Disclosure Guidelines for Book Reviewers

Disclosure

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:

img_1643

And that in my contract for Abrams Dinner Party:

Screenshot 2018-01-11 05.56.39

And for Crown Publishing:

Screenshot 2018-01-11 06.00.08

And YES, this includes Instagram Stories!!!

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.

Sincerely,
Kate

Please see this post on the Later blog with even MORE information and guidance for Instagram. 


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Goodreads ~ kateolson

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4 thoughts on “Disclosure Guidelines for Book Reviewers

  1. Pingback: Tips for book reviewers and reviews! – Stacie Boren

  2. I appreciate this so much Kate. Thank you for the advice. I’ve been operating all willy nilly. I had been saying that the book is an ARC, for example and I have started tagging publishers, etc. but like you said, now that I know better, I’m going to do better. Thanks for the help.

    Liked by 1 person

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