Thanks to you: How book bloggers sparked the indie publishing revolution

This is a guest post by Terri Giuliano Long

Last May, about a month after I began marketing my novel, In Leah's Wake, a former agent told me I’d never sell 500 books. A rookie, I had no idea what to expect. When I published my novel, I’d dreamed of selling around 3,000 – 5,000 books, hoping those healthy sales numbers might attract the attention of an agent or traditional publishing house for my next novel.

The agent had left New York, but she’d been in the business for a long time, and her words stung. I hung up the phone, feeling heartbroken, depressed. Had I not been in the midst of my first blog tour, I might have pulled my novel off the market that day.

Determined to see the tour through, I soldiered on. On the tour, I met wonderful, caring people – book bloggers – whose kindness buoyed and sustained me. Their kindness gave me confidence to believe in myself.

Over the next few months, In Leah's Wake appeared on hundreds of blogs. Bloggers opened their hearts and spread news of this quiet literary novel across their social networks. In August, In Leah's Wake hit the Barnes & Noble and Amazon charts. Now, seven months after my discouraging conversation with the agent, my book has been in the Amazon top 200 for over five months – and sold over 80,000 copies.

Book bloggers rock! Bloggers are, I believe, the fairy godmothers and godfathers of the literary world. They invest their inestimable talent, their tremendous energy, and their invaluable time into discovering, reviewing and promoting new books – and in keeping dreams alive.

Here are five important ways that bloggers shape the literary world:
 

Bloggers have taken the place of traditional reviewers

Book reviews are big business. The money paid to reviewers at publications like The New York Times is generated, at least in part, from ad sales paid for by traditional publishers. Thus far, traditional media have resisted reviewing indie books, probably at least in part because there is little or no money to be made.

Despite the stigma, indie authors continued to write. With no one to parse the thousands of new books on the market, readers who wanted to try books by indie authors were forced to buy largely at random. Some books were gems; others were not. Recognizing the need – and desire on the part of readers – for reviews, bloggers picked up the slack. Today, bloggers take the guesswork out of book buying, lowering the risk for readers.
 

They provide professional reviews that feel personal

Like traditional reviewers, reputable bloggers don’t just give an opinion; they offer a thorough analysis of the book under review. Bloggers labor over their reviews, spending a great deal of time analyzing the work – evaluating plot, structure, character development, and so on – just like any professional reviewer.

Reviews by bloggers, while as legitimate as professional reviews, feel more personal. Readers follow favorite bloggers. They get to know, and often share, the blogger’s sensibilities. The blogger is like a good friend; readers feel they can trust his or her reviews.
 

Through them you discover new voices

Unlike traditional media, most bloggers don’t stigmatize indie-published books. Except perhaps in free reads, no one pays bloggers for their reviews. Bloggers don’t answer to corporate publishers, nudging them to read books by their anointed authors, nor do they answer to a marketing team. Bloggers select books freely – their only goal is to share good reads with their readers and followers. Because they’re open-minded, willing to read books by an author they’ve never heard of, they discover new voices. This is what happened with In Leah's Wake.
 

They introduce new books and authors to the world

When bloggers discover a new book or author they love, they share the news. They publish a review on their blog, post on reader and consumer sites, like Goodreads and Amazon, and share news across their social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc.

In the old days, publishers decided which of their books to back, putting hundreds of thousands into marketing some books, next to nothing into others. In essence, by creating visibility for their favored authors and books, they controlled the bestseller lists. Today, by harnessing the power of social networks and media, spreading news virally, bloggers are putting books on those lists.
 

They create a community of authors and readers

On their sites, bloggers create a vibrant community of authors and readers. In the past, outside public readings, readers and authors rarely connected. Today, readers and authors often visit book blogs and dynamic conversations ensue. Bloggers also interview authors or invite authors to write guest posts, giving authors a way to share their thoughts with readers and readers the opportunity to learn more about – and connect with – authors.

As more people turn away and tune out from invasive, anxiety-inducing platforms like Facebook, the blog community will become increasingly important. Blogs are personal, and they’re typically moderated – the new literary salons, book blogs offer a safe, vibrant, comfortable place for authors and readers to chat.

In these very real ways, book bloggers are the creators of the indie revolution. Their vision, their energy, and their determination have enabled this amazing populist movement to take hold and grow.

