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>That is, What Would Miss Manners Do upon receipt of a blog tour “invitation” that opened “Pick a date in the month of November that you’d like to host us.”

Hmm, let’s see. “Gentle Reader: While Miss Manners was pleased to be in your thoughts she thinks you have your roles mixed up. It is the host who offers the invitation, not the guest. Miss Manners confesses she is quite agog with confusion over the prospect of a world in which a guest might phone one up and suggest dinner at one’s domicile. She is further confounded by the notion that a host appreciates being offered a “menu of options” that the guest would find acceptable. Even if Miss Manners were running a restaurant–which she is not–she would settle upon the menu herself. She would also charge, which would rather change the position of the guest to that of a customer, no? But Miss Manners is as loathe to charge for her hospitality as she is likely to enjoy having you “stop by” on the “tour” you are proposing. Bon voyage!”

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >You aren't the one going to hell.

  2. >I have the feeling that somebody probably paid a publicity/social networking consultant a chunk of money for the idea to invite themselves over.

  3. >Ha. Good one.

    I love Miss Manners.

  4. >Fantastic! Now Miss Manners knows where to turn when she needs a "guest columnist."

  5. Beth Kephart says:

    >I always wish that I had something brilliant to say when you post things like this. Is it okay simply to say that on this very rainy day you made me smile? The fact that my word verification now reads exangl makes me marvel at your power. Ex Angel it is.

  6. Betty Tisel says:

    >what is a blog tour?

  7. >Anon 11:50, the writer who sent Roger that ballsy invitation to host a Q+A about his book actually said his publisher mentioned Roger's blog as "a must-stop site." I can only hope it was a young marketing person who didn't realize the gaffe he or she was making in suggesting the writer contact Roger. I would be as mortified if one of our authors reached out to Roger's blog that way as I was when I invited someone to dinner and they suggested a recipe for me to try when they came over.

  8. Andy Laties says:

    >Roger, you are such a puppy-kicker!

  9. Roger Sutton says:

    >I don't know that it was really so much a gaffe as an easy target (thus my prediction I was going to hell). We know that marketing departments are pushing authors to promote themselves, but are the publicists providing the authors with enough media training to make sure they are effective?

  10. >To mix metaphors–

    Are you sure the marketing people aren't trying to push the envelope and using naive authors as cannon fodder? How much more annoyed would you have been if it had been the marketing department that contacted you?

  11. >Love this. I ask WWMMD all the time. You nailed her voice PERFECTLY.

  12. >Roger;

    It could have been Miss Piggy.

  13. >why so coy? it's enough to say to youself: "You know who you are" but why not let the rest of us in on the matter? then we will recognize the book (or product) when we see it plugged

  14. Roger Sutton says:

    >What would be the point in that, 9:24? So the author is clueless–it doesn't mean the book is bad. Besides, these kinds of "invitations" come to bloggers all the time, so it doesn't seem fair to single one out by name. When Miss Manners chides those with call waiting ("it's a case of last come, first served") she doesn't tell us which of her friends made the grievous error.

  15. >(9.24 speaking) You are right; I wasn't thinking. – it wouldn't be fair to name this particular promotion person. but one can hope that she or her employer knows how the technique redounds to the book's discredit. (and that the author doesn't find out what is being done in her name!)

  16. >I find this marketing thing a big black hole. I have asked questions to the publishing marketing "experts" (did you know that the marketing dept is a mostly entry level job?). My questions unanswered, even dismissed. I tell them to send me to the big conventions to sign books and never sent. I am given an antiquated marketing brochure or flyer and my marching orders to get out there and sell my book. No training. This blogosphere thing, really, who are we talking to, each other in the business? I do not buy books from these other people now because when I'm not working, I need that book money to eat. How are we reaching out to the public, who actually buy the books? I spent a whole year marketing and my book is still in the tank. Why? When asked to get out there and promote, I spent time, money and effort to reach out. I've been invited to speak at fairs and conferences. However, I am also required to shell out my own money for planes, trains, hotels and meals. All for no honorarium. I cannot afford this and I am not a charity. How is the marketing dept helping when they do not fund their people to sell that book and send them out to do so? It's really convoluted. Something has got to change. That naive (or stupid, greedy, pushy) blogger has no training or protocols to follow. Believe me, I've asked, many times.

