A few weeks ago Beth Kephart had a problem. Even with Netgalley and ARC mailings and BEA her book was in danger of getting a smaller printing than originally had been thought due to the lack of buzz. All of us who had read You Are My Only, were in love with the novel. Beth has a knack for writing love and hope into painful situations and I am so grateful that Amy brought Beth to my attention with her The Heart is Not a Size.
We emailed every blogger we knew that might enjoy Beth’s latest release, letting them know it was on Netgalley and they could use it for WoW posts. Excitement grew as did reviews and postings.
Colleen Modor from Chasing Ray helped with her blog, Bookslut column and Kirkus. Thank you Colleen.
Beth herself set up a scavenger hunt for her guest posts. We had a plan and we executed it.
A few days ago, Beth posted this on her Facebook page:
You Are My Only has gone back on press for a second printing, eleven days before it is due out in stores. You want to know if bloggers have an impact? You want to know if your work is valued? Don’t ask anymore.
So this is me, saying thank you, to every blogger who helped, who posted a WoW, reviewed, tweeted, Facebooked their Mum and everything else you did.
Together we can make a huge difference.
Welcome to Bookalicious and Censorship week. We all know I am a huge advocate for censoring in your own home and leaving others to do what they wish in their own. Instead of giving you post after post of my own opinion, I wanted to bring in some other awesome bloggers to give us their take on censorship and what it means to them personally and their thoughts on what it means to us as a society. Humans through the ages have always banned, censored, rallied against, and protested anything that fell beyond their comfort zones. Whether that zone is in place due to religion, upbringing, or personal morals I have never understood the need to force others to your mentality. As bloggers we have the platform to be anti-censorship. To be a flagship of open content and doing and saying on our own blogs what we see fit. We must outwardly oppose censorship of any piece of literature, even if we are censoring it in our own homes. What if we are the next to be censored? Freedom of journalistic integrity and blogging taken away. What then?
Here is what Amy from My Friend Amy has to say:
One of the things I most love about reading is that it is a low risk way to confront my prejudices. Often, going into a book, I have no idea that some of my ideas about life or people might be challenged. I might not realize that I’ll be asked to slip into the mind of someone very different from myself and feel the things they feel as they experience a variety of situations I may never experience. I really believe that reading fiction allows me to become a more sympathetic person.
This is one of the reasons I cannot tolerate the idea of censorship. Granted, I have always read what I wanted to read. It’s a freedom I do not take for granted, especially as I’m learning more and more about book banning. Censorship is a form of control that should not be tolerated in our society. Censorship is when one person or groups of people try to shape the information intake and thus the way another group of people thinks. This usually benefits a majority rules type mindset. This is particularly cruel, because books are often where we first discover we are truly not alone.
Are books a cause for fear? Well yes. Because reading by its very nature encourages thought, sympathy, empathy, imagination, and the changing of one’s mind. If you are seeking a world uniform in thought, a world that is grey, where injustice goes unnoticed, and everyone is exactly the same then books are the most terrifying objects there are. Books contain the the story of us, of all of us, humans working out our different situations through artistry, trying to make sense of the messy, holy, mystery of life. But no book is a simple object and no reading experience invites a uniform response. Each individual responds and reacts to what they find in the pages of a book in a way that is unique to them.
Living in this world is hard. There is no reason to make it harder by trying to control the way we think, by barring books that express a different worldview from ours from the shelves, by robbing ourselves of the chance to feel a little more human compassion for one another, to feel angry by injustice, to feel empowered to realize we are not alone. Can’t we put aside our fear and instead open our ears and start talking to one another instead?
Traditional Internet, and Social Media Marketing
A lot of questions have been raised lately on whether book and lit blogs drive any sales, of course they drive some sales, then the question remains now many sales do they actually drive. Its kind of hard to tell. There are ways to know if your review copies are going to bloggers who will drive maximum sales. A lot of factors go into online marketing.
I have been reading a lot of discouraging comments from book publicists lately online. Perhaps the one that struck me the most absurd was from Avalon a subsidiary of Harper Collins. The publicist said it was her belief book blogs were unhelpful due to the fact that Amazon and online sales were still only a small margin of their total sales. The question to ask yourself is, have you ever read about anything online and then went to a store to buy it, or are all your online findings also online purchases?
