FridayReads: Full Disclosure from @TheBookMaven

November 21st, 2011
UPDATE: As most of you will have seen by now, I’ve been trying to approve all comments on this post as quickly as I’ve been able to get to them.
I have two comments that were negative that I’m holding because they come from Twitter followers who wrote particularly thoughtful responses, and I’d like to write back to them for some clarification before posting their words.
However, one particularly snarky comment from a person I don’t know said “It’s adorable that your first paragraph is an ad.” I guess that it could be read that way. My intent was to make sure that I got the info people wanted up front.
Thank you all for your comments and feedback. I’m going to get this post up on FridayReads.com and out via our Twitter feed today (as another person suggested), and continue to think about how best to move forward with this business–a business that I hope brings joy to some.
—–
It’s been a difficult few days, and I’m not sure how to begin this post, but the main point I want to make is: I do not have “squirrelly ethics,” as one blogger wrote about me. I don’t believe in calling anyone names, or attaching judgmental tags to anyone’s behaviors. That’s why the kerfuffle last week about FridayReads and its monetization  is so disheartening to me. Here is the FridayReads web site, and here is the FridayReads email address: FridayReads1 at gmail dot com. If you’d like more information about our rates or about how we do business with publishers, please drop us a line.

Over the years I’ve worked in publishing, I’ve bounced around a lot. I started out at a print magazine, and later was hired by AOL to launch their Books channel.  Like many others, I was eventually laid off, and I moved on to blogging for Publishers Weekly. I I spent time at BN.com and left when the message board I hosted was heading for extinction. WETA-PBS and I tried an internet series, and while it got some great guests, it never got a great audience.

You get the picture. These days–the 21st century–publishing is like Whack-a-Mole. Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss, and you never really know exactly why or how.

Last Friday, when people who hadn’t been aware that I accept money from publishers to promote books via the #fridayreads hashtag on Twitter (and Facebook, and tumblr) learned that I do, some were disheartened. I understand why. It sometimes seems as if everything good in this world has some sort of business angle attached to it, and nothing is “free.”

Here is why I call #fridayreads “a hashtag and a business.” If you participate in the meme, there is no collecting of your information. Yes, we archive tweets–but your Twitter name can lead everywhere (as mine does) or nowhere (spambots, anyone?). We’re not trying to find you  when you participate in the meme. We’re just growing a community and sharing our love of reading. At times while I’ve worked on this–before and after turning it into a small business–I’ve tweeted too much about it, and when I’ve become aware of that fact, I’ve tried to change the amount of tweeting that I do.

Publishers realize the value of having access to the #fridayreads community, as well as to my large group of Twitter followers. They want to be sure avid readers know about certain titles they are releasing. The original #fridayreads giveaways were done with books from my shelves (not even galleys or ARCs I received, but books I’d bought and paid for myself). After a few months, publishers and authors and agents began approaching me and asking to get their books promoted. My then-business team (read: my agent and my husband) encouraged me to ask for a fee to do so.

The main thought behind asking for a fee was not so that I could become rich or so that I could manipulate unknowing readers. It was because if I didn’t start asking for a fee, I was opening myself to a different kind of blame, the “Why isn’t my book good enough for YOU?” game. At the time I began accepting fees for #fridayreads promotions (in March 2011), the hashtag had already grown to more than 5,000 regular participants.

I spent nearly two years building #fridayreads for free, counting each week’s participants by hand, and loving every second of it.

I was so excited earlier this year when publishers responded positively when my agent (acting as my sales lead) and I approached them with #fridayreads packages. I thought that the regular offer of interesting books sent directly to readers (many of you know that I am not particularly good about getting things into the mail) would be welcomed. This expanded to the other services Fridayreads offers:  Twitter Book Tours (those live chats I host from time to time with authors), Twitter Book Clubs (which are mostly for fiction), and last week, the first (hopefully not the only) FridayReads Live event, in which a book titled Enjoy Every Sandwich: How to Live Each Day as if It Were Your Last was discussed around a table at Housing Works Bookstore as well as online at the #everysandwich hashtag.

When the money started coming in, I realized I needed to disclose this somewhere, and began working on a web site that would have a fully loaded FAQ (many thanks, Intern Leslie!) so that anyone–tweeters, bloggers, publishers, authors–could understand how my small business operated.

