It’s been said several times already, but I feel the need to point out that I am not a spokesman, no matter how much beer, nickel bags, or underwear you send me.
I’m responding to the suggestion put forth by various folks in Josh Getlin’s article, which chronicles the often desperate ploys used by publishers to generate title awareness. Let’s get a few things straight:
1. If you send me a book, I am under no obligation to like it.
2. If you send me a book, I am under no obligation to read it.
3. If you send me a book, I am under no obligation to review it.
4. If you send me a link to some soiree, I am under no obligation to mention it or attend it.
5. If an author comes through town, I am under no obligation to interview her.
(I am, however, under the obligation to acknowledge thoughts and various sweet snacks from other journalists and, as I can, various readers. This is what is known as “breaking bread” in the real world, a concept lost upon poor Sammy Boy.)
Of course, ask nicely, tickle my fancy, and consult the secret “How to Communicate with Ed Champion” pamphlet now making the rounds in certain publishing circles and you may just find a way to twist my arm.
Likewise, I also understand that authors and publishers are under no obligation to accommodate me. But I do appreciate their position and try to respond to any and all pitches and/or queries that come my way.
What does that make me? A very strange media outlet? Perhaps. An opinionated one with esoteric references, a highly subjective approach, and bad puns. Sure!
But none of this makes me (or, for that matter, any of my blogging companions) a marketing tool. In fact, I regularly say no to very nice people and still feel bad for doing so. My time is limited. But this is not marketing. This is a form of opinion journalism.
I think it’s important to lay down a distinction between one who loves books and one who markets books. I love books. No question. I love books so much that I’m often a vocal skeptic about them. But if you want to ensure that your book gets a rave, send it to Harriet Klausner, not me. Of course, your guaranteed plaudit comes at a cost. After all, is there anyone who really takes Klausner’s reviews seriously?