As I’ve probably mentioned here before, I recently started doing book reviews for a network of review sites (under a pseudonym). The experience has made me more aware of the many blogging platforms that exist today for readers (and reviewers) of books.
As we all know by now, the “big” media book review outlets are shrinking in number. Every other day, it seems, a newspaper that previously did book reviews cancels its section, folds, or gets absorbed into something else. (It’s worth mentioning that it was always a struggle for new authors or paperback originals to get reviewed in those media.)
What has flourished in the wake of the demise of traditional media outlets is a constellation of book-oriented blogs and other online venues. I’m still trying to get a grasp on the big picture of this new virtual world, including how it impacts authors (and readers). The New York Times ran an article a while back about book tours and reviews; it implied that there’s no hard data on how such publicity impacts actual book sales. That article was published in 2007, and three years can be a lifetime in the Internet world (consider the fact that
My gut feeling is that book tours by authors are more effective than sites that do only book reviews, because the tours are usually hosted by noncommercial sites. Nowadays, however, more sites are becoming “hybrids,” combining author interviews, book reviews, and related TV show discussions.
For my last few books, I used a publicist who would occasionally set up blog reviews for my novels. These reviews were (usually) positive and welcome, but I never had a sense of how these sites fit into the big picture. Eventually I started exploring book review blogs on my own, and found it to be a bewildering world out there. Blogs are constantly being created and disappearing, and it’s hard to tell which sites are legitimate review sites, and which are strictly commercial venues. (Nowadays, bloggers are legally required to post a disclaimer about whether they get their review copies for free or whether they pay for them, but that information doesn’t help me know whether the reviews are “legitimate” or not). I revisited some of the review blogs on my list this morning, and discovered that many of them have stopped updating their content.
For readers, it may not matter whether a site does honest and “legitimate” reviews or not. They will gravitate toward sites that feature the types of books and authors they already like. Kind of like the way cable news shows attract the viewers that already agree with their opinionators.
I still don’t have a handle on how many book blog sites exist, overall. I would love to see a comprehensive list of book discussion and review blogs, one that would be updated regularly. Right now, booktour.com
seems to be one of the major comprehensives site for authors who want to coordinate their blogging outreach efforts (and in-person appearances). Of course, you have to pay for some of these services.
It would be nice to find a comprehensive list of book blogging sites, with indications of the types of reviews they provide, and how to contact them. Currently I’m developing my own list, bookmarked for future reference. One thing I’ve noticed is that there seem to be many more sites that review romance books and “cozies”, fewer devoted to thrillers and hard boiled mysteries. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps cozies and romance books have a hard time getting reviews in major publication, so bloggers have picked up the slack.
Here are a few book blogging sites that have landed on my radar over the past few years:
So I’m wondering–as a reader or author, which sites are your “go to” blogs for reviews and discussions about newly published books? If you’re an author, do you launch an organized blog tour when you publish a new book, and how do you go about doing that? Going forward, I’ll update this post with new sites worth checking out. Stay tuned!