Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gone In Seventy-two Hours--An Author's Point Of View

Have you heard about the concerns regarding KidsBookBuzz.com, a new business, I guess, that will organize blog tours for authors? (Though I'm having trouble finding real information about fees.) From what I can make out from the website, KidsBookBuzz gets paid a fee, and the bloggers it organizes receive free books.

One of the worries voiced regarding this set up is that the bloggers are, in a sense, getting paid to review, that author/publishers are buying reviews. I think a bigger concern is that bloggers aren't getting paid to review. The administrator gets a fee, but the bloggers get only the same book print reviewers receive. Print reviewers are paid--by the journals they work for, not the author/publisher of the book they're reviewing. So while there is definitely the appearance of buying reviews with KidsBookBuzz, the actual reviewer won't be receiving any cold, hard cash. I respect the entrepreneurial spirit, but something doesn't seem quite right here.

That's no skin off my back, though, is it?

No, I have a totally different concern. The KidsBookBuzz website says, "There is another kind of blog tour–the kind we do here–where we have fifty or more bloggers all linking to the same book for two or three days in a row...
This kind of saturation creates a different kind of buzz than the leisurely blog tour where you visit one blog a day. It’s like the difference between several weeks of light rains in the morning and one day of hurricane rains. Which one do you notice? We need the constant light rain, and we’d notice if we didn’t get it, but the hurricane often receives more attention on the evening news."

It's that three-day saturation business that bothers me because I feel book publishing is already way too much like opening weekend for movies. Realistically speaking, a new book has a limited window for getting attention, just a couple of months before publication date and maybe a month or two after. I've read articles in which publicists have advised authors who were looking for attention for a book that came out a few months earlier to give it up and get started on another project. Publishers are worrying about the next catalog. In July reviewers are thinking about books that are coming out in the fall. For spring authors, it is over.

The print journals have to run after the next new thing because that's their mandate. They are supposed to provide information for their readers on what's coming up.

But the blogosphere was a wild frontier where books from last spring, from last year, or from any time in the past were discussed. Readers were reminded of books they'd forgotten or never even heard of. Here in the blogosphere you never knew what you were going to find, but you knew you'd find something besides what everyone else was talking about.

These three-day blog blitzes will make the blogosphere just like the carbon-based world where everyone runs after the next new thing. Only a print journal hangs around for a month. The blog tours will be gone in 72 hours, and everyone will be on to something else. Three-day blog tours will actually speed up the process of being promoted and then forgotten about.

This is not a good thing for writers. I want people to be discussing my books for seven days, not three. To be perfectly honest, I want people to be discussing my books for seven weeks, seven months, seven years. But I'm very much afraid that if these three-day publicity blitzes take off, we'll all be seeing tinier and tinier openings for promotion.

And, believe me, the openings are already tiny enough.


Jen Robinson said...

Thanks for sharing the author's perspective on this, Gail. Personally, I intend to keep doing what I'm doing, which is review books as I read them (well, being as disciplined as I can about that), more or less independently of publication date. I have so many books that I want to read that it can easily take me a year to get to a book sometimes, even a book that I want to read. Personally, I have a hard enough time squeezing in my blogging time between everything else in my life. Doing that according to other people's schedules is just too difficult.

Gail Gauthier said...

And you'd be trying to work on someone else's schedule, possibly reading books you're not interested in, for no real compensation. I hate to be crass and focus on the money (or lack thereof), but it's not easy working for someone else for nothing. It will be interesting to see how long people will be able to remain motivated to work under these circumstances.

Jen Robinson said...

I don't think you're being crass, Gail. I worked with a publicist for a while (unpaid) who would follow up every month, to ask me when I was going to review certain titles. And I finally said "ok, you can only send me books if you stop that." Because they were making something that I love feel like work - unpaid work - and I saw no reason for that. KidzBookBuzz did have a similar vibe for me, and that's definitely one of the reasons I didn't want to do it.