Do I have a responsibility to my blog readership to ensure that all sponsors of this blog and the LDS Fiction blog uphold what is traditionally defined as LDS standards? (Read original question here.)
The whole idea of sponsorship came about because I wanted this to be an interactive blog. I wanted you to ask questions. I wanted to answer them. And I wanted discussion.
Hard as it is for most of you to believe, just because I'm "the publisher" doesn't mean that my opinion is always correct. Or best. Or whatever. To be healthy, a company needs to grow and evolve—we need to learn from you how to better meet your needs and expectations, while teaching you to meet our needs and expectations. That can't happen unless there is dialog, give and take, sharing.
And you guys weren't sharing!
So I started to provide contests and prizes to trick information out of you. And it worked. You started commenting. And your comments are generally thoughtful and often helpful to us. Your comments here have sometimes been discussed in corporate meetings and in meetings with other publishers. They have impacted company policies and procedures.
It was great. Except I had to pay for the prizes. And my prize budget got cut. Then eliminated. So I had the bright idea, what if I sold advertising? But that sounded so crass. Ergo, the comment contest with prizes provided by authors and publishers.
And it was heaven. Until yesterday when someone pointed out a potential problem. Not that I'm saying one of this month's sponsors is a problem. We'll deal with that when we get to hornet's nest #5. I'm just trying to sort and sift ideas here.
On the one hand, by accepting a sponsor, I recognize that in the minds of some readers, on some level, I am giving tacit approval or endorsement to that book. I suppose that if I knew a book were highly offensive to a majority of my audience that I wouldn't accept it for sponsorship. For example, I don't think I'd let George R. R. Martin sponsor this blog even if he were LDS. Not even if he offered me lots of money. However, I'd put Stephenie Meyer on here in a heartbeat. (Not that she's asked, but one can dream.) Orson Scott Card? Gray area for me. In think many of his books are wonderful. Others are surprisingly offensive to some LDS readers.
On the other hand, can I really be expected to read and approve every offer of sponsorship? I don't have time to do that. First, I'd have to have sponsors volunteer, then hunt down a copy of their book or ask them to send it to me (which would mean they'd have to donate TWO copies of their book to the cause), then find the time to read it, then think of every possible way someone might be offended by the book and decide if that risk too great. And I'd have to do it within a monthly deadline for this blog and a weekly deadline for the LDS Fiction blog. Honestly—sometimes I don't have a sponsor locked until the day of the posting. I read fast, but not that fast.
Also, maybe I'd be offended by something that 99% of you wouldn't even notice. Or vice versa. Nope. Don't want to do that for the blogs—I have to do enough of that type of juggling in my day job. (You would not believe some of the things our pre-readers think might be offensive to the general LDS population.)
And if sponsorship of my blog equates with my endorsement, well, we've got a problem because I'd be more likely to turn down a sponsor for using the word "lighted" instead of "lit" than I would be to turn it down because they used the "d" word once.
So. What do I do, folks? Do I put a giant disclaimer on the sponsor page, like the radio stations do when they run an editorial, and trust you guys to have a little common sense and think for yourselves? Or do I only accept sponsorships from books I've read and know are squeaky clean? Or do I dump sponsorships altogether?
What does it mean to you when you see a book on my sidebar? Help me here. I need some pros and cons. Some feedback.