Even Publishers Weekly can't keep up with the bloggers, hehehe. They're writing about this hit for Quirk, while we're busy hitting back!
Just kidding, Quirk Books. We bloggers love all publishers, even if you don't love us back the way we deserve to be loved. But let me continue the story I began in my previous post. QuirkBooksPR (henceforth known as QBPR) said that Flavorwire's Victoria O'Toole had omitted part of the original letter addressed to "Hey Blogger Friends." I asked her to send me the Letter in Full, which she did. I am going to scan the letter in and show it to you, but the omitted material is rather brief, so I can share it with you by typing it in. Here's what QBPR wrote that was not published on Flavorwire:
"Okay, enough of the serious stuff. If you have any questions, my contact
information is below.
Thanks again, and thanks for your support!"
You got it. Her "serious stuff" is our discontent. That was the "second half" of the letter. Hmmm. My fractions and hers do not match.
Yes, QBPR does thank the "blogger friends." That's not really enough, but it's also not the real story here. PRs make gaffes all the time (and I made many during my achingly brief tenure as a publicist, so I am a tad more sympathetic than some other bloggers might be towards Stupid PR Tricks. There are plenty of Stupid Blogger Tricks, too). QBPR whipped off a letter a little too quickly and sent it out without further thought. It probably (as O'Toole notes) won't and hasn't hurt the book at all. In fact, QBPR said, with a sigh: "I didn't mean to create a stir, but there's no such thing as too much publicity, I guess." You might groan back and say "Oh, puhleez." I just note all of this For The Record.
To me, the real story is about how bloggers are going to choose to be treated. I don't believe that QBPR's intentions were evil, but that doesn't mean the letter should be given a free ride. Simply tacking on a "Thanks" to a letter isn't enough to stop book bloggers from saying Wait. Hold on there a minute. Why are we being treated this way?
QBPR says that several bloggers sent nasty emails when they were asked to take down material due to the embargo. I can understand those nasty emails; perhaps those bloggers received the FIRST LETTER and had never been made aware of the embargo!
Therein lies the rub, to me: Bloggers are not mindreaders. "Several" bloggers who unwittingly wrote to complain about having to take down content are a) not wrong and b) should not make a publicist talk down to all other bloggers.
I'll say again: I don't consider this to be all QBPR's fatal flaw. A true and full discussion of book blogging as a professional activity with professional boundaries has yet to be made. I do not say that lightly. A few weeks ago, I attended the annual National Book Critics Circle Annual Meeting and Awards, and I was astonished how little many print-based critics knew about blogs and social media and how hostile many of them were to the idea that book coverage, book reviews, and publishing news could be covered properly in any medium other than a newspaper column or a magazine page.
It is my sincere hope that this kerfuffle over one PR's flippant approach to book bloggers will be the catalyst for a debate about how the entire publishing industry — publicists, editors, marketing managers, salespeople — treat book bloggers and literary web sites. Yes, I'm biased. Yes, I could go on.
But I prefer to hear from the wider community, first. I wish that QBPR had felt the same way before The Flippant Letter found its way into anyone's mailbox. I look forward to your comments, tweets, emails, feedback, and flames.