The Navel of the World: PJ Hoover
Love, Aubrey: Suzanne LaFleur

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: October 7: The FTC Guidelines, Community Support, and Harriet the Spy

It's been another active week around the Kidlitosphere. Here's my take on the highlights and lowlights.

JOMB_bookmark First of all, please join me in sending good thoughts to Andrea Ross from Just One More Book!, who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Andrea's husband and JOMB co-founder, Mark Blevisreported today that "The Just One More Book!! children’s book podcast will be taking an indefinite hiatus so that Andrea and I can focus on making Andrea a Breast Cancer survivor." Mark also included a few statistics in his post that show, if anyone needs to see it, how much JOMB has done to promote children's love of books these past few years. Andrea and Mark have my deepest of good wishes, in fighting this battle. Also, if there's anyone out there who might have doubts as to whether the Kidlitosphere, a virtual community, is a real community, just check out the comments on Mark's post already.

This is a bit circular, but Liz B. recently profiled my Afternoon Visits series at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy. If you're reading this, you already, by definition, know about my afternoon visits posts. But still, I'd like to thank Liz for the write-up, part of a series that she's been doing about ongoing events around the Kidlitosphere (including Poetry Friday, founded by Kelly Herold, and Nonfiction Monday, founded by Anastasia Suen).

Liz also wrote an excellent post recently listing professional sources for reviews of children's and young adult literature. She calls it her "if you're reading children's books and want more reviews" list. She warns: "The primary audience for many of the reviews in these journals is adult gate keepers. The review isn't for the end-reader but for a person buying materials for the end-reader. In other words? Yes, there may be spoilers." Looking at all of Liz's recent content together, one thing is clear to me. If you're writing online reviews of children's and young adult books, and/or you're interested in being part of the community of other people doing this, you should be reading Tea Cozy.

One another thing that Liz has been on top of is this whole FTC Disclosure Guidelines issue. If you've somehow missed it, the FTC issued guidelines (link goes to PDF) for bloggers this week regarding disclosure of relationships with publishers. The implications for book bloggers are problematic, to say the least. The FTC seems to be declaring that any mention of a book (in a blog post or tweet or Facebook comment) is an "endorsement" (at least if the book was received from a publisher OR you are an Amazon Affiliate), and that review copies can be considered in some sense "compensation". There's also a suggestion of returning review books to the publisher, to avoid them being considered compensation. All of this shows that the FTC doesn't at all understand how book blogging work. Nonetheless, there are some stiff fines involved for violations, and this is something that bloggers should be taking seriously. These are going to be laws that, even if they don't fully make sense to us, could be enforced. We're going to see a lot of discussion of this issue, on blogs and listservs and Twitter, while we see how it all shakes out. The regulations go into effect December 1st. It is not out of the question that many of us will no longer be accepting review copies after that, though I hope it doesn't come to such a drastic response.

If you'd like to learn more, you should probably start with Ed Campion's interview with Richard Cleland from the FTC about specific applicability to book bloggers. Then move on to these two posts from Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray. Then go to GalleyCat, and read all of Ron Hogan's posts from this week (especially this one). You might also check out responses at MotherReaderthe Book Smugglers, the Reading Tub, Kids Lit, The Cybils blog, and Confessions of a Bibliovore.

Nonfictionmonday Getting back to regular news, this week's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Moms Inspire Learning.

Steph at Steph Su Reads has some suggestions for authors seeking reviews and for reviewers seeking books. I think that she makes some good points, and I especially agree with her top suggestion: personalization. Review requests that start with "Hey there" or "Dear Blogger" don't exactly endear themselves to me. I'll likely post on this topic myself later in the year. I've started a little file with some pet peeves.

At Shrinking Violet Promotions, Mary and Robin interview Egmont publisher Elizabeth Law about marketing and book promotion techniques for authors. Here are a couple of tidbits that struck me: "We used to send authors on the road more, and we used to encourage them to go into every bookstore within a few hours’ drive of their house and sign books, do appearances, etc. Now we love it if they have a website, get to know bloggers and librarians online, etc" and "Authors who give thoughtful recommendations of others’ books, or who comment on writers’ LiveJournal blogs for example, are showing that they are interested in good books as a whole, and not just their own."

Cybils2009-150px Nominations continue to roll in for the Cybils, at this half-way point in the nomination cycle. On this post, you can find the link to the nomination form, and to the lists of nominated titles so far. We're closing in on 600 eligible titles. Nominations will remain open through the end of the day on October 15th.

KidLitCon-badge MotherReader has some updates regarding KidLitCon (which is NEXT WEEK). The biggest news is that there's now an author signing event (featuring 6 authors) taking place on Sunday at Hooray for Books!.

Quick Hits:

  • Kate Messner suggests five ways to celebrate National Reading Group month.
  • As pretty much a direct result of blogging and Twittering by Carol Rasco, RIF has launched a new series of real-world author visits. First up is the Kidlitosphere's own Laurel Snyder. I found this a nice example of the tangible connections that can come from blogging.
  • Greg Pincus has updated his "I'm Pretty Well Connected" social web poem.
  • At Semicolon, Sherry Early asks: "What good books would you recommend for children and young adults that feature characters living in poverty or in lower middle class financial stress? How does this choice of socioeconomic class on the part of an author affect the book and its characters’ choices?"
  • Colleen has a new installment of What a Girl Wants at Chasing Ray. This week's theme is "holding out for a super heroine". She asks her stellar panel of contributors: "So does it matter if girls only have Wonder Woman to read about as a major super heroine and that all the other women are relegated to "supporting" status? Are we missing something important or is this just all too testosterone fueled anyway? Do girls even want more super heroines?" 
  • Did you hear that Harriet the Spy is being reinvented as a blogger? Monica Edinger has the scoop at Educating Alice.
  • Christine M reports at The Simple and the Ordinary that today is National Walk Your Child to School Day. While this post is probably a bit late for that to be useful, Christine's general reasons why it's important for kids to walk to school are timeless.