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
Smart Bitches Trashy Books
Ramblings from this Chick
For young adult novel reviews:
The Hiding Spot
The Story Siren
A Book and a Latte
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.
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.
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.
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance!
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – Ask Her Anything
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – The Real Lowdown on Selling with an Agent
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – Who is a “good” literary agent?
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – NaNoWriMo Cheerleader