Today, we have the great good fortune of hearing the funny, poignant, intelligent voices of new authors from around the world – voices that, only a few years ago, might have been silenced by the gatekeepers of the old guard. These new voices reach into hearts and minds, forging connections, uniting us in a community of readers and writers, as we search for and find – through the power of words – the better part of ourselves. This, truly, is what reading and writing is all about.

 

Terri Giuliano LongAbout this post's author:

Terri Giuliano Long is the bestselling author of the award-winning novel In Leah's Wake. Her life outside of books is devoted to her family. In her free time, she enjoys walking, traveling, and listening to music. True to her Italian-American heritage, she’s an enthusiastic cook. In an alternate reality, she might be an international food writer. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah's Wake is her debut novel.
 

[jbox color=”red”]The new UK edition of In Leah's Wake has been edited by Sara-Jayne Slack of Inspired Quill press. Terri has added a new chapter and several scenes, adding fresh and clarifying existing connections and insights, and tightened the book, cutting 60 pages – all while maintaining the integrity of the original edition. Fittingly, the feedback used to make many of these changes has come from… book bloggers![/jbox]
Donna Brown

This is such an inspirational post on so many levels: it’s inspiring for the authors who have encountered negativity but it’s also inspiring for the book bloggers who work so hard. Your commitment books does not go unnoticed in the world and you ARE making a huge difference to authors’ lives!

    Terri Giuliano Long

    Thank you so much, Donna! I completely agree with your point about book bloggers – they make a huge difference, not only for individual authors but for the indie movement in general and, by extension, for readers.

      emilia

      Hello Terri,
      Can you post some links or email me some links for bloogers that can blg about my book please. I need help letting people know my baby is finished!

Pete Morin

Wonderful story, Terry!

The thing that interests me MOST is the fact that digital publishing today allows an author to make use of reader feedback and revise the original for release in a new edition. The novel is no longer a static form where we have to live with our original creation.

Thrilled for you and wish you continued succes.

Tonya Kappes

A agree, book bloggers get you right to the readers. That is really what is important. I’ve always had great success with them.

    emilia

    Tonya can you pleas let me know a few bloggers that I CAN POST MY bOOK TO FOR A review PLEASE X

Terri Giuliano Long

Thank you so much, Pete! I really appreciate your kindness!

I love your perception of novels as a living form. With students, I always talk about writing as a dialogue between author and reader – a means of communication and connection. As you point out, with digital publishing the work can evolve, creating an even greater sense of intimacy and connection. What an exciting time for writers and readers!

I wish you great success with your books! Diary of a Small Fish is just the sort of story I love!

Terri Giuliano Long

I could not agree more, Tonya! Without book bloggers, indie books would go unnoticed. The indie revolution truly is a grassroots movement – and we have book bloggers to thank for its success.

Emlyn Chand

Great post, and we are so delighted to run it. Bloggers are becoming the everyday heroes for authors, and this is such an elegant explanation of why. Thank you, Terri!

Doreen Cox

I’ve been an avid reader all of my life. Thanks to posts like this, I am learning the importance of readers’ posting their opinions and reviews. You have put the bug in me to take the time to visit book bloggers sites, read their reviews and, when it fits, add my own. It’s a dance between giving and receiving, my favorite type! Thanks so much.

    Terri Giuliano Long

    That’s fantastic, Doreen!! What a wonderful outcome! Thank you!!

Kenya Wright

This is the truest thing ever written! Bloggers are the most valuable source when marketing your book. For me, its right under getting a profession book cover, and editor.

Awesome!

    Terri Giuliano Long

    Oh, thank you, Kenya! I totally agree – at the risk of sounding cheesy, book bloggers are the wind beneath authors’ wings!

Alan Tucker

Wonderful post, Terri!

Being a writer of teen books, I’ve started a campaign to let teens understand that voicing your opinion is important and makes a difference. So few of us, adults included, go through life not expressing ourselves in a constructive, positive manner. It’s so refreshing to see posts like this.

Congratulations on your well-earned success!

Mari Passananti

Congratulations on your debut novel! I had a similar experience with book bloggers when I published my debut novel last year. I had no idea they were out there, and all of a sudden they were saying great things about my book. And driving sales.

    Terri Giuliano Long

    Thank you so much, Mari! And congratulations to you!! Their numbers are growing and they’re becoming more visible, which is wonderful. As a service to readers, it’s also great to see bloggers focusing on specific genres.

