Monday, May 20, 2013

Back to Business: Some (Counterintuitive) Advice about Book Promotion via Blogs

As we work toward the building of a marketing plan for your book, here's a QUESTION:
In seeking bloggers to participate in book launches, blog tours, etc., should you reach out to...

A - the bloggers with the largest follower numbers, or
B - the bloggers ones who most love your genre and/or book?


Of course, a blogger who loves your work and ALSO has a strong following is terrific. I follow several "power-blogs" run by people I adore--people who truly love their books and their work.  That said, the thing about the blogosphere right now is that it is ENORMOUS. It requires people to be selective and specific about their virtual travels. More followers does not always mean more return-traffic nor does the follower number quantify how many people genuinely use the blog's book recommendations as a resource. It takes one click to follow--but it's more of a commitment to stay connected to and continue to read and use a blog.

While some would say that all publicity is good publicity, my experience suggests that it is reader LOVE that helps books get traction. A blogger who appreciates your genre, writing style or even your other work (e-zine and paper magazine articles, publications in other genres, Twitter comments in #yalitchat, etc.) is more likely to give your novel a THOUGHTFUL read and, possibly, review. S/he is more likely to suggest your novel to other, like-minded people for whom YOURS is the truly the book they seek.

Bookstore people often talk about the power of the hand-sell. The joy they take in putting the perfect title into a reader's hands, and in sharing books they love with others. Bloggers have told me similar things. And it doesn't take a 1,000+ following to hand sell. Sometimes it's the smaller, independent blogger that can connect your books with more individual readers.

ONE TIP: Get over the numbers game...  Finding the right bloggers for your book via their stats is like submitting a manuscript to an agent simply because they list "YA" in their "represents" genre list (and not researching their client roster, interests or sales records). After a glance at the numbers, check out a blogger's own blogroll or link list. Does this blogger's taste in OTHER BLOGGERS resemble your own? Are they connected to a genre community in which you, also, read or write?

ANOTHER TIP: Put your money where your mouse is... If you discover an awesome blog, let the blogger know. Leave a comment. Share your thoughts about a book you both loved. Ask a question, if appropriate. CLICK, darn it!

A THIRD (AND FINAL) TIP: Speak up... If you are working with a blog tour service, take the time to share your list of favorite blogs, to discuss how the blogs are selected by the service, and what types of blogs you think will best connect you to your audience.

Not every blog lasts indefinitely. Not every blog gets traction. And neither does every book. But what does live on and, I believe, will always exist (even in the Amazon-buys-Goodreads ocean in through we writers currently doggie-paddle) is the passionate, vibrant, thoughtful community of online lovers of story. Find your people. Whether in cyberspace or library chairs, book lovers are people. And people are what matter.

Next Monday: After all this brainstorming, how to start actually writing your marketing plan.

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