hauls as a way to promote new books that are being released or old ones that people really want to read and, personally, I love reading your book haul post each week. :)

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  14. I don't see it as bragging either, it's part of my Sunday routine now to have a look at everyone's posts. I wonder if it is part of the learning process as a new blogger to be green with envy at what books bloggers have received for review. It's pretty exciting when publishers first start to send you books either solicited or not, but I certainly found after a while I chilled out and with my enormous TBR pile I requested fewer books.

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  15. I don't think of it as bragging - I see it as a way of getting some early buzz going for books. I asked a publicist (in the US) how they felt about book haul posts and she was all for them.

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  16. Haul posts rarely come across as bragging (and I don't think yours ever have), but I find them kind of boring and usually skip them. I do see your point on generating early hype, though...

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  17. I have never really come across a post where I felt someone was bragging. ..nope.

    But, if we twist things around, newbies, who are in it for ARCS and all that cos surely see it as bragging. I am not saying all newbies are like that, of course not. But I have seen plenty that seems to be in it for nothing else than free books

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  18. I have to agree with what everyone else has said. I've never one seen a post by you that looked like bragging. Excitement - yes. And that can only be good for the book sales surely?

    As someone who very occasionally gets sent books to review it always comes as a lovely surprise but I do wonder how on earth all you full time book bloggers do it - no jealousy on my part... apart from wishing you would share your time manipulation secrets ;) I honestly think it's a good way to bring to the book reading public news about books that might otherwise have passed us by personally. Keep the feature please :)

    Yes, I still read all your posts but since I started getting email notifications from you I've got terribly lazy and read them in my inbox. I felt I had to come comment on this one though :)

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Hiya, thanks for stopping by, it is always nice to hear what you have to say, so do leave a comment if you have time.