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Viral Blogging and Do We Have Hand?

Vanessa Jaye linked to an interesting blog post from Anne Frasier. Anne Frasier used to write really wonderful romances under the name of Theresa Weir. About 5 years ago she started publishing in the suspense genre. Her print runs are down and she’s a bit disappointed. Her idea is to get 100 bloggers to blog about her book and see if that would make a meaningful difference in sales. The question she ultimately poses (but doesn’t come out and say exactly) is this:

Can blogland help an author be a bestseller?

This is a fascinating concept and given the recent negativity, a welcome one. I think it would be really cool to see if we could get 100 people to blog about one book a week or two before the release date. I kind of have a couple of books in mind. One is an upcoming Berkley Sensation book. I think it’s got real appeal because it is a different kind of paranormal with great sexual tension but the sex scenes aren’t so over the top that anyone is going to be turned off. There is a definite Linda Howard-esque feel to the hero. The heroine is strong yet vulnerable.

This is where bloggers can have a positive effect for books and I would love to see if blogland can influence print publishing. If we band together to promote something, would there be a real world effect? Is anyone else interested in this idea? If you don’t like the idea of promoting above book, we could throw five names in a hat and draw out one to be our first victim, err, experiment.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

26 Comments

  1. Bev (BB)
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 13:57:53

    Uh-huh. Well, I for one ain’t gonna blog about a book I’m not interested in to begin with so I’m not sure I’ve for this or agin it. Hehehe.

    Okay, that said, wouldn’t it make more sense to track naturally occurring blogs about a certain title and see whether it makes a bigger splash or not in resulting sales? As opposed to readers becoming publicists for the books. Ah, um, not that we aren’t already as we gab about finds . . . but that’s a normal part of the blogosphere. I mean I cannot believe how many posts I’ve seen about a couple of books recently (that Midnight title comes to mind) so I don’t see a problem with some of them getting a lot of blog interest anyway.

    I’m just not sure that artificially pushing the snowball off the slope isn’t counterproductive to the process in the first place. scratching my head & thinking way too hard on this one . . .

  2. Tara Marie
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 15:02:13

    I think this is an interesting concept, because in actual fact it can completely backfire.

    I think word of mouth is one of the best ways to promote a book. And, as we’ve seen over the last week, even a bad review can be good for promotion.

    I’d do it.

  3. Fiona
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 15:05:25

    Well, I for one ain’t gonna blog about a book I’m not interested in to begin

    I have agree with Bev on this point. While I think the idea is…interesting, it will fall on its face if it’s the wrong book. Midnight Sun received the coverage due to the content.

    But I like the idea Jane. It would be interesting to see if blogland can influence print sales, not just ebooks.

  4. Tara Marie
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 15:12:15

    I think this is an interesting concept. Yet, how many readers will promote a book they haven’t actually read?

    I think word of mouth is one of the best ways to promote a book. And, as we’ve seen over the last week, even a bad review can be good for promotion.

    I’d give it a try, but honestly I’d prefer to promote something I’ve read and enjoyed. I wouldn’t want to promote something and then come to realize I hated it after the fact.

  5. Tara Marie
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 15:14:24

    How the heck did I do that? Somehow I submited and rewrote at the same time.

  6. Bev (BB)
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 15:24:15

    [quote comment="2388"]While I think the idea is…interesting, it will fall on its face if it’s the wrong book. Midnight Sun received the coverage due to the content.

    Yeah, that’s the one. Seems like I’ve seen it everywhere lately. That and Julia Quinn’s entire backlist. ;p

    But I like the idea Jane. It would be interesting to see if blogland can influence print sales, not just ebooks.[/quote]

    And it would certainly be interesting if everyone didn’t like the book. Oh, wait, I’m with Tara. Are we talking about a full-scale campaign to promote something that hasn’t even come out yet? That could get really dicey.

  7. Jane
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 16:18:36

    Midnight Sun? I haven’t heard of that one. Who wrote it?

    I am sure that word of mouth is THE best thing for a book. I am just interested in running an experiment. It could be any random book. Just to blog about it and say that it looks interesting. Not to blog about it and say you liked it or anything. It is harder, I think, to test out those results by simply tracking blogs and book sales because I am not sure that there is any connection. I figured a controlled expirement with a new release would be interesting to see if there would be any measurable effect.

  8. Jorrie Spencer
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 16:40:30

    I think Nadia Cornier of Firebrand Agency ran some kind of similar experiment. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow up to see what the results were. I believe she made a point of choosing a book that was not related to her agency, but I could be mistaken.

