I’ve spent the last few weeks researching bloggers. If you don’t already know, bloggers are absolutely critical when it comes to getting word out about a new book. Their reviews help people decide whether or not to give an author, particularly a new author, a try. It’s kind of like looking for Mister or Ms. Write. The blogger in this case has to meet certain criteria:
Not so backlogged that they are unable to accept new books to review
Willing to consider reviewing a mystery with some adult themes
Not restricted to only reviewing young adult (YA) books.
So many book bloggers are limiting their reading to YA books. I was absolutely amazed to find women (They are the book bloggers with rare exceptions) in their thirties, forties, and fifties who insist on reading only YA books. Oh, some claim they will look at mysteries or science fiction or fantasy, but only within the YA area. Are we all regressing back to our high school days?
My newest book is Silent Partner, a book that Pen-L Publishing will release September first. That means now is the time for me to arrange for reviewers to help launch the book. There are professionals who do this, and I’ll return to that subject in a few minutes. Since the subject matter deals with the real world where unseemly things such as murder happens and where all the human emotions play out including lust, jealousy, murderous rage, etc., it’s not surprising that I had to cross off some potential reviewers who don’t want to read about anything vulgar or unpleasant. I’m okay with that, but they better not read the morning paper.
Some bloggers restrict themselves to YA romances. I’m okay with that too, but did anyone really have a high school experience like those described in such novels? Recently a critic wrote a piece on the limitations of YA fiction. I’m not talking about some of the really good YA novels such as John Green’s books. Take the Hunger Games and all the derivatives coming out now. They all feature a female heroine. They all feature a dystopic world. I could go on and list about ten things they all have in common besides happy endings. Complex problems? A world that is not black and white but contains plenty of gray? No, that’s not what you usually find. People are good or bad. The heroine is in danger but you know she’ll prevail, no matter the overwhelming odds. Love will find a way.
I tried to write a more complex YA novel when I published Egypt Rising. The heroine is not perfect. Still, I wrote it for teenagers and not for adults. If everyone is reading YA books, who is reading our “great” literature besides professors who teach grad classes in modern lit?
So, finding book bloggers who are willing to read mystery/thrillers has not proven to be easy. Even more disconcerting is the fact that some book bloggers are trying to turn their blogging into a profit-making business paid for by authors. One blogger noted that she finds every spelling and grammatical mistake in books she reviews and then comments on them. However, the author can pay upfront to have her edit the manuscript first so that when she reviews it, she won’t find the mistakes. Several bloggers asked for “donations” while a few offered expedited reviews for fees. Some simply indicated that they charged for all reviews but wrote positive ones.
It’s been a revelation as I’ve researched book bloggers. Most of them are doing what they love and putting in long hours on top of their day-to-day activities such as work, caring for the family, etc. I know I would feel pressure if I saw a huge pile of books that I promised to review and I was hounded by authors who demand prompt service. AND good reviews. I’m sure it’s often a thankless business to work hard to write a review and then have an author demand the blogger change it because there are negative aspects to that review.
So, here’s to the book bloggers who are working tirelessly to help others find good books and are doing so without renumeration. If I haven’t already contacted you, it’s likely I will soon. I promise to be patient about when the review appears and to not hound the bloggers over anything in their reviews that I dislike.