Blogland Is Alive with the Sound of Readers

Penguin Die
First off, here’s my ebook tip of the day: Penguin hates ebook readers. Still no sign of Nora Roberts’ Valley of Silence.

Last Monday, I blogged about a seemingly innocuous topic: websites and my opinion that all authors should have a professional looking one. Some authors believe that websites are unimportant in terms of overall capture of readership because of the low numbers of readers online. When I look at how DearAuthor has grown since its inception and the numbers of other blogs and websites, I believe that online presence is growing larger.

  • All About Romance averages 2 million unique visitors in 2005. That’s up from 1.7 million visitors in 2004. That’s alot of visitors.
  • The Smart Bitches average 1,417 visitors per day.
  • TheRomanceReader logged over 500,000 visitors in 1998. I am not sure what their growth has been since then, but I would imagine that it hasn’t decreased.

Here at DearAuthor, we have experienced tremendous growth, averaging just around 150 readers in April and growing to averaging over 750 for the month of October. On Mondays and Tuesdays, we have our biggest days with over 900+ unique visitors.

April October
April Stats October Stats

Even if we, as a blog, only touch 900 people on one day, those readers touch other readers and so on. Morever, as one reader reminded me, blogland is international. Rosario is from Uruguay, Marg is in Australia, Kristie J is in Canada, Karen S is in England (as is our dear friend Maili) and others are in Tokyo, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, South Africa, etc. And those readers touch readers. An author can build a strong and dependable fan base just by the readers online. We online readers may not be able to get you on the bestseller list the first time out of the gates (sorry Ms. Singh), but overtime a devoted online base can do wonders for your career (Lora Leigh’s debut mass market, Megan’s Mark, was a USA Today Bestseller).

I would love to see more reader blogs. There seem to be a dearth of reader, just reader blogs. I am more interested in what readers have to say about books than I do from authors. Because many times, I question the blogger bias. On the cover of Hot Dish, there are cover quotes from almost every Squawker: Christina Dodd, Theresa Medieros, and Elizabeth Bevarly. I think that if Connie Brockway wrote carnival patter that the Squawkers would still say that it smelled like a rose. When they feature someone at their blog and rave about how great that author is, I just can’t trust them. Are they really going to say something suck great big hairy donkey balls? Nope.

That’s where readers come in. I do trust readers. I may not always agree with readers, but I tend to believe that readers have no bias, no hidden agenda. Readers just want to talk about the books they loved and the books that they hated. The meh books are so meh that they don’t warrant many blog posts.

While its nice to have authors and I get a huge thrill when I see Nora Roberts post because she’s well, you know, but I enjoy the comments of readers the best. Bev BB is opening up a new blog. It’s for readers about blogging and books and everything. I hope that if there is any reader out there who wants to start a blog, that she or he will come over and feel free to ask questions. The more readers that blog, the better for the romance industry because it will show how diverse the romance readership is and how important variety is for the genre to stay healthy. If you are a reader and you have a blog, drop a comment. I want to add you to the blogroll and read your blog.

Next week: Part One of a two part series on What NY Publishers Are Doing Right and What They Are Doing Wrong with Ebooks.


0 comments on “Blogland Is Alive with the Sound of Readers

  1. Interesting post Jane.

    I do think that sometimes, some authors forget that not just Americans buy books.

    I recall JaynieR (God rest her blog) ranting last year about how ridiculous it is that some authors offering up reader competitions purposely exclude international readers. I think that Brenda whatsherface (that dreaded inspy writer) got her started because she opened up a competition for freebie books, but purposely said that overseas readers weren’t eligible to enter. Her excuse was that she couldn’t afford the postage. WTF? Talk about ambitious huh?

    I remember thinking at the time, that someone with such a small-minded point of view, was obviously happy with her authorial lot in life, success-wise.

    I guess not everybody wants to be a NY Times best-seller huh? Whatever.

    My personal opinion, then, and now was that she was a narrow-minded ejit, who deserved to only sell 5 books a year, one of those being to her mother.

    Incidentally, she also believes that having a web presence doesn’t make a difference to her readership. I recall her writing that she’d have exactly the same kind of success, without her website, and blog.

    Talk about thinking small.

  2. I adore reader blogs because they are honest. Pretty many other review sites gives deceptively positive reviews. When reviewing for these sites myself I was asked to increase my ratings on several occassions and eventually dropped out of this role from inevitable conflicts of interest.

    I frequently buy books with high reviews and find them to be average at best. Yes, as a writer I know why this happens–online reviewers want to be nice, they are grateful for their free books, many are also writers and sites want to stay on good terms with publishers. But reviews are there primarily for the benefit of readers and although good reviews benefit publishers and writers, the absence of honest mixed and negative reviews undermines the whole purpose of a review and leaves readers bemused and put off.

    Reader’s reviews can be harsher but I would rather have no gold than fool’s gold. These are the reviews that effect my buying habits because they really tell me something about the book.

  3. Interestingly enough, the Penquin website is selling the ebook…at full retail price, naturally.

    It’s listed electronically at Powell’s, too, at a discount.

