Discussion: When Did Book Blogging Start Getting So Spammy?

let's talkThere was recently some hubbub about the potential threat of book blogs being shut down for an excessive amount of blog tours and book blitzes. The argument was (the majority of) blog tours and book blitzes can be considered advertising or spam and advertising or spam is not allowed on free blogs.

I really do have to agree that for the most part book blitzes and blog tours can be pretty spammy. Reading the same post on 5-10 blogs is boring. It doesn’t give me any good information. Yes, it is possible to put your own twist on the posts the tour companies or authors send you but so few bloggers do that.

Here’s the thing, every blogger is different. I completely understand that. If you want use your blog to promote authors and books. Awesome. If you want review books that you only borrow from the library, that’s fantastic as well. If you want to post nothing but reviews for books you get from publishers, that’s fine as well. Please don’t mistake me for passing judgement on you or your blog. I’m merely commenting on the trends I’ve been seeing.

If you been around my blog long, you’ll see that I don’t do many promotional posts (blog tours, spotlights, book blitzes). I, as a reader, really don’t like seeing those posts on other blogs. I pretty much always skip over them when I come across them in my reader. To be perfectly honest, I won’t follow a blog (or will unfollow a blog) if I see many promotional posts. When I read a blog, I want to know what that blogger thinks about things. I don’t want to see what someone is asking them to promote. I much rather read about things they found organically on their own (or picked up because of a friend).

When I started blogging 3 years ago, blog tours and book blitzes weren’t really around. ‘Big’ book bloggers would get access to ARCs from publishers and of course self published authors would send just about anyone ARCs who wanted them. Over the years, the hype of book blogs has grown and now blog tour companies started popping up all over the place. Every few weeks, it feels like I’m getting emails to join as a tour host for one of those companies. When I was a younger blogger, I did join a tour or two and post a few promotional posts. It was initially exciting for someone to consider your blog. After a while, the magic was lost. The books were okay but I’d much rather read what I want and talk about what I want.

At some point along the way, it seems like there was a shift where promo posts started to become ‘cool’ and they were popping up on more blogs. I guess it’s  a game of balance. If you’re able to do promo or tour posts every once in a while and you jazz it up to make it unique to your blog, those posts can be interesting. The other side is posting too many of those posts with little to no original content between can make a blog really dull. I really miss the days of seeing more different and interesting posts on blogs.

I’ve worked really hard to keep the focus of my blog as a reading journal rather than an advertising platform for authors. I don’t accept many review requests (compared to other book bloggers). I don’t think I’ll be joining any more blog tours. I won’t be posting any promotional posts. Does that mean I won’t be telling you about books? NO. I have no problem shouting from the rooftops that I love a book. I just feel much better telling you about books that I’m excited for rather than someone telling me to promote a book.

How do you feel about promotional posts and blogging?
How do you find your balance?

Rachel from Parajunkee did a great post on this topic recently if you’d like to read more.

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30 thoughts on “Discussion: When Did Book Blogging Start Getting So Spammy?

  1. It depends on the promotional post. I never do cover reveals – pointless – and only rarely do I do a promotional post/blitz. If I do, I do try to add something unique. Usually something along the lines of why I felt the need to post it – why the book caught my interest type thing.

    When it comes to blog tours, that includes reviews, I’ve become VERY picky over the last year or so. I only do it if I really want to read the book. I have too many books I want to read to add new ones just because it’s a tour. If I join the tour and don’t review the book, I like the option of doing an interview/guest post, I like the companies that allow me to provide the questions/topics. It makes the post something people might actual come to because the content is specific to my blog and not the 10 or so other blogs that are on the tour as well.

    • I like seeing that type of thing in promotional posts. If I know you as a blogger, I want to know why that particular book caught your eye.

      I do think picky is the way to go. Sounds like you have some good ‘standards’ for what you’re willing to post!

  2. This is one of the reasons why I’m such a fan of your blog! I like hearing about the books you read, the ups and downs of your life as a book blogger, and other bookish things that you’re into. I understand why some blogs lean toward promotions (and as an author, I’m glad they exist), but I’ve also stopped following blogs when it seems like all they post are blog tours, book blitzes, and giveaways. I’m glad you’re sticking to your principles and doing what you want to do with your blog. You’ve helped me discover lots of books that I enjoyed reading, and I know that you’ll continue expanding my reading horizon in the days (and weeks/months/years?) to come.

      • It depends on the author, but I suspect that many don’t. Like me, lots of authors don’t know anything about marketing. We’ll hear a story about a technique that works (“I signed up with XYZ blog tour company and sold 1,000 copies of my new release!”) and then jump on it. And book tours and book blitzes must work on some level if there are companies that exist solely to run them.

        By the way, can I say again how grateful I am that you’ve reviewed and helped promote my books? Thank you! Thank you!

  3. I didn’t get into book blogging to be a promotional mouthpiece for authors/publishers and the requests for that sort of thing has (for me) been coming up much more often this year than they were two years ago, which is strange considering my blog sees a lot less traffic now than it did my first year of blogging. I have never enjoyed reading promotional posts that offer me nothing more than a blurb and a cover and the social media overload that comes with book blitzes. Although, I will say I have read reviews that were part of book tours that I enjoyed. Basically… I want to engage with people about books and find good things to read. Getting caught up into the sales machine is not really something I care to do.