    Personally, I don’t tend to pay attention to posts that aren’t actually excited about the book. Even a friend excited by a friend’s book is something. But it would be an interesting experiment.

  9. Fiona
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 16:45:16

    Midnight Sun is by Rene Lyons and is a new release with Samhain. Reviews are up at:
    Santuary’s Finest
    Imaginary Origin
    and
    Fiona’s Farrago

    Choose a book Jane, I’m in.

  10. Jane
    Jul 20, 2006 @ 17:34:35

    It might be just enough to do a Sybil where you put up the cover, a link to the book, and the blurb without making a judgment as to whether you liked the book.

  11. sybil
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 01:24:49

    Do a sybil!

    I like that I am a verb! ssssqqqqqqqquuuuueeeee!

    And I do have reviews coming. Honest! I am off the next two days. I will review you guys to death!

    as long as nothing shiney catches my eye… no no really, I kid! tra la la

  12. sybil
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 01:33:27

    Oh hee reading the post I am with Bev… I post books I want, that I lust over, that catch my eye or I want to read.

    oh fine or if I want to say look at the ugly cover, but more often than not I send those to bam

    So if it is a book I would read, I am all for it. And count me in. Or if it is an author I read or there is something that would make me read it. I am in.

    Like 72 Hours, which is RS, something I don’t normally read. But is by an author who caught my attention with her last book and who has a blog I enjoy. So I wanted to read the book. Midnight Sun is something I plan to read tomorrow. Do you want a print book or ebook? I can email you suggestions as I have been stalking coming soon book lists lately looking for new upcoming historicals.

  13. raine
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 01:49:37

    …It might be just enough to do a Sybil where you put up the cover, a link to the book, and the blurb without making a judgment as to whether you liked the book.

    I can’t see a problem with that. Sounds like an intriguing experiment.
    And I’d be VERY interested in seeing how it works out, so yeah–I’d participate.

  14. Suisan
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 10:05:16

    Wouldn’t mind being involved in the experiment, but uh, I think I just can’t do the book you’ve mentioned in your post.

    Contemporaries give me hives or make me rant endlessly on my blog. I’m kind of “known” for my hatred of contemporaries. So eh, maybe with a different book?

    Trying hard to stay consistent here….

  15. Bev (BB)
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 10:54:43

    [quote comment="2429"]Wouldn’t mind being involved in the experiment, but uh, I think I just can’t do the book you’ve mentioned in your post.[/quote]

    I tend to believe this is where the biggest problem is going to be, i.e finding 100 people willing to post about a particular book. And we can say it doesn’t matter whether we’re interested in the book or not because we just have to mention it but I don’t know. I’m honestly not sure I’ll feel comfortable doing that if I’m not interested . . .

  16. Bev (BB)
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 10:57:34

    Er, using the logic that even bad publicity is publicity, can we post about it and say why we’re not interested in it if we’re not?

    That is the question that seems to need an answer here.

  17. Jane
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 12:42:38

    I am thinking that so long as the blog post includes the cover of the book, the blurb, you can say whatever you want about the book. It’s not a contemp, really, Suisan. It’s fantasy/paranormal romance that I was thinking of.

    My idea is to set up a page where you would just copy the code and post. Something like:

    We are running an experiment to see if 100 bloggers blogging about 1 book can make a real world difference. I haven’t read this book, I only know it is coming out on __ date. Here’s the blurb.

    or something like that. I haven’t really figured out exactly what to say. I am thinking of putting up some money – an amazon.com gift certificate – as incentive to get participation.

  18. Suisan
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 16:10:54

    It’s not a contemp, really, Suisan. It’s fantasy/paranormal romance that I was thinking of.

    Umm, and is the fantasy/paranormal set in the present day? Because in my mind, that STILL makes it a contemporary. Just saying.

    Er, using the logic that even bad publicity is publicity, can we post about it and say why we’re not interested in it if we’re not?

    Oh Bev. I’d really rather not go there. Not that I’m an aspiring author, or that I’m soon to have a relationship with a major publishing house, but I think the idea of generating bad publicity at the request of an author in order to get more sales for her publishing house is a whole new can of worms I am simply not prepared to jump into.

    Strike that.

    I’m PREPARED to jump into it. I’m capable of doing it, and would do it if there were a jolly good reason, but at this time, I’m not WILLING to stir that particular pot with those particular vegetables and dumplings bubbling and bouncing together in the blogging broth.

