Sending review copies of books to bloggers, Part III
The proliferation of book blogs has been incredibly beneficial for the publishing industry, providing those of us in book publicity with a new tool to promote books at a time when print publications have been forced to slash their books and arts coverage and providing readers with a wealth of information about books. But the evolution of the literary blogging community has raised a few issues that bear consideration.
In this recent Follow the Reader interview with reviewer Bethanne Patrick, who blogs at Still Life with The Book Maven and hosts The Book Studio, she explored the differences between what she defines as “professional” and “amateur” book bloggers. Many others have noted that not all book blogs are created equal, that some bloggers spend a considerable amount of time and care on their sites and others … not so much. I’ve never distinguished between “amateur” and “professional” in the past (although I do recognize “well written” and “not well written”!) but I imagine this will become a recurring issue as more people jump into the game.
Also, with a limited number of promotional copies of books at our disposal, the widening array of literary blogs means book publicists, now more than ever, must pick and choose who receives complimentary copies of books. Recently, one publicist — the recipient of repeated requests from a blogger who asked for dozens of books (yet failed to share a website) — sent in the following suggestions.
First, reviewers — both for print and online outlets — are not guaranteed review copies. Publicists receive a limited amount of promotional copies to mail out at their discretion.
Secondly, depending on the book and the department, publicists may select reviewers based on the circulation and the overall reach and prestige of the publication (online or off) or of broadcast outlet. For online review sites we look for statistics including the following:
- Number of unique hits/page views per month for the blog, NOT the host site (like Blogger or WordPress or Blog Talk Radio)
- How often content is updated—daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
- How many registered users are on the site’s mailing list
- Alexa or Technorati ranking for the blog, NOT the host site
- User comments, i.e., evidence of a vibrant, interactive online community
There’s very rarely any one magic number or cutoff for determining who receives books. Most book publicists recognize there are any number of factors that must be examined to determine a blog’s popularity, several of which are listed above. (It’s also important to note that book publicists hold print journalists to similar standards. There are, for example, a number of print reporters — from large, prominent organizations — to whom I never send review copies because they have a habit of requesting virtually all titles in a catalog, yet repeated Google searches reveal no reviews or author features.)
Publicists — what else do you look at when determining whether to send a review copy to a blogger? And bloggers — how do you toot your horn?
For more information about receiving review copies of books, you may want to check: