If the term “book blogger” (BB) is new to you, or if you’re simply curious about this relatively recent internet phenomenon, this article is for you. Who are the BBs? Why do they do it? How many followers do they have? Do they accept advertising, and if not, what’s the payoff for them? Why are authors and publishers, including the major players, pursuing them?
BBs number in the tens of thousands. I estimate that 98% are women, but they couldn’t be more varied in age and backgrounds. I’ve met BBs from their teens to their sixties. Doubtless, some are in their seventies and eighties. They can have as few as 30 “members/followers” or as many as 30,000. While their posted numbers are useful for indicating the site’s influence, actual “hits” are typically many times that number. And a BB with a lightly frequented site can still achieve sizable impact by posting a favorable (or damning) review on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, Facebook, Twitter, plus some international, highly frequented on-line book clubs, like Shelfari.com and Goodreads.com.
The typical BB: After reviewing hundreds of sites, I’ve found that many are run by one or more stay-at-home moms and grandmothers. Some have severe physical problems that make holding traditional jobs impossible. Some are homebound because they provide care to family members needing special assistance: an autistic child, a husband with an advanced case of MS, a parent with Alzheimer’s. Some are retirees. One determined law student, somehow managed to squeeze in precious hours between her studies and social life to read and review two of my books, Dangerous Lies and Exceeding Expectations, for her website. But many have full-time jobs as librarians, teachers, real estate agents, etc.
What genres do they review? Collectively, all of them. Typically, they specify on their websites their preferences and which genres they will not consider. Publishers/authors are advised not to waste energy pitching a book to a vampire aficionado if none of the characters crave fresh blood and shun daylight, as I foolishly once did. I must not have had my first cup of tea the morning I contacted that reviewer. My punishment for that lapse was the most bizarre review any of my books have ever received.
Owning a blog or web site has financial costs attached to it. Building one takes perseverance. Updating it with author interviews, reviews and accompanying cover photos – daily, weekly, monthly – is time consuming. Even more time consuming is the need to respond to requests, actually read books and write reviews. Authors/publishers, be advised, after the BB agrees to accept a book, there is no guarantee that it will be read. If started, no guarantee that it will be finished, or that that the review will be favorable, appear on the date promised, or not reveal plot “spoilers.”
Do BBs accept advertising? Of the 1,000 or so sites I’ve investigated, only one sought and accepted advertising. So why do they do it? Some bloggers readily confess that the free books they receive fund their book addiction. But it’s more than free books. I think they would all agree that blogging provides stimulating interaction with readers and authors, as well as an outlet for their own creativity.
Can they be bought or influenced? Not the ones I’ve encountered. BBs are proud of their objectivity. They’re fiercely independent individuals. They can afford to be. They are constantly besieged with offers of free books. More than they could ever read in a lifetime.
How well do they write? Like BBs themselves, the range is wide and varied. Some compose intelligent, beautifully crafted critiques. Other reviews are clumsy and laden with grammatical errors. Even if the intent was high praise, it’s impossible to extract an intelligible quote.
As an author, I am ever so grateful to all BBs, women who share my passion for books. Subscribe to one or more sites that share your preferences in reading material and you will get excellent recommendations. One of these is bloggers is Deborah Previte, http://abookishlibraria.blogspot.com. Read her review of Exceeding Expectations, the second book of mine that she reviewed, and you’ll see an excellent example of an articulate blogger.
Learn more about Lisa April Smith at www.LisaAprilSmith.com
“5 soaring stars”
“Charlie, a girl in her early 20’s, is just another over-indulged, wealthy daughter of Palm Beach who’s major concerns are horses, parties and gossip. Then, her father commits suicide, her sister has a mental breakdown and her posh step-mother leaves them penniless. The beautiful life comes to a dead halt, and Charlie, who never even learned to wash dishes, has to get a job.
When Charlie sets out to discover why her beloved, pampering father would abandon them, knowingly leaving her sister and her without a means of support, she discovers more than she ever could image about him, herself and her abilities to “exceed expectations.” She also discovers that PB society may not always get it right about love and class, when she meets and gets help from the brilliant young lawyer, Andy Garcia clone, Raul. Armed with Raul’s encouragement, her own pride and tenacity, Charlie uses her only skill; modeling, to help finance herself and her sister while she travels from Palm Beach to NYC, across the US and to Paris in search of some answers.
I appreciate Lisa Smith as a seasoned author with astute writing skills after having read and reviewed her “Dangerous Lies” last year. She has a brilliance for conveying characters, and the intellectual capacity to place them in historical settings that sparkle with glamorous detail.
In fact, it’s the authentic details of the time-periods that make it fun to read Lisa’s book as it skips from Charlie’s current days of the late 1950’s and early ’60’s to the past Palm Beach and Manhattan, with hints of Sister Parish’s posh interior designs, famous museums and artists, the fashions of different eras, vintage cars and high society parties. Her historical and fictitious characters work in sync as they are perfectly set in these time frames, and midst the transitory madness of WWs I and II Paris.
Lisa Smith’s writing isn’t over-blown with emotion and sappy romance; rather, it is sophisticated and subtle. It’s witty, fun and sassy. There’s love of family; and, there are affairs of the heart, pain and anxieties that accompany romantic relationships in difficult times, intrigue and madness. I loved this kettle of mystery and suspense that dominates her characters.
I’m a fan of Ms Smith’s. I love a good story with interesting characters, a mystery and a romance that’s not over-the-top but that rests securely in reality. I like foreign intrigue and the sophistication of art and society. Most of all, I so appreciate an intelligent author of worldly experience! If you do, too, you’ll love “Exceeding Expectations.” This book has a sequel which I’m dying to read!