What I did not choose to do was to label each and every promotional post as an “ad,” because those posts are not written by the publishers. Were they “advertorial?” Technically, yes. Should I have labeled them as “promo?” Perhaps (I’m still turning this around in my head). Did I mean to deceive anyone into believing that #fridayreads was just a big happy group of readers? Of course not.

Here’s the thing: I have some decisions to make about how #fridayreads is perceived, labeled, and promoted–and I welcome your input,. The #fridayreads book-loving community will decide whether and how to participate. I may have made some mistakes–but there’s no mistaking the real passion about reading that we share.

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42 Responses to “FridayReads: Full Disclosure from @TheBookMaven”

  1. [...] and Bethanne has discussed the business model in several interviews, including this video and this new blog post. In short, it’s no [...]

  2. Pat Rosier says:

    I’ve taken part in #fridayreads for a while now. I forget when I actually started. I like the concept and I like the fact that you are prepared to put the time and effort into it. I don’t mind at all that the books you give away are publishers’ paid promotions, and this is because a) promoting books and reading is a social good b) I have no problem with you getting some financial return for what you do, c) taking part is voluntary and does not cost me anything but a few seconds’ time d) It’s interesting to see what other people are reading (I like the lists.)

    I think it’s good to have some disclosure of the promotions on your website, but don’t see it as necessary to announce this with every book you/the publisher offer. If I want to know the system behind something I take part in it I go looking for it, I don’t need it announced every time it takes place.

    I haven’t taken part in the twitter discussion about this, as I haven’t had anything to say that I could say in a few words. I guess a “good on you” wouldn’t have gone amiss in your hard week. All the best with working out how to progress this in a way that sits well with you. Do remember that whatever you do, it won’t please everyone. And long may #fridayreads continue.

  3. Becky Sain says:

    I have and will continue to support #fridayreads… because I have a huge crush on my MamaMaven — oh, and I love to read and share. :-)

  4. Karen says:

    OK, maybe I am not understanding this whole thing, but I participate in #fridayreads as often as I can=whenever I’m on twitter on a friday and remember…

    Anyway, I don’t understand why this is an issue. I love hearing what ppl are reading and I love telling what I am reading also.

    I am not understanding who this is hurting or if it even is??

  5. Timendu says:

    I’m all the way in Nigeria and I participate in #fridayreads when I can. It is very encouraging to see other people reading and some weekends I manage to read at least a chapter just because of the hashtag. I don’t think it’s wrong that you collect a fee for promotion considering the time and effort you put into it. Some compensation should be expected. Well done. Keep up the good work.

  6. LA Smith says:

    FWIW, I’ve known from the start that tweeting as @thebookmaven was your professional gig, that #fridayreads was tied to your business and that you were growing an audience of reader-tweeters with both community and business ends in mind. Maybe I’m a little better at seeing the pattern in the carpet than others –I used to work in a physical bookstore and I was an editor at Amazon.com– so I am wise to the ways of bookselling. You are, too, and publishers are lucky to have someone like you to help market their books to appreciative audiences. I’ll continue to post my #fridayreads and continue to encourage my friends and followers to do the same. I’ll also continue to tag my Amazon and GoodReads reviews with #fridayreads because I like to do every little bit I can to help authors, publishers, and readers mix and mingle in mutually beneficial ways.

  7. Sara says:

    I loved hearing what people were reading, but I was disheartened to find that I was unknowingly participating in someone’s business and they were essentially getting paid for my participation. I don’t know, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. Especially because I had to hear about it from third parties.

    I don’t think you had any ill intent, and I’m sure I share the blame for not being better informed, but I do hope in the future that you will start labeling promotions as such, and making it clear that you are being paid to promote them.

    I’m probably going to start using the #amreading tag for a while and see how this all shakes out.

  8. There’s nothing to prevent anyone from using the #fridayreads hashtag to promote a book or to collect a fee-for-tweet deal, right? I’m not certain how I feel about it, but I do know it’s virtually impossible to know for sure what I’m reading in social media is NOT a paid placement.

    At least you’ve disclosed, and we can all factor that information as we choose.

