Posted On February 8, 2012 by Print This Post

Sara Megibow Sells Romance – The Wonderful World of Bloggers

Do you have a blog?  How much time do you spend on a daily basis visiting book and author blogs?  I have several that I visit everyday because they offer insightful reviews, great information, and wonderful discussion. So, how does an agent view those blogs?  Are they a tool in the agent toolbox to sell our books?  Sara tells all . . .

The wonderful world of book bloggers and how I evaluate blogs as an agent

Don’t y’all just love book blogs? I do! I add books to my to-be-read list based on what bloggers say. I forward links to my clients when one of their novels is reviewed. I read blog comments to see what’s hot. Book blogs drive buzz and sales and excitement and they help promote reading (which is always a great thing). I grew up a reader, but back then (think dinosaur age), books were recommended by teachers, librarians and occasionally by friends. Today, I can compare notes with other readers via book blogs and be part of a big online world of people who love books.

As an agent, how do I evaluate book blogs and how do I use them?

One of the main ways I leverage book bloggers in my job is by sending out Advanced Reader Copies of my clients’ books. Yes I do this. Is it a conflict of interest? No. I’m not trying to “drive business” – I’m just trying to connect books to reviewers. When submitting, I always follow the blog’s submission guidelines and then it’s up to the blogger to review or not and to be positive or negative. I try to provide opportunities for my clients and their books – I don’t try to censor what becomes of those opportunities. By the way, yes – our publishing houses also send out ARCs for review, but you never know who I know that they don’t.

Another way I use book bloggers is by reading their reviews. I want to know what readers think – particularly about books in genres that I represent (young adult & middle grade, romance and science fiction & fantasy). The reviews and the comments on those reviews help me understand the market from a reader’s perspective.

Do I comment on book blogs? Yes I do. I know this has been a hot topic lately and I’m sure that different agents approach this question in different ways. My personal philosophy is that I never comment in a negative way on any book or on any review. Sure, I’ve read books that I don’t love – no one will ever know what those books are. And, I’ve read reviews with which I disagree. I simply nod my head and move along. When I do love something, though, I tend to reach out to the author or to the blogger with a positive comment. Publishing is thankless more often than not and “nice work” goes a long way.

How do I evaluate a book blog? This is the checklist I use when adding a blog to my hot reading list:

- Do I read the blog and enjoy the writer’s comments and style?
- Are the submissions guidelines posted clearly?
- Is the overall layout of the blog professional and engaging?
- How regularly does the blogger post (I like blogs that post 3-4 times a week. I don’t read anything every day, but I also forget about the ones that only post once a week)
- Is the blogger on twitter? Many times I follow bloggers on twitter and their tweets remind me to read today’s post. I personally like this kind of cross-promotion.
- What is the selection of books reviewed? For me personally, I prefer blogs that review some big names AND some smaller releases. So, a blog that reviews the same 10 books that I’m seeing on the NYTimes Bestseller list is a “meh” for me whereas a blogger who takes chances on some “quieter” titles tends to be more my style. I look for the review list to include books from big press and small press and books from big authors and debut authors.
- For me to actually submit an ARC, I make sure the blogger has some sort of disclaimer clearly listed. This disclaimer should say in a pretty direct way “I receive books from publishing houses and review them fairly and for no compensation.”
- I personally love blogs that host a variety of content – reviews, author interviews, guest blog posts.
- Surprisingly, book giveaways don’t do much for me. I know they are very popular so I would never suggest removing them. It’s just that giveaways sometimes make me feel that commenters are more interested in trying to get free books than they are in initiating discussion.
- Does number of comments matter to me? Sure – I love to see a ton of comments on a blogger’s post. To me that means the community at this blog is active and engaged.

So, if you ARE a book blogger, I hope this helps illuminate how your blog can be evaluated. If you are a writer and/or reader, I hope this helps explain how book bloggers can advance your craft and your career. Network with these people when you can – book blogs have proven to be an innovative and important way to promote literature!

