Sunday, July 22, 2012

Book bloggers are NOT machines. Remember that.

You guys know me. I don't like to comment on things that can potentially cause controversy, except this, this, this, this, this, this and this. I'm not THAT guy. However, something has come up that I wanted to discuss with you, and it may ruffle a few feathers with my fellow authors. It may, however, endear me to several book bloggers. Call me a kiss ass, a brown noser, what have you. That is not my intent at all. I just want a few of my peers to take a step back and think before ripping me a new asshole.

A blog that a friend posted got my dander up a bit. The blog is a 1,600-plus-word rip job on book bloggers who allegedly promised an author a review in exchange for a free book. The author of this particular blog is understandably frustrated that several bloggers have not followed through with their promises. I understand that: I've been in a similar pickle when it comes to my books, and even while it's frustrating, there is always the little voice in the back of my head telling me to remain calm and be patient.

Book reviews on blogs can lead to sales for that particular book, and if the author has multiple books, and it can lead to sales on the backlist. There is nothing more pleasing to an author than seeing those numbers tick up on the Kindle uploader, as well as the Nook uploader and now the Kobo uploader. We authors are in the business of writing books in an attempt to sell books. That is no secret. Last year I released six books. Not all of them were reviewed by blog sites. My sales were a roller coaster. That happens. Sometimes it takes a while for a book to find its audience.

Here's the problem I have with the author of the above blog: Book blogging is not a business. It is a hobby for book lovers who want to expound on their thoughts about a particular book. Their blog is a sounding board which, if correctly labeled, can hit Google search engines and potentially reach readers. If that book blogger takes it a step further, they can have a Twitter account and a Facebook account, and they can potentially reach readers who have followed them. And sometimes a book blog can go viral when the blogger least expects it.

With the rise of self-publishing, everyone can be an author. This means there are literally thousands of books to review. Authors have inundated book bloggers with books in the hopes that they'll give them a favorable-yet-honest review. And they hope they'll do it in a rather timely fashion in order to build buzz in the days and weeks after they release their book. No money has changed hands: These bloggers have not received a red cent for their reviews. I don't know about you, but I would feel cheap if I paid for a favorable review when I didn't earn it with my work.

Last year I released six books. My sales were a roller coaster. That happens. Sometimes it takes a while for a book to find its audience. Not all of them were reviewed by blog sites; I know one book blogger who has bought all of my books with her own money, and she hasn't read them yet, and it's been over a year for some of them. Not complaining, mind you--her blog has skyrocketed, and she's now reviewing traditionally-pubbed books that she is receiving for free. God bless her. Other bloggers have backlogs of books, and they like to savor the prose and think before they write a review; case in point, Robert DuPerre reviewed A Galaxy At War two years ago, and he said he needed to take a few days to let the book settle in his mind before he wrote the review.

That brings me to my point this morning, my friends. Book bloggers are NOT machines. Book bloggers have lives outside of reading: they have families, jobs, personal lives. Some take care of their elders, and blogging takes a back seat. And like I said, bloggers are so overwhelmed with books that some have had to outsource books to other non-paid, freelancer reviewers. Yes, it's come to that point.

And there may be another reason why the reviewer hasn't been able to review a book, even if they've promised it one: quite possibly the book is unreviewable. It may be unreadable. It might be rubbish, and they would rather quietly let the book slide into the morass than utterly destroy it. I know some reviewers who have no problem with giving one-star reviews for work they feel is shit. That is their prerogative. The author with the thick skin will shrug it off and go back to writing the next book and improving their craft. The author with a thin skin will react like the author above.

So to book bloggers such as Big Al, Misty Rayburn, Misty Baker, Rachelle Bronson, Kim Tomsett and Tanya Contois, thanks for all you do to help get the word out about everyone's book. To the bloggers who I don't know, thanks to you, too. We all know you're not machines -- you're a man (or a woman).

Happy reading.