You have people who strictly buy from online recommendations, but let us focus for a minute on the average buyer and marketing trends, also how the internet, social media and blogs can affect sales when partnered with traditional forms of advertising.
For example lets say you are a new author and have penned a fantastic fiction on the world’s end in 2012. You have a publisher and a publicist and they are using traditional media to sell your book. They have taken ads in all the relevant magazines, even online banners on relevant sites. Let’s go as far to say they have your book trailer on the 2012 movie previews, and you got reviewed in Entertainment Weekly. Your book is doing pretty well, by no means a best seller but you see a continued rise in purchases from week to week. Then it slopes of and maintains a good amount of copies sold weekly in traditional bookstores and online. Your publicist works to find blogs that relevant to your book, ones who have a following for this type of fiction. She doesn’t just send your book to any blogger with little to no following raising their hand wanting a copy. The relevant bloggers who have an audience, be that even if it is small review your book. This carries some amount of street credit. Just because the NY Times likes your book doesn’t mean people always believe it is great. Word of mouth has always been the best form of advertising and in the end book blogging is word of mouth. Bloggers are honest in their opinions and the readers of the blog trust what the blogger puts to them. Is this going to create millions of sales and buy that house in France you always wanted to retire to, probably not, but it is going to breathe life back into a stagnate product and create a social media buzz. Then people begin to talk about your book at their online platforms, just regular people who like to read. Now if the publicist cannot do relevant research on where your book fits and sends it to bloggers whose readers care nothing about this genre, the results will be less than before.
New Marketing Trends
How many of you search online for reviews and information about a product you want to buy? Be it a cell phone, a car, or even a travel charger for your phone. Marketing studies show that the average person first makes the decision online for the product they will buy, or have a good idea of 3 to 4 similar products before walking into the store. The days of the high pressure sales person are done, especially in the generations behind is this tactic is no longer working. People are able to search and make informed decisions on their own to what products they bring into their home. A hypothetical example, Joan wants to buy a new cellphone. She isn’t that great with electronics so she goes online and asks her friends via social networking, what phones are good for me if I want to send email and are easy to use. She is told to look at Blackberry, iPhone, and Palm Pre. She then starts her internet research, she decides she wants a real qwerty keyboard, that narrows it to Palm, and Blackberry. She sets back to her research and realizes the Blackberry doesn’t support wifi and she likes the fun Pandora application on the Pre. Social networking just sold a $300 phone and the advertising was free! Betty wants a new book so she stops by Borders on her way home. She is browsing the fiction section and just cannot decide, she has read all the NY Times best selling list and doesn’t know what to pick up next. She sees a copy of Neil Gaimen’s Neverwhere on the shelf, and the name of the author and the book pop out at her. “I have heard of this somewhere”, she thinks. She reads the back of the cover and takes the book home. She heard of this book while browsing fiction book blogs. Did book bloggers just buy Gaimen that Corvette, no probably not even a cheeseburger, but they created the chance for this author to gain a new fan who will then pass on the word to all her friends what an awesome book she found on the way home from work last week.
Is it worth it?
Do I think book bloggers are going to change the advertising world? No not immediately, but I do think when using the proper outlet for any form of advertising your sales will improve. It is up to the people who hold these review copies to do their research and send the books to relevant blogs and explain what they want and need from the blogger. This is a free form of advertising minus the cost of the book, you are not paying this blogger for the hours it takes to read the book and for the time spent writing the review. Its cheap, its easy, its word of mouth, just do it.
Ways to spot a good blog
You found 10 relevant blogs for your book but only have 4 review copies, how do you possibly narrow down the field. There are quite a few subtle things you can look for.
- Is the front page of the blog clean of images, easy to navigate and look pleasing to you?
- Does this blogger have his niche or are the reviews all over the place with scattered reviews along with life stories about their dog?
- Read a review or two, would you buy a book based on this persons recommendation?
It really is that simple, book bloggers are relevant but I doubt they are going to make you millions, there are good and bad bloggers out there just as in any field and in the end its up to you how much time and research you put in to finding a fit for your product.