When I started blogging there wasn’t a relationship between bloggers and publishers. Blogging and blogging about books relatively was new and publishers only sent review books to known media outlets. So trying as a blogger to get review copies from publishers was interesting. That was until some smart publicists realised the potential.
Now publishers see the benefit of having engaged readers on their side. Readers who spend hours and hours of free time every week talking about books.
The problem is that publishers have a business to run and money that needs to be made and book bloggers have a hobby that can go from ‘oh look, I have the new X to read before everyone else’ to ‘even if I gave up working and friends there is no way I’ll be able to read all these books’ quite quickly. I don’t only mean from review copies as most bloggers I know spend an obscene amount on books a year even if they’ll never be able to read them all.
As a publisher part of the job is tempt readers to try authors they don’t usually try and this is where bloggers are an ideal sounding boards. So I thought I’d come up with 5 different things that could be tried with book bloggers when promoting books.
On the The Readers Podcast I do with Simon Savidge we choose 12 books each that are being published every six months from the different publisher catalogues, and it’s really hard only to choose them. I always start with going through as many catalogues as I can and I end up with lists of books that are interesting. They stay in the back in the back of my notebook but what I should be doing is sending them off to publishers. Not because I’d want or expect to receive them all. But on mass it could give those publishers a sampling of tastes and what we as readers are excited about. Hopefully this will help them see what books they could offer that didn’t make those lists but match those tastes? Or books that need a little bit more attention to promote.
Introducing authors not books
This is one always puzzles me. I know that publishing is a machine. It is focused on the next book and doesn’t have time to go backwards. But readers are looking for authors to love as well as exciting books. Sometimes an authors current book isn’t best way of an introduction. In this ebook age I wonder if it could be helpful to send an earlier book of an author especially if they are from a series as a better way of getting a blogger hooked so they talk about the experience of finding a new author and as a byproduct promote the new release?
There is something akin to organised chaos within publishers if you look from the outside in. Finding out who a certain book is being looked after by can be a bit like pass the parcel especially in larger houses. Maybe a generic inbox in case of emergencies like a dropbox with strict instructions for filtering and use. I think book bloggers know how busy publicists are and don’t want to hassle them but this also can lead to missed opportunities for some books to get out in the wild more.
Timing and Feedback
I’m a heavy twitter user so I try and include twitter accounts of publishers when I tweet about one of their books either with a review, or when I reading it. Lots of publishers are including suggested hashtags and twitter accounts to include. Outside twitter I know that it is best to review a book up to two weeks before release though the week of release or after is more ideal for an instant gratification purchase . I think most bloggers want the books they love to reach out to as many readers as possible so offering some suggestions on timing of release of reviews, what hashtags to use might be handy.
And finally, I don’t quite get why it is that the paperback releases of books don’t get the same fanfare as a hardback. The paperback is a great time to send an email with all links to all the reviews that have happened since the hardback. It’s also a good time to say to a blogger you loved this book could you mention that the paper back is now out? It’s also as a reader when I spend my money. Either because the price of the ebook tends to drop or because I generally find paperbacks easier to put in my bag and read. I do by hardbacks but only of a small majority of my overall book buying.
I'm sure that there are plenty more suggestions but these are a few that I think would be easy to integrate into publicity plans without sending up budgets.
A discussion is probably needed in the future about how the publishing machine works in waves and pushes things along and how that may fail to cultivate audiences for some authors and authors of all types need to engage themselves with their audience.
But I truly think that publishers and book bloggers make an amazing team, which combinations new reading material to try and way of honest recommendations.
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