Tag Archives: BEA

BEA Is Here!! Miriam Gershow Celebrates With A Guest Post

I am excited to say that I am on my way to Book Expo America/Book Blogger Con!! I will be in NY the next few days for all the book festivities and I am very excited. I will report back on what I hear, who I meet, and, most importantly, any books I pick up while I am there.

In honor of BEA and Book Blogger Con, Miriam Gershow (author of The Local News and friend to EDIWTB) has written a piece about the importance of book bloggers. I am honored to be posting it here on EDIWTB – thanks, Miriam!

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Why Authors Need Book Bloggers – by Miriam Gershow

On May 28, in conjunction with BookExpo America’s (BEA) annual convention in New York City, some of the blogosphere’s most prolific book readers and reviewers are hosting an inaugural Book Blogger convention.  A couple years ago, this idea probably would’ve flummoxed me. Book bloggers, in my mind, seemed superfluous.  Weren’t there already more than enough book reviewers shouting in the online wilderness via Amazon and Goodreads and Shelfari and LibraryThing?  At what point did all the voices simply become noise? 

This, however, was before my debut novel, The Local News, was published.  Having now gone through paperback and hardcover publication, having watched the marketing and publicity wheels spin–or screech to a halt–I’ve done a one-eighty.  Book bloggers, I believe, are indispensable to authors, especially first-time authors. 

Why such a radical flip-flop?

When The Local News was released, I was lucky enough to have it reviewed in the holy grail of print publications: The New York Times.  My luck (and the hard work of my publicist) continued, as reviews appeared in Marie Claire and Ladies Home Journal and BUST magazine and The Portland Oregonian among others. 

And then…nothing.  The big quiet. 

One of the most surprising things about publishing a book is that after the initial fanfare and reviews and book readings are over–all told, about a month in my case–there is almost a deafening silence. 

My editor once told me that the only two things that sell a book are word of mouth and access.  Access was taken care of–my book was stocked in all the big bookstores and many of the little ones.  But suddenly it was my responsibility to keep the buzz going. 

I turned for the first time to book bloggers.  For my hardcover edition, not being all that familiar with the blogosphere, I hired TLC Book Tours to coordinate a 10-blog tour, which included book reviews, book giveaways, a handful of guest posts and a couple author interviews.  Here, I discovered the first benefit of going the blog route:

Book bloggers extend the publicity cycle of your book.  Via traditional media, it’s nearly impossible–especially as a first-time author–to land a print review after the first few weeks of publication.  Book stores can be reticent to schedule a reading if you’re too far past publication date.  But book bloggers aren’t bound by the same timeline. My blog tour was scheduled for four months after publication, stirring up new interest when other trails had gone cold.

Still, I went into the tour with some skepticism. The Local News is the story of Lydia Pasternak, whose older brother Danny goes missing when she is 15-years-old.  While critically praised, it is admittedly dark and supplies no easy answers.  I wondered who these bloggers were, what they really had to offer in terms of reaction or insight. Once the tour began, though, I came to see bloggers as a welcome complement to the traditional book critic. 

Book bloggers respond to books as readers, though readers with brands to protect.  Book critics–if a generalization can be made–judge the quality of writing.  You can wow a critic with your sentences or your structure, as well as with your story.  This is not necessarily the case with bloggers.  Yes, there many bloggers who appreciate good writing. But many look for an enjoyable–though not necessarily light or happy–read.  Their reviews tend toward how the book made them feel, how much they liked the story or liked the narrator or liked the ending.  Some may scoff at this, but theirs is a perspective that’s of value, in that it mirrors the vast majority of the reading public. 

And book bloggers cut through the noise of the internet simply by writing detailed, thoughtful, well-supported reviews.  The best of them lack any of the snark and mean-spiritedness that anonymous corners of the internet can breed.  They’ve cultivated their voices and their sensibilities, and have ready broadly and deeply.  They’ve amassed a readership of loyal followers.  They seem intent on maintaining the quality of their blogs, and this shows in the insightfulness of their reviews. In this sense, they’re not wildly different from the best of Amazon or Goodreads reviewers–those who write in-depth, deeply-felt, reasoned responses to books.    

With all this in mind, when my paperback came out this past February, I returned to the blogosphere, familiar enough now not to need a middleman.  This is particularly important in today’s publishing climate because:

Book bloggers offer a direct relationship with writers.  Writers today are expected to hustle.  You might be expected to foot the bill of your own tour (which I’ve done), or immerse yourself in the world of social networking (done), or contact booksellers directly (done), or snag every local speaking engagement you can (done). 

But in terms of old versus new media, one welcomes a direct relationship to writers and one doesn’t.  As much as I knock on the door of People, it’s not going to increase their likelihood of including my book in their New in Paperback column.  But book bloggers, for the most part, invite and respond to author contact.  If you have to hustle, it makes sense to hustle with an eager audience.

First, I contacted all the bloggers who’d favorably reviewed the hardcover edition, asking if they’d mention the paperback release.  My publisher supplied giveaway copies.  The response was nearly instantaneous and the vast majority agreed to help. Many were delighted I had read their blog and noticed the review.  The result: for a month after paperback publication, a dozen blogs took turns helping spread the word.

Secondly, I contacted a dozen new bloggers and asked if they would review the paperback edition.  Again, this came during the big quiet after the paperback release.  And again, the vast majority enthusiastically agreed.  Reviews will be coming out in the next month or two, well past the time when traditional media has grown silent.

Some might argue that such author/blogger contact will compromise the integrity of reviews.  To that I say, I paid to have blogs review my book via my blog tour, and even then opinions were mixed.

Okay, this is all well and good, you might be thinking, but about the numbers?  My husband, an MBA and businessman, is only interested in the bottom line.  How much, he wants to know, does blog attention affect sales? To that, I honestly say, I’m not sure yet.  I don’t know if or by how much
blog reviews increase book sales.  But I do know that when a book is talked about in the blogosphere–especially by the insatiable bloggers with their insatiable readership–it keeps that book alive in the public consciousness. And I also know this:

Book bloggers are good for the writer’s soul.  It is very easy to believe–in the age of Avatar and Wiis and HDTV and YouTube and bookstore closures and book page shrinkage–that books are at best, a cultural afterthought, and at worst, on their deathbed.  To fight off feelings of hopelessness or irrelevance, I look to the blogs. I look to Everyday I Write the Book or Book Lady’s Blog or Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin’? among others, and I see people who are still passionate about books, people who consume them voraciously, people who moon over them and debate them and dissect them, people who day in, day out, devote their time to reading them and writing about them.  They remind me that what I’m doing means something, that what I’m doing matters.  And for that fact alone–even if they offered nothing else–they are worth their weight in books.

BEA and Book Blogger Convention 2010

Last May, I attended Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City for the first time. I don't remember how I first heard about it, but once I had, I knew I wanted to be there. It's the biggest annual gathering of people in the book industry, and it sounded like a worthwhile place to be. I didn't know anyone else going, and I had no idea what I was doing once I got there, but I definitely had a good time. I learned about a lot of new books, made some good connections with publisher contacts, picked up some review copies, and met a few other book bloggers. (Here is my BEA wrap-up post from last year.)

This year, though, I am even MORE excited to go to BEA. I know it will be worthwhile, for all the reasons I listed above. But this year, there's a bigger enticement: the first Book Blogger Convention. BEA takes place from May 25-27, and the next day, May 28, there will be a gathering of book bloggers, also at the Javitz Center. And this time, I know some of them! 

I will also be on a panel at Book Blogger Con, speaking about marketing and social media. 

There have been a lot of posts this week offering advice for people attending BEA (wear comfortable shoes, bring business cards, plan ahead, etc.). I'm going to offer some different advice about why you might consider going to BEA and Book Blogger Con.

When I am not book blogging, I have a day job – I am the director of digital communications for Discovery Communications. That means that I am in charge of the social media strategy for Discovery and its networks, which includes outreach to bloggers and social networks and building word-of-mouth and peer-to-peer communications. Over the last few years of working in social media, I have learned how important it is to build – and maintain – personal relationships in the digital space, whether you are trying to build a brand, connect with people who share your interests, or simply get the word out about your products. So if you're a book blogger, a publisher, an author, or just a passionate reader, there's a good reason to go to BEA and Book Blogger Con. The connections you make there will be invaluable.

So… take a look at BEA and Book Blogger Con. A registration for Book Blogger Con will also get you into all three days of BEA, which is great (though you really don't need to go to BEA for all three days).  And if you decide to go – please let me know! I'd love to meet you when we get there. I am really looking forward to meeting more people this year and taking better advantage of being in the same room with all of those fantastic bloggers and authors and publicists!

Why I Write This Blog

TIme to get a little personal here at EDIWTB. Let's dim the lights a bit, shall we?

First, an explanation for the lapse in posting. I work for a crisis communications company. We help companies with communications strategies and reputation management. This week, one of my clients has been in the news a lot (understatement), and I've been busy working on social media outreach and rapid response on my client's behalf, which is my little piece of the puzzle. I've been working a lot, and haven't been able to get to this blog until now.

Second, I am finally getting caught up on Twitter and my blog reader and learning about the controversy that swirled among the book blog community after the panel at BEA. Without getting into too much of the details, there were complaints by members of the lit/book blogging community that the panelists weren't representative of the whole community; that it came across that their motivation was fueled by desire to get free books; and that some answers on the panel suggested a much cozier relationship between book bloggers and the publishing industry than some bloggers were comfortable with. (If you want to read more about the controversy, check out Stephanie's recent post.) For the record, I had heard of all of the panelists before the panel, had followed most of them before the panel, and didn't have any issues with the panel other than that I would have liked to have been on it!

