Discussion: Do you think publishing houses have it right choosing only “big” blogs? I don’t think this is the golden rule and here is why!

Hi dear friends,

 

I wanted to come to you today with another topic that I would love getting your feedback upon: blog size and publishing houses’s marketing strategy.

Yes yes I know that does sounds so serious but that’s really something that’s been nagging my mind lately.

First let’s state the case: when sending ARCs publishing houses tend to choose blogs with many followers.

And if you are an international blogger like I am you’ll never get physical ARCs except if you have a very high followers count.

I can understand the publishing house’s logic because sending physical ARCs abroad costs more than staying local.

And about the Egalley even if it does not cost them anything we get the argument of international rights.

These are facts and situations we encounter regularly in the blogging world.

 

BUT

 

I don’t think this is a golden recipe and the unique way to go.

 

I already hear you saying : “But Sophie they have marketing geniuses and they are professionals so who do you think you are really? Hu?”

 

I am not saying this will never work because of course they would have stopped with it by now. I am saying they should look further and bend that rule.

I have seen blogs with many followers getting nearly no likes nor comments. They get ARCs, read and post amazing reviews though.

So the question is: will it reach the target publishers hoped for?

 

Are these reviews really seen and read by the followers? Likes or rather comments seem like a fairly sure sign that people have at least seen it. No?  But does the absence of likes mean that they were not seen? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not so if you do know, please would you enlighten me?

 

Yet alongside these blogs with many followers exist many “other” blogs (I don’t like the word big or small, see below), with (way) under 500 followers that get lots of interaction and that might do fine work for spreading the bookish word too!

Some have dozens of comments and likes on their posts or even more.

Don’t you think they will push the book hard, really engage and urge people to read it? Build a convincing case (one way or another)?  Make big noise?

 

To play the devil’s advocate here it’s true that  blogs with many followers theoretically will show up on many people’s feed, more than other blogs. Publishing houses are no fools!

 

Yet I think they should revisit their marketing strategy and also include blogs with seemingly  less followers when they do have a loyal and very active followers basis. Said followers have often become friends. And said friends have other friends who …. You get it I am sure.

 

Now we get to the hard part. Admitting that I am right (and feel free to disagree as this is my personal opinion and I love a good discussion) how could publishing houses easily know that a blog gets many interactions?

Unique visitors count? Well we all know the robots on the web “visiting” blogs. But so far these robots don’t buy and read books yet.

Comments count? Well here again we all know about spammers, usually coming from Russia or … 😀

It is easy for the publishing houses to check our followers count and visit count as they usually request them on Netgalley, Edelweiss etc. but checking the interactivity of a blog is tricky!

Maybe they should invest in a “blog interacting” department that would actively connect with bloggers, see what’s trending in the blogoshpere and who’s talking with who?

Yeah right! Not sure they have that money to spare!

 

If they do though I would love testing my theory and see if it’s just a fluke coming from a weird blogger or if my Master in Economics or rather sound judgement proved me right! 😀

 

Last parting words here before we hopefully discuss: I don’t like talking about “big” blogs or “small” blogs because you probably got it by now: I don’t think what makes you big or small is your follower base. I don’t even think there is “good” or “bad” blogger because let’s face it: this is a hobby, a passion and we are all entitled to do it as we please, thank you so much!

 

Now let’s talk! I love people disagreeing with me because I don’t know “THE” truth and it makes me see the world through someone else’s eyes.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Sophie

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56 Replies to “Discussion: Do you think publishing houses have it right choosing only “big” blogs? I don’t think this is the golden rule and here is why!”

