A publicist with a national small press based in Minneapolis stunned the Minnesota Book Publishers’ Roundtable audience a few months ago when she mentioned sending hundreds of advance reader copies out for one book. The number she cited was equal to about half of a first run for a book published by a small, regional press. Beyond traditional media, she had sent copies to special interest publications and writers and a whole lot of literary bloggers.
Blog Rank slices and dices the top 50 book blogs in a variety of ways. If you don’t find one you like in their listings, you can visit Technorati where they tally over 16,500 book-related blogs. If those two sources don’t give you enough to consider, ask a few readers in your community what blogs they visit when looking for help in picking their next book purchase or library loan. Finding the best blogs to follow or query for a review is a bit like searching for a dozen blue gumballs in a bin filled with thousands of small, round candies.
Erin Underwood, a fellow graduate of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing program, writes Underwords, a literary blog. When contacted about the possibility of doing a book review, she deferred because so many requests come her way and the reality is that she has a business world job as well. At any time, she has review or book release commitments out six months. Her experience is similar to a number of the Blog Rank writers who temporarily, or permanently, have closed their blogs to book review requests.
With Bowkers reporting that well over 1,000,000 book titles were published in 2010, the majority self-published or in a micro-niche, it isn’t a surprise that bloggers are inundated. In some ways finding the right book to read can be as challenging as identifying one person on the ground when flying over North Dakota on a Delta jet.
The average number of books sold per title is about 200 units—usually to family and friends or individuals interested in a specific, niche topic. The trick as a regular writer, versus the block buster megastars, is building a broader audience. With very connection point in the retail channel struggling with fewer resources to sort through more content, a writer has to use multiple tactics. Occasionally a quiet guy like Paul Harding will hit it big with a first book like Tinkers, but most of us will work hard for our bit of media and blog coverage, key readings, and invitations to book-related festivals. It’s all worth the effort when you realize that your book has been bought by people in faraway states or other countries. People you don’t know.