For the record, here are some of the book blogs I adore:

For romance novel reviews:
USA Today’s new Happily Ever After blog
http://books.usatoday.com/happyeverafter/index

Smart Bitches Trashy Books
http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/

Dear Author
http://dearauthor.com/

Ramblings from this Chick
http://ramblingsfromthischick.blogspot.com/

Romancing Rakes
http://romancingrakes.blogspot.com/

Smexy Books
http://www.smexybooks.com/

For young adult novel reviews:
The Hiding Spot
http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com/

The Story Siren
http://www.thestorysiren.com/

A Book and a Latte
http://bookandlatte.blogspot.com/

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So, do you blog?  What are you doing and what will you start doing to address the points discussed by Sara?

On Friday, Handsome Hansel joins us to give us a mans eye view of the world of romance.

***

And for one lucky commenter, Sara is giving away a copy of FIRELIGHT by Kristen Callihan.

BOOK 1 IN THE DARKEST LONDON SERIES

Once the flames are ignited . . .

Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family’s fortune decimated and forced her to wed London’s most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . .

Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it’s selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can’t help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn’t felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.

 

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Bio: Sara Megibow, Associate Literary Agent
Nelson Literary Agency, LLC

Sara has worked at the Nelson Literary Agency since 2006. As the Associate Literary Agent, Sara is actively acquiring new clients! The Nelson Literary Agency specializes in representing all genres of romance (except inspirational or category), young adult fiction of all subgenres, science fiction/ fantasy and commercial fiction (including women’s fiction and chick lit). Sara is an avid romance reader and a rabid fan girl of super sexy and intelligent stories.

Nelson Literary Agency is a member of AAR, RWA, SFWA and SCBWI. Please visit our website http://http://www.nelsonagency.com/for submission guidelines, FAQs, resources and sample query letters. Sara’s Publisher’s Marketplace site (www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/SaraMegibow) is a great place to find more about her personal tastes, clients and recent sales. You can also cyber stalk Sara on twitter @SaraMegibowHow an agent chooses what books to read.

 

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31 Responses to “Sara Megibow Sells Romance – The Wonderful World of Bloggers”

  1. Great blog, Sara! I don’t visit other blogs (besides this one) as much as I used to – I just don’t have enough hours in the day. I need to make more time for that.

    I’ve heard great things about FIRELIGHT – my copy should arrive this week sometime!

    Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | February 8, 2012, 12:53 am
  2. Sara – I have cut down on the number of book blogs I look at everyday and am focusing on just a few. But, I do keep my eye on twitter to see interesting posts and if one catches my eye, I’ll pop over.

    Posted by Robin Covington | February 8, 2012, 5:36 am
  3. Sara, thanks for the great rundown on blogging. Google Reader is a great way for me to skim blog content for several blogs in about ten minutes. If a title catches my attention, I’ll click on the link. Bloggers have a split second to draw me to their site. So I’d say make your blog headings attractive and engaging.

    Congrats on FIRELIGHT being one of Publishers Weekly’s top ten romance for spring 2012. That’s great. Read Kristen’s story about how this book came to be. Amazing.

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | February 8, 2012, 5:57 am
  4. Morning Sara!

    I too don’t get a chance to visit as many blogs as I’d like – who has the time? But I subscribe as much as I can via email, and like Tracey, I skim. If it catches my eye, I read it. Thanks for the great links though – there’s a couple I don’t have on my list!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | February 8, 2012, 8:43 am
  5. Hi Sara,

    I look at a few blogs you have listed. It was fun to be at dinner with Adrienne when she checked her book’s review on Dear Author.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | February 8, 2012, 9:12 am
  6. I had never even thought about listing a disclaimer like that on my blog before. In each review I say where I got the book from (Netgalley/publisher/library etc), but I guess a general disclaimer would be good as well. Thanks Sara!:)

    Posted by Nina @ Lost in the Pages | February 8, 2012, 10:08 am
  7. Hello Sara!

    I read a few book blogs when I have the time, but usually select my books from reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. While a book might merit a five star review, it’s the three and four star reviews that grab my attention.

    Keeping in mind that a book blogger’s review is only one person’s opinion, it bothers me that some commenters will readily agree with a negative review without ever having read the book.

    What advice do you give an author on dealing with negative reviews?

    Thanks for being with us again!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | February 8, 2012, 10:55 am
    • I have many clients that simply don’t read reviews of their books. That’s certainly one way to go about it.