  1. Great topic Sophie. When I started blogging I was already expecting not to receive any physical ARCs so I’m okay with that. What I don’t understand is the region policy on Netgalley. There are a lot of books I can’t request because of region rules. I can “Wish for it” but It’s never been granted by the publisher. That’s not helping either the authors or bloggers who loves, I like me, to read and share the love for books and the authors. Luckily there’s plenty of books to read so I’ve accepted it and only request on Netgalley ,if it possible, Books I really want to read.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Well Malene like you I have (most of the time) accepted my fate not to get physical ARCs (but sometimes envy is rearing up its green head). Like you I don’t understand the country policy on Netgalley! Even less when I know some create fake profiles with US as country while they are not living in Uncle Sam’s country and so get the books 🙁

  2. Nina @slovenianbookworm says: Reply

    Ugh, as an international blogger I can totally relate. I know that shipping may be costly, but I think publishers should have a small number of ARCs available to the international reader too. I try to make a review that is useful to me and to the reader so that when I read it couple weeks or months later I’d know exactly what happened in the book, what it was all about and what bothered me. But then I see reviews like ”not for me, too crude words, 2 stars. Thanks to NetGalley etc. etc.” and I’m like WTF? But I also have to say that when I started blogging and put my first requests on NetGalley I thought that nobody would approve them because I was new to the blogger world but then I was so surprised I got an ARC by my favorite author! 🙂
    Also, I don’t like that GoodReads now only have giveaways for the USA only, ARCs included…

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh Nina yes I had forgotten all about GR’s change of policy! I find it so sad too. Honestly ARCs are not sold but gifted so I don’t understand why international rights should apply really. But that’s one more disappointment …

  3. Interesting discussion, Sophie! Once in my life, I never got a physical ARC from a big publisher. It’s understandable because the shipping fee is costly and I’m okay receiving e-ARCs via NetGalley or directly from the author. I don’t know what other criteria these publishing houses for us reviewers to be approved an ARC aside from the number of followers, blog stats and activity. It varies because I still get declined both published and self-published books up to this day.

    I guess these publishers has a keen eye selecting based on how thorough you write reviews and who most likely will like the book. They don’t select the ones who has a “hit or miss” on their author’s work. I notice this one when I requested a book from a huge publisher and I was a huge fan of one of their authors. I got an approval. I also requested a book whose author was a hit or miss to me and I’m declined. LOL.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Do you think they check the hit or miss? Maybe for us international because “native” readers still get them even after bad reviews. Or maybe these are only the “big” bloggers…. But your comment is really interesting as I was not aware of this!

      1. I think they check it. I got declined twice in different situations. International bloggers like us need twice efforts to acquire an ARC and still got declined. It happens but it’ll be better if these ARCs are distributed regardless they’re big or small bloggers. Anyone’s review can contribute on boosting the sales even if they only have a Goodreads account.

  4. I hate to be bitter about this issue…but I am. While I understand that publishers cannot send ARCs overseas due to costs and publishing rights – I cannot help but feel saddened when I get overlooked for ARCs which I can provide an ownvoices review to. Then to see others who are not of the particular minority in the book getting these ARCs, I can’t help but feel defeated.

    Rather than focusing on the numbers, I think publishers should take into consideration who can best market their book in terms of written reviews and posting. Also, I hope publishing houses will consider taking a chance on us INTNL bloggers.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Let’s hope we are heard Cam because I think many of us a so frustrated! And yes when I see a “3 lines” review I just feel frustrated too 🙁

  5. Well, the rights thing is not solely marketing related. They would be stepping in another publisher’s territory by sending into another country where they don’t have rights. They could get sued. So that part I can understand.

    Agreed about interaction though. I used to have way better interaction when my blog was smaller. Now I have more followers and get books more easily, but my interaction is down. Yeah, I guess it’s that they can’t really check the interaction that easily. I guess comments would be the only way to go. And social media presence.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      That’s really weird that your interaction is down now! But I get that publishers can’t SELL abroad or that would conflict with another publisher but ARCs are not sold. They are like gifts. If someone in the US, a private person, wants to gift us a book from USA they can. So why can’t publishing houses do the same?