  9. A. J. Mahler says:

    Bethanne,

    I sincerely appreciate your communicating with the community in a responsive and responsible manner. 140 characters is too short to even waste two letters but just like NPR you might occasionally announce the sponsor of a book promotion to remove any doubt who pays the bills. Newspapers have the luxury of giving a visual cue to every ad but even that blurs on occasion when a business sponsors a section or a professional of one stripe or another writes a monthly article tailored to their area of expertise.

    You have mentioned in the past that some of your reviews are just your personal or Book Maven Media group opinion without any monetary compensation for the opinion. This is a new frontier so there will be mistakes and innovative ideas. Keep working to make the majority happy and do not worry about the fringe. If everyone is happy, you are not doing it right.

    Best Wishes,

    A. J. Mahler

  10. Lois Donovan says:

    I for one appreciate this explanation of the hashtag #fridayreads. Tweeting is relatively new for me and I’m still figuring out the jargon, the business angles, the fun,etc. And I did think that #fridayreads was a happy family of readers. I think it’s brilliant that you started this and that it is working out for you. At the same time, disclosure is important on twitter. Everyone tweeting a favourite read is not the same as publishers promoting their books. It doesn’t mean I won’t read #fridayreads and it doesn’t mean I won’t buy books brought to my attention there. But I do want to know when someone is getting paid to acknowledge a book.

    Thanks again for your honesty and for setting the record straight.

  11. Kelly says:

    I was a supporter of FridayReads until about 2 weeks ago when 2 things happened almost simultaneously: I found out that Book Riot, which brought us the unnecessary attack on authors Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult, and FridayReads were run by essentially the same group of people, and that FridayReads was not the feel good, grass rootsy thing I was led to believe it was, but was actually a business.

    I don’t enjoy obfuscation. I am no longer participating or supporting FridayReads because of this. I also don’t agree with the half baked journalistic stylings of Book Riot. Since these two things are run by the same group of people, for the most part, I am done with both.

  12. Reader says:

    My only problem with Friday Reads is that it has turned into a numbers game. Book Maven is asking folks to tweet what email or menu they are reading… She does not even care if it is a book? This shows that she gets paid more – the more #fridayreads tags there are on a given day of promotions. This takes away from the good spirit of a book group for me (there are no book groups for menus and emails). Sorry, I’m out (as nice as she is).

  13. Allison says:

    I love #fridayreads because it does exactly what it was originally intended – spreads the word about good books to read! I am thrilled for you that you are able to make any money off of doing something that you love that is also positive for a community. I don’t even understand what could be wrong about that. Keep doing what you’re doing and best of luck. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  14. Helen Van Patterson Patton says:

    I’ve been doing #FridayReads for a year or so, and had no idea of a business side until last week. That said, I don’t care, it doesn’t affect me, doesn’t hurt me, and at best I can win a book, at worst I can share what I’m reading with others who enjoy reading. I love me some Maven, and the entire #FridayReads crew.

  15. Leah says:

    I SOO did not understand why this was a thing last week. I think it must be because Maureen Johnson made a big kerfuffle about it on Twitter, then her minions echoed it.

    Why single you out? There are a ton of sites and blogs that utilize advertising and publisher sponsored giveaways to market books. Why is marketing books such a dirty thing? Especially from the perspective of an author? I still don’t quite understand why she jumped down your throat.

    Furthermore, the concept of “advertorial” is never cut and dry. Shelf Awareness doesn’t disclose their advertorials, and many magazines and online blogs/newsletters do not either. I don’t see what is so special/offensive about this one.

    I suppose, to appease the minions, it might be nice to include the word advertorial going forward, but again, if it weren’t for this arbitrary backlash, I would never have suggested that. So many similarly structured communities/blogs/newsletters do not.

    Anyway, take heart, I still participate in Friday Reads every week, and you know what, from my perspective, I don’t really care if publishers are paying you for sponsored giveaways. If it keeps Friday Reads going, WONDERFUL! Keep up the good work!

  16. Robert Guthrie says:

    I believe the main thing is that many see #fridayreads as equivalent to any trending topic on twitter, and the promotional tweets as being like the prominently labeled topics with the “Promoted” graphic right there alongside.

