Tuesday Tangents on Thursday

Buzz…buzz…bzzzz: If you use Gmail, you’ve probably seen Google Buzz show up there by now. Have you used it yet? What do you think of it?

Considering that Google’s been making adjustments to Buzz since Day One – mainly in response to privacy concerns – it’s probably a good idea to be cautious about it. I’m not sure it does much for me at this point – it reminds me a lot of Friendfeed, but the fact that it’s right in GMail makes it a lot more convenient to use. I’ve found it useful in one respect – if I’m following someone in both Buzz and Twitter and they’ve connected their Twitter account to Buzz, their tweets and conversations are easier to find and follow in Buzz, mostly because the stream isn’t as busy. I do like the way it shows conversations, and not having comments limited to 140 characters is rather nice.

I think there’s a danger of inundating people with the same information in multiple places, but that exists already – Twitter statuses feed to Facebook, Facebook updates repost to Twitter, blog posts are shared in Google Reader and various social networks, everything updates to Friendfeed. But if people can work out how they want to manage that, and the privacy issues, I think Buzz could eventually take off. On that note, I’ll share what may be the most useful link of the week here instead of saving it for tomorrow’s Week-end Review: Lifehacker compares and contrasts Facebook, Twitter, and Buzz.

Last week, I was offered an advance copy of an upcoming novel by an author I’ve reviewed before. I accepted, giving the publicist my usual disclaimer that it would probably be at least a couple of months before I would get to the book; it didn’t seem to be a problem. (I should mention that my previous review was based on my personal copy of the author’s book – the promised review copy, from the same publicist, was delayed without explanation, and I had already planned to buy the novel anyway, so I did.)

Three days later, a follow-up e-mail asked me to commit to a review date within a one-week period less than a month from now; I wrote back saying that I couldn’t do that, and would understand if they didn’t want to send the ARC after all. My response was partly selfish – I have no blog tours or committed reviews next month, and I’d like to keep it that way – but it was also a contrary-minded reaction to the abrupt change of the rules. (And as it happens, they said they’d still send me a review copy of the book – just not an “advance,” since it will come after the on-sale date – and I get the sense they’ll still want me to read and review it in the short term. We’ll have to see about that…)

Has this kind of thing happened to you, and what did you do in response? It’s made me a bit leery of dealing with the publicist in question, to be honest, and reinforces my decision to cut back on accepting review copies in general. (One of the reasons I like to work with TLC Book Tours is that they always give their reviewers plenty of lead time – since Lisa and Trish are book bloggers themselves, they understand how it gets!) I’m pretty sure I’ll read this particular book eventually anyway, since I do like the writer…from my perspective, the publicist was the problem here.

I’ve talked about going to BlogHer’10, and not going to BEA and the Book Blogger Con. I’ve mentioned our upcoming family vacation to Washington DC and New York City in June. But have I said anything about the fact that after talking about it for years, Tall Paul and I are actually going to Comic-Con in San Diego in July? We made the decision too late to attend the whole thing; Saturday was already sold out when we got our tickets, so we’re just going for the first two days. (Friday’s now sold out too, but tickets for Thursday and Sunday are still available as of this week.)

I have no idea what to expect, but I’m starting to get more excited about it than I thought I’d be – and I think part of that is coming from knowing how much my husband is looking forward to going. He’s already considering his wardrobe for the convention-center floor (the two on the left, below):

I haven’t gotten that far in my planning yet, but I don’t think my stepdaughter will let me borrow her new favorite shirt, so I’ll need to come up with something else:


“42” and “Buffy/Edward” T-shirts from Jinx.com; Big Bang Theory T-shirt from Bison Lake Trading Company (via Amazon.com)

Southern California is the land of the vanity license plate – goes with our car culture – and sometimes I spot one that makes enough of an impression that I’ll Tweet it as my “License Plate of the Day” (although I’m usually driving when I see them, so I don’t get pictures). Here’s the one from this Tuesday:

“Seen on an Acura SUV: TX JERRY. Now there’s a thank-you note…”

(But for some reason, I’m hearing it in my head as spoken by George Costanza)

Speaking of car culture, my new Honda Fit is still ding-free after almost two months in my ownership, and just had its first trip to the car wash! Thanks to the rainy winter we’ve had, it hadn’t been properly cleaned since the day I brought it home. Of course, as I was leaving the car wash, I heard on the radio that there’s a chance of rain in the weekend forecast…

How’s the weather where you are?
What’s on your mind lately?

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  1. If a publisher wants a review on a certain date, they need to be upfront about it in the first email. I once was offered a book I was only mildly interested in. I accepted but said I wasn't sure when I'd get to it.

    The next email said we're sending it to you blah, blah, please have review up by X date. That really annoyed me because A)I had said I wasn't sure when I'd read it in my email and B)had I know this in the 1st email, I would have declined.

    I thought it was rather sneaky. Anyway I ended up reading it a little after the date they wanted. And I did feel a bit pressured to review it. I never worked with them again.

    Sorry this is so long!

