Friday, January 26, 2007

Why Blog Reviews Are Important

I've recently found two new reviews for Happy Kid!. One is at Reading YA: Readers' Rants, and the other is at what is for me a new blog, The Kiddosphere@Fauqier. I was delighted to see both of them.

These are not reviews from last year that I've just stumbled upon. These are reviews that were posted in the last few days. That's important for a book that was published eight months ago.

Earlier this week while mulling over all the recent awards, I got to thinking about how books are like debutantes. They all have their season when they are introduced to society. And when their season is over, they're last year's news.

You can extend the analogy to those English historical novels in which young women have their season when they are introduced to society. Those young woman are actually looking for suitors, as are books. In the case of books, the big review journals are the suitors. Starred journal reviews are the equivalent of a marriage to a younger son who has a lot of money but no title. Good reviews with no stars are the equivalent of a marriage to a good and decent man who can support you but isn't very exciting. A book with few reviews of any kind is the equivalent of a young woman with no dowry and no connections who is pretty much ignored by all.

Awards are the equivalent of a brilliant marriage, perhaps to a prince or at least to a powerful aristocrat.

At the beginning of December, Anthony McGowan said that his book Hellbent "has sunk without a trace in the US." It had been published here only three months earlier. A book's season can be cruelly short.

Here's where blog reviews come in--They can extend a book's season.

Blog reviews aren't going to make any difference as far as finding a book review space in the big journals or getting them an award is concerned. They can, though, find them readers, which is at least as important if not more so. Blog reviews put titles and names out there. Blog reviews create name recognition. Blog reviews bring books to the attention of readers who had never heard of them, but they also remind readers of books they'd been meaning to read but had forgotten about.

Two new reviews eight months after publication? Oh, yes. I am very pleased.

9 comments:

Jennifer Schultz said...

Gail, I can't tell you how pleased I am that you are pleased. Thank you-you made my day, and not just because you linked to The Kiddosphere @ Fauquier. I am definitely taking your words to heart.

gail said...

"I am definitely taking your words to heart." There's something I don't hear very often.

Emily said...

So blog reviews are like, when you're 45 and married, but every so often the video store guy or the grocery bagger flirts outrageously with you? *g*

Gina MarySol Ruiz said...

Great post! I'm so glad you wrote that. Most of the books I write about are not new books, sometimes years old. I think they're important enough or good enough to tell people about them and I dearly hope it gets them new readers. I love your blog!

gail said...

Emily--Another good analogy.

Gina--I think that if bloggers put all their space and energy into reviewing only the newest books, we're doing what the print journals do. There's nothing wrong with the print journals doing that--that's their reason for existing.

But if we only do what the print journals do, why do we need to exist?

SevenImpossible said...

Love this post!

Michele said...

Neither I nor the library can afford to buy new books immediately, so reviewing less-recent books is pretty much the norm for me - but that suits me fine as there are literally hundreds of great books out there that have been out for more than a few months that I haven't yet read...

Jen said...

What an excellent point! And from a blogger's perspective, what's neat about doing these 8 month (or 8 year) old reviews is that usually we're choosing to do them. It's not like the publishers are sending review copies of last year's titles so often. Instead, these are books that we've had on our shelf, and been meaning to read, or picked up on the library, or whatever. And it's a joy when you find one that you missed when it first came out, that you love and want to talk about.

Jen Robinson

Jennifer said...

What a lovely post. I love being reminded of books that I have been meaning to read, as well as being introduced to new books. On my blog, I don't focus on new books, because I still feel like I am catching up on all the good books that I want to read.