Book Related

The Book Blogger’s Influence on the Book World

So this is something that has been on my mind lately, and I just can’t shake it. It started with this video (which you should totally watch, by the way), and has evolved from there. There have been a lot of things involved in this massive thought process I’ve been having, but two questions have come out of it:

1. Does book blogging actually have an effect on the book world?

2. If we do have an influence, what could we be doing with it?

(Hold on to your hats folks, this is going to be a long one.)

When you start actually trying to find numbers and statistics in regards to sales and figures related to book blogs, there’s a whole lot of nothing. Which makes sense, since it would be incredibly difficult to track who was buying books based on the influence of a blog they read. You’d have to be asking at checkouts, doing constant surveys, and that’s a lot of work for everyone involved.

But fear not! Because there are a fair few articles online about the role that we play in the book world. It’s all opinion articles based on experience, but it’s something.

This article, for example, talks about how book bloggers critique a book from a readers perspective rather than a professional critic, giving the author a better idea of how readable the book is to the general public. She goes on to talk about how bloggers keep a book more current and talked about, even after the initial publication.

This article talks about how book bloggers not only don’t get paid to do this, but we invest a lot of our own money into it. It talks about how we don’t have an agenda, but we do have a lot of genuine reactions and are great for promoting books that we fall in love with. No comment on the actual affect, but rather what we offer to the literary community.

This blog post discusses how publishers and  marketers have definitely taken notice of us, and strive to include us in their conventions, as well as providing us with review copies and promotional materials.

There are lots more articles out there, but those three cover most of what I’ve come across in my searches. So it sounds like we’re definitely getting notice in the community (those are somewhat older articles/posts), and in my own experience with my blog, I’ve definitely felt that someone has put importance on what I have to say about what I’m reading.

I’ve worked with authors who have actually taken into consideration my comments on a book of theirs, and tried to incorporate them into their next one (which is so cool, by the way). Not to mention, every hardcopy ARC I have received to date has had ‘blogger outreach’ listed in the major marketing campaign section (usually on the back cover, sometimes inside).I get regular emails from authors and publishers requesting a review, cover reveal, interview, etc. to be posted on my page. And I know I’m not the only one, because I read a lot of book blogs and watch a lot of BookTube.

While numbers and figures related to the effect that book bloggers are having on sales and marketing may not be available, we have to assume that there is some effect, because we are being welcomed into this community with open arms and gift baskets, even though most of us have given no reason to be trusted as a book critic.

So now that we’ve acknowledged that for one reason or another, we are influencing the book community, we arrive at my second question: What are we doing about it, and, more importantly, what can we do with it?

You may have your own opinions on this, but hear me out, okay?

What we are doing about it is promoting the books we love. We talk about our favourites, we share them with our peers, we give them away, and we trade them back and forth. We want everyone and everything to read them. When I go to Chapters and see the top 40 books in the country right now, it’s not uncommon that I’ve already heard about them on book blogs. And same goes for the books that end up on displays ‘Best of YA’ or ‘Books You Can’t Miss’ or whatever the case may be. So I assume we are having some effect in this area.

But could we do more?

Here’s the thing: when a book gets talked about, people want to read it. It doesn’t even have to be positive stuff. Just look at Fifty Shades of Grey. Back in 2012, everyone was insulting this book, laughing at how bad it is, but that book sold 60 million copies (more than the first Harry Potter, for the record). There was so much talk about that book that people went out and bought it, just to see if it was as bad as everyone said it was.

So if we have the ability to force books into the limelight simply by talking about them, then we have a next step to take: stop talking about bad books.

That’s a hard thing to do. It’s hard to see something we find offensive (what comes to mind now is the photos related to Carve the Mark, though I’ve never read the books, just seen photos) or just bad literature (such as Fifty Shades of Grey), and say nothing about it. But every time we comment or talk about these books, it peaks someone else’s interest. They want to go out and read the book, just to see if they agree. I’ve been there, and I’ll assume you’ve done it at least once too.

