WordPress defines a certain type of blog that centers around books, but only does book tours, as Book Tour Blogs and they are considered in violation of WordPress’ terms of service.
I received this tweet yesterday, because it seems a few have recently noticed WordPress’ defintion:
Hey @parajunkee, Have you seen WP’s new(ish?) TOS policy about book tours? Thoughts?
— Jackie M (@LiteraryEscapis) July 30, 2014
I had heard some grumbling, but I didn’t think it was a big deal. Because if you use a FREE program like WordPress.com and Blogger.com there is a good chance you are violating their TOS in some way. Because they have a lot of rules. There is a reason they are free, the point is for them to make money from your Free site, not for you to make money or get recognition. Just keep it in mind, when you violate TOS on a free site and someone reports you, they make your site go away. Poof. They don’t even have to email and tell you about it before hand.
This is Huge Deal for WordPress.com users. You can’t post advertising content on a free wordpress.com blog.
If you are like the majority of users, you think, “well this doesn’t apply to me. I don’t have advertising banners on my site. I’m good.” But, the thing is, WordPress isn’t just looking at those banners on your sidebar. They are looking at your content. They are looking for Spam and advertising content. And WordPress’ definition of spam and advertising content is what has sent up a red flag…because…
WordPress thinks Book Tours are spam.
The thing is, I know where WordPress is coming from, remember when I came under fire for this post? My dislike for “book blitzes” and generic cover reveals is evident. I don’t like them. Because they are spam.
There is no question about it. If you are posting content that someone just sent to you in an email, regurgitated copy from a Marketing Agency, PR firm, Publisher or Author – you are regurgitating their advertising copy. Advertising copy pushed over and over again is Spam. A Book Blitz, a book tour that gets bloggers to post book covers, buy links and synopsis with a giveaway tacked onto the end, no original content, no deviation in structure or copy is a repeated advertisement on multiple blogs. WordPress thinks this is advertising/spam, I think this is spam and your readers are just ignoring the content because they’ve seen it on a million other sites. Shame for the blog, because they didn’t get paid to generate advertising on their site. They were just bribed with the hopes of a good giveaway. Again, WordPress doesn’t really care if you didn’t get paid or receive any compensation for the content. They still believe it is spam.
And they go so far as to target blogs that only do book tours.
WordPress defines it ingeniously, doesn’t even call these sites “book blogs” – they are book tour blogs. Meaning: these sites only do book tours.
Book tour blogs: Blogs that consist of scraped, pre-written content, as opposed to original book reviews, for the purpose of promoting books and driving traffic to other promotional and giveaway sites.
They define these sites and single them out because they do not want them associated with sites that do “original book reviews.” This is because there is one big mantra that most Ruling Class internet groups abide by…
Book Blitzes, Cover Reveals that just post the cover and the synopsis along with press releases are not original. And now if your site consists solely of these regurgitated, copy and paste tours – you can get kicked off of sites like WordPress.com. If you do a lot of these tours, even if you do an “original book review” in between these tours…you can still be in TOS violation.
Keep this in mind the next time you sign up for a Book Tour. Because the basis of any book tour is that YOU are doing them a favor by generating advertising for the book. You shouldn’t be required to just post a generic excerpt, or synopsis. And frankly book tour companies shouldn’t want you to just post generic copy, because people don’t read it! A books synopsis and cover are posted on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble…why should it be posted all over the blogosphere, where originality is prized?
In the WordPress Forum one of the WordPress “Happiness Engineer” posts:
We do expect all of our users to create original content on their sites and to comply with copyright laws. However, fair-use excerpts of content published elsewhere, particularly in the context of a review, is generally considered to be acceptable both from copyright standards and our Terms of Service.
If the bloggers are posting their own, or a guest blogger’s, content to their own blog, that’s fine. If there are a number of bloggers all posting the exact same pre-written content to their blogs, however, that may be considered spam or advertising.
Please refer to our Terms of Service for further information: http://en.wordpress.com/tos/
How to Avoid Your Post Getting Considered Spam?
If you love doing cover reveals – comment on the cover. Give your opinion of what you like or dislike about the cover. If you are posting an excerpt – comment about that excerpt! Tell us your thoughts on the content. It doesn’t have to be a thesis, or a lengthy diatribe about key elements of the information…just make sure yours is different from the other 30 blog posts that are joining you on the tour.
Then it is not spam. Then it is more like affiliated advertising and less like spam.
Just keep this in mind the next time you join a blog tour. You might not be on WordPress.com, you might be on Blogger or a self-hosted Worpdress platform, which doesn’t fall under these TOS guidelines, but maybe you can learn a lesson from the WordPress guidelines. These type of posts are being viewed as spam/advertising. So, it might be a good idea to either avoid promo posts or change them up so they have original content in them.