What Do Book Bloggers Actually Do?

What Do Book Bloggers Do?

Introduction

Every once in a while, there seems to be a question in the book community of what book bloggers actually do, whether they’re valuable, whether they should be paid, whether they affect book sales, etc.  To be fair, many people truly do appreciate book bloggers–the hours they spend reading, blogging, and promoting, and their own money that they spend on books, book events, and bookish merchandise.  (See this great post by Drew on Sharing the Love: Book Blogger Appreciation).  Critics often accuse bloggers of “only being in it for the free books,” but the reality is that many bloggers don’t  get free books.  Many bloggers don’t even ask for them.  And receiving an ARC in exchange for hours of work isn’t really a great deal.  (Besides: Professional reviewers are also sent reviews copies and are actually paid for their work.)

So it’s true that there is not necessarily a one-to-one correspondence where one blogger reviews one book and then one or more readers immediately go out and purchase that books.  The effect book bloggers have on sales is often more nebulous and spread out across weeks or months.  Especially since *gasp* most book bloggers do more than post a review for a book on their blog and then forget it.  Most are doing far more work than that.  Here’s a breakdown of what bloggers are generally doing to promote books:

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1. Read the Book

This is obvious, but when you take into account that it generally takes at least 5 hours (on the very short end) to read a novel, then this is the first step to a significant time commitment a blogger puts into reviewing a book.

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2.  Write the Review

The next obvious step is writing the review, which seems to generally take bloggers about 30-60 minutes at least (many bloggers report it takes much longer than this, especially once you add in formatting, adding links and photos, etc.).  Reviews are also influenced by the significant experience bloggers have in reading and reviewing books (many have been doing so for years).  Many bloggers are also librarians, booksellers, teachers, publishing industry workers or interns, or people with other relevant college degrees, so their expertise is going into their reviews in addition to their time.

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3. Post the Review–On Multiple Platforms

Most bloggers do not only post reviews on the blog.  They generally also post them to Goodreads and may post them on retail sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  This significantly increases the number of people who will see the review.

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4. Promote the Book on Social Media

Book bloggers are frequently on other social media where they share their excitement for books, including but not limited to:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Youtube

This extends beyond simply promoting the blog post with the review itself.  Many bloggers also post on social media when they receive a review copy or note that they are looking forward to reading a book. They may post updates as they read the book and then continue to discuss the book long after they have finished writing the review.

Promoting the book on Instagram also means a blogger has put a significant time into taking a quality photo and may even have invested their own money into buying props or a professional grade camera.

Additionally, social media posts may catch the attention of the publisher or the author who can then share the content and increase its exposure.

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5. Revisit the Book in Other Blog Posts Weeks or Months Later

As with social media, talking about a book on one’s blog often is not a one and done thing.  Bloggers may continue to mention the book in other posts on their blogs, including:

  • Book hauls
  • Weekly or Monthly Round-Ups
  • Discussion Posts
  • Lists of Recommendations

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6. Optional: Run a Giveaway

Some bloggers who love a book a lot and have the funds to do so will run giveaways for books out of their own pockets, thus further promoting the book and guaranteeing at least one sale for the author.

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Conclusion

Book bloggers put a lot of time, passion, and thought into their blogs–and their multiple other channels where they post!  We genuinely love books, and the community is very strong.  There’s really no better place to talk about books or to start promoting your book if you’re an author.

Briana

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41 thoughts on “What Do Book Bloggers Actually Do?

  1. Grab the Lapels says:

    For this conversation, I would like to include the word “debate.” I often find myself getting into a conversation with other book bloggers that leads to a debate. I can think of a time when one book blogger said that she didn’t feel like a graphic novel belonged on the short list for the Booker Prize. We got into a debate that I will admit kind of turned into an argument when she said that over the course of her entire life she’s read two graphic novels, and that’s good enough for her to know that no graphic novel should ever win the Booker Prize. I found this quite silly, and I couldn’t help but think, “Who does she think she is?” But a lot of the time I’m answering questions. For instance, I posted a book review today that talks about gentrification. That’s a tough conversation because it gets into things like race and social class. Who has a right to live somewhere? Who’s actually destroying a neighborhood? Who is uplifting and neighborhood? I can’t wait to see what people have to say about my book review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

      Seconded! Debate and discussion related to books are critical for promotion. It’s the dialogue which really gets a book into someone’s mind if they weren’t immediately sold on the cover/synopsis/author. I mean, we all have auto-buy authors, but there are other books I never would have picked up if someone hadn’t discussed the book with me or lit a fire under my ignorant butt. XD

      Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      That’s a very good point! Especially if an author writes a book about a theme or topic they’re hoping will be discussed- book blogs are definitely one of the places those conversations will be happening!

      Also, I know we talked about it on Twitter, but the reading two graphic novels and judging all of them thing is still weird to me.

      Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Exactly! When people get grumpy about bloggers doing things for “free books,” I mentally roll my eyes and think that the time/money/effort commitment isn’t worth getting a free paperback. Or, worse, a free digital review copy. Plus many bloggers don’t get review copies or many of them so….we get literally nothing to do this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jheelam says:

    Couldn’t agree more. There are bloggers like me who don’t ask for ARCs/do paid reviews but still blog about books nonetheless. Such a befitting reply to critics. 🙂 Loved it.

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Exactly! When people say it’s for “free books,” I thin of all the people who don’t even get those! Most of the books I review are ones I buy or from the library. I’m not getting tons of stuff sent to me from publishers! (Also publishers are moving to digital review copies, which seems like even less “compensation” than a paperback to review.)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    Great post! I never thought about it, but you’re right that a lot is done to promote books.

    To echo Melanie a bit– discussion is critical. I try to ask a question about the book for each review I read. Why? The review itself might be brilliantly written, but it’s the discussion which will really convince me whether or not to read a book. Plus, discussion on a blog will turn into real-life discussion. Suddenly, I’m armed with the tools to promote or defend a book IRL in a way I was never able to defend or promote it before.

    And let’s be honest, all book bloggers are carrying their books around and chatting with people (friends, family, perhaps complete strangers!) about these books at the same time. Word of mouth is critical, too!

    Like

  4. Rylee says:

    What a great post! I feel a bit winded though, reading about how much work this all is. And you’re right, a free ARC isn’t much in comparison to how much goes in, but it’s a nice perk!

    Like

  5. Jonetta (Ejaygirl) | Blue Mood Café says:

    Well stated, Briana. We do all of that, which when combined creates the proverbial “buzz” about a book. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked out a book because I kept seeing it all over the place (bloggers, Goodreads, Twitter, etc.).

    Thanks for the post. It was eye opening to see how much time I actually spend on a book from the time I open it to when I finish my last post about it.

    Like

  6. Naty says:

    I loved this post, thanks so much for writing it! We do put lots of effort into our blogs, PLUS a full-time job, and family etc…

    Like

  7. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Such a great post! I think it’s too often overlooked that if a book blogger loves a book they received as an ARC (or bought) they will include it in other posts- sometimes even for years. This actually reinforces the idea that a book is worth reading and I think it’s things like this that can really effect book sales and creates *a lot* of the infamous book hype.

    Like

  8. Papyrus and Peppermint says:

    Yes to this! I have Instagram, Facebook and WordPress running for my blog. It takes about a month to read a decent book properly (working it around the rest of my hectic fitness and work schedule!), then I spend about 30 mins drafting my key points, thinking about characters etc; and then I take about 2 hours to write a decent post – making sure it all makes sense, everything’s aligned etc. Why do I do it? Like all of us – My love of books, literature and sharing. I don’t think we’d do it if we didn’t!

    Like

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