  17. Andy Laties says:

    >Hello Anonymous 3:01,

    I am your local bookseller. I also wrote a book. I think I answered your question in my comment #31 on the previous post, in describing what Daniel Pinkwater is now doing on National Public Radio. As a bookseller and author, I believe that the only way to sell YOUR book is to join with other authors and promote THEIR books too, as part of an informal collective. Isolation is the issue. Daniel promoted James Warhola's book on the radio this morning — but of course Daniel was also reminding listeners of his OWN existence, and therefore that of his books'.

    Maybe you don't have time for a radio show. Neither does Daniel, but he's doing one anyway. Maybe you can't get on NPR, but you can get on the internet.

    Similarly, I sell my own book regularly, in the stores I help run.

    Yes, the marketing department at the publishing company isn't helping you. The old days are over. But do not dismiss the help your peers can offer you, and the help you can offer them. Most importantly, write another book, and another, and another. Speaking as a bookseller, I can tell you it is much easier to promote an author with several books available. Do not despair. Share your voice.

  18. >Thanks, Andy. That was a thoughtful reply. Wish you worked for my publisher.

    Anon 3:01

  19. >I don't understand why anyone would host a book they're luke warm about, yet this happens all the time. What's the point of promoting a book you didn't love on your site. I just don't get it can someone please explain it to me. It's one of the many reasons I don't like blog tours.

  20. >Doret, I can't speak for all bloggers but what's happened to me (sometimes, not all the time) is that I'm asked to participate in a blog tour. I accept, not having read the book, because I find the premise of the book intriguing or others have given the book a good review. It sounds like something I'd be interested in, so I accept. I get the book, read it, and maybe I don't feel a great connection with the book but I've already committed to being on this blog tour. Hence, posting about lukewarm books.

    It's not a perfect system, no. But I try to think of an audience for every book I review on my blog. Maybe I am not the best audience, but just because I didn't care for the book doesn't mean that no one will. Yes, it's easier and more fun to post about books I love, but if I can help a book find its audience I feel like I've done my job.

    From a blogger perspective, too, I think people (myself included) are sometimes motivated to accept blog tours because it helps drive visitors to their blog. It might mean instant links from other blogs or promotion on an author's or publisher's website.

  21. >Someone asked above and never got an answer, so I will shamelessly reveal my own ignorance by repeating the question: What is this blog tour whereof you speak?

    I know about blogs and how they sometimes feature titles for review or comment or promotion, but I don't understand the "tour" part.

    Is this a case of the author going from one blog to another, making comments, making himself available to questions from regular readers of that blog on such-and-such a date? Or what?

    Lyle Blake Smythers

  22. Roger Sutton says:

    >Lyle, I've never been involved with a blog tour, but I gather they are like virtual book tours, where an author "visits" a series of blogs for interviews within a discrete time period. The main difference between blog tours and book tours is that blog readers are encouraged to "follow" the author from blog to blog, where in real life this might seem vaguely stalkerish.

    Publishers like blog tours because they don't cost anything; authors like them because they can be done from home; bloggers like them because they provide a subject for a post (well for which running dry more often than you might think) and may attract new readers via all the linking between tour stops that goes on. Do blog readers like them? Not this one.

  23. >I'm frankly tired of book review blogs becoming one giant promotional tool, and am starting to tune most of them completely out, just as I do TV ads. Does everything in our society have to be attached to crass commerce and to plugging a product?

    This little piece of the internet is turning into one giant circle jerk, in my opinion. Authors, I really don't want to know what tunes you listened to while you were writing chapter 3, and, even more than that, I don't want to know that you think I should be interested in your musical tastes.

    I'm finding that the more I know about authors through social networking, the less I think of them, and I'm afraid that's starting to jade my opinion of their books, although I've been trying to keep an open mind. Is anyone else experiencing this?

  24. Andy Laties says:

    >Well, you are the reader, and I certainly feel that you should and can control the online experience you have.