  6. As an international blogger, I can totally relate to this post. The Publishers first priority always goes to the one’s that has huge following. Having a blog had become optional these days. They’re not mandatory anymore. I’ve seen some bookstagrammers and some tweeters with large following getting ARC’s. Some of them post very good reviews but there are some reviews that are pretty much shorter than the book’s synopsis which is really not helpful. I know shipping physical books costs too much money but they shouldn’t have put the rules on egalleys too. That’s totally unfair to us!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      You have a very valid point here Raven! It’s a new trend that I’ve noticed too. Even without a blog you could get the ARC. And yes also about the content of the review. Thta’s sad especially when I read your flawless and always detailed reviews! On the bright side I have been contacted several time by the authors who loved my reviews and offered me an ARC of their next book. So I think that quality can pay.

  7. There does seem to be a degree of wizardry to ARCs. I find not being a ‘big’ blog, I get declined for a lot but I also get approved a lot… I’m also in the UK which means I get classed as an ‘international blogger’ and get hit with those restrictions, but being in the UK the restrictions seem less restrictive than for counterparts in other parts of Europe/wider world. (Maybe because it’s English language market?)

    I agree that engagement is more important than stats but I guess it’s too hard to manage for the publishing houses. Blog tour acceptance – where small PR companies can actually check out your blog – seem to be much higher for me than stats based Netgalley/Edelweiss.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Nicci I am wel aware that as long as publishing houses don’t have an easy way to gauge the interaction on blogs we will always be at a disadvantage. Now I did not know that living in the UK you were still seen as “international”! I guess it makes sense for a US or AU publishing house but you do have many UK based ones! And here I was under the impression that you had it somehow better than I …

  8. Well, Sophie, I’m a hippy at heart and believe in peace not war so I won’t argue with you, LOL! 🙂 Hahaha! But, seriously, I will speak from my own experience and say that I usually get denied ARCs on Netgalley, which I’ve been a member of for over 2 years. I’ve been told that it’s because I never put my follower #s on my bio. I never wanted to because I’ve felt that was irrelevant. I mean I’ve read and reviewed close to 400 books on both Amazon and Goodreads and I feel like that number is more important, it shows how serious I am about reviews! But after my last denial, I broke down and put those “all important” numbers in my bio. Will it make a difference? We’ll see!
    Also, curiously, I live in Texas but I very rarely get offered physical copies of books. E-ARCs, yes. Although, this is probably a good thing since my shelf space is so limited! Anyway, very interesting post Sophie!!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Trisy no problem if you want to disagree LOL I love discussion and having other POV! Now I am curious to see if you’ll get more books now that you’ve posted your numbers on Netgalley! Keep me posted would you? And thank you!

  9. I’m actually ok with the choice to send ARCs to blogs with a lot of followers because their main goal is marketing and to get the books “seen.” However, I can see an argument for choosing blogs that have a large number of followers butnecessarily not THE largest and then picking based on things like how insightful the reviews are, how engaged their followers seem, etc. (This, however, would take a lot of time for the publishers to figure out, and I think they honestly don’t care that much about bloggers and choosing people with big numbers is faster than checking if those people are actually getting comments, whether their reviews are actually good, etc.)

    The international thing is made trickier by the fact they are legally not allowed to send books to certain countries, based on where the rights to the book have sold.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Briana I know that it would ask more efforts for publishing houses to check on the interaction. And yes I know business is business so I don’t think it would change soon except is someone develops an app or something brilliant that would check the interaction in an “automated” way and make it easy for publishing houses.
      And again you are right about country rights. If the publishing houses did not buy the rights to publish in my land they won’t want to send me the books! Now I wonder how indie authors do? Because some that I know well have sent me printed ARCs or digital ARCs and the rights don’t seem to be a problem for them …

  10. I wish publishing houses were better at distributing ARCs. I feel like they’ve stuck with the same kind of system for years and so the same bloggers get ARCs. I’ve heard stories of “retired” bloggers still getting ARCs in the mail years after their blogs have shut down. I’m not sure what constitutes a big blogger, but I feel like more attention is given to those with big Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube platforms. Us traditional bloggers kind of get forgotten. I also wish publishers would set aside ARCs for International bloggers. You all deserve some book love too. Great discussion!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Alicia you are right about “retired” bloggers still getting ARcs (even years after they stopped blogging) and having a high Twitter or IG follower count! My problem is that Twitter is honestly my least favorite social media as you don’t have room to say much LOL And thank you!

