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1. Authors need bloggers more than bloggers need authors.

2. Seriously.

3. The thing is, a lit blog can be interesting and appealing without ever running a single author interview. You do not need to blog about the latest releases or trends to maintain a decent readership. Authors on the other hand need bloggers to help spread the word on their books and the sooner after publication (or even before), the better.

4. As someone who had a book published six months ago I am abundantly aware of just how important blog mentions can be - and how much publishers really, really, REALLY want authors to obtain blogger attention.

5. And as a longtime online reviewer (both here and as the Bookslut YA columnist) I know how hard authors work at getting that attention.

6. Here's a tip - emails addressed "Dear Blogger" are not a good use of your time. Ever.

7. The author side of me would like to be able to send out a hundred emails to a hundred bloggers and receive immediate positive replies promising reviews, interviews and blog mentions.

8. The blogger side of me wishes authors would never contact me and instead wait patiently until I sent them emails requesting information or interviews and then responded promptly with exactly what I've asked for.

9. To say I'm conflicted on this subject would be an understatement.

10. Surprisingly, the answer to how blogger and authors can most effectively work together is actually pretty simple. You have to be willing to put in the time. Bloggers have to be willing to write consistently smart and entertaining posts and authors have to be willing to engage with lit bloggers on subjects other than their own books. Through time bloggers will make themselves someone who authors want to engage with and vice versa. Conversations will take place that have nothing to do with the author's book or the blogger's blog but books and blogs and all manner of literary greatness in general.

11. Many good things happen at this point.

12. Of course you can certainly circumvent all this time and work. As a blogger you can conduct giveaways, lots and lots of giveaways, and you can drive up traffic to your blog by being the place that gives away free stuff and authors will want to take advantage of those numbers and likely ask you for the chance to guest post or interview and it will seem like a good idea to do this but authors need to keep in mind that readers who are looking for free books don't generally translate into sales (which is what authors need) and bloggers who run endless giveaways need to realize that this is a lot of work.

13. But hey, if being the book world's version of Wrap-N-Pack is your idea of having a literary conversation then go for it.

14. For authors this is all a lot trickier then you might have hoped or planned for. Again, we are the ones who need that blogger attention and must deal with publishers advising us to court it while never explaining how. The notion that authors must start investing time in the lit blogosphere years before publication might seem crazy and, quite frankly, a hella lot of work with no promises of a return.

15. (It's sort of like writing that way.)

16. But that's what you have to do. Bloggers (most of them anyway) are blogging about books because they love them and they want to share their thoughts with other book lovers. Authors are writing books because they have stories to tell that they want to share with the world. Engaging in online conversations (via comments and tweets) is the best way for us all to geek out in the most wonderful bookish way. Authors should approach blogs from the point of fun, read blogs they like and comment on posts they enjoy. This isn't hard (it's fun!) and over time you get to know the bloggers, the bloggers get to know you, and thus when you have a book come out there are already some folks cheering online in your corner.

17. As this is what happened to me, I'm sure it is what will happen to you.

18. The main thing authors need to understand is that bloggers receive emails all the time from authors they do not know asking them to read books they have never heard of. Whatever you plan to send, trust me when I say I've heard it before. The odds are slim to none that your email will stand out or that a blogger will even take the time to read it.

19. The main thing bloggers need to understand is that authors are under a tremendous amount of pressure to engage with online communities and create buzz via social media and use the internet as a platform to increase their book sales. (Did all of that sound dreadfully spinny? It should, but it's all true. Horribly, sadly, depressingly true.) They are sending out those emails in desperation because at least then they can feel like they tried and more importantly they can tell their publisher they did something.

20. The bottom line is that, well, it can't just be about you. No relationship works that way and when we take a step back and think about it, everybody knows this.

21. Except maybe publishers. Sigh.



What I'd add is my concern in the increase I've seen (whether in posts, comments, etc.) in the author/publisher attitude that blogs are free publicity, marketing, editing.

No; no, we're not. If what you are looking for is a guaranteed advertisement or marketing, the cost isn't a free ARC: it's the advertising space on a blog. Pay for it. That anyone believes otherwise (on both sides) sells themselves cheaply.

If what you want is editing, don't think that bloggers give that as a free service, saying what was weak or strong so that you can revise a book or do the next book better. Pay an editor, join a critique group, etc.

