Dear Book Reviewers ~
If you receive books for free from publishers or publicists or authors, etc – you need this information. Yes, that includes Net Galley and Edelweiss and BookishFirst and Blogging for Books and all of those things. If you get a free book for review or promotional purposes, THIS IS FOR YOU. If you buy or get all of your books from the library, then you can ignore it…..unless you want to be able to tell if OTHER book reviewers are following the guidelines!
Note: THIS ALSO APPLIES TO TEACHERS and those in the education market/world. Teachers seem to be the worst about blatantly gushing all over on social media about books they received from authors and publishers with ZERO disclosure. Maybe they don’t know about these rules? In my opinion, dishonestly marketing as a teacher to other teachers isn’t great practice.
I am not a lawyer, but I AM a former accountant, a librarian, a teacher and a mother, all roles which favor rule-following. I also have a conscience which guides my life. If there is a rule to follow, I tend to know about it! I first became aware of these guidelines in the spring of 2017 when the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) began cracking down on celebrities who were blatantly marketing for companies on social media without disclosing. Cracking down on celebrities translated to cracking down on EVERYONE. Here is what came of it, followed by more specific guidance from publishers.
If you receive something for FREE in exchange for a review or product placement in a post or ANY KIND OF EXPOSURE – you must disclose that information blatantly. This applies to all forms of social media and blog posts, including Goodreads, Amazon reviews, etc.
Here’s why. If you don’t disclose, you are providing advertising for that company WITH compensation (being the book) and NOT telling people. That’s not cool. Or legal. If you don’t tell people, they assume you wanted to read the book or use the mug, etc so much that you bought it. And you didn’t. That’s lying and it’s sneaky and oh, it’s illegal.
Without digressing into my total moral outrage about people who blatantly do NOT disclose (I see you and I’m NOT HAPPY!!!) I’ll share the guidance I have received from 3 different publishers. Please note: this applies to ALL publishers and companies, but not all publishers give specific guidance. And some companies give the OPPOSITE advice, which means they are totally shady and you should question working with them. For real. Don’t work with shady people.
Here is the most recent advice from Doubleday:
And that in my contract for Abrams Dinner Party:
And for Crown Publishing:
And YES, this includes Instagram Stories!!!
UPDATED to include this guidance from Random House and Berkley from Jessica (you need to read that linked post too re: this topic!):
Also, I’m not sure if anyone has sent along our new legal posting requirements when we send books along to influencers, but if you’re posting on social – can you please make sure to include one of the following disclosures “above the fold” (before any “expand” or “more” button) on all posts:
- @randomhouse #partner
- “Thanks for the free books, @randomhouse”
- Include the hashtag #sponsored #ad and tag @randomhouse
If the post is a video, this disclosure must occur within the video itself via voiceover and/or superimposed text. Also to note, these requeirements apply to all posts, including any videos that disappear after time like a Insta/FB story, snaps, etc”
It applies EVERYWHERE ONLINE – and that includes even if you aren’t actively reviewing a book, but it’s just in the shot for a pretty Instagram shot of your coffee table.
I don’t know how to be any more clear about this, and can’t see really any wiggle room at all. People on Instagram seem to want to debate the intricacies of this, and in my mind, there are none. Just do the right thing. And if you haven’t been doing this already, that’s okay. Now you know better. So you can do better.
Here is how I have been doing it lately:
STARTING my Instagram posts with:
emoji @publisher #partner emoji
On twitter, I end my post with @publisher #partner
And just GET OVER caring about the aesthetic of your caption. The FTC doesn’t care and if you don’t do this, you’re skirting the right thing to do. If you are an ambassador for a brand, LEAD YOUR POST WITH THAT. Example: #pubambassador or #partner.
Don’t waste time arguing. Just do it. Move on.
Please see this post on the Later blog with even MORE information and guidance for Instagram.
Are we connected on Goodreads, Instagram and Twitter? If not, let’s fix that!
Goodreads ~ kateolson
Instagram ~ @theloudlibrarylady
Twitter ~ @theloud_library
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