Can I please have some cheese & crackers with my whine: The FTC Disclaimer Edition | Alexia's Books and Such...: Can I please have some cheese & crackers with my whine: The FTC Disclaimer Edition

“Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.” ~ Mark Twain

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Can I please have some cheese & crackers with my whine: The FTC Disclaimer Edition

lolcats anger mgt kitteh - Alexia's Books and Such

*disclaimer- all sarcasm and whining are my own

Background

There seems to be lots of discussion lately about the FTC disclaimers we use. I first read about it over at Sophisticated Dorkiness. Her post was really well written and she made several valid points. Several days later, posts at There Were Books Involved... and On Starships & Dragonwings popped up in my feed, both of which were also very well done with valid points.

Nothing against any of these bloggers, but I stopped reading at that point and turned into a grumpy old curmudgeon, yelling at non-existent kids to get off my lawn.

When the FTC first issued their guidelines, I put a disclaimer at the end of my reviews like a good little blogger. Then I was told that it needed to be at the top of my post. Fine. I moved it to the top of my reviews. But no, that still wasn't good enough as it's supposed to stand out. Sadly, I don't have access to the flashing neon fonts so just changed the color. Finding phrasing that I was comfortable with, I thought I was in compliance and wouldn't have to worry about it any more.

Apparently I counted my chickens before they were hatched and I'm still doing it wrong. *sigh*

The Whine

What's wrong with using "in exchange for an honest review" as part of your disclaimer? I only put that on the titles I actually review, not on my book haul posts.

My review policy states that I will be happy to take review requests under consideration and nowhere does it promise a review. My only requests are to NetGalley/Edelweiss and the rest of my review copies come from email pitches. Do I really need to change my phrasing again?

Grumpy Cat No - Alexia's Books and Such

Once I find something that I think works for me, I tend to keep it. I don't like change for changes sake. 

I am part of the Amazon Vine program, which recently changed policies and now requires a review for every item requested. This is still relatively new, as the program I signed up for only required a certain percentage of reviews per items.

I see nothing wrong with this, as they are sending you an item at no charge and the least you can do is write a review. All this has done is make me more selective about which items I request, although to be honest I keep missing my deadlines and submitting my reviews late. I seem to have issues with authority and deadlines and being told what to do, but that's a discussion for another day....

Mountain or molehill?

So are bloggers making a mountain out of a molehill ? Do I really have to change my disclaimer if I don't want to?

Several of the posts mention that changing their policy from "in exchange" to "for review consideration" has helped lower their stress levels about having to read all the books. Lowering stress levels is always a good thing, but don't we bring this on ourselves with self-imposed deadlines?

Lately, the only books I've been stressing about reading in time are blog tour books where I have to post on a certain date. I do ask publishers/publicists/the-kind-people-who-pitch-me-books to let me know if they need a review posted by a certain date, but they rarely give me a date.

What say you?

Do I need to stop using my "book received in exchange for an honest review" disclaimer and change to "book received for review consideration"? Is it really that big a deal?

Should I update my review policy, which was last updated in 2012? Should I include a link to my review policy in my acceptance emails to review pitches? Should I cut my waist-length hair short for the summer? Sorry...got distracted.

Anywaaaaay.....sorry for the long rant. I've rewritten this a few times and while it's not as snarky as my first draft, it's probably still not fit for print. But I can only rewrite something so many times before I get bored, and I'm going to post it anyway because I'd hate to have spent that much time working on something only to trash it.

**whine complete**

14 comments:

  1. I take the I don't really care approach. I feel like the FTC isn't going to be seeking out me, small book blogger #2314 so I don't give it too much thought (though I did at one time). I do put my FTC disclaimer thing at the top of my arc reviews, but I'm not changing the wording cause I just don't care to right now.

    I can see how changing the words from "in exchange" to "review consideration" would alleviate some stress for people because "review consideration" just sounds less menacing.