  2. The whole "please review this soon" thing drives me nuts, especially coming from authors and publicists who should know better. I got pitched yesterday on a book that pubs March 2nd, and they wanted a review BEFORE the pub date. I'm always tempted to write back and be like, "Really? Did you just find out the book was pubbing in two weeks? What have you been doing for the last six months when you could have been setting up reviews?" Instead I kindly told them I was booked until the end of April! Learn to plan ahead, people!

  3. Yep, I have to agree with Rebecca. I review books for the pleasure of it and when it starts turning into a "have to do it" now, that's when I tuck in my tail and run the other way. There's one publicist I work with that's a bit demanding. I probably won't be accepting any more books from them. I try to review the books by their release date but I don't like being pressured.

    Haven't checked out buzz yet. Seems like another time grabber so avoiding it at the moment.

  4. FYI: The photo spacing is funny here, but it looks fine in Google Reader. Clarification: The "Buffy staked Edward" T-shirt is my stepdaughter's, and the "Hitchhiker's Guide/42" and Big Bang Theory T-shirts are Tall Paul's. The "42" shirt also has a design on the back: "Have towel, will travel." :-).

    BTW – If you want to know which publicist/book I'm referring to, e-mail me or DM me on Twitter. I'll tell, but not publicly.

    Chris – The first e-mail I got mentioned the pub date, but didn't say anything about wanting the review posted that week, or I would have said no up front. I DID tell them up front that I'm 2-3 months behind, and when I do that, I always say "If that's NOT a problem, you can send the book to…" If it WAS a problem, I'd rather have known then.

    Rebecca – I've dealt with this publicist re: the same author once before, and that got snafu'd somehow too – also related to some last-minute thing, if I remember correctly. I think I'll steer clear in the future.

    Robin – That's how I feel it too. Sometimes they forget that we don't actually work for them, and most of us are still focused on reading for our own enjoyment. Promoting books we love is part of that, but personally, I'd like the primary vote about which books I promote and when I do it :-).

  5. I don't like Google Buzz so far. I'll see that there are X number of new items on there, but when I click on it, I can't tell which items are new. I've quite looking at it.

    I have had some request for fast turn arounds on reviews and I usually say thanks, but no thanks.

  6. I don't really like to do ARCs anymore. I'm too much of a rebel to have someone telling me what to read and when. Even if I am really interested in the book I seem to bristle at the idea of having to read it by a certain date. It's too much like school and my blog is for fun and reading what I want, when I want to.

  7. Generally I agree with Kathleen; the books I review are mine or from a library and I don't need any more due dates in my life. But sometimes I like the challenge of reading something quickly and writing a review before the rest of the world has read it.

    I've been inside with kids who haven't had school for most of two weeks while it snows and snows. We get our exercise shoveling the driveway every day.

  8. I looks forward to hearing about Comi-Con. It looks like an interesting time. Though I'm sure it can be overwhelming as well.

    I don't know what I'd wear if I went. All I have is a Greatest American Hero Shirt. 🙂

  9. Kathy (Bermudaonion) – I think Buzz needs more tweaking – I've noticed the same thing w/new items. They usually have a yellow bar on the left side, but the numbers don't make sense.

    Kathleen – I know what you mean. I don't mind committing for a date if it's at least a couple of months out and/or negotiable, but if the terms seem too strict, I'll pass. It's MY blog, and I don't work for them ;-).

    Jeanne – Since I'm in one of the few places that HASN'T been buried in snow lately (although we really are having a "rainy season" this year – which we need), we won't talk about the weather.

    You're right about the appeal of the ARC, although lately most of the ones I've read are for tours, which means a dozen of us reading the same book over a few weeks :-).

    Mike – Comic-Con will be HUGE. There's no way I'd go alone, but being there with Tall Paul will be fun (and we plan to stay overnight at his mom's in Oceanside, so we'll save a few bucks).

    I bet you could wear that T-shirt there :-).

  10. OMG That Sheldon shirt ROCKS! COVET!

    I only review books I'm sent to review, but yeah, I generally don't commit to timeframes. But I have to admit, I do respond to prodding by PR peeps by getting to it if I can. 🙂

  11. Liz – Found the BBT shirt via a link tweeted by Wil Wheaton, source of all geekery :-).

    I'm bothered about being so behind on my review obligations, but I review every book I read, and sometimes I just want to read what I WANT to read!

  12. Great shirt. 🙂 And good luck with the read-along. I don't do review requests any more and only read ARCs I get at conferences or that I ask for. Helps a lot with the whole pressure thing.

  13. Marie – I've cut back a lot on accepting review offers too, but I still have plenty of books in the review-pending stack anyway!

    We've got at least a dozen people on board for the Read-along at last count, and a nice combination of re-readers and first-timers – I'm excited about it :-)!

  14. Lisa – Thank YOU (and Trish!) for being so nice to work with! Your tours about the only ones I do with any regularity – you've taken the time to get to know your bloggers, and you allow us plenty of time to read before our post date. In fact, sometimes I've been surprised by how far ahead of time I get books for TLC tours – not that I'm complaining :-).