    But from my standpoint, as an author, I've been using social networking to pitch my book since 2005. As I once before explained on this blog, my activity is data-driven. The internet provides me with many ways of watching my book sales. For instance I have password-access to my distributor's warehouse's website, so I can see when bookstores and wholesalers are picking up more copies of my book from my distributor. When I'm especially active online (as in recent days on this very blog for instance), my book sales improve. People get curious about me, and a couple of them buy my book online, and this triggers a reorder request from my distributors warehouse.

    So, since I know that this will happen when I become vocal online in a publicly read forum, I do not think your anecdotal feelings about social networking, when it comes to authors and book promotion, are correct. Rather, the data I experience, in my personal life, suggests that in fact, online book promotion work done by THIS author at least does in fact help book sales.

    And I think it's true for other authors too: else we certainly wouldn't do it. It is VERY time-consuming and we ought to be writing more books, instead of spending time participating in the virtual life. (Although I do like a good rough-and-tumble discussion sometimes.)

    I'm sorry you don't like reading online book reviews as much anymore. Why don't you start visiting real-world physical indie bookstores instead?

    Your bookseller pal, Andy

  25. Roger Sutton says:

    >Maybe, Andy, Innalin is bothered by the conflation, repeated in your comment, of reviewing and promoting!

  26. Andy Laties says:

    >Yes. You're the reviewer and I'm the promoter attempting to co-opt your website

  27. >"I'm finding that the more I know about authors through social networking, the less I think of them"

    Yeah me too. And I'm curious if anyone else feels this way, because I didn't expect to. I thought I wanted to know what writers were like and how they worked and I hoovered up a lot of info and I'm surprised by how inane everything and everyone seems. Maybe the problem is that it IS all marketing. These authors that I see on the web aren't real people, they are tasty-cake personas pretending to be real people.

  28. >Andy, I do visit my independent bookstore frequently, but I usually know what I'm going to buy before I go in because I've read reviews in professional journals or have gotten recommendations from colleagues and friends.

    That's the sort of recommendation I'd like to be able to get from a blog, but I no longer trust their recommendations because more and more they have gotten into the business of plugging books and promoting authors in a sort of weird cult of personality. I've come to view their recommendations as the literary equivalent of late-night TV talk shows that book actors and singers to push their latest product.

    I'm glad to hear you've had success with online self-promotion. It'll be interesting to see if it sustains itself, or if it will begin to lose its effectiveness with the ever-increasing din of cyber-chat.

    I confess that I, too, was taken in by it when it was new to me. There was a time when I never missed my daily dose of Brotherhood 2.0. And then I suddenly realized I didn't really care what John Green was having for breakfast, and by the time "Paper Towns" came out, I didn't much care what he had to say about anything at all. Nothing against John — he's a fine writer. But as a reader, I began to view everything he did as manipulative, designed to sell me something. His online persona was interfering with my suspension of disbelief.

    Call me a Luddite, but I still like to think of authors as creative artists, rather than as crass used car salesmen, and books as books, rather than product.

  29. Andy Laties says:


  30. >I know! I'll just be over here, reading M.T. Anderson.

  31. Andy Laties says:

    >Actually, I should be paying attention instead of just joking around, since I'll be launching a book-review blog, with my colleague Eliza Brown, over on the Eric Carle Museum's shop website, in a few months. I suppose we will be treating with blog-tour proposals ourselves.

    Well, we intend to be ever-so-stern.

  32. >"This little piece of the internet is turning into one giant circle jerk, in my opinion. Authors, I really don't want to know what tunes you listened to while you were writing chapter 3, and, even more than that, I don't want to know that you think I should be interested in your musical tastes."

    Ah, innalin, I think you're a prophet of the near future. I'd tell you to start a blog but that would defeat the purpose.

    On the other side of the screen, I think there are probably more and more blogging authors who dream that someone in marketing will call them to say, "Why are you spending this time on the internet? You should be making books. That's what you do. Marketing is our job. It's the whole reason we're here."

    It's a nice dream, anyway.

