How I feel about book bloggers. Honestly.

February 4, 2011
I realize that my entire readership isn’t familiar with the book blogger world, so let me try to quickly explain. Just like there are many writers who blog about writing, there are readers who blog about what they read. Some of them are young (Melina from Reading Vacation is awesome, smart, and eleven!) Some are twenty-something’s still loving the YA genre, and some are moms like me (a favorite of mine is Maw Book Blogs) These bloggers are part of a very large, sometimes insular, constantly growing, encouraging community. Some are aspiring writers or hope to be in publishing someday (which is awesome), but many blog about books simply because they love books and want to share the love.
Publishers often send these bloggers free advanced reader copies in the hopes that bloggers will review the books and create buzz. Publishers also schedule blog tours with writers who are interviewed, write guest posts, or offer fun tidbits and spoilers. Bloggers also write writers asking for books to review (usually free, sometimes internationally, which is not cheap) OR to do interviews. And there can be a little bit of a hierarchy with these bloggers based on how often they blog, what kinds of posts they do, how many followers they have, how long the blog has been around, how legit the reviews are and who they know.
Some authors feel that sending books or ARCs to book bloggers is a waste because of the tightness of the community. Yes, they have 700 people reading their blog, but those 700 readers are other bloggers getting free books. Money dump to people not spending money, and that buzz is contained to one internet beehive. They think bloggers are rude and entitled. They think marketing efforts should be extended to "real teens", ones who are buying books.
And there ARE some bloggers like this. Certainly. Some bloggers write with a crazy request and send snippy emails the next day when you don’t get back ASAP. One of the most horrific publishing experiences I’ve witnessed happened last year at ALA with a blogger. I was talking to an author who is very well respected, has won numerous awards, and is a dignified and kind person. A blogger pushed, PUSHED, in front of other people in line, many librarians and teachers, explaining, "I need to get by. I’m a blogger" like that word was synonymous with VIP. Bad Blogger proceeded to ask Respected Author if she could tell the author everything wrong with her book. Respected Author made a joke, but really said, Um, no? But Bad Blogger did not listen. I stood there in this sort of dumbfounded fascination as Bad Blogger proceeded to insult this poor author on everything from her writing skills to all the other authors who were better. Respected Author nodded her head and shot me some "Is this really happening?" looks. And this blogger had fangs. I feel I should note that. She then turned to me and said, "What do you write?" I unveiled a sparkly pink bookmark. "Here. I’m sure you would LOVE my princess book. Seems like your kind of book!" Now at least the insults were directed at me. If I could go back in time, I probably would have told this girl to learn some manners but again, I was in shock. Can you imagine someone just walking up to you and belittling your livelihood like that? She ended the convo by saying, "But oh, I love authors. So can you both sign my shirt?"
Now, if that was my only experience with book bloggers, I would probably… not be a fan. I would probably delete every interview request & tell my publisher to please, PLEASE, do not give ARCs out to bloggers! So if an author is speaking negatively about bloggers, you have to understand they may be jaded for a reason. It’s always sad when the minority ruins the reputation of the majority, but there it is.
But Bad Blogger is not the norm. In fact, I would say this is my only truly negative experience with book bloggers (oh, except for the one who wrote a bad review about my book and than emailed letting me know. Y’all, if you don’t like our books, that is cool. But please don’t write and tell us that. I turn off my Google alerts when I’m writing for a reason, and it’s not helpful to my creative process when you email saying "Thanks for the free book! It sucks!) 
Most book bloggers are wonderful. They are giving and respectful and enthusiastic and gracious. They are the very best readers a writer can have. They not only read our books, they write thoughtful reviews on blogs AND goodreads AND amazon AND Barnes and noble, all of which helps generate sales. They share books they love with friends both in and outside the blogsphere. A high school friend of mine, Jen, recently wrote me asking which YA blog she should follow now that one of her favorite bloggers was closing shop. Jen trusted this blogger to give her good recommendations on a genre she didn’t always read. In short, Jen read the blog and then went out and BOUGHT BOOKS.  Could we sell books without bloggers? Yes. Do we sell more because of bloggers? Yes.
And bloggers are readers. Voracious readers, often reading a couple of books a week. Not all of those books are free. For every book they get free, they probably buy one more, and turn and tell ten friends about that book too. Also, I’ve had signings were bloggers drove miles to come and BUY a book. At that very same conference, I had a blogger named James (bookchicclub) bring a worn ARC for me to sign. This was after Fang Girl, and it was so refreshing to see him. It’s humbling and amazing that these readers admire writers so much, especially in an age when other teens limit their reading to OMG! or US WEEKLY. And they are essentially writing book reports FOR FUN. By all means, give these kids (and adults!) books. I’m sure if book blogs were around when I was younger, I would have been all over that. Most of my friends were not readers, so it’s a great way to connect with others who share that passion. I am Pro Blogger. Someone make me a badge. 
Let me end with another experience. We had a blogger lunch with some other 2010 debut authors in LA before we’d debuted. We were sitting outside the restaurant, waiting for our table, when basketball great Magic Johnson walked by. I couldn’t speak, I was just kind of pointing and making gurgling sounds. But these teens did not notice, because at that same moment, author Jay Asher walked up. These girls were squealing and gushing and completely oblivious of Magic Johnson. They even asked, "Magic who?" Writers are their rock stars. This excitement should be celebrated. One of these bloggers, Khy from Frenetic Reader, brought her mom. Her mom said they really encouraged Khy’s blog because, hello, she is reading books and writing about themes and literary trends FOR FUN. And Khy also brought me a little gift for my upcoming book. Not because she wanted free stuff from me. Not because she was looking for an "in". Because she is a reader. While other girls are obsessing over Paris Hilton’s shoe choice, girls like Khy are following literature. Please, please nurture this. Please let these younger readers grow up and become intelligent, informed adults because of those habits they started, potentially via a blog. Please let these adult bloggers continue to recognize YA literature as quality reading. If it means I have to send out a few bookmarks or a signed book or two to encourage this and be a larger part of that community, then yeah. I’m going to. 
Unless fang girl asks. I have something else I’d love to send that girl.

**edited to add: See what I mean? Amy over at Reading TeensReading Tweens (which I had never read, and it’s for tweens, and I can do a whole other post of my love for TWEEN bloggers) just wrote with these badges. Use them! Badges! Badges! We need stinkin’ badges (from Troop Beverly Hills. Please, kids, watch it)