  19. Suisan
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 16:20:01

    [quote comment="2441"]
    My idea is to set up a page where you would just copy the code and post. Something like:

    We are running an experiment to see if 100 bloggers blogging about 1 book can make a real world difference. I haven’t read this book, I only know it is coming out on __ date. Here’s the blurb.

    or something like that. I haven’t really figured out exactly what to say. I am thinking of putting up some money – an amazon.com gift certificate – as incentive to get participation.[/quote]

    Sorry, meant to address this too.

    If we were to do that, then I’m not sure that it would do anything more than give her a higher listing on Google. Just saying, “I’m participating in an experiment” isn’t going to raise word of mouth interest in a book, is it?

    Part of the reason Julia Quinn, JR Ward, and Lisa Kleypas, just to name a few that stick in my mind, seem to have an internet blogging presence is that bloggers genuinely adore these books. (Disclaimer: I have never read a Julia Quinn, but her name seems to pop up a lot.) You see those covers on a lot of blogs, there’s a lot of commentary on posts, etc.

    Kind of like Jack Sparrow. Everyone genuinely loves him enough to spark the filiming of a sequel. And there was enough word of mouth anticipation for the movie that it’s breaking all kinds of records.

    I think to have an impact on sales you’d have to find the bloggers who would go out of there way to “promote” the book. As you said in the post:

    If we band together to promote something, would there be a real world effect?

    I see a difference between merely mentioning the book and either promoting or disparaging the book. (Not that we’d want to do the latter as an experiment. Yikes.)

  20. Suisan
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 16:22:29

    Damn. Not “go out of there way” but “their way.”

    I need to hire some lackey to type for me. And he should have man-titties, washboard abs, but no mullet. And a mask. Yep. Mmmm.

    I’m sorry, what were you saying?

  21. Jay
    Jul 21, 2006 @ 23:18:23

    Didn’t Michelle Rowan attempt a viral blogging type thing for her Angels with Attitude? Maybe see how that went for her? I know it was more of a controlled thing – you had to volunteer to read the book and blog about it when it was close to the release date, but still the same premise.

    To me, the whole point of viral blogging (and this is without following the link to VJ’s blog) is not just a lot of people mentioning a particular book, but a lot of people excited, or at the very least saying nice things, about it. I can’t see how just posting a cover and a blurb without any emotion would be enough to make an impact in sales.

  22. Jane
    Jul 22, 2006 @ 00:48:48

    My thinking on the blurb thing – and again, it is just thinking – is that it would have the same effect as seeing an ad of the book in a number of places. Tess Gerritsen blogged about this a bit where a reader she was “stalking” (paraphrasing here) commented that she was going to try a Gerritsen book because she heard the name 3 times. This is why I was also thinking of doing a new author/new release because it is name recognition that could incite sales.

    As for Julia Quinn, et al. having an internet presence is due to a fan base created before blogging. I am just wondering if 100 bloggers blogged about the same book by posting a blurb and cover whether it would have any effect at all. Maybe it would have none. Maybe it wouldn’t be measurable. Dunno unless it is tried. No one has to participate. I am thinking that going outside of the romance blogland to recruit might even be more interesting.

  23. Suisan
    Jul 23, 2006 @ 12:26:50

    I am thinking that going outside of the romance blogland to recruit might even be more interesting.

    yep. It would be. But good luck with that!

    If you’re still on this during the first week of August, I’ll try it.

  24. Jane
    Jul 26, 2006 @ 13:43:02

    [quote comment="2480"]If you’re still on this during the first week of August, I’ll try it.[/quote]

    I am going to do it. :) The book, if you are wondering, is Nalini Singh’s Slave to Sensation. I read it a few weeks ago and thought it was one of the best paranormal romance books I have read in a long time. It ranks right up there with JR Ward’s offerings. I think it will have broad appeal. I didn’t want to pick one that sucked or one that had limited appeal. A friend of mine who has opposing tastes from me also read it and loved it so on this miniscule information, I am extrapolating that readers from different bents will like this one too.

    The review and the 100 bloggers blogging post will go up the third week of August. Maybe I’ll post more about this on Sunday during the ebook weekly post.

  25. Karen Scott
    Jul 26, 2006 @ 15:15:56

    Ooh this wont be hard then, I’ve been meaning to try this book out actually, admittedly because I like her name, but it’s all good.

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