    This is what many twitter users have come to expect: label advertisements as such, and nobody will have a legitimate issue with those tweets showing up alongside all the other, non-sponsored posts by unpaid book lovers.

  17. Mira Dessy says:

    I don’t think you did anything wrong, I love and support #fridayreads and like being part of the community. If you manage to make a little money at it good for you. You deserve to be compensated for time and effort and I’m fairly certain your per hour “wage” isn’t making you rich.

    No one is forcing anyone to purchase any of the books listed at #fridayreads and I certainly have benefitted by building my list of “must reads” from following along. I plan to continue to follow along and hope others will do the same.

  18. Richard says:

    Methinks at least some of those who doth protest too much were disingenuous (the Shakespearean reference is intentional), which leads me to believe that they must be jealous about your success (I already can’t remember who they were, I never followed them before and I certainly don’t plan on following them now). I for one have been inspired by your ability to create a small business out of a great idea. That is, after all, the great American way, is it not? Sadly, even “nice, honest, hardworking” people who happen also to be successful and good at what they do will have their detractors, but it is almost always true that it is the detractors who are much the worse for it. I for one wish a long (and prosperous) life to #fridayreads.

  19. Tonya Rice says:

    Bethanne, I’ve enjoyed participating in #FridayReads and have even had the pleasure of learning about a lot of other great books which I may have otherwise missed from the weekly tweets; many have been added to my to-read list. Isn’t that the point? Geez. Besides, the community promotes reading and that in itself is the value to me.

  20. Katherine says:

    I think only the naive would imagine that there is no promotional money changing hands in #fridayreads. Funny how we want to believe – people are still shocked to hear that “Heather’s Picks” at Indigo (Canada’s sole bookstore chain) aren’t actually “picked” by Heather, but paid for by publishers.

    And truth be told even we the unpaid authors on twitter are promoting. It’s great if we can have fun while doing it.

  21. Joanne Kelly says:

    Bethanne,

    I’m sorry to hear you took a lot of flack for this one. As a long-time friend and some-time colleague (full disclosure here), I can certainly attest to your genuine love for books and all things bookish. And as another online media professional, I can also attest to the often confusing “rules” about disclosure. I’m a huge fan of BookMaven, and also a fan of disclosure. So I hope you keep both up! I know you’ll be thoughtful in deciding how to do that. Best wishes, good luck, and know that I give thanks for your talents on a regular basis!

  22. Jolie says:

    I don’t understand the indignation I’ve been seeing over this issue. My interpretation of what we’ve now been told is not that people who tweet #fridayreads are being “paid for their participation,” but that The Book Maven is being paid for the hard work she does in running the FridayReads program. Meanwhile, yes, the book giveaways are a reward for hashtag users, but is this really something to be angry about? A raffled book is not some kind of deeply soul-tainting financial bribe. It’s a relatively inexpensive item that would be fun to receive if we get lucky. Anyone who thinks a particular book is really so valuable that they simply MUST have it will go out and buy or borrow a copy.

  23. Nicole says:

    I don’t appreciate being called a minion, but even if it was another author other than Maureen who mentioned this, I’d still be disheartened about this. In the days of social media, especially I hashtag use, I’m not going to be spending hours going to other websites to find out everything. You use social media as the basis of Friday reads, that you charge publishers in return for some promotion should be mentioned on twitter, not an external website.

    Is it really that hard to add -spon/ -ad to a tweet? Plenty of people/places who get sponsors/ads use this technique. I would like to know the difference between the I’m reading this for fun/ I really liked this just because or I’m mentioning this because a publisher paid me to do so. 3 little characters aren’t going to break what the original intent of the hashtag was, and could possibly still be.

  24. I missed all the drama on Friday, evidently. I honestly didn’t know you got money for the books you give away, but I have no problem with that. I’ve been using my own money to give away books on my blog and I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to do that every single week! That would be completely ridiculous. I can also see the point of taking money to cut down on the books you actually have to give away. Otherwise, the decisions are too subjective as to which books to promote. I’m sorry you had so many issues with this.

