In the last few years, Amazon’s Kindle publishing facilities have sparked a self-publishing revolution. Everyone from established authors with backlist titles to new wanna-bes who can’t get publisher attention has been able to send their words out over the Internet for others to buy. We tend to assign most of the credit for that to those very facilities, but on NovelPublicity.com, Novelist Terri Giuliano Long blogs that there’s another element that should share in the credit—book bloggers.
Long feels that book bloggers plugging her book In Leah’s Wake are the main reason it was able to sell 80,000 copies after an agent told her she would never sell even 500. She notes that book bloggers have picked up the slack from traditional reviewers, helping would-be readers sort out the wheat from the chaff. They provide reviews as in-depth as professional reviewers, but that “feel more personal” somehow.
And she says that bloggers help people “discover new voices”:
Unlike traditional media, most bloggers don’t stigmatize indie-published books. Except perhaps in free reads, no one pays bloggers for their reviews. Bloggers don’t answer to corporate publishers, nudging them to read books by their anointed authors, nor do they answer to a marketing team. Bloggers select books freely – their only goal is to share good reads with their readers and followers. Because they’re open-minded, willing to read books by an author they’ve never heard of, they discover new voices. This is what happened with In Leah’s Wake.
Long concludes that book bloggers introduce new authors to the world, and create a community of authors and readers through comments and guest posts.
I think Long may be overgeneralizing a little—I’m sure there are book bloggers who do everything she says and more, but I’m sure there are also some who are just as terrible as those are good. One point she didn’t raise is that, thanks to Google, these blog posts will often pop up when someone searches for the book in question to find out more about it. When I googled In Leah’s Wake, several such entries appeared on the first page amid the Amazon and Barnes & Noble store links.
The question of how any individual self-published work can stand out amid the tens or hundreds of thousands of others that come out every year has been discussed for a long time, but it might just be that bloggers are providing at least part of an answer. Of course, authors have to do their part, too, writing a book the bloggers will like and bringing it to their attention first.
Correction: I had mistakenly assigned credit for the post to Emlyn Chand; it turns out she is just the publicist who owns the blog, and Terri Giuliano Long was the author of the book and post in question.