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July 25, 2013

Book Blogger - Media Professional or Reader with an Audience

Today's post is a little less a tips post and more of a brainstorming/thinking out loud post. I hope you will help me think through this topic by leaving comments.

About a year after I started blogging (and realized I was serious about it), I started thinking about a book bloggers role in the publishing and media industries. As book review sections of newspapers disappear, bloggers are filling the gap. While bloggers may not be book critics, we are still serving an important role in book discoverability.

Should book blogs be treated as media sites?

For the most part, I think authors treat bloggers as readers with an audience. They want us to review their books, but they also want us to publish on retail sites. I wonder if their book was reviewed by the NYT or Publisher's Weekly, if they would ask the reviewer to post on Goodreads and Amazon. If not, why do they ask me to do it?

You might be thinking, what's the big deal about posting your review on Goodreads and Amazon (or other retail sites)? One, the duplication of content on the web. Search algorithms penalize for duplicate content. Two, it diverts a blog's traffic. If the review can be read on another site, the reader never has to come to my blog. At least on Goodreads, you can link back to the blog post.

It's not like an author can't include a quote from a blogger's review on their Amazon page. There is a place for editorial reviews, which authors can insert through Author Central. The reason most prefer you to post your review as a reader is because of Amazon's algorithms. When a book receives 25 reviews, its visibility is raised.

As a book blogger, do you consider yourself part of the media industry? Or are you a reader who shares his/her opinion about books in an open forum?

If you are wanting to make a living from your blog (and there are people that at least supplement their income through blogging), then it is important to think about a blog's place in the media and publishing industries. It's your reputation and influence at stake. Blogging encompasses so much - personal journaling to family newsletters to product recommendations to news/gossip sites.

Is there a way to distinguish personal book blogging from professional book blogging? Is there any difference? Perhaps, we are kidding ourselves into thinking we are something we are not.

I would love to hear your thoughts on a book blogger's role. Should we be considered and treated as media? 
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  1. Wow. You bring up some really tough issues. I've always considered my blog as mine - not as a media outlet. I blog what I want to blog and am not influenced by the need to market to a specific group - so I consider myself as a reader with an audience I guess.

    But I'm also an author, and trying to market my book and myself.

    I'm one that is literally begging bloggers to post their reviews of my own book on Amazon, Goodreads, et al. I'm finding it really difficult as a self-published author to get my book noticed by readers and this is truly the only way I can conceivably do so.

    I have some blogging friends - including you - who have graciously posted about my book on their blogs and I am truly grateful for their assistance, (thank you again) but getting random bloggers to review it is a very difficult and very time consuming process. Of those I have approached I've only gotten about 1% response. It's a nightmare.

    So in essence, I see both sides. Blogging can be very time consuming. I recently prepared a video review for my blog - it is 6 minutes long and will be posted on Saturday. That one review took me a good six hours to prepare and that doesn't count the time invested in reading the book.

    It's a conundrum for sure and I have no answers, but I'm glad you brought it up for discussion.

    1. I've been mulling this question(s) for more than a year and a half and have no clear answers either. I think being on both sides makes it more difficult to answer the questions.

      I think deep down I hope that reviews and features on my blog will inspire readers to buy the books and then in turn leave their own reviews on retail sites.

  2. Some great thoughts here!

    I did post my reviews on Amazon for a while, until I realised they removed my blog link. So I've stopped, because I can't direct people to my blog otherwise.

    As for being part of the media industry - in a way, but not completely. Publishers, authors etc are very aware of us, but there's so many book bloggers, and a small minority are much more better known than the majority. So I think we have some sort of influence on the industry, through our opinions and thoughts, but we're not technically a part of it.

    If only I was paid for my blogging! I think book bloggers, rather than professional bloggers, will tend to post more honest reviews. We have nothing to lose or gain by posting our honest opinions. Sure, some readers or authors might not like negative reviews, but as long as the review is negative in a constructive way, they have no right to complain. A professional blogger might be more swayed to write a positive review through various means.

    1. I'm paid for my blogging through ad revenue. While it isn't much, I've seen an increase every year that I continue to blog. I'm just as likely to post a negative review as a positive review, because I'm here for the readers and not for the author.

  3. Hmmm....these are some tough questions. And quite honestly ones I haven't given much thought to.

    I personally think of book bloggers as readers first because I believe that they review books they're actually interested in reading. It feels like it's more like a labor of love than a job. I'm much more likely to listen to the recommendations of a product user than reviewer....whether we're talking cars, tomato soup, OR books.

    I think that book bloggers definitely contribute to a book's discoverability. I don't expect bloggers to post on Amazon, etc., but I can't think of a downside to posting on GoodReads since you may be able to cross-market.


    1. I think Goodreads can increase awareness of a blog by the reviewer posting there with a link back. It is more the review requests that make it seem getting a review copy is contingent on also posting on Goodreads. To me that says the author doesn't think my blog is worth much.