I am worming my way out of blogging
Siberia to give my two cents on the claims that book bloggers don’t sell books.
Most book bloggers don’t sell books.
But some of us do.
Some of us get the word out about a previously ignored books that didn’t get attention when the bookselling realm was blog-less.
Some of us bring attention to titles that aren’t being pushed hard by publishers because another title with a sparkly premise is.
Some of us hand ARCs to a bookseller in another country and have the international book rights sold.
That being said …
Some of us revel in the ARCs as they’re competition fodder.
Some of us sell our ARCs for large quantities of cash on eBay.
Some of us review positively solely to get more free books.
If I received any positive comments on my blog I am normally quick to brush them off. Why? I’ve bought into the stigma somewhat. The stigma that bloggers are the bottom feeders of the publishing world. We’re not…but some of us are.
Some things I know for sure about the influence of a blog from a personal standpoint:
title found distribution in US because of me. (Books sold.) Australia
- A book that was not being distributed at BEA 2010 was demanded by a large reading audience forcing the publishers to hand out the ARCs they were sitting on because of perceived lack of interest. (Awareness created.)
- Quotes from my reviews have been used on the reverse covers of several YA titles because my (earned) opinion helps sell.
- The many personal emails I’ve received in the past two years thanking me for enticing them to read Melina Marchetta’s
Jellicoe Road. (Books sold. OzYA awareness created.)
Why do I know this? The authors told me.
Now I don’t believe that my reviews sell books on a consistent basis. Heck, I am one of those people that pollute book blogging with negative critiques! (Ridiculous claim – why are people voicing outrage about bloggers receiving free books and attacking those that read critically?) I know I sell books (or interest) in a title if I am glowing in my review of them. If a book earns my respect, my readers typically wanted to read it.
While I recognise that there are bloggers out there who aren’t in it for the good of the written word, there are many that are.
I’ve even managed to parlay my blogging (and professional skills) into a position where I have greater influence. I am now the Program Coordinator for the Centre for Youth Literature. An Australian organisation situated in the State Library of Victoria that runs events, websites/blogs and conferences that include teachers, publishers, librarians, students and the larger community.
If blogging means nothing. If what I’ve done on my blog means nothing. If the only purpose of a blog is to sell books (that’s another issue completely)…then that doesn’t explain my current position.
Blogging helped me find a career doing what I love. I get to review, recommend, speak directly to teen literary stakeholders and manage special events. But you see, I was doing that all before from my laptop. Sure it was on a smaller and simplified scale but I was doing that without money, without a wage, without a team and I was helping to sell books. In my new role, books will be sold because of what I have recommended or held functions for but that isn’t my goal. It’s not my organisation’s goal. We’re here to facilitate reading. I am here to facilitate reading. And the right kind of book bloggers are here to facilitate reading.
When you reduce blogging to dollars and cents you are robbing it of its true worth.
Teachers, librarians and bloggers aren’t at odds with one another. We all have the same aim – to facilitate reading in our teens. To recommend great books that strike a chord and create an appetite for the written word. To cast them out into the world and go on adventures, fall in love or slay a dragon.
ARCs aren’t the focus. They aren’t free either. With ARCs come an expectation to review, to create discussion, to make connections, to encourage reading. They aren’t free to the publisher, they aren’t free to the author and they sure aren’t free to the blogger.
ARCs aren’t something bloggers, teachers, librarians or booksellers have control over. We can ask but the ultimate responsibility in ARC distribution comes from the publishers. A few well placed ARCs will promote selling and interest in the same way that an ARC flood of the book blogging community will. You just need to find the right blogger, with the right interest, with the right intention.
While I appreciate that some accusations against book bloggers might be true in some cases I would ask that they aren’t thrown around willy nilly. Book blogging started out for me as a means to grow my school’s non-existent library and create excitement in my class. It grew my passion for youth literature. It grew my knowledge of youth literature. It grew my network of booky individuals in a diverse range of book related industries. It allowed me to find a career where I could reach more professionals and students about the worthy books out there. Book blogging was a priceless experience for me and it gave me a new direction in life. Money or free books were not in the equation but my heart and passion for youth literature were fully invested.
So while some people might take issue with book bloggers…know that I love it. Know that I love my trusted group of friends that I’ve made through blogging and know that Persnickety Snark gave me a new lease on life.
*Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent my employer's stance.