I have just finished reading Catherine Ryan Hyde‘s blog “About Book Bloggers“. She made some really good arguments about why bloggers are a good thing. I was attempting to crafts a short reply, but I’ve always been a littel bit wordy, and so my response is long enough to be a blog post.
I’ve only been active for five days and already I have been hearing some disgruntlement about book review bloggers. I mean, how terrifying is it to be told that you’ll never be accepted into the publishing industry if you say anything remotely negative about a single book? I have thought about becoming a writer, and I definitely want to be an editor, but the thought of being blackballed from the world I love most is frightening to face. I was beginning to think that I started writing at a really bad time, and maybe I shouldn’t at all, but –thanks to Catherine’s post- I now know that it is only a few people who are coming to their own conclusions without looking at both sides of the argument.
So, as a newbie, here is my take on the debate about the truth behind book bloggers…
1) Reviews don’t sell books?
Once I started reading book reviews, I now have a To Be Read list around a hundred books strong. At the moment I can’t afford to buy any books -school tuition and living expenses sadly must come first- but I make note of the books (on goodreads) to either buy them at a later date or beg my library to purchase a few copies or both. If I do read the book through the library first and really like it, I will still buy it so I can read it again and again, whenever I want, without being on the library waiting list. Two+ sales (my library never just buys one copy).
Add to that I will of course tell all my friends and fellow bloggers about an awesome new book and they will look for it themselves or ask about it at their library. If they like the book, they will tell their friends, and their friends will tell their friends, and… so on. Guaranteed multiple sales right there, and not just from my immediate circle, but all over the world.
2) Just want ARCs?
Book bloggers do reviews because they want to share their fabulous finds. When they get started, like me, there are no ARCs. In fact, there may never be ARCs for any blogger, it’s not guaranteed.
First a blogger has to establish a following, because there is no point in the reviews if no one reads them. Well, other than for your own enjoyment, but it does lessen the sales factor. Most bloggers will get a few of their friends and maybe some strangers subscribe, but unless they network like crazy they may never be large enough to get the attention of publishers and authors.
Next, they have to contact publishing houses and authors to ask for ARCs in order to review them. Some bloggers don’t want ARCs and so never make contact. Some don’t have the nerve and will just hope they are noticed. Some do contact the pub houses and authors, but get told no or are not told anything at all. And lastly, sometimes bloggers get the ARCs they asked for or are asked if they would like an ARC which is a real accomplishment for any blogger.
Third, a lot of bloggers do giveaways of said ARCs so that they can share what a wonderful book it is and get more hype out there. Trust me, contests are a big hit with everyone. Because the original blogger really liked the book themselves, they go out and buy a copy. Even if they don’t give away their ARCs, a few of them still buy the book when it hits the shelves to support the author. And it’s not just ARCs that are the prizes in these contest: it’s older books, ereaders, posters, stickers, tshirts, and all sorts of other swag. Bloggers aren’t about wanting ARCs, they enjoy anything to do with their passion.
But the biggest reason that bloggers would want an ARCs is simple. IT’S A BOOK!
3) Should not post bad reviews?
Everyone knows that there is no such thing as perfect in this world. If a blogger always wrote how great all the books they read are and said nothing bad about them, you’d be skeptical and stop going to their site. You know that all things have a little bit of both good and bad in them.
A blogger should discuss both aspects in each book, because telling the truth will build trust, and if your readers trust you then they will go out and buy the books you’ve reviewed. Even if you post about why you didn’t like a book, it is completely biased and the reader might decide that what you don’t like is something they would like.
Besides, don’t PR agents say that there is no such thing as bad publicity? People are weird enough to go out and buy whatever gets dissed just to see what the big deal is. I’ve heard of more people saying that they did not read a book, because of all the good publicity it got and wanted to avoid it all. So maybe it’s possible that a negative review can sell more books than a good one… It’s something to think about, anyway.
Authors and publishers should want book bloggers to have ARCs and post honest reviews. The companies wouldn’t be making ARCs if they didn’t realize that this form of free publicity works. Pub houses can only afford up to one dollar per book they print towards promoting it. That’s not a lot, you have to admit.
So many books hit the shelves each day without people knowing anything about them, because there is no money to advertise. Book bloggers ask for no compensation for their time, and if they manage to get a free book out of doing something they love? Well, they deserve it. They are getting word out about your books and doing everything in their power to promote your sales and all because they just love reading.
So, please, play nice.
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