  33. melanie hope greenberg says:

    >My full time career as an author-illustrator expanded to several careers simultaneously. All of which are deep withdrawls out of my bank of creativity. I've become a full time publicist, presenter,logistics travel expert, bloggist, FBooker, and now I need to learn to become a movie trailer maker. However, I simply have no time to add another career. I decided to clean up my studio this week and begin the process of book creation only. I'm not complaining. All the work I put into learning in these various full time jobs has expanded my knowledge of this business and helped me to become more established in the publishing collective mind. And by giving all my new skills tructure, I can rest. Because I am just exhausted.

  34. melanie hope greenberg says:

    >that's "structure" 🙂

  35. >I notice that no crowds of people are showing up to agree with innalin about the over exposure of authors. Anon 11:08, melanie hope greenberg, I think all those people who would just like to make books are shit outa luck.

  36. Anon. 11:08 says:

    >No crowds for that, Anon 1:45, but neither have the crowds arrived who want to know what I had for breakfast.

    (A.: Toast)

    You yourself don’t seem particularly to like or enjoy author blogs. At least you don’t say that you do; the best you say of them is that they are necessary. But I think innalin is right that it’s all starting to feel a bit like a closed system. And while I’m sure that blogging does at least some good in terms of raising one’s profile, as Andy Laties says, and that the best blogs (including R.S.'s, naturally) do real good, for authors there has got to be a point of diminishing returns for the effort they put into self-promotion.

    Melanie is right to point out that self-promotion takes time and effort and comes at a cost. Writing well is a demanding gig. I will still put my money on the writer who’s squirreled away, writing steadily and quietly and well, blogging little or not at all.

  37. Roger Sutton says:

    >Someone with more time and expertise than I should look into which children's books get the blogosphere's attention. Speaking anecdotally, I see the lion's share of attention going to chick lit and speculative fiction, both genres with heavy crossover appeal. It makes me wonder if there is a disconnect between what gets blogged (books bloggers themselves enjoy) and what gets bought (books someone thinks a child or group of children for whom they are responsible might like). What we need to know is whether blog buzz translates to sales, or is it a closed loop, calling attention to only itself? That's the circle-jerkery I would worry about.

  38. >I'm an author and it is a blessed relief to hear something other than the drumbeat of "shame on you if you're not doing" _________ (insert blogging, facebook, twitter, or whatever). I've done some of this sort of thing in response to repeated urging, but the creative drain is huge and I can't afford it. And I've been reading author blogs less and less, too. They make me feel like the world's worst slug– I couldn't begin to keep up the activity level of some of these people, and still create new work. I think there must be a certain type of writer that is energized by this sort of thing, but I don't know any, myself.

    We writers are told over and over again, by the way, that when we speak at conferences people want to know all about us and our artistic process. And we're told the more behind-the-scenes detail we can provide, the better. But it starts to feel weird; writing is tough, the place it comes from is highly personal, and we reveal so much of ourselves in our books anyway that I wonder why people want more.

    Perhaps writers who discuss what they had for breakfast are trying to make themselves available to their fans, as they've been told; by keeping to the mundane, they can still protect the intensely personal creative well from which the work springs.

  39. >I think the people who reveal too many details of their private lives are exhibitionists or are incredibly needy for constant attention and/or narcissists. There are no directions given to what authors should and should not say on line. For me, the more they talk, the more I tune them out. Too Much Information TMI. I keep wondering how their work is getting done after yet another help me for Mafia Wars. One "author" suggested a FB friend who's identity was locked and not found on google either. I asked this "author" who is this person. "Author" did not know, a friend of a friend. The "author" and I have almost 100 friends in common in the business, and is always talking about books. Well when I googled this "author" there were no professional listings! WTH? Anyone can be anything in cyberspace. Look at me, I'm a FB poser wooo-hooo!

  40. Andy Laties says:

    >I went from producing and acting in children's theatre to opening and running a children's bookstore. I was amazed at the difference between professional children's performers and professional children's authors. The authors were so shy! They disliked the spotlight, they didn't like having to get out there and present! I had been surrounded by people who loved the stage, and now I was trying to advise people who wished they could just stay in their rooms and make their stories and art. These authors HAD to make school appearances and didn't want to.

