Okay, there’s a lot of thoughts about Book Expo (BE), formerly Book Expo of America, and this is a little on the late side but I wanted to put my perspective out there and on my blog.
The part I want to focus most on is the professional credentials and part where BE doesn’t think book v/bloggers/Instagramers are part of the professional world. I watched this video from SFF180 on Book Expo and I think it sums up the feelings of many of the feelings many book bloggers are feeling. I also appreciated that SFF180 pointed out the reasons behind BE’s decision changes.
But I also want to discuss this from a logical, more corporate perspective. To tell you a little about myself, I worked for a small newspaper in rural Rexburg, Idaho for about 4 months, and for my school newspaper for about a year. I won’t pretend I’m an expert in journalism, but I am a seasoned and experienced participant. I know the industry. If you don’t know how journalism has worked in the past, and is continuing to work now: Newspapers write stories and gain followings. After their followings are large enough and make an impact, companies will pay money for advertisements in the newspaper.
- Sound familiar? This is almost parallel to how many book v/bloggers/Instagramers make money (or in most cases are sent ARCS or published copies of books).
When working for my newspaper we were required to find interesting things to write about because no one would read the newspaper if our stories were dull. Sometimes, the new, exciting thing in our small town of 14,000 included a new business. Or a ballet that was visiting to town. Or the drive in theater was opening for the summer. I would sometimes submit stories similar to these when my editor asked me for story ideas. I found out very quickly not to submit these story ideas anymore after the first week. My editor pulled all of the writers aside and explained writing stories like this are called “free advertising.”
“We don’t do free advertising,” he said and all of us looked at each other in confusion. In not as many words as my editor, free advertising is when you give someone publicity for free. If you promote a business, they have no reason to buy an advertisement in the newspaper. You’ve already given them a good word, usually a picture, and a gleaming headline. This is cannibalizing your own profit. You’ve already given them all the exposure they need. Newspapers sometimes write stories on businesses if the company has already bought an advertisement. But more often then not, we like to let companies value our time, our work, and our publication.
- Note: I’m not saying book v/blogging/Instagram is the same as journalism.
There are many differences between book v/blogging/Instagram and journalism. But they are in the same sphere, and I’ve already said this on Twitter, but mark my word, book v/blogging is FREE advertising. We are doing work for free. We are promoting books for free. There are people on ALL publishing companies’ pay rolls who do very similar things as us. Most people in the book community are aware of this because many of us aspire to work in publishing one day. We are more than a billion dollar industry. And I’m not talking about the money we as book promoters make. I’m talking about the amount of money it would take if the industry actually, fairly, paid us all.
I’m not saying you should stop blogging/vlogging/Instagraming. I, like most of us in the book community, did not start (insert book social media here) to make money. I blog for my own mental and emotional stimulation and satisfaction. I blog to make friends and I blog to remember the books I’ve read. But I think it’s worth saying, in the back of your mind, you should remember what BE has communicated by excluding us. BE is essentially telling us they do not value us as real influencers. They don’t see us as having an impact.
I’m here to tell you that you are worth it. You influence matters and your friendship matters. Your blog and reviews, discussions and opinions matter. Your blog, however small or big has reach. And at the end of the day, we might not be able to sit at the adult table, but we will get there one day. And when you’re there, remember to include everyone who’s not.