This weekend, with three days to go until ‘Oracle’ is published, I had planned to do another ‘run down’ type post. Something I came across on Twitter, however, changed my mind. This piece is written in gratitude to all those book bloggers who have reviewed ‘Oracle’ and/or ‘Plague’ before it, or carried articles or other pieces about either of those books.
Anne Cater, doyen of book bloggers, ten years or more blogging and a CWA Dagger judge, as well as of the British Book Awards, tweeted that she was hearing talk that “there’s ‘no future’ for blog reviews.” Her own web site, Random Things, “…may disappear if that’s the case. Instagram reviewing is not for me, so this may be the end?” This is as a result of the rise of Instagram and #bookstagram, currently engaging millions.
I seriously doubt that this will happen. It depends on what publishers and publicists ( and authors ) want.
If publishers want coverage, I suppose, Instagram can offer bigger numbers. This is the equivalent of the billboard, real or virtual. It tells you that the book is out there and carries a simple message about it (see above). It’s pure publicity. This, like a billboard ad, can prompt people into buying. But if a potential reader wants to know more and whether or not the book is for them before they buy, detail is required and the limited length of Instagram posts precludes this. Step forward the book blogger, offering a considered review of a book’s strengths and, if necessary, less strong areas ( though most book bloggers won’t post negative reviews ).
Blog reviews also generate conversation about the book, what did others like or dislike about it, would the character do this or that? An Instagram post is less likely to prompt dialogue of any depth ( aside from saying whether or not a book is good/enjoyable and commenting on the image, which is what I have seen on Instagram when images are not linked to a longer review on a blog ) and more substantial dialogue is what a reader often wants. Both before they buy and, if they enjoyed the book, afterwards. The experience of a book and its fictional world is amplified and the enjoyment increased by sharing views about it.
It’s also in the wider interests of publishers, publicists and authors to encourage discussion about books, to widen reader’s horizons and engage more people in reading. This is what book bloggers do, sometimes via Blog Tours, or by just posting their own thoughts about what they are reading. And, in the time of COVID, both have been important in drumming up publicity and support for books which would, otherwise, have sunk without trace.
Most books don’t get reviewed in the national press, especially books by unknown or debut authors ( celebrity or big name authors dominate in a brand-led world ). The traditional ‘book tour’ with its author signings and attendance of W.I., Literary Societies or Book Clubs can’t happen. The paid events, like school visits or literary festivals, aren’t happening and even the traditional book launch is banned. All sorts of plans for the launch of my first book had to be abandoned. Now, I find, I have the dubious distinction of also launching my second book into the COVID restricted world. So I would like to thank all those book bloggers, reviewers and downright good folk who have, at least in a small way, generated some interest in my books. They do this out of love and take joy in books, they are unpaid and they form a small, warm community online when the physical community can no longer gather.
I’m not going to write a list here, it would be as long as another post, but I will be tagging them all, in the attaching tweet or Fb post and, yes, on Instagram!