    I don’t know anything about how promotional tweets are supposed to be handled compared to other tweets, so I’m not sure of the full issue. But maybe when you mention the books people can win by participating, then you could say something about those being promotional. But I wouldn’t think you’d need to do that for every #fridayreads tweet. I think FridayReads is great for sharing what we’re reading, and I’ll continue to do so every week.

  25. Wendy says:

    Thank you for responding to bloggers’ and readers’ concerns. I can see how this evolved into a business for you, but I will admit that I have been one of the disheartened people who felt deceived by your meme. I think it is safe to say that when someone labels something a meme, most people do not equate that with a business. Also, given that probably 98% of book bloggers do not get paid to host book giveaways, most people would not assume you were being paid to giveaway the books through Friday Reads. I appreciate that you disclosed on your website, but the problem is that the over 9000 people on facebook and thousands on twitter who followed and participated in the meme did so from the FB and Twitter platforms. It was not really reasonable to think anyone would go to the website. Why do that? Most people simply were tweeting or posting to FB their read for the week.

    My biggest issue with the nontransparency of Friday Reads is that your business is completely dependent on the numbers. Without these great numbers, no publisher would pay you to host anything. I don’t begrudge you your business or your ability to make money…what I have a problem with is that I would guess almost every participant with few exceptions had no idea that they were supporting your business…they thought they were just having fun participating in a meme and supporting READING…which is how you presented the whole thing. By not being more transparent, it felt like you were being deceptive. The moment you negotiated payment and turned this event into a business you had an obligation to let your “customers” know this so they could either continue to participate knowing they were supporting a business, or opt out because they did not want to support a business.

    Just so you do not think I am being a hard ass – the FTC also says this. Their updated guidelines include Twitter and other social sites and they say you MUST attach something to every tweet and every post letting people know. This is called disclosure. If you haven’t read the latest guidelines, you can find them here: http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus71-ftcs-revised-endorsement-guideswhat-people-are-asking

    Your decision about how to disclose should be guided by the law/FTC…not by what people are saying here in the comments.

    That said, I do appreciate that you have added the disclosure to the FB page, and I do appreciate that you are being forthcoming now.

  26. The Dude Abides says:

    Surely monetizing tweets is nothing new and as a free service people shouldn’t complain too much on how their tweets are being used. More importantly #FridayReads brings people together in a common love for books and interested in spreading reading around the world. I think someone who has been dedicated to providing consumers a better idea of what is out there is better than dealing with some huge corporate publishers. Keep up the good work.

  27. bookmagic says:

    I am not so much disappointed by the fact that you are paid for the giveaway tweets, though I had assumed the books were donated by publishers in exchange for the publicity. It is the twitter tours I have issue with. Your example of the book that you did a live chat with, you and your team gushed over that book. But now I know that you were paid to do so. So I’m not considering a book recommended by someone who may have similar reading tastes as me, but by someone with a financial interest in selling me that book. There is absolutely nothing confusing about that and I am offended that this is what is being insinuated or stated out right in some places. Why would I think I need to go to your website to check out a simple hashtag that I thought was just about building a community. I believe you love books and had good intentions at the start. But now I think you purposely kept things gray and I can not respect you for that. You used your good standing among readers to make money without telling them how you were doing so. It appears you even tried to ignore questions on twitter until it blew up this week. It has left a bad taste in my mouth and I will no longer participate.

  28. Alison says:

    I had a hellish Friday, so I was on Twitter for a millisecond, caught wind of the brewhaha, and left without really looking into what was going on.

    Tonight, I took a look at some of the Tweets, went on to the Friday Reads website to look at the disclosures, and processed what I read. My final thoughts? “Oh, Book Maven makes money off Friday Reads? Huh. I didn’t know that. Good for her!”

    Keep doing what you’re doing!
    I hope this mess passes quickly for you – just know, it will pass.

  29. Bethanne,

    I couldn’t believe the kerfluffle that showed up on Twitter last week and can’t believe it’s still an issue. You often posted links to the website. I went there when new to #fridayreads and read all about the whole situation. So what’s the big deal? People didn’t bother to check any further than Twitter when time and again you encouraged them to go to the website? Really not your problem.

