Readers' Favorite

June 18, 2015

Dear author, I see you

by Donna Huber

The other day I saw an open letter to big book bloggers on Facebook. While I don't really think of Girl Who Reads as a big book blog, I did take slight offense to the letter. The gist of the letter was that big book bloggers weren't paying attention to small/new authors and only featuring a select set of popular authors.

I take great pride in offering a wide variety of authors opportunity to appear on Girl Who Reads and featuring their books in various ways. And when an author's review request is passed over, it doesn't mean I didn't "see" the author, but more a result of too little time.

I'm going to pull back the curtain and give you a peek into my life as a book blogger.

So far this month I have had 26 review requests, Last month I read 5 books,  but I only read 2 in April. I do have two people who also review for Girl Who Reads and I offer some of these requests to them, but still that is an awful a lot of review requests.

Then there are the requests for cover reveals, interviews, and guest post spots. While these requests don't require me to read a book, I do have to take the time to read and respond to the requests and check the schedule. I do have an interviewer, but every so often I do an interview so there's the time requirement for coming up with questions. This is often made more difficult by the fact the author sends no information about themselves or the book. Also, there is the follow-up to the accepted requests to make sure I get the post material in time to actually put together the post.

There is also the writing and formatting of posts. At this point, I've already been working on this post for 30 minutes. I usually spend 3 to 5 hours on the weekend writing and formatting posts. And that doesn't usually mean I got all the posts for the week scheduled. I format the posts for all my contributors and usually find the images to use.

I also have to find the time to actually read the books I'm reviewing. Some months I get lucky and I have a number of short books on my list (200 pages or less) other times I get stuck with a 500+ page novel. Or a a nonfiction book that is so dense that I can only read a bit at a time. Since I charge for editing, I have timed how many words I read in an hour. On average I read about 10,000 words an hour. So a 50,000 word novel takes about 5 hours. With everything else I have going on in life, particularly work, I'm lucky if I can get 30 minutes to read a day. I might get a couple of hours of reading done over the weekend. So even a relatively short book can take my more than a week to read.

Oh and author, you know all the marketing you do for your book and the time it takes each week away from your writing? I have to market my blog. People don't just wander by. I have to craft tweets and Facebook posts. There are the comments to respond to and interactions on social media. I research best practices to increase my traffic and investigate revenue sources.

I'm not complaining about the time involved. I love blogging, but I thought I should give you a realistic look at the time involved.

Why it is some authors appear on the blog more often

As you can see book blogging is time consuming and a lot of work. Outside of free books, there isn't a lot of monetary reward. And I'm okay with that, but that means sometimes I want to pick up my favorite author's new novel. You might think that I give preferential treatment (more blog time) to JB Lynn's and Chevy Stevens's books because I have read all their books. But I truly love their novels and I know when I pick one up that I'm going to be entertained. Something that's not guaranteed when I pick up the novel of a new author.

I also find I need to take a break from reviewing every once in a while. I have a different mindset when I read a book for a review than a book I'm just reading for fun. I have to think about word usage, character development, plot pacing, etc and I have to remember what I think!

Then there are the authors that appear frequently because they provide me with content that is easy to post. Often these authors are represented by the big publishers and the publicists are sending pre-made (and well done) interviews, excerpts, and press releases with their pitches. It is great to have these materials available. Particularly when I'm reading those 500+ novels and I know I'm not going to have many reviews that month.

What you can do to be noticed more

My biggest piece of advice is to be professional. Be professional in every aspect of your writing career, from creating a quality product to promoting properly.

Put together a media kit, including a press release, and provide it with your pitches. Speaking of pitches, polish them! You should know your book better than any one else and be able to tell others why they should read it. (I can figure out from the pitch that you wrote a book so you don't have to start your pitch with "I wrote a book")

Provide other material - interviews, guest posts, video, etc. I much rather have the material upfront because there isn't much worse than schedule an author a month in advance and never getting the material (not to mention it is extremely unprofessional).

A lot of bloggers also like to time their reviews with a release of a new book. So getting your review requests out early (6 - 8 weeks) is also important.

Authors, I see you

Authors I know how frustrating it can be to send out requests week after week and getting no response (or a No as a response), but unfortunately there are way more books than book bloggers.

But, please know, I do see you and I'm continually looking for ways to feature more of you on Girl Who Reads.

(and now I've been working on this post for an hour and I still need to proofread and dress it up some)

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  1. Thanks for sharing this. As a 'small' book blogger, I too face the crush of more to read than I have time to read and review.

    1. I think about 6 months into book blogging I had more books than I could read in a year.

  2. It's so hard to find the time to write about what's important to us; all the more so when those important things are time-consuming in and of themselves. For what it's worth, I appreciate everything you write, and the time you take to format my own posts. Super thanks!

    1. Your welcome. I greatly appreciate your contribution each month. All of my contributors are great and I'm so thankful that at least a few days a month I don't have to come up with content.

  3. This is a great piece, Donna.

    I'd just add that what new/small authors may not realize is that a lot of the time, popular/more established writers are being pitched to bigger book bloggers by representatives from their publishing companies, who in turn offer better exposure to the bloggers.

    I had a general idea of how much work you do here, but seeing the data really drove the point home and I'm in even more awe of you.

    Thank you for all you do. You (and other book bloggers) are an important conduit between writers and readers and you're very much appreciated.

    1. I would like to say I'm unbiased about whether a big publisher is pitching or its the author, but I know in the back of my head I'm considering the increase in traffic and search results that featuring a popular, big pub book will have on my blog.

      I typically send links to my reviews to the publicists/publisher even for books I only kind of liked because I know there isn't going to be any backlash. But to an individual author that I don't really know, it can have horrible consequences: some authors get very nasty if it isn't a glowing 5 star review. (I didn't know this at the time I sent you a link to my 4 star review of your book.)

  4. I don't think I can add anything to what you've written. I just dropped in to cosign. Great post.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I was a little worried about how this post would be perceived.

  5. Donna, I never realized how much work you do ! I'm even more grateful and honored that you volunteered to help with my book launch. You did a great job and I really appreciate it.