I just love this line "13. But hey, if being the book world's version of Wrap-N-Pack is your idea of having a literary conversation then go for it." because it's so true. I guess, I'd rather read book blogs that focus on conversation and talking about books and their reactions than blogs that just give stuff away non-stop and that's a personal choice. I mean, hey if you're into all those giveaway hops and things go for it, like you said, but for me, I want legit literary conversation.

And also, I just love the set up of the post with the numbers and as I read each one I continuously nod my head. I will say though that for me, I'd rather be approached by a publicist than an author because it is a whole lot less awkward to tell a publicist you didn't like the book they pitched, than the author.

Right on! I want all authors and bloggers and publisher to read this (at least twice).

"They are sending out those emails in desperation because at least then they can feel like they tried and more importantly they can tell their publisher they did something."

I think this is all too true. It's probably the most basic truth about what's going on right now, made even more desperate by your earlier point about "no promises of a return."

Your #9 made me smile and #13 made me snort-laugh. (That's a thing, right?) You've really captured the essence of author and blogger relationships in a way that's easy to follow and totally get. Great post!

Guys - sorry about the delay in getting your comments posted but we had big Memorial Day bbq-ing yesterday and I was a slow mover this morning. (That's a VAST understatement.)

I'm glad that this stuff rang true for all of you. It's such a difficult subject and as the print review venues shrink, online is getting bigger and bigger and authors and bloggers are being thrust together all the freaking time.

I vastly prefer NetGalley as well - so much easier to make it up to the blogger. And yes, I prefer to deal with publicists as well (but I'm realizing in the wake of my publishing experience that publicists are a WHOLE OTHER POST). (And that's all I'm gonna say!)

And everything Liz B. said must be committed to memory. NOW.

100% all of this. And your experience on both sides of the table make your comments on this even more pertinent.

Regarding Liz's concern about blogs being perceived as free publicity--Does anyone remember maybe back in 2007 or 2008 when someone started a company to run blog tours for authors? Authors could hire this person to line up large numbers of bloggers to cover the book. It might stick in your memories because questions were raised at that point over whether bloggers would feel compelled to do, essentially, recommendations instead of literary reviews because they'd signed on to received ARCs.

I think that was some kind of tipping point/foot-in-the-door moment when marketers descended upon the blogging world and you began to see litblogging perceived as an extension of marketing.

I've read recently that a couple of publishers are going to be running that kind of set-up for themselves.

Thanks for offering perspective from both sides of the issue. It really is hard to resist the "just do something" pressure that is the reality of (probably) every working author today regardless of the size of their audience.

If there's a trick to it, maybe it lies in finding a way to make a blog post more about serving the blogger's community than promoting the book. Not easy and impossible on a broad scale. But I'm thinking for my next venture into talking to bloggers about my upcoming book. I'd rather work on one good blog post that generates a useful conversation than a dozen stops on a blog tour nobody is interested in.

thebonnyglen Author Profile Page

Colleen--excellent post. I wish I'd had this a week ago to help explain to my publisher why I was crushed to find out my new book isn't being offered at NetGalley. It's one thing for bloggers to see my book offered there and request it of their own volition, and another thing entirely for my publisher to solicit them with an offer of a review copy. (Now of course I'm quaking at the prospect that any of those review offers might begin with "Dear Blogger"--especially if my publisher is reaching out to bloggers I do have relationships with online.)

Gail - I do remember that! If you want a real eye opener, google "blog tour services". It's a business now, for a lot of people.

We are doing a Summer Blog Blast Tour in a couple of weeks - same drill as the past where several bloggers contact authors and we run the resulting interviews over a week with links to a master list, etc. For a very long time I was hit by publishers and authors asking what they needed to do to be on the tour, what giveaways we wanted, etc. It was so hard to convince those folks that it was not up to them - we did it all (including the author selecting) from our end. Seeing these blog tour services, I can understand their confusion.

What I will never understand is why blogs participate in these tours. The organizers get paid, the pubs & authors get free publicity and the bloggers get...well help me out on that. They do the heavy work and get a free book? Is that really worth it? I guess it is.

(I realize authors do a lot of work also but they are getting the free publicity in trade.)

Whoops--I signed in to comment (above) and it used my email instead of my name. :)

This: "authors and bloggers are being thrust together all the freaking time" -- is a good thing, until suddenly it's a terribly awkward thing. And a lot of the awkwardness comes from (this is just occurring to me) the publishers so often being *outside* those relationships, unaware of their nuances.

When I read about the blog tour companies, I had the same thought as you, Colleen. The bloggers were being exploited. They were working and someone ELSE was getting paid for their labor.