  11. There are a lot of blogs out there with a huge follower count and barely any interaction ie on Facebook, IG or Twitter. I suspect many of them just bought their following. No I don’t think publishers check the unique visits of small blogs these days because the real exposure is on social media. It’s enough to link to your post and have it show up on people’s feeds. And here is where it gets tricky: it you buy your followers, the ones that don’t interact because they are bots or fake accounts they can actually work against your reach because it changes the algorithm the social media platforms have created. I’m pretty sure that pubs check blog stats randomly. Their first draw are social media stats.

    1. *their first draw is social media stats

      Anyhoo, I barely get denied these days and I have a small blog. I don’t expect physical copies. I do get them sent to my US address and my room mate forwards them to me or I pick them up when I’m over. I’m not too sad about not getting them sent to Europe though. In many cases I just buy the book when it releases.

      1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

        This is so handy to have a US address Astrid! I guess you are only “visiting” us in Europe?
        But you are right on social media! Now how could publishing houses check blog stats? If the blog publishes its follower counts or visits that’s easy but not all blogs do ….

  12. Great post! One thing, okay maybe not just one, lol

    — if it is about size of marketing scope then it’s probably not all about our blogs. These days you can just be a Bookstagrammer, or have a review site only on FB and still be sent ARCs.

    — I’d say I was a smallish blog myself, but I have a larger FB, Instagram, and even larger Twitter following. Everything I post to my blog goes out to all these various different places, so I’m guessing this makes a difference to some publishers. It’s possibly not all about the blogging.

    — plus, like most book bloggers who are actively chatting about books, I do like to comment as much as I can (when I’m not ill! Just got out of a horrid cold and could hardly keep up with blogging lol ) and I also love blog comments in return. This does increase my site hits and views too. So should this be taken into consideration? Hell yes! Like you say, we talk about what we love from blog to blog – that’s great marketing. Perhaps not so much if we didn’t like it. But even negative reviews can be great publicity. Not everyone will agree. And that alone is always great for a discussion lol

    — However, I don’t think it’s always about size – if a blog has lots of followers but no comments their reviews may be top notch – from my experience it’s the REVIEWS publishers / authors want. So if you’ve got someone with a large following who doesn’t comment on other blogs and only has time to read, review and repeat, it’s a solid guarantee to the publisher they’ll get what they want; a good review – well written, and hopefully positive, is book fairy dust.

    — that my five cents – or should I say, Great British Pennies! lol

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Many interesting and valid points here! It is true that more and more PR agencies ask for blogs or bookstagrammers! So this is true.
      Earlier the Twitter follower counts was important to publishers but I confess that it’s my least favorite social media! Too short to express nuances.
      About reviews…yes of course they are important as indie authors need a minimal count to be published on Amazon. And on Netgalley if you have a high review percentage you get more books (or so they say).

      So yes you are right it’s not only about blog size! Thank you for your intake 😉

  13. I have been declined on NetGalley because I’m not big enough yet. Some publishers say they want ”well-established blogs”. How do you get there? Hard work. That’s all I can figure.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hard work and lots of socializing and blog hopping and …That’s what I guess Jennifer!

  14. I guess you’d say my blog is medium in size. Not small or big. I don’t gets tons of comments or likes. But I do have loyal visitors and they have loyal visitors, so the word gets spread. Isn’t that the idea in marketing. That said, I get turned down regularly for ARCs. I don’t know if it’s my blog size or what. It’s all a mystery to me:)

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Well Laura I can’t always follow publisher’s reasoning honestly!

  15. I don’t think publishers do only choose big blogs. My blog has less than 300 followers, and I receive ARCs from them. It could be that the blogger pool is smaller in Australia though. But you make some excellent points, Sophie! x

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Ah Meeghan I also think it could be easier if I lived in an English speaking country!

