First, let me just say that when I asked on Monday about keeping to my schedule, this was what I meant. I’d fallen into a bit of a trap with the blog, where I’d come up with a good idea for a post but hold on to it because it wasn’t a “blog day,” and by the time Monday/Thursday rolled around I would have either forgotten it or it felt outdated; the immediacy simply wasn’t there anymore. So I probably won’t be on a set schedule anymore but am still planing to blog minimum 2x a week, unless something happens or I’m buried in work (in which case I will let you know).
One of my new projects is really starting to come together in my head, too, at least to some degree. I’m considering starting to post metrics for it, simply because I did enjoy posting them back when I was writing UNHOLY GHOSTS.
Anyway. I got an interesting email the other night, and it sparked some interesting thoughts/discussions, so I thought I would share it with you and see what you think.
I’m not going to quote the email directly here, but it was from a lady who owns a small online jewelry store. She asked if I would be willing to accept a piece of her jewelry–for free–in exchange for blogging about it; positive or negative, it didn’t matter. Just mention the store.
I checked out the site, and some of the stuff was really nice. Stuff I would actually wear. I have very specific tastes in jewelry–ask anyone who’s ever tried to buy me any–so it’s not always easy for me to find things that appeal. I don’t wear gold, ever. I don’t like anything heart-shaped or with hearts on it. Not too sparkly. Not a fan of colored stones unless they’re onyx or black pearls (I do love black pearls). I like chunky things. I like dull silver better than shiny. And of course it just has to feel and look “right.” I’m not saying my tastes are so, so, so unique, just that as with everything else they are specific. But yeah, I liked some of the stuff on the site.
Here’s the thing, though. My initial response was, of course, suspicion. The email wasn’t particularly personal; no mention of how she’d been reading my blog for a while or had read any of my work or anything like that. The first thing I did was click Show Details so I could see if this was a mass email. It didn’t appear to be, but of course it could have been BCCd to a thousand people for all I know. I hopped on Twitter to see if anyone else had received a similar email. No. I checked out the site (obviously).
My other initial response, of course, was that while I guess it was a bit flattering, I couldn’t do it. Of course not. I’m not a reviewer. My blog doesn’t exist to inform consumers and it’s not one of those blogs that runs solely on the strength of my fascinating personality, like some famous blogs (I don’t really read any of those, but I know there are a few bloggers who are basically just famous for blogging). I’m a writer, not a shill.
It felt like it would be unethical for me to do this. And I still feel like it would be the wrong thing to do.
But here’s the thing. Right on the heels of that came, “But why?”
Why is it unethical? Why is it wrong for me to get something free in exchange for my honest opinion on it? That’s what review sites do; hell, as I mentioned the other day I know Del Rey has sent out some ARCs for UNHOLY GHOSTS and I’ve already gotten a look at two of the reviews written from those ARCs (both very positive, thank goodness!)
I mean, I talk about things here. I’ve talked about Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, and shoes, and clothes, and make-up items, and movies and of course books. I’ve recommended things and recommended you stay away from things.
So why is this different?
Actors or singers or TV personalities or whatever get free stuff all the time, in return for endorsement. Not that I’m equating myself with them in any way, I’m just saying. Heck, doctors get free samples of things in hope they’ll recommend them to their patients. I’m sure, in fact, that there are thousands of other situations where people, everyday people, get offered free things in hopes they’ll recommend those things to others; kind of like a free sample of a new fabric softener you’d get in the mail.
For that matter, I put brand name items in my books. I drink Coke, so my characters drink Coke; I wouldn’t turn down free Coke if, say, the Coca-Cola company read my books and wanted to say thanks or whatever. (I also have a character who drives a superbadass ’69 Chevelle, the uberfast 427. So, um, Chevy, if you happen to be reading this…) But seriously, I do use products and those products sometimes appear in my work, and of course I don’t do it for compensation or anything–it’s versimilitude, or to avoid awkwardness, or whatever–I wouldn’t grumble if the people at Coca-Cola decided to thank me for that, either monetarily or in free products or anything like that. I’m not looking for it, of course, and it’s not why I include the mentions, I’m just saying that while that too might feel a little weird it wouldn’t freak me out.
But this… I don’t know. Am I crazy for thinking this feels different, is different? Am I crazy for thinking I’m not going to do it? Is this some weird ethical hang-up nobody has but me?
What do you guys think?