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    1. You're right, as I can't see the FTC worrying about little blogs like mine. Going to keep my wording for now, as I'm used to it. Although I do wish I had some awesome flashing neon fonts! :)

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  2. I also read the post in On Starships & Dragonwings sine it popped up in my Twitter timeline and I think she makes some good points. :) Sometimes blogging can be stressful haha, with all the deadlines for reviews and such. I don't see myself changing my FTC disclaimer though - maybe I'll just change the word 'review' to 'feedback'? Receiving this book in exchange for honest feedback? Feedback, well, I don't have to publish what I think of the book if I DNF it right? :P

    Anyways, thank you for sharing, Alexia! LOVE the cats. <3

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    1. All of the bloggers made some very good points. Everyone must ultimately do what they think is best for their blog, but I don't feel that I need to change my disclaimer. I know that most of the stress I feel is self-imposed, so I'm working on that first.

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  3. Hey Alexia, I hope you don't mind if I wade in ;-). I very much meant my post to be an announcement that I was changing my review policy and how I approached review books both because I'm fairly certain no one would notice my review policy page changing otherwise and because I think it is valuable for newer bloggers to know that it is an option to have a policy with less of an obligation if they prefer it. I honestly hadn't even considered the idea of not being obligated to review or DNF (after 10% or whatever) every book I requested through email pitches, cold requests and even eARCs. That's why I hoped increasing the discussion would be useful to any other bloggers in a similar position. In the post I make references to a community-wide change, but I never meant to imply that everyone absolutely should change their disclaimer/review policy/whatever. I meant that I'd like this community-wide discussion to have a lasting impact so that new bloggers are aware of the various types of approaches to review books and can choose what works best for them instead of feeling pressured into obligations that then lead to stress and burnout.

    Of course all our deadlines are self-imposed either by deciding we want to have reviews coincide with publication dates or by signing up for blog tours and agreeing to review on a certain day. However, since we live in a polite society, many of us (women especially but that's a conversation for another day) have very internalized needs to not let people down or fail to deliver on a promise even if it isn't in writing. By switching to specifically only promising review consideration instead of promising a review implicitly, I think a lot of us are able to escape those deeply internalized feelings of a loss of self-worth that is dependent on keeping promises. And even if publicists don't give a specific date, most publishers have posted their preferences for a review going live up to a month before the publication date to a month after or something similar.

    So anyway, I hope that clarifies a bit since I'm worried you got an impression I didn't mean to convey based on this post.

    Happy reading!

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    1. Hi Anya! Wade away! It's certainly been an interesting discussion, hasn't it? ;) I guess I must be in the minority as I've never felt the pressure to review every single book I've received, and have even done a few DNF reviews.

      I guess I always assumed that publishers knew that not every ARC would be reviewed, just like they knew every ARC wouldn't be reviewed by magazine or newspaper reviewers. It's a gamble on their part, but I also assumed that they eventually stop sending review copies to bloggers who never review the book. Guess I should stop assuming so much, eh?

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  4. Oh heavens. I totally missed all this. And this is just crazy. What are people afraid of? It seems they aren't happy with the great reviews we are giving on books we love. Why can't we just enjoy the fun we are having?

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    1. Exactly! If it's not broke, don't fix it!

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  5. Great post.. I have no idea what to do. I am not a big blogger and just .. well frankly am lost. I do post on little sentence on the ARCs I review though. I just say I got it for free for an honest review. That is it. I don't know what else I am really supposed to do! I don't request any ARCs that I think I might not read. Plus.. I am not some big reviewer who just gets free books in the mail from a publisher without even asking for it so I don't have to stress over those either. I will just stick to what I am doing for now.

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    1. I'm going to stick with what I'm doing now too Angela! I think so much of the stress we complain about is self-inflicted, so I'm trying to relax and just enjoy blogging again. :)

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  6. Wow...I totally missed this in the blogosphere. Good thing too. I'm sticking with my nice little close stating where the copy came from. Personally I think the stressing oneself out over reading ALL the books is brought on by themselves. It's YOUR site. You set the rules. You accept or decline based on your guidelines, not someone else's. There are plenty of titles that show up on my doorstep unbidden. Will I ever read/review them? Perhaps...one day....but I don't feel obligated to run out and drop everything to get it down....after all, I didn't request it. I am grateful for them, and will generally do a shout out to the author or publisher for it, but until I've the time, place, and interest, it waits...there, whine ended. ^_^

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    1. I usually miss blogging drama, but guess I had bad timing on this one as my feed seemed to explode with this topic one day.

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  7. I still don't use a disclaimer, I never think of it. I need to start doing it though.

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    1. I doubt that the blogging police will come knocking down your door, but a simple disclaimer wouldn't hurt.

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