If this is the case, then we could completely change which books are getting the spotlight, at least in our corner of the book world.

To use an example I’ve seen a lot around the blogosphere and BookTube: what if, instead of talking about how certain books have absolutely no diversity in their characters, we started talking about how certain books have a wonderfully diverse cast? If the books we talk about in any light are the ones getting attention, it would be reasonable to assume that those books with the wonderfully diverse cast are now the ones people are itching to read.

Now let’s take this one step further (you’ve come this far with me, bear with me a few moments longer), and say that we all try this experiment and it works. All of a sudden, people are talking about these amazing books, and the ones with major flaws are getting lost in the shuffle. This means that if an author wants us talking about their book, they need to meet our standards, as the readers of their books. We reasonably could push authors to improve their standards and their writing, and improve modern literature.

So maybe that last bit is a bit of wishful thinking. Maybe most of this is wishful thinking, I don’t know. But wouldn’t it be cool if we could change the standards for books?

TL:DR – talking about books has a huge effect on what is popular, so we could probably do something with that.

If you made it to the end, awesome, thanks for reading! What do you think? Agree, disagree, have a totally different idea? I want to know! Please leave it down below!

Advertisements

33 thoughts on “The Book Blogger’s Influence on the Book World

  1. Haha, I find it so interesting because I talked about book bloggers and influence in a post last week! We didn’t talk about the same thing, but what a coincidence!

    And, yes, I was thinking the same thing! There was another video on Francina’s channel called “No Apologies: Carve the Mark,” that basically said the same thing you said! I remember seeing a Tweet about The Black Witch, which was recently called out for being problematic, where it showed how it was going up in Amazon charts, and the person said “Reminder that racism sells! :)” Which I didn’t think was the case. It’s just the fact that when you call out a book and continually talk about it on all your accounts, more people will know about it. It’s probably not the intention, but it’s basically free publicity. I had barely heard about it before the call-out, but now I feel like I can’t get away from it!

    I feel like that’s the frustrating thing about Book Twitter regarding wanting diversity: 2/3 of the time, it’s devoted to rants, and only one out of their fifty tweets for the day will be a book recommendation (and even those are usually in response to a call-out as well). I think that’s why book blogging is a better way to advertise diverse books, because other people’s posts is where I get my recs, never Twitter. I’ve heard of a lot of diverse books via posts, but not one I didn’t already know about or read through Twitter. But that might be personal opinion. 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always so funny when that sort of thing happens. We’re all connected mentally! 😜
      Book Twitter is definitely an interesting place. I’m rather new to it, but already finding myself annoyed at how negative it can be most of the time. I just want to hear about the books you’re reading and liking, not your rants about the same old stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, same! I joined last month, and even though it’s a nice way to promote my posts, the negativity gets extremely tired, especially since it’s so constant. 😬 I just keep to myself most of the time and only follow people who I know aren’t like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that book bloggers are usually well loved by publishers. I requested a physical arc for the first time recently and got a really warm and lovely response, so that made my day! 🙌
    As far as talking about bad books goes, I agree with you to a certain extent. I think we shouldn’t go out and buy bad books on purpose, but if you happen to read a book you were hoping to enjoy and end up disliking it, I think you should definitely post a review and talk about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, definitely, I agree that when we read books that we dislike, we should definitely review and share our thoughts. I think the main thing is not feeding the fire on books we don’t support. There are always going to be differences in opinion and we’ll always like different books, but I think we could have an effect if we choose which books we advertise.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that there’s no bad publicity; negative reactions still fuel people’s interest, possibly even more than positive ones. Marketers have caught on to that and gone to incredible lengths to shock their audiences because that’s a great way to draw attention to their product, even if it’s a controversial one.
    As book bloggers, we have the responsibility to be genuine in our assessments, even if some do the opposite of that – if to fall into an author’s good side or because they are coerced in some way, it doesn’t really matter. Everyone has their reasons but it doesn’t make it okay.
    I’ve always known there was a lot of drama surrounding the blogging community, especially when it came to books. Some authors just can’t take criticism and even end up harassing some readers. And then, of course, we have the diverging opinions and what is considered ethically appropriate and what isn’t. One can say what they will about Carve the Mark and Fifty Shades but they were incredibly well marketed and all the negative reviews just ended up helping with that. People went in wanting to know what the fuss was about.
    I was surprised when I realized how much impact we do have. And it’s great when important subjects are addressed and taken into consideration by the people with the power to change them. I like how much authors and publishers interact with bloggers nowadays, even though that has its drawbacks too.
    Great post and thanks for always coming up with such interesting discussions! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with everything you said here – forgive me for not commenting on all of it, because that would get so repetitive.
      I agree that it’s great that bloggers and publishers and authors interact so much, though the number of times I’ve heard something like ‘I don’t want to risk upsetting them and not getting books’ or ‘I want to rate them well so they’ll send me more books’ can definitely lead to issues. As you say, it’s a balance thing, and we need to be honest and genuine in our assessments of books, and then the people producing the books need to be able to accept criticism as well as praise. I suppose all this interaction is rather new to the publishing world, so there are probably still a lot of kinks to be worked out.

