I am not a librarian. I don't work in a library, I don't work with school library programs or anything like that. I'm a blogger, aspiring writer, and future elementary teacher. That being said, I wish there were guidelines for bloggers going to ALA. Because honestly I had no idea what to expect. I've never been to a book conference before and went into it almost on a whim, figuring things out as I went. I've been blogging for three years but I still feel like a "fringe" blogger, like I'm not really in the midst of things. I like this, but it also means that my blog is smaller and doesn't have a huge readership. I'm not one of the "big bloggers" by any means and sometimes -- especially at an event where so many of the people are in books professionally, it does sort of put you on a lower level and the expectations can definitely be confusing.
It would be great, I think, if there were some guidelines or even a discussion of what's expected at ALA for book bloggers who aren't professionally involved in the industry. Should we introduce ourselves as bloggers to the publicists we take ARCs from? Should we not keep the ARCs for ourselves but instead donate them to libraries/programs after reading them? What are the rules?
Because here's the thing: blogging is not something I make money from. It sounds corny to say but people who blog regularly about books really are doing it because they love it and they love books. Sure, some people get into blogging in the hopes of getting "free books," but a blog will not survive if that's the motivation. Anyone who's been blogging regularly for six months, a year, or more, is definitely putting out the effort. (I just switched over to blogspot, but I've been book blogging for three years.) As people who love books, bloggers don't want to be on the naughty list of anyone in the publishing or book industry -- not authors, not publishers, editors, publicists, or librarians. I can only speak for myself, of course, but I think it's safe to say that if there are guidelines regarding bloggers and ALA, we will follow them.
But there are no guidelines.
Some suggested general rules for bloggers in the future, based on my experience at the midwinter meeting?
- Be upfront about the fact that you're a blogger and not a librarian. Talk to the reps at the booths you take ARCs from; everyone I talked to seemed pretty psyched about the blog and more than happy to talk to me and share books/ARCs with me.
- Be selective about what you take. Amazingly enough with all the books I ended up taking home, they were all titles I was very interested in and fairly confident about liking. I didn't take any highly-recommended fantasy or paranormal ARCs because it doesn't interest me and that would just be a waste.
That seems pretty reasonable to me, but then again this is only my opinion and I have no idea what others might think or expect. The thing is that "greedy" is hard to define and as a blogger who absolutely loved ALA, got a lot of ARCs I'm super excited about, and met tons of awesome people it does make me feel a bit bad to have people think I shouldn't have been able to attend as a blogger. It really was an amazing and incredible experience.
So, readers, what's your opinion? And what are you -- blogger? Librarian? Reader? Author? INCREDIBLE PERSON MADE OF AWESOME AND WIN?
(and yes, my recap post is still on its way...)