Blogs as authors’ promotion tools

I meant to link last week to Buzz, Balls, and Hype, author M.J. Rose‘s newish blog dedicated to a discussion of the ways writers can use blogs to promote their books.

Many of the suggestions will no doubt prove useful to writers seeking publicity. Judging by the vast number of requests I’m fielding, writers (and their agents and publishers) increasingly either are aware of Rose’s website or are catching on by themselves (although many don’t seem to be familiar with my tastes. I mean, I’m sure someone wants to read a novel by “the next Plum Sykes,” but I am not that someone).

Still, I’m skeptical of some of the schemes suggested, particularly one called “Ring around the Blogs” (scroll to the August 17 entry). In this scheme:

A group of authors create a network of blogs and agree to review each other’s books. It would be a commitment on the bloggers side to reading 12 books a year (if there were 12 blogs in the ring) but it would get a wider reach than any one author might get on his or her own.

The primary problem with this set-up is that no one in the “reviewing circle” has an incentive to be honest. On the contrary, each writer will feel compelled say kind things about all books passed around the circle since his or her own book is subject to review by the authors of those books. This sort of blog community is less a source of reliable information and critique than a self-contained marketing apparatus, and it remains to be seen how the intended audience will respond.

Ms. Rose links to an interesting article at the Guardian in which Sean Hargrave argues that the key to blogs’ success is “people trusting one another’s views more than those published on official company websites.”

Assuming that’s true, in most cases the trust stems from bloggers’ willingness to say, honestly, what they think about a book (or a movie or anything under the sun). Once a blog becomes a cog in publishing’s marketing machinery, it’s essentially the equivalent of the official company website it seeks to supplant or supplement.


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