    It seems to me that for children's authors who do not like to visit schools, the internet would be a godsend. But the people on this list are saying that the internet is a nuisance. I remember a period of performing in a thousand schools over a few years. I loved performing in the schools. I don't really understand this shyness you are describing. Meeting people fills me with energy. I have been working at a bookstore cash register for 25 years and I still love making silly jokes with random kids.

    This is a personality issue. It's not because "facebook is stupid and demanding." It's because you just aren't the same kind of public-oriented person I am. I'm not criticizing you, you various anonymous people. I'm just saying that if there are SOME people who like the spotlight, who are naturally sociable, that's it's not very nice to tell us that you don't care what we have to say on social fora. You don't have to listen, and you don't have to compete with us. Go and write a much better book than I could ever write. I will joyously sell it on your behalf, in my bookstore!

  41. >Anon 5:02 here… thanks, Andy, and you probably have sold my books. I think you're right about it being a personality issue, but I am not talking about shyness. I, and many of the authors I know, also enjoy the spotlight now and then and are happy to connect with people, especially young fans; and speaking just for myself, I don't believe I've been called shy in my life.

    But what is true is that for many of us (in fact every writer I know well), these efforts to extend ourselves drain us, even as writing a book drains us, and must be compensated for by much time alone, refilling the creative well. It becomes a matter of scarcity and resources.

    Do I really want to spend my fund of creative energy on social networking? Unlike school visits or conference talks, which are limited in scope and clearly finished at a certain time, social networking is 24/7 and people want a frequent connection. These aren't usually deep friendships that sustain, but more on the level of cocktail-party chatter with casual acquaintances. It's a sense of constant low-level pressure and a feeling that one can never quite shut off the outside world.

    There is something about being a certain kind of artist that seems to require shutting the door and making the real world disappear. It's hard enough to manage that trick while maintaining the relationships that really matter; inviting a steady stream of casual passers-by to knock at the door seems like a great way to squander the attention that properly belongs to my next book.

    For the writers that can do it, more power to them. For the most part, it's a price I'm not willing to pay. And it's a relief to hear that it may not be as essential (to the success of our books) to publicize ourselves in this way as we have been told.

    Thanks for the forum, Roger.

  42. Andy Laties says:

    >OK Anon 5.02, thanks for the clarification.

    I think I responded negatively to the assertion that Anonymous 9.11 made:
    "people who reveal too many details of their private lives are exhibitionists or are incredibly needy for constant attention and/or narcissists."
    I would say that for some people the internet seems extremely personal…not public so much as a dialogue happening inside their heads. Such interchanges and expressions as Anon 9.11 is describing could stimulate their creative output, rather than vitiating it.

    I think this is true for me. I have had extensive email correspondances for instance that at least three times have generated full-blown business plans and subsequent start-ups. In such a situation, after a couple of months, I print every email out, and use the entire corpus of ideas to generate the written plan. The bookstore/cafe I co-founded in Brooklyn, Vox Pop, was largely the outcome of such a correspondence, for instance. And a bookseller I advised for several years via responses to her blog is about a month away from opening ANOTHER bookstore in Brooklyn (Greenlight Bookstore). And, now I'm in the process of developing a book about those two bookstores. So, I'll also be drawing on gobs of online comments I've made about industry issues, both in conversation as as autonomous outpourings on my blogs, to help myself understand what I have to say about these issues.

    Perhaps some of those chatter-ey tweet-ey conversations other authors are conducting — and the self-disclosure of little daily details — will furnish dialogue and incident for these authors' next books! They may be learning about themselves by writing in public fora.

    So I don't have the experience of online activity being fruitless or uncreative: exactly the opposite. I do need to converse and to distract myself in order for my personal subconscious and unconscious creative activity to unfold. I do need to write stupidly, in any way at all, in order to write well.

    And, that's simply me. Everyone should get to make their own decisions. You should certainly retreat to your studio and shut out the world, when you need to make art, because that it the way you work best. We are different.

    I was basically saying I don't like being called names like "narcissist" because I sometimes go through a burst of extroversion online.

