How to Alienate Bloggers and Boost Book Sales


It would be impossible, or at least much more difficult, to be a book blogger without book publicists. We email; they send review copies. We email; they set up author interviews. Often, they email to thank us for covering their books. They add us to lists so that we no longer have to request review copies; the books just arrive in the mail, like presents! In our experience, book publicists appear to realize that as book review coverage is stripped out of newspapers and/or newspapers themselves fold. Bloggers are their friends. We’re ready and willing to fill the gap left by disappearing print book coverage. Here at Flavorwire, we have never received a pitch or an email about covering an upcoming book that suggested the person on the other end thought we were less-than because we’re a blog.

Until now.

Click through to see the letter, and get a lesson in how not to treat bloggers.

1. “Greetings Blogger Friends!” Friendly enough, of course, but bloggers are a touchy species. You may have noticed an ongoing debate about the legitimacy of blogging. Are we journalists? Are we trolls who feel only schadenfreude? Does anyone read our crap? Basically, we have to get up every morning and convince ourselves that what we do is legit. So if you want us to be your friends, it’s best not to make it totally obvious that you have drafted a very special publicity letter only for the bloggers, due to our being Very Special.

2. “Not sure how many of you are familiar with embargoes since it’s a PR/media term…” Once the grammar elves in our heads stopped screaming, we realized we were insulted. Just because we’re members of the New Media doesn’t mean we don’t know the basic terminology.

3. “DO NOT POST A REVIEW OF THE BOOK UNTIL APRIL 1, 2009! I’m serious!” Okay. We know what embargoed means, remember. But this book arrived in stores on March 25th. Why did we have to wait five days to review it? Also? It became very clear that different outlets were given different embargo dates when a review appeared on Entertainment Weekly’s website on March 25th, and an excerpt on NPR’s website on March 29th.

4. “If you don’t abide by the above terms, we will never work together again.” Well, we’re okay with that given points 2 & 3 above. But since it was the Internet that made this book a “viral blockbuster,” are you sure you want to come off so harshly to the people who help write the Internet?

Of course, none of this has hurt Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in any way. It has gotten extensive coverage in “real” media outlets, and as of today, its sales rank on Amazon is #13, and it’s #1 in their Parodies category and #3 in their Contemporary Literature & Fiction category. At Brooklyn’s excellent Word bookstore, the first 12 copies in the store sold out in 5 days, and right now there’s a 10-person waiting list. The book is already in its second printing. Stephanie Anderson, Word’s manager, tells us “the extent to which it is hot surprises me. I saw it at NYCC and knew people would love it, I just didn’t know how much! I couldn’t be more excited, and I can’t wait for it to come back in.”

And really, we think that’s great. If people didn’t get excited about books, and spend money on them, there wouldn’t be much point to being a book blogger. But we do deserve a little respect. And if you don’t abide by our terms, we’ll eat your brains.

UPDATE: On another blog the publicist mentioned that we cut off the bottom of her letter. So here it is: “Okay, enough of the serious stuff. If you have any questions, my contact information is below. Thanks again, and thanks for your support!”

UPDATE 2: This just in from Quirk: “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry to have offended so many of you with my letter. I realize now that it came off as condescending, but it was actually meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Clearly, that tone was lost. There are good explanations for the other complaints, such as why we had the embargo, and I also understand your concerns with fair use. The way I discussed the embargo and excerpt practices in the letter came off all wrong. I sincerely respect and value what bloggers have done for the book publishing world in general and in particular — with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Without independent blogs and bloggers, our book would not have been such a success. I hope you can all accept my apology. It won’t happen again. And please, know that in no way was Seth involved in any of this.”