  16. Excellent post! I think that at some cases the follower count shouldnt matter that much. In my opinion some blogs with under 500 followers (like myself, lol), the followers are actually commited to the blog and read their posts! Where in some bigger blogs there might be over 2000 followers but do they actually read the posts?

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly Hanna! I think both “kind” of blogs can be useful to spread the word!

  17. I think you hit on some good points but I also believe being international has a lot to do with it. I do feel for some of my blogger friends overseas who struggle to get ARCs, and it’s not because their blogs aren’t popular enough or that the publishers don’t want to send to them – in fact, I think a lot of publishers would be more than happy to let international bloggers help spread the word about their books, but because of international copyright laws or their shipping budget, they can’t send their ARCs out there. It sucks 🙁

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Yes Mogsy international copyright make it difficult. Yet some big publishing houses pay to have these rights. Not all mind you! Even whe you pay for the right, sending a copy abroad can cost three time what it costs sending “national”. So yes I get your argumeny for paperback ARCs.

  18. Nope. I’m not one who’s going to disagree with you. But at the same time, I have to say this, think from a publisher’s POV. I know this mainly because my friend recently entered the corporate publishing world. Well anyways, to most publishers I don’t think it’s important how many reviews a particular book has or how many bloggers pick that up, as long as the book is sold. Especially this is something I’ve noticed in the Indian market. There are books that’ve sold over a million physical copies, but at the same time, their GR review count isn’t nearly as high as it should be. So mostly, at that point, they pick up the big blogs just to get the word out that this particular book is set to be released. You don’t have to send it to 10 different blogs if 1 does the work for you, because those 10 blogs would still review the book without you sending it to them.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong though.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Sadly I understand their logic Ari. Yet I am convinced they also could have another rep by being closer to their readers/bloggers base. But yes selling the books is what they are aiming at of course!

  19. While I see that in theory « bigger follower amount = bigger seenability », it’s not always true as you said. Worst, they can have many « subs for subs » that dont actually interact with each other. Meanwhile, you get thoses blogging groups (like us) who are all friends with eachother and read/comment/like/promote each other’s all the time – some may even be more up to take your word for it and buy it because they just KNOW you have the same taste as them and they’d probably love it.

    Word of mouth is always the best marketing method;however i strongly agree it doesn’t always works simply with choosing the biggest follower count. Maybe a mix of both worlds can be better? Choosing a few « smaller » following ones, VS the « bigger » ones and then have a little survey and see?
    Its one thing having that ONE big reach blog, but ONE smaller who have a few other blogger sharing that same post, end up being better as more eyes will see it!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Kristina I think you have the solution: a mix of both and a survey to assess the results and see if it might work!

  20. The eternal question that will never have a satisfactory answer.

    Personally, I would tell everyone, including yourself, not to bother supporting publishers by signing onto Netgalley and their ilk, and do like Tracey. Use your eReader to find books and authors that interest you, read them. Review them. Promote them. Support the author.

    Forget Netgalley and lusting after badly formatted ARCs because you want to be what? The first to read it? Don’t fool yourself. What price are you paying for these so-called “free” books?

    Ask yourself why you want to help traditional Publishers take advantage of book bloggers (and their followers) by having the blogger do everything the Publisher use to pay for. Readers. Reviews and promotion. Now they get it all for free in exchange for an eBook.

    Do you know why I post “bad” reviews? It’s because I buy the books I read and review. So I feel justified in sharing my opinion of a book I paid for not meeting a certain standard of publication.

    Anyway, my two-cents worth. 😀

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahahaha Alexandra you are right but I am not “only” reviewing ARCs from traditionally published authors! I also do read ARCs (probably 50%) from indie authors because I think it is important to support them too! I love indie authors and think they are brilliant (I thought about making this one of my future discussion posts by the way). And I also buy books “for fun”. In fact I mix them all. And even if I get an ARC I can post a negative review because I swore (not a blood oath but nearly) to always be honest! My firts “duty” as a book blogger si to other readers/bloggers. I want to help them make their minds about a story. Then my second “purpose” is to help authors become better known.
      But yes you are wise here buying your books makes you free ;-)))

  21. Small fry here….and I’m international which means I never get physical arcs……but I don’t really worry about that anymore. Would I love to take pretty, fancy pics with them? Oh yes……but I’ve let it go!!!!