  30. Chris says:

    This is not an issue. People who care about this can take a hike. They don’t have any valid arguments; they just feel good being mad. Nothing sinister is going on. It was obvious that someone was getting something for hours of hard work. It’s obvious that tons of books and shipping weren’t falling from Nerd Heaven to those who hashed.

    What happened is the usual authors of books that mean a lot to a few and less than nothing to most got all upset. As they usually do. And then a bunch of people joined in on the gotcha.

    I hate to be rude, but there really ate more important – and real, not just perceived – problems in the world for these people to work to solve. Instead, they are wasting their time trying to achieve, what? The end of what’s been a very good, positive thing in a community (Twitter) that needs more of the same?

  31. Full disclosure: I consider Bethanne Patrick a friend. I met her at a writer’s conference nearly 10 years ago, and watched her writing career solidify at Pages, then AOL, then Publisher’s Weekly, and, eyes wide open, with the sensational success of #FridayReads.

    I think what we’re seeing here is garden-variety social media growing pains. Bloggers have been grappling with disclosure for ages. Some bloggers to this day do not mention in each and every post that they are writing about a sponsored product, they have a general disclaimer elsewhere on the site. With Twitter, the idea of labeling each and every sponsored tweet, with a hashtag for instance, seems highly impractical, in general, not just for The Book Maven. Perhaps one approach would be several tweets over the course of a day with a link to an explanation about that Friday Read’s or that day’s sponsors. It’s straightforward, there’s more than 140 characters to be clear.

    I also note that I do not think advertising sponsorship is as clear as we’d like to think. In magazines for instance, some sections are effectively sponsored by one advertiser or a set of advertisers. Their ads appear in that section of the magazine, if an advertiser pulls their ads, the section is sometimes reduced or even cut. (I lost an assignment once this way.) Does the reader know this? If so, how? It’s not spelled out anywhere. It’s all about placement.

    I trust that folks who monetize their Twitter channel will start articulating their best practices as to disclosure, and, like in the blogosphere, there will be a spectrum of following those best practices.

    Hang in there, Bethanne!

  32. [...] at Book Maven and the founder of Friday Reads updated the Facebook page with a disclosure, and posted a “full disclosure” on her site. She explains how the whole thing unfolded and indicates that she is rethinking things and wants to [...]

  33. [...] not just the #FridayReads hullabaloo. At least Bethanne did try to explain. And it’s not just money. It’s authors trying to game the system by having friends and family [...]

  34. Robin Lenz says:

    I’m an editor at Shelf Awareness, but I’m speaking personally here:
    The social media world is mutable and standards are developing, but I think we all agree that transparency is essential. The FridayReads team has always been publically available to answer questions, and has made its business purpose clear on its website. The Fridayreads hashtag has brought together readers of all sorts; I’ve learned about a number of cool titles through it. And I have no problem with the Fridayreads team actually earning some $ for the work they do.

    and: to Leah, who commented yesterday at 3:18pm: Shelf Awareness ALWAYS identifies sponsored issues, right at the top in the editor’s note. Please contact me if you have any questions (robin at shelf-awareness dot com). thanks.

  35. [...] have asked and thank you for your patience: Here is my Book Maven Media blog post disclosing my FridayReads business model, practices, and intent. Nothing new right now–I want [...]

  36. Kinna says:

    Thank you for this post. I, like most people, did not know about the business side of #fridayreads. I’ve participated in the past but stopped when I thought it had turned into a numbers game. I admit there where times when even I wanted #fridayreads to trend on twitter. We all love reading and we want to promote and celebrate it.

    I think what happened on Friday was in some says inevitable given how your disclosure was set up. In fact, it’s a very good thing that the brouhaha happened because it gives you the opportunity to improve some aspects of your business. So do not feel bad at all :) .

    I read a tweet that said the promotion/disclosure took place before #fridayreads starts. Is this correct? I think this is the problem. Essentially, #fridayreads is like a TV show. A TV show entertains but ratings are also important because that is how it attracts advertisers to pay for and sustain programming. Everyone who watches TV knows that and we don’t begrudge them the ads. Like a TV show then, what you need are regular advertising breaks in which you announce your promos, ad etc. You announce the times for your ads, preschedule your tweets and those who don’t want to “listen” will know to tune out your tweets during that time. Just like TV. And just like TV, those who don’t like the #fridayreads show will not watch/participate/tweet it. Traditional mass media has lots to teach social media.

