Armchair BEA: The Future of Book Blogging

Book

As both a writer and blogger, I have enormous respect for book bloggers. Indie authors are thriving each year because what should have been a lonely journey on the self-publishing path is anything but these days. Joining social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, it’s hard not to find fellow writers and bloggers to network with. Before you know it, you are inundated with a plethora of useful tips and advice to help you along.

Book bloggers are pivotal to indie authors. Many of them not only offer guest posts and interview opportunities, but they review author’s work and share it across a wide range of sites such as Digg, Stumbleupon, Goodreads and Amazon. Goodreads and Amazon are becoming crucial for writers and readers. With so many visitors to both sites in search of their next read it’s great for authors to have reviews of their books readily available. On a personal note, one of my novels has 24 reviews on Amazon but on Goodreads the number is 50. Around 300 users on Goodreads have added it to their bookshelves, which is fantastic. Many of those reviews came from book bloggers.

Given the service that book bloggers provide they are going to have a big future for writers. When you self-publish a book one of the major headaches is how are you going to promote it? Well, you can make use of such companies as Goddess Fish and Novel Publicity who can arrange for you to go on a blog tour, visiting a variety of sites where bloggers will review your book, interview you or ask you to write a guest post. I have recently concluded a month long blog tour with 20 stops in all. Not only do book bloggers give you great exposure but you have the opportunity to interact with visitors, surely one of the best feelings for any writer.

The relationship between book bloggers and writers can sometimes be difficult, especially where reviews are concerned. Writers need to remember that book bloggers are busy people and that chasing them up for word of your book is not going to appease them in the slightest. Responses to reviews are also important. Book bloggers have their own approach to ratings but on B-Lines and Felines, if we encounter a book we don’t like, we probably won’t finish it (life’s too short!) and therefore, we won’t post a review. That said, sometimes there’s feedback that needs to be given. Many authors won’t want a bad review but I’ve always said they’re nothing to be afraid of so long as the feedback is useful.

By the same token, writers have a duty to respond to reviews in a dignified manner. I have seen incidences where authors have engaged in fierce debates with book bloggers who had the audacity to give their book 3/5 and not the 5/5 they were expecting. Again, reviews are personal opinions and should be respected so long as they are not vindictive. It’s a tough world out there for book bloggers with some authors sadly nursing big egos and believing they have a right to receive only the best reviews for their work. The vast majority do not think this way, I am pleased to say.

Book blogging is growing and I am glad that is the case. I think if you have enjoyed a book then you should share it. By letting others know they are also getting the opportunity to try the book too and for the author it is an even bigger boost. Some of the most renowned films in history were box-office flops but word of mouth elevated them to the priceless emblems they are today. The Shawshank Redemption is one of the best examples I can come up with. The same can happen with books and for indie authors this is one of the only ways they are going to achieve success unless they can afford to pay out for a lot of publicity.

As a writer I regard book bloggers as the salt of the earth and am indebted to them for the support they have given me. By joining Donna in running B-Lines and Felines, I like to feel I can give something back for the support I have enjoyed. I would say to book bloggers to keep doing what you’re doing because we’re here to stay. To writers I would say book bloggers are your friends, not your enemies, so always treat them with respect and they will remember you.

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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  1. I love this post! It's so great to hear from the writer's perspective. I can only hope that all (or at least most) authors feel as you do. Have you seen Michelle Muto's blog? She spotlights a book blogger each week (I was the spotlight a couple weeks ago) to try to help bloggers and authors get more connected. I made a few indie author contacts from my spotlight, and I've found indie authors to be so wonderfully supportive of the blogging community.

    I read a "Best of" list once that listed The Shawshank Redemption as "The Best Film to Have the Misfortune of Being Released in the Same Year as Forrest Gump." Poor Shawshank.

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today!

    1. Thanks Lauren. I'll be sure to check out Michelle Muto's blog.

      I wish all book bloggers and writers got along famously. Some indie authors sadly don't realise the sacrifice that book bloggers make in giving up their time to host them or review their work. I've always taken the approach that a guest post, interview or review is something to be grateful for regardless of whether the review is good or bad, or whether your visit to a blog leads to an influx of sales.

      I will add I think only a minority of indie authors don't fully appreciate book bloggers. The vast majority realise their importance and treat them respectfully.

      It was unfortunate about Shawshank. I think Pulp Fiction was out that year too so very competitive. I'm glad Shawshank is hailed as such a great film. I;ve often seen it in top 10 greatest ever lists and sometimes no.1.

  2. goodreads is a fantastic tool! I think people use it more than amazon because amazon can be a bit funny if you've not bought the book from there. Still, reviews on both are good!

    Chelle

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for commenting. I agree that both Goodreads and Amazon are valuable. Amazon is more more useful I think in that it has more users but I do believe Goodreads is a fabulous resource for book bloggers and is always a great place to find the next great read.

      I feel there is more of a community spirit with Goodreads. Readers can go on there and share their favourite reads, while authors can go and list their books. Everyone is a winner :)

  3. Book blogging is certainly here to stay but it has some of the same problems that paper reviews suffered from. The main problem with reviews in newspapers and magazine is that only those who read those particular periodicals will get to see those reviews. Now that’s fine if that’s The Guardian or The New York Times but a review posted in a small press journal is another thing completely. I get a reasonable number of hits on my site—circa 1200 per article (based on an average of 300 hits a day for five days)—but I suspect that most of the sites where reviews of my books have appeared don’t get anywhere near that. But even taking my 1200 that’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things and only a fraction of those will ever read any of my reviews from beginning to end. And only a fraction of those will even think about buying the book. They may say they will but if they don’t do it that very minute then the odds are something shiny will come along and distract them and the opportunity is lost. C'est la vie.

    I follow over 200 blogs and many of them carry book reviews but they can only cope with a tiny fraction of the books that are being released every day. This is the real worry. There are too many book clogging up the system which friends will review (because that’s what friends do) when they really should be promoting better books. This is not a problem that only the independents face but traditional publishers too because they’re also realising that they need to promote online and I’ll be honest I could have enough books to review every month for the rest of my life if I just stuck with two of the big publishers who offer me books for review. And these are invariably good books, well-written and professionally edited. But I still try and make room for a few indies because many of these are every bit as good as those that have been traditionally published. I draw no distinction. I rarely say whether a book has been self-published, published by a small press or by one of the big six. It shouldn’t matter. To me it doesn’t matter. They all get held to the same standard.

    1. Hi Jim,

      Thanks for commenting. Really appreciate hearing your perspective on this.

      I agree that book blogs are restricted in the audiences but many of them do post their reviews to Goodreads and Amazon for further exposure but as you say there are no guarantees that thousands of readers will see them. It's a competitive world out there. With self-publishing becoming easier for indie authors there are good and bad books flooding the market and it is overwhelming as a reviewer and reader to separate the two.

      I'm glad of the ease that self-publishing now offers to authors as I have experienced some wonderful books I might never have come across. I do lament the poor books that are released whether they're badly edited, formatted or the storyline just don't work. It's just a shame that the stigma attached to self-publishing by some people is that all indie authors must be producing works of inferior quality if a traditional publisher hasn't taken them on. This is a hard battle but one I hope we can overcome.

      I agree about your approach to reviews. Traditional publishing and self-publishing are welcome on our blog. I enjoy reading both and do feel that many indie authors produce books as good, if not better, than traditional publishers. As with any book though, you get the masterpieces and you get the inferior novels.

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