      Like

      1. No problem at all, I think I might have borrowed some of your words here and there too!
        Yeah that really irks me, because not only are they perpetuating this wrong idea that bloggers should lie in order to be pleasant but also reinforcing the authors’ and publishers’ rotten attitude. It’s not fair for either party.
        Readers will want to know what they’re really getting and authors should use that criticism to improve and write better books that will sell more.
        I’m still trying to get used to the idea of talking to authors hahaha But I do my best to make it a positive experience and forget about the negative part 🙂

        Like

  4. Very awesome discussion! I am a firm believer that book-bloggers have had a considerable amount of influence on the success of a book good or bad. I found it so interesting to hear your point about supporting diverse books instead of just calling out the bad in bad books and I completely agree. I just finished reading Carve The Mark to see if it had all the issues people were talking about and to write a paper about it for my ethics class (a little different from wha your talking about, but for similar reasoning) I also think that it would be really cool if there was more stats about the effect of book bloggers. It would help me feel validated as a human book lover. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Someone really needs to start finding out what sort of affect we have on the numbers – that would be fascinating to read. But I think we should be using our voices to talk about the good in books and promoting the things we believe it. There will always be differing opinions, but I still think we could push authors to write better books.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree. It’s so hard to quantify any effect book bloggers have, though publishers must think we’re doing something or they would not be giving us review copies. Though I do see the trend going more towards Youtube, for example, because people there have way more subscribers than most bloggers. The audience of written book bloggers seems to be largely other bloggers, so I doubt we’re strongly driving sales.

    Also, you are right that any type of publicity is publicity. Personally, I have no agenda while blogging to make or break an author’s career or a book’s success. I blog because I want to have conversations about books, the good and the bad. My goal is not to stop people from purchasing or reading “bad books.” But if that is anyone’s goal, then, yes, pretending the book doesn’t exist will likely do it more harm than writing a 10,000 word manifesto about why no one should buy it– because that’s just more publicity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely agree that things tend to trend more towards Youtube, and it’s totally understandable, since their promotions get around to more people than ours do. Based on what I’ve heard and see, you need more subscribers on YouTube than a blog before they’ll send you stuff, but I can’t say that 100%. I don’t know about not driving sales though. Maybe we’re advertising to each other, but we’re all still buying books recommended on blogs, aren’t we? That has to count for something.

      I agree, and I don’t think most of us are hoping to make or break an author’s career, since that’s 1)a jerk move, and 2)more than one person could do anyway. I am just rather fond of the thought that we could put an emphasis on high-quality books by talking about ones that already are.