Rosemary

Great post! I agree with you wholeheartedly in saying that book bloggers are keeping some authors (like me) writing. The bloggers who have reviewed my book understood my novel exactly as I had written it, they got the characters, the setting and the underlying message. They let me know I accomplished what I set out to do. So many of them truly enjoy reading and love a good story. Thank goodness for book bloggers 🙂

Genella deGrey

Here, here, Terri!
Great article.
Every review I get I post it on each book page of my website – This introduces my readers to their site so they can follow that review blog, too.
We’re all in this together, right?
🙂
Genella

    Terri Giuliano Long

    What a fantastic idea, Genella! And what a wonderful way to show your support of their work! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Scott VanKirk

Is there a place where you can find any sort of extended list of book bloggers and the book styles they like to read?

Mrs Mommy Booknerd

THANKS!

    Terri Giuliano Long

    Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read, Mrs. Mommy Booknerd!

Laura Pepper Wu

Couldn’t agree more with you Terri! So much time and effort goes into reviewing books AND maintaining a blog, book bloggers are the un-sung heroes of the new book movement. Great post!

    Terri Giuliano Long

    Thank you so much, Laura! You are so right – theirs is truly is a labor of love. Really, we should set aside a day in their honor!

Adam iWriteReadRate

Great article, Terri.

Donna Brown

Hi Scott

The Book Blogger Directory (http://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/) is a wonderful starting point and most bloggers have review policies now with details of the books they like to read.

Hope that helps!
Donna

Terri Giuliano Long

Thank YOU, Em!! I’m excited to be here. Thank you so much for all your energy, support, encouragement – thank you for being you!

Terri Giuliano Long

Thank you so very much for your kind words, Alan! You make a wonderful point about expressing ourselves in a constructive, positive manner. Nastiness, cynicism and irony wear thin. That you’re teaching teens the importance of standing up, voicing their opinion, and treating others with respect gives me great hope for the future!

Terri Giuliano Long

Thank you so much, Rosemary! Yes – thank goodness for book bloggers! It’s true – they love reading and they make a real effort to provide an honest, thorough and balanced perspective. That’s a great help for readers as well as for writers! We are so fortunate to have them.

Terri Giuliano Long

Thank you so much, Adam! It’s wonderful, as always, to see you!

Misha Herwin

Thank you. As a writer about to start e publishing I was both inspired and impressed. What is really important is to get the sort of reviews that make your work the best it can be.

Terri Giuliano Long

Thank you so much, Misha! I wish you all the very best with your work and in your publishing journey!

Dorothy Dreyer

What a great post! Very inspirational. Best of luck with your continued success!

Keith West

Terri,

Thanks for the acknowledgement of the role book bloggers play in today’s publishing world. You summed up the reasons why I started reviewing quite well. I’m reading more and more indie published books these days, as what’s coming out of traditional publishing (for the most part) seems to be the same old thing.

Alison Treat

Congratulations on the success of your debut novel, Terri! I can only pray mine does so well. I have an indie publisher interested, but I know a lot of the promotion will be on my shoulders. Once it is published, am I responsible to ask book bloggers to review it? How does that process work? Thank you so much for this great article!

Rebecca Emin

This is an uplifting post. I have met some incredible book bloggers recently too. They are wonderful people.

Rutch

You’re right Terri.Getting good reviews from book bloggers would really help the marketing, good PR and sales of the book. It’s good that you were able to surpass the 3,000-5,000 copies target. Instead, 80,000 copies were sold with your In Leah’s Wake.

Melissa

I actually found your book through a book blog. It’s on my to read list now. I think your story is very inspirational for new authors and for us bloggers. It’s nice to know we’re making a difference.

Sandy S.

Thank you from a book blogger. There are 1,000s of websites and blogs dedicated to reviewing and reading, as well as interviewing the authors.

It is always a pleasure to learn more about the author, as well as the cover models and graphic artists. There are so many people involved with the publishing of a novel, and the blog reviewers are a small part of that business.

Sandy
thereadingcafe.com

Misha Herwin

Another great big thank you from a novice e book writer. Your article and the comments from other writers has been more help than anything else I’ve found out there.

What I’m discovering about the world of indie publishing is that there is a real community out there. Let’s hope we can go on supporting and helping each other. x

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