I created a little post about the FTC just a little while ago, and it spread like wildfire and increased my hits tremendously, how awesome is that? Within the span of an hour there were 100 pageviews on that post alone because on twitter there was some disagreement over the term book blogger versus advertiser versus reviewer. Jenn's Bookshelves said not to worry at all, as this is not related to book reviewers - so I had to create this public service announcement!!!
At this point, after the FTC has responded to my query, and after the BEA 2013, it is indeed agreed that bloggers/reviewers are technically endorsers regardless if you feel you should have another title or not. Jenn's Bookshelves was at an Ethics Conference and her tweets reiterated my original thoughts. I am glad we had the benefit of Jenn going to the conference so that she could live tweet her findings. She hasn't had a chance to create her own post from them, but here is a snap of some of the tweets:
|click the image for more of the conversation|
Also, from the FTC response they mailed to me, the bottom line is that the FTC is not targeting bloggers nor are they monitoring bloggers, and they do not have fines in place for violations of these guidelines. They will investigate reports of consumer fraud and deception however, as they will monitor the advertisers/promoters/publicists/authors who ask us to review their work for them. Their goal is to make the bigger companies aware of their guidelines so that those promoters will do their due diligence and ask us as a policy to always state our source of the book/product being reviewed. Another twitter conversation I had was the fact that AUTHORS themselves need to be aware of these Ethics and Guidelines and also request their reviewer to state what their relationship is between the reviewer and the author. ARCs/EGalleys/NetGalley that are 'given back'/not kept as a monetary value are still subject to these guidelines because as a reviewer/blogger we still have an advantage over the average reader for receiving free access to these products where your neighbor may not have been given this same chance.
The rest of the text here is the original post and I have not deleted anything I have previously posted in my rants, but remember we now have answers to our questions, such as bloggers are indeed endorsers.
Before pandemonium ensues because of my alarmist nature, I want to make sure that everyone who possibly has decided to give up their reviewing career because of my post - egads, please reconsider!!!
On the FTC website you can search for 'book blog' and nothing - nada - comes up. So does the FTC care about book bloggers at all? What's all the fuss then, right?
(Except all the publicity companies I review for state : "To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, please mention as part of every Web or retail site review that the publisher has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through __"). or
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Checking out the Twitter feed from some of bloggers concerning this FTC dot com thing: "I see reviews as reviews, not advertisements." So who knows who is right and who is wrong, (edit: see above text in red) but obviously there is zero need to panic about how you run your blog! As I initially said, it's interpretation of the law and for the past year I have indeed considered myself a review robot and have complained about it many times that I really feel like I have somehow found myself in a marketing business that is unpaid! There's the kicker, it's UNPAID! So the FTC Guidelines wouldn't apply to us? And no, all my books are not only galleys. I do receive actual copies at times that are able to be sold, traded in or gifted, so that is indeed compensation. Or isn't it? I just got a horrible book yesterday in the mail that I would not want in my house, so it's going on Paperbackswap! Credits for me!
I am thinking perhaps it is time to move away from my reviewing and write more of those posts to increase traffic to my blog! It will help hone my writing technique, and also increase traffic, and perhaps with your comments you can educate me on these finer points of book blogging! (Did you know that I want to be a writer one day? I wonder, does writing blog posts make me a writer? What's the consensus on this?)
On another note, these conversational posts always attract the most comments. While my reviews may get tons of hits, the comments are where we interact with each other and have fun with each other. That is what I LOVE about the book blogging community, they are so warm and fuzzy and so helpful. On twitter, there were many reactions to my FTC post, especially the ones where they are talking about misinformation. Editorial and opinions are my interpretations, maybe I could start writing for Huffington Post... this reminds me of when an author there posted an article about touring around the blogosphere and he was so displeased with how bloggers write. He got tons of hits there, and I bet you tons of folks took a look at that book he was marketing.
Do you get the most comments on your review posts or on your opinion/free-style posts? Oh and another question I've had.. there is this term floating around, I think it originated with NetGalley's how-to handbook actually...
"Professional Reader"... is this a term that as a reviewer you apply to yourself? Is there such a thing as a professional reviewer if you are NOT paid an hourly wage to review?