Welcome to Book Blogging 101, a weekly feature on Parajunkee’s View that answers your questions and strives to share great book blogging tips and some helpful hints to help you on your way.

Q: Am I considered a professional reviewer? I know that KDP select authors are not supposed to be giving any samples, product descriptions, or their books out to people who are not professional reviewers. If I have and review books regularly, does this mean I am professional? Or do I need to have expert qualifications? I ask because I have been hit with a lot of these, and morally, I don’t know if I should say yes! – Melanie

Melanie, there is still a lot of debate about the distribution rights for KDP Select Authors. It really is a 90-day exclusivity right for Amazon and they [Authors] technically can’t give away Free copies anywhere. There has been some debate on forums that says Amazon allows them to give out free copies to professional reviewers. What that means is still in question, because technically it could just be Amazon Vine reviewers. The professional reviewer term is also in question, because technically, no we are not professional reviewers. Professional leads to the thought that we are paid, much like the distinction between professional athletes and amateurs. If Amazon thinks that professional reviewers are the paid variety, or members of large revenue generating mediums, than again, book bloggers are not considered professional reviewers. And from what we know of Amazon, it is most likely going to lead to the fact that the only reviewers allowed will be members of their Vine program (Amazon is very proprietary). Which, technically I guess this could be considered professional (even though they are just average non-paid reviewers, like myself) since they are “working” for a large revenue generating web site, like Amazon.  Most of us view ourselves as reviewers, but a lot of us are not claiming a professional status. Truthfully I would answer “no” when asked.

Q: I recently wrote a review, and was asked by the author to change parts of it after it was posted. The review was pretty neutral, but complimentary. However, the author did not like that I made a reference as to what the main part of the book was about (angels), as she wanted it to be a “surprise” for her readers. She also asked if I could remove some of the criticisms I had made. I pride myself in writing as balanced of a review as possible, without seeming negetive and without spoilers- so my readers can make a more educated decision about the book. Was it right of her to ask me to alter my review to better suit her needs? Or should I have stood my ground and kept the review as is? – Conflicted in Credibility-land

Conflicted, I don’t think the author has the right to ask you to change your review at all. I can slightly understand the reference to a “secret” part of the book. Even though, I don’t know how she could maintain the secrecy once the books go out. Yes, understandable for her to ask to be removed, but realistic? No. As for the criticism, I wouldn’t even acknowledge that request. I don’t understand how authors believe that all they will get is positive gushing over their books. It would be one thing if they were paying you to advertise their book, or market it, but you owe them nothing by a fair and honest review. I don’t think it was right of her at all. I think she figured it was ok to ask you to remove the “spoiler” and if she was going to ask for one she might as well ask for it all…stand your ground next time. Or at least ask for payment for your “positive spin.” Because then you are in the realm of advertising and promo copy writer and those people are compensated.

Q: Do you think bloggers should get paid for what they do? Reading, reviewing books and maintaining a blog are time consuming and sometimes expensive. Considering the influence on sales that the book blogging community as a whole can have on books, do you think that book bloggers get enough respect from publishing companies? Do you think the blogger/publisher relationship should change and how? (I hope that’s controversial enough for you 🙂 – Jessica

Jessica, no I do not think Bloggers should get paid for what they do. I think web-zines and regular magazines make money from their advertising and subscriptions and this is how a Blogger should endeavor to make money. It does cost a lot of time, money and headaches to run these blogs, but publishers would not compensate us with a salary, they would compensate us by adverting on our sites. If we were employed by a publishing house we wouldn’t be reviewing the books, we would be writing promotional copy for their marketing department blogs. Do I think bloggers get enough respect? I guess that would depend on how much respect you think we deserve…I think some publishers think we are a wonderful marketing tool and utilize us, but I also think they realize that sometimes bloggers, being not really in the industry, tend to act unprofessional. I think the blogger/publisher relationship will change and it will be more vetting of the professional “acting” bloggers from the ones that act in an unprofessional way if they want that type of response.

Look, I really do think that publishers are taking bloggers seriously. They know what buzz can do for any type of products. This is why the big corporations are hiring “Mommy” Bloggers to speak at their conventions and continuing education seminars. The digital age is upon us, social media marketing is the present, not even the future. The marketing departments of publishing houses should understand this, if the authors themselves do not. Which I think is where the recent disconnect has actually been. Authors are not marketing people, they don’t know the ins and out of publicity and it is easy to get caught up in a rash of negative backlash, which can happen very easily in this social media world. Authors and even sometimes their agents don’t understand what steps are required to promote a book. They know how to write, they know how to do copy-edits and things likes that. Just like the agents know how to pitch and the editors know how to edit. What book bloggers should be worried about are the publishing houses’ marketing departments. That is where we assist and the respect will be a lot more appreciated in that area.

To break it down, respect is earned and as a general rule I think the community is respected. I believe that if an individual blogger wants to gain the respect of the publishing world they have to maintain a respectable decorum. Things are going to change no matter what as publicity and marketing departments test the effective rates of certain campaigns. In the end, if we are not an effective tool, we will not be utilized. So, make yourself an effective tool

Q: bloggin is like middle/high school- you got the cool kids and the un cool kids.
they say that bloggers are so sweet and laid back but in reality its dog eat dog. or blog eat blog.
how is a person who doesnt want to get involved with the BS supposed to make it? – Jennifer

Jennifer, just stay away from the assholes. 😉 Haven’t you realized yet that it’s not like high school – life is high school. No one ever grows-up. Grown women still clique up no matter what community they are in. For goodness sake, there is a friggin’ clique in the mom’s group of my preschooler’s class. Nearly gave the room mom a heart attack because they were being so uppity and caustic for the fall fest. Women (revised: Women that act cliquish and caustic) are generally lacking in self-confidence and the way they build themselves up is by putting themselves in a higher position than other women. Luckily, I think this is a small percentage in the book blogger community. To go around this, align yourself with other good people that have your own aims. Ignore the riff-raff, you can’t get rid of it. And in general, have a little patience for other bloggers. Sometimes it is just general miscommunication. Emails, twitter updates and IMs lack the personal interaction that face-to-face conveys. Sometimes correspondences can come off cold, or lack of responses can seem like snubs. The amount of emails that a lot of bloggers gets can be astounding. Also, groups of girls, might seem cliquish, you can probably accuse me of this…but clique, group of friends – whatever you want to call it, I just figure we all have the same aims and the same loves, so we should all just get along!

XO – Happy Thursday, Talk Less, Read More.

I can’t get to all the questions, but please ask your BB101 Questions here…bring it on.