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Disclosure policy

As of November 15, 2009

In accordance with the FTC Guides (16 CFR 255), I am posting this disclosure policy for my blog.

On this blog, I discuss writing and books—my own and other people’s. I express my opinions in the hopes that other people can relate, or to open up discussion about topics I consider interesting.

When I see a book that I’d like to recommend for one reason or another, I tag it as a “recommended read.” Starting December 1, 2009, I will disclose the sources of any new “recommended reads” to the best of my ability. (In some cases, such as for books that I’ve owned for years, I may not be able to remember where I first got the book.)

I am a member of the following communities of debut authors: Debut2009, Class of 2k9, Tenners, and Class of 2k10. Because I don’t feel comfortable rating or formally reviewing the debut works of these authors, I have not made these “recommended reads.” Rather, I have simply announced the launches of the books. If I have read an advance copy of the book by the time of its launch, I sometimes include some of my own observations about the book. All 2009 debut authors were offered the chance to do a blog interview with me; I posted interviews with those who responded. I have previously disclosed this “launch” policy on my blog, and I am reiterating it here.

I have an agency contract with Curtis Brown and a book contract with Penguin Publishers. I have previously disclosed that information on this blog and I am reiterating it here. I may discuss and/or recommend books by authors who are also under contract with my agency and/or publisher, or who have been under contract with them at some time in their careers, and who may or may not still be receiving royalties in connection with those contracts. I may or may not be aware of every author’s connection with my agency and/or publisher.

To date, I have never been paid for what I write in this blog. I do not receive “click-through” compensation for any link. Before I had a paid account with LiveJournal, LiveJournal posted ads on my blog page; these ads were not selected by me. I currently have a paid account that does not display ads.

I occasionally give away copies of other people’s books, or items such as bookmarks. I may in the future give away finished copies of my own books. I consider the books to be gifts, not items requiring any payment in exchange. I consider items such as bookmarks to be of negligible monetary value and I expect nothing in return.

A note to reviewers: If you received an ARC from me or on my behalf, I do not consider that compensation for which I am owed something in exchange. You are free to review or not review the ARC, and to state your honest opinion of my work. My general policy is not to comment publicly on individual reviews.
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Comments

Wow, well done! Still, I'm very sorry that things have unfolded in such a way that these sorts of disclaimers have proved themselves necessary.

I RARELY review books, and never for profit of any kind, but I guess I probably need a policy statement, too. Wondering...is there a template available that we can co-opt and customize for our own needs?

Edited at 2009-11-15 05:35 pm (UTC)
I understand that what the FTC is most concerned about is people pretending to be impartial who have really received payment or some other significant compensation for their complimentary statements about a product. And so the main interest is that material connections should be disclosed.

It's easy to report on the sources of books I recommend--and I think that is what most book bloggers plan to do--but the significance of my contracts with my agency and publisher is less clear. My publisher is big, with many imprints, and as a matter of common sense I don't think that would be associated with a perception of bias--so I don't plan to mention it every time I mention a book put out by my publisher. But in the interests of transparency, I've disclosed every connection I could think of in this policy.

I don't know of a template, but you're welcome to adapt mine to your own purposes, if you like. I don't think you're required to post a disclosure policy, just to disclose the connections themselves wherever they're relevant. But I decided to post a policy so that my approach will be clear.
Per the FTC guidelines as explained by the lady at Kidlitcon, I don't think you had to do this. Not that it can hurt anything.
While she acknowledged that online book reviewers are akin to their newspaper counterparts, she still said the guides apply to individual bloggers and personal pages. But either way, I figure it's better to be transparent.