    As I said this is an opportunity to improve your buiness. #fridayreads is an important, entertaining show about reading. I’ve my doubts whether it promotes reading among non-readers. You may, later, want to look at how you can better address that issue :) . And it will continue to grow so it’s now essential that you fix this one, but important issue. There is nothing wrong with publishers paying for #fridayreads. In fact I think there is some justice in it :) . Keep up the good work. I now know, understand and accept the numbers aspect of #fridayreads – it is good and essential. Thank you.

  37. Bethanne, I think you have done a wonderful, building this community that cares about books and reading. That you found a way to get paid to do what you love? Good for you. It’s a win-win situation. Readers share books. Publishers have a way to let readers know about new books. You get paid for your efforts. I don’t understand the controversy.

  38. So, no, I did not know that your book giveaways were sponsored. But now that I know, I’m not going to freak out or anything. And I think anyone who does needs to more carefully analyze where they are investing their energy rather than where you are investing yours.

    I commend your creativity, commitment to the process, your passion, your consistency, your sense of humor, and your support of reading in general and on Twitter in particular.

    You go ahead and make money from your work. I’m sure the whole thing can be resolved with a little more broadcasting of what’s what and who’s who. And then everyone will relax and forget it ever happened and get back to their own creativity, process, and passion. At least I sure hope they will. :)

  39. I guess you do what you gotta do. I run MaNiC MoMMy where I hold a ton of book reviews and features and have been able to give away hundreds of books. I don’t get a freakin’ dime out of it. I do it because I love, LOVE, LOVE books and love authors and hope that someday the connections I have made will help with my own books that I am writing. The only thing I do get out of all the hours I spend writing and promoting and working on reviewing and featuring all of the books that I do on my blog is that I do receive free books from publishers. I don’t begrudge you for anything except that if you were promoting books that you didn’t enjoy — THAT to me would be dishonest — did you read any that you didn’t like and tell your readers that you liked them? Did you suggest readers go out and buy books that you necessarily wouldn’t have read yourself? THAT to me is dishonest? If there’s a book I am not interested in, then I won’t review it on my blog. That would be the most dishonest part of what you would be doing, not the taking money part. Hope everything works out for you! : ) Stephanie, AKA MaNiC MoMMy

  40. [...] responded on her own blog, pointing out that she has tried to keep FridayReads transparent via its FAQ page, which Weiner [...]

  41. I’m a bit in a kerflunkle about this .. as I pretty much assumed everything that you put into your post. As a book blogger, I give away things from my shelves, promote books that I’ve bought and personally liked, but also review books sent to me by publishers. If one were to offer me cash for putting a post about their book up on my site, I would do so (as long as it wasn’t erotica or some such) – If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t give it a positive review, but any publicity is better than none.

    I don’t see anything wrong with what you’re doing, and I don’t understand all of the fur and feathers that have been flying. You do a lot of work – why SHOULD it all be for free?

    Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let the very vocal minority make you feel bad about any of it.

  42. Oh, for the love of … What is it about social networks that turns educated adults into whiny little kids? Honestly! Until magical flying unicorns descend from the skies on a rainbow of abundance, snorting ‘free everything, for life’ vouchers out of their nostrils, people will do stuff for money. That’s how it is.

    Once upon a time, children were taught that, eventually, they would exchange value in the world for paper and metal that they could exchange for other things of value. Now, all of a sudden, the model has changed. Now, we plug ourselves into the hive mind of LIMITLESS value and all-round awesomeness, and expect it all to arrive for free. Balls to that.

    Monetise away, my friend. In the process, people are talking about books and maybe even buying some. During a period of time where books have been devalued to the level of freebies to entice people to buy hardware (KDP Select, for instance) I would have thought that most bookish people would be thrilled there’s SOME money being associated with the books themselves.

    From a legal perspective, however, there’s a couple of things you need to be aware of in the US to stay on the right side of things. One of these is that if you provide a link to something on twitter, and it’s not made clear when the person arrives that you are being paid, then you need to put #ad or #sponsored in the tweet. Technically, this is even true for people who put up Amazon affiliate links.

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