Does saying sorry make you weak? Does apologising for a simple mistake ruin your reputation? Does that apology matter to you if you are the one who was wrong? That’s what I want to discuss today and there’s a very personal reason, please read on…
Imagine this scenario: Your blog/website is on show at a special event and lots of people get the chance to read it (and I meant LOTS). But part of your blog posts are copied from someone else’s blog. You asked permission beforehand of course and she (let’s pretend this blogger is a she) agreed to have you re-print some of her posts, as long as you promised to let everyone know where those blog posts came from, that they weren’t yours but hers, and you promised to put a link to her blog too.
Now, imagine you’ve attended this event, and plenty of people have read your blog and you’ve gained more followers and connections with important blogger people. Your friend (the fellow blogger you re-printed some posts from) is excited too, thinking how cool it was for so many eyes to see her posts. But there’s one problem. You made a mistake. You re-printed her blog posts, but you put the wrong blog address under her posts so if anyone wanted to look up her blog they couldn’t. Instead they’d be sent to some other website.
So this was a mistake. You didn’t mean to put the wrong blog address next to her posts. So you apologise to her and quickly edit your blog so her posts now appear there with her real blog address attached. That fixes anyone new seeing her re-printed posts. But what about all those people who attended the event and followed you as a result? How are you going to let them know that it was your friend’s posts and not some random site? Some of them might have tried to look her up but couldn’t find her.
Your friend wants an apology, a public apology. A quick message on your blog to let everyone know you made a mistake. But is your friend being unreasonable? Is making a short post on your blog or social media (to all your new followers) really that big a deal? And if so…why?
Ok, so if you’ve managed to stay with me through this scenario, this is what’s basically happened to me, kind of. You see on my old blog (one which was pretty successful a year ago and is still archived online) I wrote a review for a book I was given by a publisher. This review was really popular, it was reprinted (with my permission) on several other online sites. The review was so well liked that the publisher even asked if they could use if as part of their promotional magazine for the London Book Fair this year! So of course I agreed as long as my previous blog’s name and address was printed along with the review. Every time that review has been reprinted somewhere I’ve received lots of messages from people, so I was excited about the prospect of people at the London Book Fair reading it and possibly contacting me (maybe a slim chance but you never know).
Imagine then, a few months later, my shock and honestly, my horror when I check out the magazine (now printed online) and some other website was credited for the review. It wasn’t a fellow review site, it was an online newspaper. I checked and checked that website and found no copy of my review anywhere so it couldn’t have been a mistake of seeing it re-printed there. So I contacted the publisher and let them know what I’d seen.
They were apologetic, initially, and said they’d try to fix things, but over a week later and nothing was done. I’d had several emails back and forth but nothing happened until I told them what they should do. I had to tell them I wanted the creditation in the online magazine fixed so it had my own blog’s address attached and I wanted them to make a quick apology on their social media feed as some people may have genuinely wanted to get in touch with me, or at least view my old blog after reading that review (maybe nothing would have happened but you never know…).
The online magazine was amended. Good. But the apology was apparently not going to happen. They didn’t want to put out a public apology, they said they wouldn’t be ‘facilitating an apology’, that their social media feeds are only for author/business promotion and it ‘would serve of no interest to our followers’.
The thing is their social media is filled with plenty of non-promotional tweets. Some even fun quotes. I also think that it would serve of interest to someone, at the very least it would make the publisher seem nice and friendly and dare I say a little bit humble. But am I wrong in thinking this? The thing is, before you answer (and believe me I would really like to hear from you about this) let me share some facts about this issue.
- The first is that the publisher I’m dealing with isn’t one of those big name publishers it’s a smaller publishing house. Still a publisher but nowhere near the scope of the likes of Penguin and such. They deals with bloggers, they even reblog reviews by us bloggers no matter how small our following is.
- Big businesses and corporations always make public apologies, whether in newspapers, online or on TV, I often hear companies making an apology if they stated the wrong person’s name in an article, show, etc.
- Book reviews are copyrighted articles themselves. A book review (assuming it’s a proper blogger style review and not a three-word review) is a unique piece of writing and is the copyright of the person who wrote it. That means that if it’s re-printed somewhere else, without your permission, it’s considered to be stolen and people go to court over copyright of their writing (look up copyright law for more information).
- I never would have agreed to have my review used if I wasn’t credited as the author of that review. I made this clear to the publisher when they asked to reprint it.
Now I’m not saying I’m someone who wants to go to court over this. A review is hardly a 400 page novel. But the fact is that it DID take me a long time to write that review, about an hour if I remember, and a lot longer to look back at it and edit it. I worked hard on it and clearly people really liked it or I wouldn’t have had it shared and re-printed so many times. The publisher themselves wanted the review! Out of all the promotional stuff they had on this book, they chose my review to be a part of it, to promote both their book and themselves.
So is it really wrong for me to want them to make a public apology? It would take less than 30 seconds to type one tweet saying ‘We’re sorry we credited ‘book name’ review in our London Book Fair magazine to the wrong website. Here is the right one.’ Is it really that big a deal to do this? Am I really asking too much? Am I too big headed about this or should bloggers stand up for themselves in situations like this?
Do I deserve a public apology? Yes or no. And if no then why not?
I’d really like to hear your opinions on this issue. I still don’t know if I’m alone in my thinking or if I do deserve a public sorry. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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