Blogs and Readers

December 2nd, 2004 · 1 Comment
by Booksquare

Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network recently posed a question about the role of litblogging (more on this discussion in the future, but we’re wondering if this variation of blog will make the next version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary). This was something that made us think. Blogs have great advantages over print media and traditional websites, including immediacy and intimacy. For authors (such as Jill, hint, hint) and publishers, blogs provide a big opportunity.

For readers, the benefits are even greater.

Publishers, who don’t seem to get this Internet thing on a grand scale, are realizing the power of blogs. Let’s face it, there are a lot of books published every year, with only a limited number of reviewers who can read and discuss those books. Many of those reviewers are in a situation where economics rule. Yes, that means advertisers. Others have editorial rules or other restrictions.

Blogs, by and large, are labors of love. If you’re blogging today, you’re probably not making huge sums of money. This will likely change in the future, but most litbloggers are writing for reasons other than cash. If you look around the community (and we do strongly recommend you pick a link and follow it and then pick another from where you land and follow it and so on), there is great diversity but commonality: we are obsessive readers and often writers. We are your greatest resource.

Now, before you get all excited, take a deep breath and think. Today, we received a request for a review. Setting aside the fact that we haven’t reviewed a book in years (far too picky about all the wrong things; it’s an occupational hazard), the request was for something we don’t read ever, much less review. We’re not sure how this author got our address, but it was clear he was taking the shotgun approach. His request was deleted without reply. We’ve decided clueless justifies this action.

Yes, this is about doing your homework. You’d think your youth would disappear, but, no, that’s not the case. Every publication out there has its own personality; by their very nature, blogs are more nuanced. We won’t say niche, but that may very well be accurate. In other words, if you want to work with blogs (and, we suspect, most of us want to work with you), don’t load your gun and empty your round. You want to pick the right blog, the right audience, the right situation. This means employing Thought and Analysis.

The interview done at Population Statistic suggests that publishers are doing this. Our experience is that publishers send out free books to just about anyone who asks (hint: letterhead). Their goals don’t necessarily jibe with the blog world. While we suspect publishers will have success, we suspect individual authors (most of whom don’t have significant promotional budgets) will have more success.

But think. Please think. If you approach a blog with a promotional idea (and this will always mean that you will do some sort of work…ain’t no free lunch, even in the blog world), what are you offering? Not to the blogger, who might be eager for a day or two or five or seven off, but to their readers. You want to sell your book (and we want you to do this as well). So give us a reason to offer what is, in effect, free publicity.

In other words, give back to your community. You’ll be surprised at the benefits.

And publishers, please, don’t stop sending ARCs. You never know what catches the bloggers’ imaginations.

File Under: Square Pegs · Tools and Craft

1 response so far ↓

  • CT // Dec 3, 2004 at 7:58 am

    I’m glad to see my little interview is stimulating more discussion on the merits of blog marketing for books. I’d like to add that, as natural a fit as it might be (blog writers in many cases tend to be enthusiastic readers), the concept can be applied to any product categories, based on the same appeal.

    As far as what a publisher (or even self-publisher) is offering… Well, getting a free book is a nice perk, especially if you’re not used to that (not working in media). The downside? Having the blogger feel s/he needs to give a positive review no matter what, instead of a truly critical one.

    Last thing: My blog’s name is Population Statistic — no “s” at the end of Statistic. There’s only one of me, which was, after all, the point of that title. 🙂