Friday, December 08, 2006

I'm a Real Blogger Now!

I was remiss in my posting duties yesterday, but I had to actually leave the house. There was an event for librarians, a trade show type thing, and my local author group had a booth there so we could meet librarians and pass out books. Then after that I went to lunch with some of the other authors, and then I had to run some errands on the way home. By the time I got home, it was the end of the day and I was exhausted. I'm not sure which was more tiring, the time I spent in my happy, bubbly author persona or the time I spent dealing with the crowds at Target. At any rate, I pretty much collapsed. And now I'm behind on work that simply must be done, so this is going to be a busy work kind of day. Really. Even if it means disconnecting from the Internet and going to hide somewhere else

I seem to have reached some kind of threshold in my notoriety/legitimacy as a blogger. I've had my first approach from a marketing/promotion company asking me to promote something for them. The other day I got an e-mail from a publicist for the film My Super Ex-Girlfriend, asking me to blog about the movie and maybe run a banner for it on my web site in exchange for a free DVD of the movie. They found me through my posts this summer on romantic comedy films and thought that if I was into talking about romantic comedy, I might want to talk about this movie.

Putting on my marketing hat, I would call this an almost, but not quite, good approach. On the plus side, they did correctly target me as someone who occasionally discusses movies and who likes the genre of the film they're promoting. They didn't send me a form e-mail. That puts them ahead of a lot of marketers I've heard about, who send mass form e-mails to bloggers to get them to review books, when their blogs may be about books, but without any actual book reviews.

However, if this had been one of my staff members from my agency days, there would have been some counseling involved because this person didn't do quite a thorough enough job of targeting the pitch (and no, there wouldn't have been yelling. I didn't yell at my people. I was a very nice boss). If they'd actually read the post about romantic comedies and a few entries on either side of it, they'd have seen that the post was set off by a rant on the kind of romantic comedies they're making these days, exemplified by the movie they were trying to promote. I was complaining about the trend of so-called romantic comedies where the woman is the bad guy and the men are infantile. You'd also think that if you were going to get someone to promote your product, you'd find out who they were, like maybe that I'm an author and that my blog is meant for promoting myself, so asking me to blatantly promote something else is a bit much.

I responded with something to that effect. But you know what might have worked to at least get me to give it a shot (because, yeah, I like free stuff)? If they'd sent me a note saying that they'd seen my views on romantic comedies and how I didn't like what was in the theaters now, but if I hadn't seen this one, would I like to give it a shot at making me change my mind? And maybe that they'd like to see a comedy author's take on the movie. I can seldom resist a challenge. They'd have been taking a risk that I wouldn't like the movie, even after seeing it, and might say something negative, but that's the nature of this kind of publicity (you run the same risk when you show a film to critics).

I do get a lot of free books, but none yet specifically because a fair number of people read my blog. Most of the free books I get just because I went to a conference, and everyone who goes to the conference gets books. Some I get from my editor, but more because she thinks I'd like them than because she wants me to promote them. I don't consider myself a book reviewer. I'm just a person who talks about books. Because I'm an author, myself, I consider myself to have at least a perceived conflict of interest. That's why you won't see too many overly negative "book reports." Unless it's a special circumstance, if I don't like a book, I just don't talk about it. I barely have time to talk about the books I do like, and there were a bunch from this fall that I never got around to talking about because I was busy.

I know I'm not the kind of person who would deliberately trash a book as an act of revenge or jealousy because I didn't like the author, because I'm in some kind of feud with an author or because I'm jealous that the author got a better book deal and more publicity than I did. I'd like to think that I'm not the kind of person who might even subconsciously put a negative slant on a book discussion because of my personal feelings about things unrelated to the book itself. I suspect that most people who've read my books or who've been reading here for a while would have figured that out. But there is sometimes a perception that the publishing world is more cutthroat than it is and that authors are all in competition with each other, trying to tear each other down. There are also authors who are addicted to Googling themselves and their book titles, and some of these authors have rabid fanbases who take personal offense at any disparagement of their favorite authors and who will then (with or without the author's urging) go out and try to sabotage anyone who says anything negative with bad Amazon reviews, flamewar blog comments and the like. Plus, the publishing world is pretty small, and the author you slam today may be the one you need for a cover blurb later, or may be someone you end up sitting next to at an industry banquet (awkward!). The risk/reward ratio is pretty unfavorable. The risks of posting a negative review far outweigh whatever rewards there might be. I can't even really think of any rewards, other than maybe getting to display my own cleverness at how well I can shred a book or scaring away people from a book I truly don't like. And there are so many good books to talk about that I don't want to waste the time on books I don't like.

The blogging circles (Girlfriends Cyber Circuit and Out of the Blogosphere) I'm part of are a little different. I'm not necessarily endorsing the books I talk about there, but it's all about authors helping each other out by spreading the word. A lot of the time, I haven't yet managed to read the book I'm talking about. Some of the time, I probably never will because it's just not my thing. I think you can generally tell when I've read something and am endorsing it personally and when I'm just putting the word out.

With TV and films, I don't worry so much because I don't know too many TV producers or filmmakers, and I don't think there's much chance of people thinking I'm possibly trashing something for personal reasons unrelated to the quality of the work. Even so, I'd rather talk about stuff I like than stuff I don't like.

Speaking of the whole author feud thing, I don't think I'll ever be rallying the troops to go after someone who dares say anything negative about me. Y'all are welcome to do whatever if you run across something like that and have a personal opinion on the topic, but I won't stir that sort of thing up, myself. The author feuds tend to happen more in the Literary (with a snooty capital L) circles than in genre fiction, but because those are often highly publicized, people seem to think that the rest of us are out to destroy each other, too.

And speaking of Out of the Blogosphere, this week's feature is the story "Come Moonrise" by Lucy Monroe, which is in the book Unleashed (a book of short stories/novellas about werewolves). Ty MacAnlup has seen the tragedy that a mating between a werewolf and a human can bring and he wants no part of it, no matter how much his body and heart ache for a taste of Frankie's softness. Frankie has loved Ty for years and while she doesn't know he's a werewolf, or even that such things exist...she does know that to her, he's always been more than a mere man. Ty's hidden beast wreaks havoc with his determination to stay away from Frankie when they are trapped together in a small cabin in the snow bound wilderness. Check out Lucy's blog. For info on lots more paranormal romancey type stuff, be sure to check out the Out of the Blogosphere blog.

In other news (gee, I miss a day, and I then have to ramble on), we may have finalized the cover for Damsel Under Stress (yay!). I'll post when I'm sure of that. And now I must spend the day doing stuff like writing about Firefly (I love my job) and drafting a synopsis. On the romantic comedy front, I do plan to see The Holiday, but only after I get a certain amount of work done. That may be my office holiday party.

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