Red Button Publishing

Publishing and Consultancy

In praise of the Book Blogger

A decade ago in publishing, the words “book blogger” were at the very bottom of any marketing agenda. What was desired in order to really sell a book was newspaper coverage, perhaps a serialisation, television and radio appearances and the backing of the major book chains. These things are still important today, but the rise of the book blogger over the last ten years has been symptomatic of a wider shift in publishing – the shift to digital.

Publishers now acknowledge that book-blogger activity can be very influential in the success of a book, and it is particularly strong in genres like young adult. Most YA titles now boast pre-publication quotes from bloggers rather than the mainstream press. Indeed, writer Amanda Hocking credits the support of book bloggers for her amazing success in the genre. But it isn’t just in genre fiction where book bloggers have made an impact. Book bloggers are covering the ground that the literary pages don’t. One of our favourite book bloggers, John Self gave some great coverage to Keith Ridgeway’s Hawthorn and Child last year before any of the main literary pages touched it and the result? Success.

As the literary pages in our newspapers slowly shrink in size, the explosion of voices online talking about books just keeps getting bigger. Perhaps unsurprisingly, book bloggers have embraced the digital reading revolution. Despite the fact that many trade publishers are now announcing digital-only lists, you are unlikely to find a review of an e-book on the literary pages of your newspaper. Bloggers, on the other hand, are less likely to turn down the opportunity to read and review a book because it isn’t available on paper.

Book bloggers are also more likely to give consideration to books which aren’t brand new. Whereas the literary press focus review coverage almost entirely on new releases, bloggers might write a review of a book that was published last year, the year before or even the last century, if it is powerful enough to turn people’s heads. For example, another Red Button favourite, Dove Grey Reader, has recently revisited No Place for Ladies by Helen Rappaport, originally published in hardcover in 2007 by Red Button’s own Karen Ings and now available in ebook format. It means that rather than having one shot right at the start of its life, a book has endless chances to reach new readers. The discussion goes on and on. And isn’t that the way it should be with really good books? People haven’t stopped reading D.H. Lawrence because he hasn’t had a new novel out in a while.

Book bloggers also have the blessing of space. Reviews in the mainstream press are sometimes limited to only a paragraph or so for a limited number of publications. The space allotted to book reviews and serious literary criticism is dwindling. Online bloggers have the freedom to give extensive consideration to literature of all kinds, which can open up dialogue with other bloggers and readers. Far from damaging the art of literary criticism as the Man Booker judge Peter Stothard claimed last year, book blogging could actually be helping to save it. It could be that this passionate and literate group of writers are vital to the survival of good writing and good writers.

This could lead to some really great reading. Carry on blogging!

Caroline Goldsmith 

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This entry was posted on March 11, 2013 by in On digital publishing and tagged , , , , , .
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