    I would love to be given the chance at more earcs though. When I get a decline I just think, I review every arc I get and on time, I post my reviews to places various and I bet there are some who receive an arc that doesn’t do any of that. But I get the international rights thing and all that so I just save up for release days!!!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh Caro is it still the same for you being Brittish and living in the UK? I thought some of the UK “branches” from publishing houses would be happy to send you books! I guess you are right and most of the time I am ok with this as this is not life altering. I guess that some days I just see others getting ARCs and yes sometimes even not posting reviews and I am just disheartened because like you, I am trying to be a good girl and review them all!

  22. Very interesting to think and talk about! I have no idea but yes lots of bloggers who don’t ever comment or like (they are too big and don’t have time) get every new ARC. They do have a lot of reach though on Twitter… I notice however lots of newbie blogs with only 200 Twitter followers who already get plenty of ARC’s too. I’m maybe not popular but I think the ones who built their network over many years deserve it more. You have to earn it for me, just like I did.. they only noticed me when I reached 1000 followers.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Wow Inge I still have lots of work to reach the 1000 followers! But yes I like your idea of earning it as I love a good challenge! And the win will be sweeter LOL

  23. I think it would be fair if publishing houses distributed on a first come/first serve basis (maybe with the caveat that they can check GoodReads or BookBub for previous reviews by the person requesting). The size of the blog shouldn’t matter, IMO.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      That’s an excellent idea Jacquie!!!!!!!

  24. Great discussion is going on. I never received any arc from publishing houses

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh Ayushi me neither or egalleys through Netgalley. The very few physical ARCs that I got either came from book boxes either were sent by indie authors!

  25. This is super tough! As a reviewer I would love to get all the ARCs I want haha but I get that the Publishers don’t want to waste their time and money if someone only reaches a handful of people. I think you make great points that bigger size doesn’t necessarily mean more interaction, but if a person only has 25 followers its probably a pretty safe bet that they aren’t going to reach a lot of people. This is kind of the same idea behind Instagram Reps. You don’t want small newbies, but a sturdy middle of the road account might be better than huge accounts?

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Well you have a valid point here Brittany with the sturdy middle of the road! But if you have “only” 100 followers but they all react I still think it’s better than having 10.000 and only having 10 reactions (and I’ve seen it!).

  26. Very interesting thoughts! I think it is definitely something to consider when handing out ARCs… I think it is important to take note of interaction, but it may be very difficult to observe or “count.” Great points though!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you Samantha! Maybe someone will develop an app one day that will do just that?

  27. Well I think you have a good point about quality over quantity. Just because a blog has more followers doesn’t mean those followers pay attention. Interacting is important as if there is no interaction and a feeling of trust, their reviews and opinions are no different from any random review that can be found anywhere. Do I understand why the so called marketing genius would target large blogs? Yes. But do I respect the marketing genius? Not really and here is my reason as a reader. I was strictly a paper book reader for years. I refused to use the kindle I was gifted 7-8 years ago. But, did I devour books? No! Why? I was bored. I got tired of the cookie cutter plots and it was like they rejected any new ideas, choosing to go with what works. Last year I picked up the hated kindle and I discovered independent authors and have been plowing through books. The plots are interesting and fresh. Sometimes taking a risk and thinking outside the box is better than playing it safe.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh Tracey this just warms my heart as I am a big fan of indie authors! And those who say they are not real authors because they don’t have publishing houses are so wrong! As you’ve ssaid if we all post promo only or the same books at the same time it can get pretty boring! I understand the hard rule of marketing and economics but I think that being creative and taking a less walked path can also be a win!

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