      If an author does read reviews (because after all, how would you know if it’s bad or good until you read it), then my number one rule is – never respond to the bad ones. Never never never. Don’t engage in a discourse with reviewers as it’s a lost cause and it’s unprofessional. Their opinion is their opinion.

      So, don’t read them. Or, have a friend read them and pass along to you only the good ones. And no matter what don’t respond to the bad ones.

      You’ll notice that I only respond to the good ones (for my clients or for any other book I’ve read and I agree with the review). My response is something like “ooo, I liked that one too!” and that’s it.

      If some people are agreeing with bad (or good) reviews without having read the book, there’s nothing we can do about that. alas

      Posted by Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) | February 8, 2012, 12:02 pm
      • I had an awesome thing happen last week. A reviewer gave me a so-so review(okay, so maybe that wasn’t so awesome :)), but she was very specific about what she didn’t like. She then went on to say that although she didn’t like the plot, she would read my other books because she thought the writing was high-quality.

        As crazy as this sounds, I loved that review. She gave her opinion in a professional manner, but then went on to say she’d give my books another shot and I appreciated her sending that message to her readers.

        Posted by Adrienne Giordano | February 8, 2012, 12:09 pm
  8. Good morning, Sara. I have a “reviewer/blogs” list in Tweetdeck and it makes it so easy for me to scroll through and check the blogs I like.

    I’ve gotten to know a couple of the reviewers (the wonders of Twitter!) who have reviewed my books and have actually recommended books to them that I think they’d like. I’m not sure if that’s considered appropriate or not, but I figure if they like my books and I’ve discovered a new author I like, why not recommend it?

    Do you have any thoughts on it?

    Thanks for the great list of blogs!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | February 8, 2012, 11:01 am
  9. I love book blogs – Book Geeks Unite! :)

    I have a reading list that I hit every day. Safari creates a reading list sidebar so all I have to do is click on the website icon to go there. I had a bunch of the same ones as you did but would add to it:
    The Book Vixen
    Wicked Lil Pixie and
    Heroes and Heartbreakers – of course for some reason I can never comment on this site. Evil capcha code in little tiny print

    There are several I hit on Facebook too. One of my favorites is Awesomsauce Book Club

    Mandi from Smexy Books has gotten me to buy so many books with her reviews. Sigh. This is why book geeks are always broke. :)

    Posted by Avery Flynn | February 8, 2012, 11:29 am
  10. Sara –

    Thanks for the fabulous list of book bloggers you follow. Avery’s list is helpful too.

    Would you recommend unpublished writers regularly visit and comment on book blog sites to develop a “reader relationship” before s/he has a book up for review?

    Thanks!
    Kelsey

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | February 8, 2012, 4:11 pm
    • Honestly, if you enjoy reading book blogs and you like the book recommendations, then yes – I say it’s a nice way to get to know the industry. If you find that you’re not enjoying it, though, it’s not something to force yourself in to.

      For me, I’ve been enjoying the “I like this book for this reason” conversation for a long time, so it felt pretty natural to me.

      Posted by Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) | February 8, 2012, 5:42 pm
  11. As a romance book review blogger, when I saw this tweet this morning at work, I favourited so I could read it when I got home. Glad I did.

    I loved reading your insight as to how you interact with book review blogs. Great article.

    I also agree with you about giveaways. I tend to join some Blog Hops a few times a year but that is all I really do for giveaways. I usually host a guest author spot about once a week.
    I really like to mainly focus on reviews though. That is my passion :)

    Michelle Kelly
    anotherlookbookreviews.blogspot.com

    Posted by MichelleKCanada (@AnotherLookBook) | February 8, 2012, 5:20 pm
    • Thanks for the link to your blog Michelle – I’ll add it to my pile!

      I love guest author spots – such a nice way to get to know authors above and beyond the bio they post on their website. Nice!

      Posted by Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) | February 8, 2012, 5:43 pm
  12. And the winner is . . . .Nina!

    Email me at robincovingtonromance@yahoo.com and we’ll make arrangements.

    Posted by Robin Covington | February 10, 2012, 5:34 am

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