      Like

  6. I completely agree with what you are saying! The more people talk about problematic books, the better they sell. Look at Carve the Mark – I didn’t hear many good things about this book, however it somehow ended up being a bestseller. All because people talked about it, and everyone went out to buy it to check for themselves. Such a good post and very thought provoking!~!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just like the idea that some people appreciate what we do out there. Lots of ppl think we do it for free books…that’s a perk reserved for people who earn it. Most of the time it’s people passionate about books talking about their passion for books and hoping someone out there in the universe hears us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I sometimes get the feeling that a lot of people think we do it for the free books (even though, let’s be honest, they’re not really free). But I know that’s not why I started out, and that a lot of other people didn’t start out for that reason. So it’s nice to think that people pay attention to all the talking we do.

      Like

  8. As you said it would be SO difficult to get an accurate read on how bloggers influence readers purchases. But I know myself, almost every book I’ve bought over the last few years I’ve done research on and read a review on a blog. Reviews are important! You made a good point about the fifty shades books. I mean look at what it’s done for Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth! She’s made it on the best sellers list (at the top I might add) and not all the reviews/comments have been good. I’ve heard many people say that they bought it because they wanted to see what was so problematic about it for themselves!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here, and that’s what got me curious about if the stats existed or not. But yeah, there’s a lot of publicity that comes from people complaining about books they don’t like or books that are problematic. I’m guilty of buying books to see what all the hype is about, and so other people must be as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Love the article! Don’t forget about subjectivity. ^_^ There’s still one book out in the universe I could barely choke down, but there’s thousands of readers who cuddle it like a woobie. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I definitely agree with you about needing to talk more about books we love and less about books we hate. I think it’s good to critique and offer criticism of books we find to be very flawed, especially in reviews, but when I see people talking about these books and bashing them and they *haven’t even read them*, that’s when I really feel we should use this energy to instead talk about the books we have read and love and actually want to promote! Like you said, talking about how problematic these books are totally works against us sometimes in peaking people’s interest- I know I had absolutely no interest in reading Carve the Mark when it came out, but once everyone started about it I did get slightly interested just so that I could see what the deal was. I have a rule for myself that unless I’ve read a book, I won’t criticize or critique it on my blog, or weigh in on any discussions about its content because I simply don’t know for myself. And why do that when I can talk about the books I have read, anyway? And even if a book is bad or promoting the wrong things, a critical discussion is always welcome- it’s interesting, and that’s how we learn and grow as readers. It’s when people haven’t even read them and are working off what they’ve heard about them to criticize them that I get annoyed by the unnecessary promotion they’re giving them. But of course, there are many great and wonderful books I have picked up from seeing them talked about all over BookTube and book blogs. It’s definitely interesting how people respond to this kind of stuff! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That exactly it! We can have so much power as a group, and it would be amazing if we used that to promote amazing books. We still need to be critical and review the books we didn’t like, but we need to be particular about what we talk about on social and the like. Talking about a book when you haven’t read it is a whole other issue, but is definitely something that isn’t working in our favour.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. This was really interesting to read. When I started my blog I remember being told “don’t only rate books 5 stars”. I do understand the thought behind a comment like that, if you’ll get something for free, don’t sell your thoughts. I think that could be a problem if bloggers didn’t talk about the books they disliked, everyone thinking bloggers are selling their thoughts. It’s a tricky thing.

    Anyway, great post! You have written it well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, and I don’t think we should just completely ignore books we don’t like or agree with – that will just lead to a ton of other issues. But if we avoided complaining about them on social media or ranting repeatedly about the same books, it might help. It’s definitely a balance thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Really interesting post and I definitely agree that we need to start diverging our attention away from ‘bad’ books and start pointing the spotlight on the ones we do think should be out there promoting diversity and good story writing. The same goes for politics/education etc. and I like that you were able to apply this to books!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s