Reading through some of the comments on Twitter and various blogs, I started thinking about my own motivations for writing this blog. I've been doing this for almost three years. I've gone through periods where I post more or less frequently, and periods where I have more or less time to devote to reading. But my enthusiasm for the blog has never waned. I always tell clients who are trying to understand social media that bloggers write about what they are passionate about. Reading is one of my passions, and it always has been. I am fascinated by the writing process, and I am a huge fiction fan. I've been clipping reviews for years and years, and I've been recommending books to friends for just as long. I love talking about what I'm reading, and I love hearing about what others are reading, even if it's a book that doesn't interest me. I wish I had more time to read, and that I read faster, but the reality is that I have two small kids and a basically fulltime job, so reading often takes a backseat. That's why my posts are more often about reviews of books I want to read, than about books I've read. Unfortunately, that's just how it is.

What I love about the book blog:

  • The community of readers I interact with, whether or not they are other bloggers;
  • The totally unexpected - but absolutely wonderful and rewarding - interactions I have had with authors. People who can write fiction well are like rock stars to me (and I revere rock stars too), and knowing that some of the ones I love are just an email away still boggles my mind.
  • Comments. I love 'em!
  • When people tell me that they consult the blog before buying a book or when suggesting books for a book club
  • very distant last place- and I won't lie about this – is that if there's a new book out there that I want to read, I can request a review copy of it and it will usually be sent to me. I never realized this would happen when I launched the blog back in 2006, but it has been a nice little perk. I don't run ads and I certainly don't get paid for writing this blog, so the free books are a nice little extra.

The upshot is: I don't blog for any reason other than that I love to read. When I finish a book, I love to hear what others thought about it, and I enjoy lending my voice to the chorus. Simple as that. And, as I mentioned above, I love hearing from authors who have either found my blog or whom I've been in touch with through publicists. Last night, I was reading my current book, and I read a passage that was so well-written that I put the book down, turned to my laptop, and emailed the author a one-line email telling her what a good writer I thought she was. If I hadn't launched this blog, I'd never be able to have those kind of interactions.

I was saddened to see that the book blogging community – a friendly one, I've always found – has been affected by the kind of internal tension that I've seen in other online communities. Perhaps such schisms are inevitable among expressive, passionate people with strong opinions. Personally, I don't care whether I am considered a "lit blogger" or a "book blogger" or first wave or second wave. All I know is, I enjoy doing this, and I have found a group of people who like reading what I write and sharing their own thoughts, and that's enough for me.

Report from BEA

I am on the train back home to DC after spending the day at Book Expo America, the book industry's annual gathering in NY. It was a long day, but very interesting and a lot of fun.

I've read reports that BEA was significantly smaller this year, with fewer exhibitors, attendees, and freebies than usual due to the economy. Since it was my first time going, I don't have anything to compare it to, and it seemed crowded and busy to me. I am so used to being at the Javits Center for auto shows, so it was a nice change of pace to see books and librarians instead of cars and auto journalists!

I spent a lot of time just walking the floor, checking out the publishers and various other exhibitors. I was pretty selective about the books I picked up, in no small part because my bag started digging into my shoulder with the weight of the books and catalogs before I'd even been there an hour. The book I am most excited about getting is the latest Jonathan Tropper, called This Is Where I Leave You, which has gotten a lot of advance praise. I was able to score a scarce copy of it thanks to a kind man at Penguin.

I also got to meet several of the publicists I have corresponded with at the major publishing houses, which was a treat. They were so friendly and welcoming, and sought me out, which was really nice.

Another treat: meeting Kelly Corrigan in person, who was signing copies of her book, The Middle Place, with her dad. Here's a photo of them:

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I spent a fair amount of time on the children's floor and picked up some signed books for my daughters.

Finally, I greatly enjoyed the book blogger panel organized by Jennifer Hart of Book Club Girl, featuring Natasha of Maw Books, Dawn of She Is Too Fond of Books, Stephanie of Stephanie's Written Word, Amy of My Friend Amy's Blog, Candace of Beth Fish Reads, and Jenn of Booking Mama. The panel was extremely well-attended, and they answered a lot of questions about book bloggers, how we like to be pitched, how blog book tours work, etc. I was so encouraged by the level of interest in book bloggers. We are taking over!

I was fortunate to sign cards at the Blogger Book Signings sponsored by Firebrand Technologies with Stephanie of Stephanie's Wrtten Word and Jay Franco of Bookrastination. I was hoping to meet fellow BEA attendees Kathy of Bermuda Onion's Blog and Jenn of Jenn's Bookshelf, but I missed them. I did meet Trish of Hey Lady, Whatcha Reading.

Here is a picture of Jay, Stephanie and me:

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Definitely worth the trip!