    Fictionwise tends to get them a week after eReader…but I wonder if it’ll show up tomorrow in Fictionwise’s “new releases”…?

  4. All About Romance averages 2 million unique visitors in 2005. That’s up from 1.7 million visitors in 2004. That’s alot of visitors.

    Their front page gives those stats but does not call them uniques, just visitors, and considering the ongoing nature of the comments and conversations there, I’m more inclined to believe a lot of those are returns. Not downplaying their traffic at all, just saying they don’t call them uniques. As you know from checking your own stats, there’s a big difference between the two.

  5. As a reader, I would expect, at the very least, to find an author’s website (even if it’s connected to the publisher’s) with a complete backlist. And honestly? If the website is just going to be a FYI site, I don’t want to see busy backgrounds and weird crap all over the screen. Just show me the info in a neat layout and I’m happy. I don’t know why you wouldn’t invest the small amount of money to let people know how to get more of your books, especially if you’re still actively writing.

    With regards to Karen’s comment about competitions, I remember when Alison Kent ran a comp specifically for international readers only, which I thought was really lovely. (The free books were lovely, too! *g*)

  6. I love reader blogs too and always love to see more of them. Just one of the things I find so good about them is they offer another opinion on books than just the review sites. Review sites such as AAR, TRR, etc. are good but they offer only one perspective – the reviewers. By reading some of the books on readers blogs, you can often get a much different opinion of them.

  7. You know, I’m probably going to get crucified for this but I’ve noticed something truly odd about author blogs. I’ve got several group author blogs on my bloglines list that I’m actually thinking of dropping. Why? Because basically they’re boring. I rarely do more than skim most of the posts. Now, there are also several individual author blogs that I do regularly read posts from. What I don’t get though is why those author blogs are so boring to me.

    Of course, I’ve never been that big on author interviews either so that might be part of it but still.

    Besides which I have way too many reader blogs, both individual and group, to keep up with anyway. On the whole they’re a lot more interesting to read so I keep collecting more. And more. And more. Oye.

  8. Pretty many other review sites gives deceptively positive reviews. When reviewing for these sites myself I was asked to increase my ratings on several occassions and eventually dropped out of this role from inevitable conflicts of interest.

    I have made this experience myself. With an evaluation chart from 1 to 5 points (5 being the best) the reviewer was asked not to give a rating below 2.5 points. I pretty fast dropped out after hearing that.

    There’s only one review site I really trust, and that’s AAR. Even if I don’t like the book that got an A from them I still can follow the reasoing how the reviewer came to this result.
    Otherwise I rely on recommendations from my emailgroups or reader blogs. Rosario’s was a real treasure trove, and currently I am even considering to start a review blog myself, mainly to improve my English, but also because it’s so much fun to communicate with readers who think alike.

  9. IMO Penguin hates print book readers, too, judging by some of the copyediting in more than a few Putnam and Berkley books I’ve read. And last time I checked their website, they had no email contact for anything expect technical issues. That’s an efficient way to deliver all sorts of messages.

    Anyway, I think reader blogs, as opposed to both author and fan blogs are revealing a segment of the reader population that was perhaps somewhat disenfranchised before the Internet created so many online communities. By disenfranchised I mean that these readers are more inclined to discuss their views, to exchange recommendations, to see reading as intrinsically a community activity. Over time, I absolutely think the more vocal presence of a diverse online readership will measurably influence the Romance industry, even if the effects are not felt now. Most industries are slow to change, and I don’t think Romance is any different. But I very much agree that more reader blogs = more exposure and discussion of Romance, which IMO means more free advertising for authors and more resources for readers. Your viral blogging experiment might not have gotten Slave to Sensation on the besteller lists, but I know personally that I would probably not have bought the book so quickly if it hadn’t been for that web chain you created. Why not try one of those a quarter — maybe a different reader blogger can start it? I’ll bet you’d see a steady build in the number of bloggers who join in each time.

    If an author, though, has no interest in tapping into the community of online readers, or if she/he doesn’t think it’s important, IMO that author should by all means stay away from the Internet. Why? Because an author who is unmoved or unconvinced by the latent influence of a growing online readership isn’t, IMO, going to be approaching a website or web marketing with any sincerity or respect. And I guess some authors might find such an endeavor intimidating for whatever reason, whether it’s the risk of encountering strong opinions of dislike or hesitation at self-promotion. Discomfort with crafting an online presence can be charming or off-putting, and there might be authors who really wouldn’t (or don’t) do themselves any favors by attempting it.

  10. The more the merrier. I may not have time to visit all the blogs on my blogroll on a daily basis, but I certainly try to get to them all every few days. Obsessive readers unite.

    On the cover of Hot Dish, there are cover quotes from almost every Squawker: Christina Dodd, Theresa Medieros, and Elizabeth Bevarly.

    This drives me crazy. How can you trust this, they’re bestest friends–LOL.

  11. I think reader blogs can be valuable to readers, writers and publishers. But, from my casual blog-hopping, there are only a handful that are consistently interesting, articulate or informative. This site is certainly one of them–and that’s not just sucking up. There are others I’ve found from links that draw me back because they’re routinely interesting–and not only with reviewing but with what the reader and the commentators think about various issues in publishing. I’ve found a few authors sites the same way.

