Welcome back to Smith Publicity’s Industry Innovations Series! In this new 12-part blog series, the team at Smith Publicity will explore a variety of industry-related topics: from the evolution of self-publishing to the explosion of podcasts to social media and how it’s changed book marketing, and much more. Each month, we will discuss how different innovations have evolved and the impact they’ve had on our work as book publicists and the industry as a whole. Let’s dive in…
The Book Publicity Value of Blogs
It’s no secret that, in recent history, blogs and blogging have become a fixture of popular internet culture. Blogs themselves have come a long way since Links.net, created in 1994 and generally considered the first blog on the world wide web. Although the first blog went live in 1994 (just three years before Smith Publicity opened its doors!), by 1999, there were still just 23 blogs across the entire internet. Then came the boom.
By 2006, there were 50 million blogs, according to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report. And today, over 600 million blogs exist on the web, according to Growth Badger. With exponential growth like this, it’s safe to say that blogs are covering just about every subject under the sun—including books. Since their advent, blogs have steadily become an influential player in the publishing industry and, as a direct result, an invaluable part of our work and approach to publicity across all genres here at Smith.
Let’s start with our fiction clients; book bloggers play a crucial role in developing strategies for fiction campaigns. Part of this strategy includes pitching book bloggers similarly to how we pitch traditional media. It means —offering our client and their book for coverage consideration based on the interests and demographics of that specific blog. It makes it easy for them to see how the book and its themes may fit in with their overall brand. The coverage that might come about, as a result, can include a book review, guest post, author Q&A, giveaway, excerpt, or any variety of post that brings value to their readership. In this way, we have established fruitful relationships with many bloggers who have devoted followings, including Jamie Wong, who runs the popular Life According to Jamie blog, Katherine Kleffner at Nerdy Girl Express, and Jean Vallesteros at JeanBookNerd.
When Books are Mentioned on Blogs, It Has an Impact
Coverage in blogs like this can be very impactful for various reasons. While many fiction clients come to us seeking traditional book reviews in household name outlets like The New York Times, it’s likely only a fraction of NYT subscribers who are interested in reading a fantasy novel, for example. But a well-trafficked blog that focuses on sci-fi/fantasy? It’s safe to say that everybody who subscribes to that blog is interested in reading new fantasy novels. In this way, bloggers have the power to connect authors and their books to a targeted audience of interested readers.
We also work with a wide variety of children’s book clients here at Smith. As you can imagine, parenting, family interest, and mommy/daddy blogs have also exploded in numbers in recent years. These parenting and family-interest bloggers have created an online community meant to uplift, encourage, inspire, and help other parents as they navigate their unique parenting journey. Often these bloggers cover new and forthcoming products to share with their followers, including children’s books and books for young readers. In these cases, we’ll offer up our children’s book clients and their books for opportunities like book reviews or give-aways with blogs like Motherhood Moment. Some blogs might be interested in parenting advice or discussion related to a specific family-centric topic. For a case like this, we might offer up a children’s book client for a guest blog post or Q&A with a blog like Motherly.
Effective Book Publicists Have Excellent Blogger Relationships
For both our fiction and children’s book clients, we leverage our longstanding relationships with bloggers in other ways as well. Another initiative we frequently undertake on behalf of our children’s book and fiction clients includes coordinating blog tours. Blog tours are an excellent way to line up confirmed coverage for a client over a specific period. To organize a blog tour, a publicist invites numerous bloggers relevant to our client’s genre/book themes to participate in the tour, including anything from a Q&A, book review, guest blog post, book giveaway, book excerpt, etc. We usually start tours at a length of 5 days, with each blog being a stop on tour, and anchor them around a specific date—preferably publication date—to build online visibility and buzz around the book’s launch. Blog tours are just another excellent example of how the blogging community has impacted our work as publicists.
On the other end, maintaining a blog can be an excellent way for an author to build up a dedicated following. Given the competitive nature of the book scene these days, authors can’t escape the phrase author platform. An author’s platform comprises various elements related to their online brand from their social media platforms, website, e-mail newsletter, and, for some authors, a well-read blog. For a self-help author, for instance, who focuses on topics like mindfulness, mental health, or fitness, maintaining a blog can be a great way to grow their brand as an expert and bring new readers into their network.
Outreach to the Right Bloggers Takes Advance Planning
When working with clients well ahead of their publication date, we often perform a digital audit during which we step in to provide recommendations and talk through pain points. Depending on a client’s goals, we might suggest starting a blog, providing strategies to improve on an existing one, helping flesh out an editorial calendar to keep them regularly posting, or recommending blog post topics. A blog can be an invaluable resource for the right client to drive traffic to their work ideas and keep readers engaged and waiting for their next book.
Bloggers are an essential part of today’s influencer culture, as well. They’ve paved the way for book-centric influencers to emerge like bookstagrammers, booktubers, and booktokers. While many bloggers also have well-rounded social media platforms that accompany the central hub of their content, book reviewers frequently use their social media platforms much like they would a blog. Their posts offer book reviews, giveaways, book photos, and relevant hashtags to connect with readers and writers around the globe.
From the mid-nineties to the present day, a whole new world of opportunity has emerged for authors through the introduction and consistent (and massive) growth of blogs. It’s safe to say that bloggers have created a unique and powerful space on the internet, which has become appreciated by authors, particularly and closely tied to their success.
Written by Kellie Rendina, Business Development Manager