Book bloggers — the old and new “waves” and what you need to know about both
A few weeks ago, I posted some tips about how book bloggers can work with publishers to get review copies. Although the post itself was fairly straightforward, an interesting discussion emerged in the comments section. Sarah Weinman of Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind made a distinction between two “waves” of bloggers who write about books:
“Wave one are the ‘litblogs,’ the ones who are cited most often in mainstream media. The original bloggers who fit this bill include the Literary Saloon, Bookslut, Maud Newton, MobyLives (which has had several incarnations since), Moorish Girl and LitKicks. By the end of 2003 Ed [Champion] re-started his blog as Return of the Reluctant, I joined the fray, as did Old Hag, the Elegant Variation, Beatrice.com, The Millions, Conversational Reading, The Reading Experience, Bookninja et al. Many of us were either contacted by or solicited book review editors to write for their newspaper sections. There was a journalistic feel to many of the posts on said blogs, and a sense that the blogs were, and still are, a jumping-off point to professional writing.
“Wave two are the book blogs [of which] there are hundreds, if not thousands, of examples. The emphasis is less on ‘blog-as-professional vehicle’ and more on community, on having conversations about books, often active ones, with a small but devoted following of readers.”
I was fascinated by what Weinman and Patrick wrote because although as a book publicist I’m familiar with both the “old” (professional) and the “new” (community) book blogs, I’d never made the distinction between the two except when it came to figuring out whether to stick a blog in the “Lit Blog” or “Book Blog” folder in my RSS reader.
Why is this important?
What it boils down to for us in book publicity is how we pitch — and work with — these bloggers. The other day, for example, a book blogger asked if there was an appropriate “waiting period” between review copy requests. I nearly toppled out of my chair — you don’t get questions like this from someone with whom you’ve worked for years — until I realized that someone new to the book blogging scene would have no reason to have any knowledge about requesting review copies from publishers. (For the record, there isn’t a waiting period.)
Kassia Kroszer refers to a similar issue in her Booksquare post entitled “Bea 2009: A Bit of Deja Vu All Over Again” in which she wonders exactly how many times a BEA book blogger panel will discuss how bloggers can work with publishers. (This year the panel consisted of bloggers from Stephanie’s Written Word, Book Club Girl, Beth Fish Reads, Maw Books, Booking Mama, My Friend Amy and She Is Too Fond of Books.) For the bloggers who’ve been around since the Internet was invented — or at least since book publicists first figured out what a blog was — this panel was indeed what Kroszer calls “hallucinatory,” a bit like teaching a book editor how to, say, read. But for those bloggers who have only recently come to the book scene, the panel provided invaluable information. (For complete coverage of the SRO-panel, you can check #bbpbea or write ups at Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits or Publishers Weekly. And Firebrand Technologies — best known for their NetGalley product — hosted both the old and new waves of bloggers for “signings” at their booth; Levi Asher of Literary Kicks lists all the bloggers who signed in his Book Expo Wrapup.)