My guess is that it's a self-esteem thing for them. They can feel they're part of some kind of system or organization, even if they're giving their labor away.

The thing is, a lit blog can be interesting and appealing without ever running a single author interview. You do not need to blog about the latest releases or trends to maintain a decent readership.

I couldn't agree more. I'm going to be writing about this later this week on the tour, but I think this is one of the fear people have when they start blogging (and it seems worse in the book world than in the other segments I've been involved in) is they really aren't comfortable deviating from what they perceive as "the norm."

I recently discovered an outstanding book/reading blog that (as a matter of policy) doesn't have any book reviews--it was one of the best blog reads I've encountered in a long time because the author had a fresh perspective on blogging about reading. (And it's killing me I can't remember the name.)

Thanks for the fabulous post!

An incredibly helpful list -- one that I'm keeping bookmarked for a reminder as the "build-your-web-presence" pressure mounts.

(And yes, MotherReader, snort-laughing is certainly a thing, as my wife will attest.)

Such great advice (both for bloggers and writers). I think the best you gave was for writers to develop organic relationships with bloggers they truly enjoy. Then when the big one hits (Publication!) there is no song and dance number to get the webtime the publisher is screaming for. Chances are, the friends you've made will be so excited for your news, they'll be asking to do a blog post on your book.

Reality Check

>1. Authors need bloggers more than bloggers need authors.

2. Seriously.

To run book blog, I would have thought you needed books and authors happen to write books.

Without authors, bloggers would not exist.

This is a really helpful (and funny!) list. Every interview/giveaway/tour I have ever hosted on my blog has been for an author or book that I REALLY love and/or admire -- I couldn't imagine going through all that extra work if I didn't. It is sad to learn that publishers may be a source of so many misunderstandings between authors and bloggers who would otherwise get along just fine!

I am baffled by the blog tour services as well. What I really don't get is why a blogger would want to interview an author if they didn't like the book.

Last year I was asked if I wanted to take part in a blog tour for Sapphire's new novel Kid, and I was psyched, I loved the author's last novel Push.

So I figured enjoying Kid would be a given. I was very tempted to just say yes, but luckily I stuck to my one interview rule always read the book before saying yes. Unfortunately I didn't like Kid so I had to say no

I've always wondered if bloggers who do a lot of giveaways, cover the S&H or do publishers cover the cost of shipping

True confessions...

I find myself tuning out blog reviews EXCEPT those from people like Colleen and LizB, who I know give critical reviews. The mutual back-patting by author-bloggers does not get me to buy a book. In fact some of the most hyped books - via blog tours, Twitter book parties, etc - have been big disappointments to me.

I'm on information overload and my to-read stack is huge. I will put my money and my time into books that I have some confidence will be good. Amazon reviews won't help either.


Colleen, I love this! Not only is it right on and diplomatic, it's like talking with you: to the point, thorough, smart. I'll be sharing this. I just have to add that I am so grateful for my blogging friends, and I can't believe the amount of work they go through to support me, other authors, and their blog followers. Well done. This one's a keeper.

Jenn Hubbard

And yet ... what happens if author and blogger become great friends (even online friends), chatting about books and exchanging opinions, and then--author's book comes out. Blogger reads it and finds it isn't her cup of tea, or she thinks it has flaws. Now she can either negatively review the book or not discuss the book; the author may or may not feel slighted by that. But it's awkward.

There is a professional aspect to book blogging and book authoring. I have become friendly with a few book bloggers, and I go into those relationships fully accepting that they might give my books a pass or a negative review sometime and if they do, it isn't personal. I've steeled myself for that possibility, and I try to keep the friendship emotionally separate. But there are many book blogs where I'm grateful they discussed my book, but I haven't cultivated a closer relationship only because I'm cognizant of this personal/professional line. And maybe they haven't cultivated a closer relationship because they want the freedom to say whatever they want about books without worrying about how the author is going to react.

So I hear what you're saying, and I know that when I have guest posts on my own blog, I prefer featuring authors who have actually read my blog--just because they have an idea of who the audience is--though it's not a requirement.

But it's a tricky line to walk.

Thank you for this good information. I am new at blogging and I do not review books. I do write and would love to finish writing my book someday but it is not my main focus. I am just enjoying my little blog that my friends far far away can read and be amused.

It is a bit disheartening to hear about how authors have to engage actively in the social media process to get a book sale. It is more than discouraging, it sounds paralyzing.

Bloggers have a lot of power. Hopefully, we will all remember not to abuse each other.

Susan Robinson


That has actually happened to me! I've gotten friendly with an author online, received their book, read it and not liked it. What I do in that case (unless the book is truly egregious) is just not review it. Authors have then asked me what I thought and my answer has always been honest - "It's just not for me and I'm going to take a pass." Some authors have been fine with that, understanding that really, I'm just not the audience for their book, while others have vanished from my blog and never contacted me again. It can get touchy that way but the alternative for me is to avoid authors altogether and that is just pretty nearly impossible.

Reality Check:

Please. Don't be so silly, okay? Clearly books need to exist for people to discuss them (online or elsewhere). The point I was making is clear and your sarcasm is not warranted or appreciated.

What I get that really bothers me is requests to review books that do not relate at all to the content of my blog. I have a clearly written statement that outlines what I review and I would think if an author is interested in having me or any blogger review their book, they would take the time to peruse my blog and make sure they want to be represented there. But nope, I get the most random review requests!

I wonder why so many bloggers still LOVE giveaways? I don't see them as very effective either. And yet, I get asked to give away a book when I'm asked to do an interview all the time. I hate saying no, but sometimes I do, and hope people understand I can't say yes all the time.

This is a great post and a lot of it comes back to how many people simply don't understand social media. People who don't get that it's about connecting, not selling, are going to have a really hard time. I can't even imagine sending out 100 bland e-mails to bloggers. I guess it shouldn't surprise me that people do this, but part of me is going, REALLY? People do this!?

I have met so many great bloggers over the past five years - people who are passionate about reading and books, and I connect with them on that level because I'm also passionate about reading and books. So much more fun and interesting that way, I think.

Oh, goodness. You just depressed me! I just contacted a blog that I thought my book would be a fit with...and then somehow found yours. I write picture books and there doesn't seem as big a blogging draw as with YA. Just the same, bloggers, authors...we all have the same goal - we want to be read. So I think that you can expect that a blogger will get some attention when they write a review or do an interview as any smart author will be promoting that interview/review through Twitter/FB, etc. But thanks anyway for your thoughtful insights into this world of publishing and the pressures placed upon authors. Want to do an interview??!! :)

Great post, Colleen! And as I reflect, most of the authors I have connected with have been ones where I LOVED their book first, posted my review, and then somehow made contact. So we were already over any awkwardness, and my praise was totally unbiased.

Speaking of awkwardness, six months?!? Really? Oops! I really need to get your book out of my to-be-reviewed pile, Colleen! I loved it; I gave it to my father-in-law and brother-in-law as gifts. But I did read it slowly (like all nonfiction) and always am slower about writing reviews of books I own than library books. But another note to bloggers (that I have only realized recently) - It's nicer to review the books you like closer to their publication date, to be nice to the Authors. I know, most of you know that. But I began 11 years ago with library books, before publishers ever dreamed of thinking of "bloggers." (Had "blogs" been invented yet? Mine was an "e-zine" and then a website.)I have such a backlog now - I'm going to have to work on that!

"13. But hey, if being the book world's version of Wrap-N-Pack is your idea of having a literary conversation then go for it."

Hmm, that must be me. I'm a little surprised that you would pass judgement on what is, and is not, a literary conversation.

I bring home many books from conventions and share them with my readers. Then again, I engage my readers to think about all books (not just those considered literary fiction) plus military families, international travel, and Hawaiian culture.

I tend to think in terms of magazines and magazines I read. So what I aim to be? Vanity Fair. I love their style, the writing, how indepth, the mix of serious and fun.

I also subscribed to and enjoy Lucky Magazine, which, yes, in a way is just a magazine full of advertisements -- not writing in the same way as VF (or for that matter Vogue). Some blogs I read are more Lucky: containing quick information and current trends, in a one stop place for me to quickly see -- Are they "literary"? Perhaps not, in the VF sense of the word; but they convey information and have conversation around books and reading.

My main pet peeve is the people outside blogging who think we are all Lucky Magazine and that what I do is basically cut and paste publishers' PR or "market" the publishers by reviewing their books. So while I appreciate the Lucky mag blogs, I do get frustrated that lay people outside of blogging or publishing think that is the only type of blog.

Jeff Huges

that pretty much put it to the point ! love it. Authors HAVE to take care of relationships, its the bloggers that are at the fronlines. Cameron would probably say the same -->

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