    • I didn’t get into blogging for that either. Huh, that’s kind of weird. I guess they’re clamoring for anyone to review their books? I like reviews that are part of a blog tour (I even have one coming up on my blog soon).

  4. Interesting discussion. I also tend to gloss over promotions but at the moment that is because I am actively not looking for new books. I have enough to read on my shelves. If bloggers don’t help authors how is word to get around but on the other hand I do believe it should be selective. The quality is variable. At the end of the day reviews and the authors/books a reviewer may choose to support is subjective, according to taste in reading. Good post 🙂

    • I like the idea of being selective. That way I can feel more confident in a book if a blogger is talking about it in a promotional way. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  5. I have never joined any blog tour myself, so I don’t know how much you can change a post when you sign up, but I agree that they key is balance and what you add to those “pre-made” posts. I prefer book blitz-like posts and cover reveals when they’re not part of book tours because the blogger is (in general) much more interested in the book and it shows. There’s suddenly not just a cover or a synopsis, but also why that blogger wants to read the book and what’s so great about the cover/series/author/etc. Basically, there’s much more personal content if you’re interested in the book that you’re talking about, whether it’s part of a book tour or not.

    I think the problem of book tours that are only book blitzes is that it’s difficult to find people who are suddenly really interested in a book that they haven’t heard of before.

  6. I don’t think I’ve even noticed this trend! Maybe I travel in insufficiently promotey blogging circles? For myself and my own blog, the balance I try to strike is that I read books I’m excited about. Whether those books come from publishers or from the library is kind of just a matter of timing — if I’m excited about a book before it comes out, I’ll often request it from a publisher. If I don’t hear about it until later, I get it from the library. I feel like September has a number of reviews of books I got from publishers, just because there are a bunch of exciting books out in August and September.

    • I follow a good deal of YA book blogs so that’s where I’ve been noticing the trend the most. I’m a bit like you, Jenny. If I’m super excited for a book, I’ll request it. Otherwise I can wait to read it.

  7. I think I’m the same as Jenny – I review ARCs and will occasionally be part of a blog tour, but I don’t do either unless the book is something I would have been interested in anyways. And I don’t participate in tours except as a book review (and sometimes an accompanying author interview). Mine is a book review blog, so I’m not going to “feature” a book I haven’t read and reviewed. (And, like you, I totally skip over those posts in my reader.)

  8. I don’t ever do posts with pre-written content because, like you, I find them boring to read. I do participate in blog tours, but only from tour groups which allow you to post negative reviews. I think the purpose of my blog is to share what I loved with other readers and I can’t do that if I’m only allowed to say positive things. I also dislike reading blogs that only ever say positive things about books because I don’t feel like I can trust those bloggers to fill me in when there are downsides to a particular book. For me, it all comes back to trying to write the sort of blog I would like to read.

  9. The only straight-up promotional posts I do are excerpts from pre-release books if the book is part of a series I’ve already read/reviewed. Even then, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done that. When I do a blog tour, my post is always either a review or an author interview if I’ve already reviewed the book.

    I do like to “feature” review copies that I haven’t read though through my New Acquisitions posts, because it gives me a way to briefly highlight books that I’m excited about but might not get to for a while. For me, it takes away some of the stress that comes from accepting review copies and makes me feel like I can set my own schedule. It’s also a chance for me to hear from other readers/bloggers about what books they think I might enjoy most. 🙂

    I straight-up unfollow blogs that do too many promotional posts or even memes. It seems stale. When reading blogs, I want to see opinions, not just marketing.

  10. I have been seeing more of these kinds of posts out there lately. I think the trick is to balance it. There has to be as many or more review posts as there are the advertising kind. Some blogs post all the blitzs on the same day, like Monday is add day and the rest is traditional blog posts. I personally plan to keep mine all reviews, but I follow blogs of both types. Nice article.

  11. I don’t take part in any of that stuff, and unless it’s something I’m really interested in, I don’t tend to read these posts either. I started my blog simply as a place to talk about my own thoughts about books for people who care to read them – an extension of geeking out to my friends.

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  13. I’ve been blogging for almost six years now, and I have to say that I’m a bit surprised that you’ve only noticed blog tours and promotional posts in the past couple of years. I follow hundreds of different blogs, and one of the first things I noticed (way back in 2008) was which blogs were more spammy (tours/promotions/giveaways), which were via lots of publishers connections but still straight-up reviews (even if almost all the books were provided by publishers), and which were posts by people buying books and writing about them. These sorts of promotional tours have been around the blogosphere at least as long as I have.

    Having said that, I think there has been a shift, at least in accessibility. With so many hundreds of book blogs around today and many of them in direct contact with publishers, I think these sorts of tours end up being significantly more visible than they ever were in the past. And with cross-platform promotions (everyone tweeting about everything they post…), I think it feels more cluttered as well.

    I don’t do any promotional posts, but for that matter I hardly even receive books for review (I’ve gotten maybe three legit offers this year). There’s definitely a trend towards everyone reviewing the same books at the same time (due to publisher buzz), but I tend to view that a bit differently from plain ol’ promotional posts. Like you, I prefer to let my own reading drive the show.

    • I’ve only been blogging for 3 years. There might have been a bit of promotional posts when I started blogging but I didn’t follow blogs or see blogs that did that back then.

      There’s definitely been a shift. It’s not that difficult to be in contact with publishers now.

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