Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The topic is the Book Blogger Bubble.
I knew from the very beginning that small press publishing meant not having my book in bookstores. So I'm not in Barnes & Noble--I can live with that. Most people shop for books on Amazon these days anyway, and with ebook sales on the constant rise, I know my book doesn't suffer from lack of availability.
What it suffers from is lack of exposure.
So I tried finding book bloggers. People who review gobs and gobs of books on blogs with gobs and gobs of followers. Sounds like a great idea, huh? Except guess what? I'm discovering that a lot of those bloggers are all following each other. And their reason for that is they've banded together to make it look like they have a big audience so they can get free books from the big publishers. Highly sought titles to stock their personal shelves, with no cost but a quick post.
I know this is true because I joined a book blogger network in order to hopefully get some reviews of Finding Angel. What is posted all over that network are links to review blogs with, "Follow me and I'll follow you!" and discussions about how to gain followers so you can get the hottest titles.
I'm not saying all the bloggers are hooked up, but enough to make it frustrating. Too many are only shouting out to each other. Granted, a lot of those reviews also get posted on Amazon...
Haven't you noticed how the books by big presses often have a slew of reviews on Amazon before the book even releases? It's because of the book bloggers and Amazon vine and other such programs. Big presses send out hundreds of free copies all the time in order to build buzz and rack up online reviews.
Yes, you heard me right. Big presses send out hundreds of copies, at no cost to the author. How do small presses compete with that, especially when the big publisher freebies being offered are titles the bloggers are drooling over? We don't have a chance.
Besides, most small press authors must send books out that we pay for ourselves. Yep, that's right. Even if we could get into that bubble, we have to foot the bill ourselves.
I have been lucky to have had a good number of readers review Finding Angel of their own accord--by both blogging and posting on Amazon, and many of them bought the book themselves. And right now, the lovely Linda Yezak, author of Give the Lady a Ride, is stocking Finding Angel in her mobile bookstore. And Kristine Pratt, owner of The Written World bookstore is also stocking copies. These awesome people are helping to burst Finding Angel and other books by small presses out of the bubble we get stuck in.
But it's still a battle. Unless you are a writer yourself, you likely don't understand the need for reviews. Authors honestly carry little weight when it comes to the sales of their own books, unless it's a situation where we're meeting readers in person. But when a book is reviewed over and over again, in a bunch of different places, readers notice. Why? Because it's not the author saying how great the book is--it's another reader.
Readers have the key to bursting the bubbles.