  43. Anon. 11:08 says:

    >Last night, in response to Andy's midnight post, I tried to write something about the distinction between shyness and a dislike of the perceived pressure to grab the spotlight and shill relentlessly, but I thought I'd let it sit till morning. And now that I face the morning screen I see that in the small hours Anonymous 5:02 said it all already, and said it well. So thanks. And thanks for your response, too, Andy.

    I'll just add in response to your last post, Andy, that I don't think anyone means to say online activity is entirely fruitless or uncreative. Here we are, after all. But being here takes time and energy, and I think sends some of us down bad paths. Blogs wants a kind of quick, clever, here-I-am, look-at-me energy that I don't think is always useful for book writers to cultivate. So it's just a question, again, of what do you want to cultivate, and when do you hit the point of diminishing returns.

    It's not all black and white, of course.

  44. >Yeah, well, I think 9:11 was a troll that can be safely ignored. But I think you are conflating the troll's comments with innalin's and my far more mild ones. As a reader, I am disappointed in the blogs. I really enjoy Roger's because the discussions here tend to be very frank. Other blogs seem nice to the point of not saying anything at all. That's what I thought of when I read the phrase "circle-jerk." I agree with Roger that it would be nice to know what works and how, but I think no one knows. Maybe one could compare MT Anderson and John Green. Both two time Prinz honorees, they are polar opposites in terms of web presence. Their books are very different, but in both cases, their audiences are advanced readers.

    One of those anons. I forget which.

  45. Andy Laties says:

    >Yes, I have always appreciated the frankness of this group as well, which is conjured and stimulated anew each time by Roger's provocative approach. Thanks to all.

  46. >Thanks, everyone, for a thoughtful discussion — Andy, Roger and the various Anonymi, in particular.

  47. Roger Sutton says:

    >"The Anonymi" sound like the bad guys in a Dan Brown book. Maybe they ARE.

  48. melanie hope greenberg says:

    >Anon 1:45 thanks for your vote of confidence. I did say I was not complaining since I've grasped a well rounded view of the business. I forgot to add agent to my full time careers. I left mine after 23 years of being too sheltered and never meeting anyone. My rep was also becoming less involved in the business in general. So I am re-inventing my career. I am exhausted from the self imposed re-education but have made a ton of contacts that are now organized. My structure is built. I can write paint and market. I just need a wee break. "Shit out of luck"? Don't think so.

  49. melanie hope greenberg says:

    >ps if your going to say my name in negative ways please at least link it to my website or blog. Thanks.

  50. >Ah, Roger.

    (Coming to this a bit late via Colleen)…I haven't read through all the comments, but let me just say I'm smiling so hard right now. You'll be putting Miss Manners out of a job.

  51. Roger Sutton says:

    >I've quite enjoyed this discussion and thank you all for joining in. You make doing this blog worth it. But here is a thought worth pondering. A lot of people come to Read Roger–I posted a few weeks ago that we get 6,000 page views a week only to be told I was misreading the graph and it is 6,000 a DAY. That is swell–but has it sold Horn Books? I don't think so, a situation that will come as no surprise to anyone in print publishing who also maintains a web presence. The main challenge of selling books to blog readers, I think, is that you are in essence telling them to stop reading something for free in favor of something that costs money. That irony could bring this whole thing down.

  52. Andy Laties says:

    >well, roger, sex sells, so, why don't you set up a paying part of your website on which touring authors pull down their pants?

  53. >So belated that innalin will never read this comment, but:

    I can see the argument that my videos were an attempt to sell you my book (although they weren't*).

    But let's presume I was trying to sell you a book. This does not make me manipulative. It makes me a person with a mortgage. I don't try to *trick* people into buying my books. (I also don't care if you buy them or read them in a library, because I'm not after money; I'm after, as the zombie would have it, brains.)

    Anyway, sorry that you felt manipulated and stopped watching. I really am, and if there's a way to win you back, let me know.


    * And if they had been, they'd have been an unmitigated failure by any measure.

  54. Karen Romano Young says:

    >Rats. I clicked on "I am so going to hell," hoping there would be more posts in this vein.

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