    The power of the Internet.

    As to the blurbing on, say, Brockaway’s new book, it’s very possible her friends really, honestly enjoyed it. She’s a strong writer. I’ve blurbed for friends before BECAUSE I liked the work. In fact, I’ll be doing a cover quote for Patricia Gaffney’s MAD DASH. I asked her if I could give a quote; she didn’t ask me. I just loved the book. Recently, I turned another friend down–and believe me that was difficult–because her book simply wasn’t for me.

  12. hey Jane,

    I’m a strong proponent of online marketing (heck, I even do this for a living), and IMO, the modern day author without an online presence (be it through own/ branded website, blog, forum or messagae board participation) risks alienating themselves from new and younger readers.

    The web is one of the best medium to market/ promote to a niche audience, and authors should think of themselves as a brand/ entity, not just a writer. Just at a the number of fan sites and Harry shrines that’s sprouted ever since Rowling launched him into the reading world, and you can already imagine what the web can be. And guess what? These are all created by the readers!!

    So, yeah, like you, I’m always happy when I hear of new, and younger readers discovering the wonders of books.

  13. [quote comment=”6592″]I’m a strong proponent of online marketing (heck, I even do this for a living), and IMO, the modern day author without an online presence risks alienating themselves from new and younger readers.[/quote]

    I was checking my webstats at the first of the month, and saw that for October my MySpace page was my #13 referrer. So far this month, #3. And the MySpace demographic is much younger overall, so I’ve been very vocal on author loops about reaching readers this way.

  14. Marg – I love reader blogs too. Must update my blogroll

    Karen S – I have excluded international readers from my contests because it was quite costly to ship 3 books overseas. I feel bad about that. 😦 Can I cop to the excuse that I am not an author?

    Miki – Thanks for the heads up. Penguin’s ebook department needs a kick in the ass.

    Mica – I am unsure about AAR’s numbers. LLB had a blog post about her numbers, but it was a “private” one so I couldn’t link to it and I didn’t want to quote from it either. But I thought she indicated that they had several hundred thousand “unique visitors”

    Kat – Weird crap is indeed annoying. I went to one website last night that had one of those “flash” pages which you had to see before you could get to the website and it loaded music and a silly animation. I clicked away.

    Kristie J – Readers blogs are very subjective but I love reading about what works and what doesn’t for readers.

    BevBB – authors blogs do tend to be boring but I still skim them for good tidbits on what is coming next. That’s really my main reason for reading blog posts. I like Vanessa Jaye and HelenKay Dimon’s blogs. They are less boring than some of the other big name blogs.

    Katherina – how interesting. I definitely see some review sites that have upbeat reviews for everything. Please send us a link when you get your blog up and running.

    Robin – I hope that more readers come onto the internet. It’s a great clearinghouse for readers.

    Tara Marie – Oh, cover quotes are great aren’t they? I have a whole blog post about those in December.

    Nora Roberts – I love it when you suck up say nice things about the blog. Sigh, I am so easy. Oh, I think Brockway’s friends did enjoy the book but it just lacks credibility after reading the love fest they have for each other at Squawk Radio everyday.

    Alison Kent – wow. That’s remarkable. Do you also tell the authors to do myspace overlays? Because many myspace author webpages are so hard to read. Also, do you tell them that when Sawyer from “Lost” friends them, that it really isn’t Sawyer? I had to laugh when I saw a couple of authors excited about a celebrity friending them.

  15. I read Hot Dish and reviewed it. It was not kind. Those quotes were so far from the truth it isn’t even funny.

    I have a joint review blog with a friend and we try to post at least every other day. We’ll review a book if we read it. If we liked it or not.

  16. I couldn’t agree more with the comments about authors, websites and readers. I currently have three sites and have found much success on MySpace with blogging.

    The praise comes from averaging fifty friend requests per day from readers who all e-mail me. The most touching, a single mother of three and avid reader, who wrote to tell me just how much she enjoyed my book and why. There was no hidden agenda just book talk. These are the e-mails I treasure so much!

  17. While studying Computer Engineering at University I came across staggering data and statistics regarding minorities, graduation rates and access to books. In todays high tech media environment, all people, young people especially need to be encouraged to read physical books. When I had my first child I was disappointed at the high price of used books for children in my area. As I searched for a cost effective way to locate books I ran across this company:
    They offer wholesale prices on boxes to truckloads of used books (by genre) at very reasonable shipping rates throughout the US and abroad. For instance, at less than $50 a family can receive around 100 good condition kids books including shipping. Most books are like new condition and priced lower than books found at Goodwill or any used book store. The price of books is definitely one factor not talked about when promoting reading. Access to quality books at a price anyone can afford will most assuredly eliminate one barrier in regards to young people’s ability to read. Statistics show that the average high-school graduate has(had) a minimum 50 books available to them to read in their homes. Those going on to post elementary education had atleast 100 books in their homes. Books are expensive! is one company that is assisting families in their effort to create a rich at-home reading environment for their children and their personal reference.

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