Patreon Adventures is a discussion series where the topic is decided by the Reader Voracious patrons. Once a month I add an extra post to my schedule, and it could be about anything: sometimes it’s bookish and others it’s a story about being chased by a flock of seagulls.
Welcome to the newest discussion on Reader Voracious, friends! 2021 has been such a whirlwind and I can’t believe it’s been six whole months since this post was originally selected by my patrons. It kept getting pushed back because of hiatuses and jobs and life. I haven’t been posting many discussions this year thanks to my never-ending need to take a break, but I feel so rejuvenated and am so excited to bring back the monthly discussions to remind you all that book blogs are relevant.
What better way to end 2021 than with a discussion not only about my love for book blogs but also why I think publishers should give them more attention and marketing dollars? Before we get started though, I want to make it clear this post is not here to bash on the other sectors of the online book community. Book bloggers, Booktubers, Bookstagrammers, and Booktokkers are have an important role to play in the marketing ecosytem for books.
This is a discussion that’s lived in my brain for the past two years and my drafts for several months after being inspired by Marie’s post talking about how we can support book bloggers. This is a fantastic post you should read and definitely give Marie a follow if you aren’t already!
The Discourse TM
If you’ve been in the online bookish community for any period of time, chances are you’ve seen conversations about book bloggers not getting the recognition that they deserve or being told “blogs are dying” or some combination. It comes up every few months, usually after an article comes out talking about how much money publishers offer other sectors in the book community for promotion and the bloggers are like “wait, you get paid?”
I said this at the top of the post but let me be clear: book bloggers, booktubers, bookstagrammers, and booktokkers are have an important role to play in the marketing ecosytem for books. But it’s always felt weird to me that publishers usually don’t have a budget for working with book bloggers and instead direct all of their money to other sectors.
Like, do they not look at the community as a whole and the purpose of each platform?
Social Media & Marketing
I’ve talked about my social media marketing experience before and am fortunate to have the background knowledge that I can apply to Reader Voracious to do my best to boost books. Not every book blogger has this background, but the people working in publishing’s marketing departments should and that’s why I’m endlessly confused as to why book blogs tend to be ignored when it comes to paid opportunities.
📝 Further Reading: The Ultimate Social Media Guide for Book Bloggers
Each platform has its purpose
I’ve said it once and I will say it again: you can’t create a piece of content specifically for one platform and simply upload it elsewhere and expect it to succeed in the same way. We know it’s best to tailor content to the platform: using different dimensions for Pinterest and Twitter or even the kinds of content that will perform well on each platform. You can learn more about social media basics from a marketing / promotion perspective in my Social Media 101 post.
Just like each platform has its own best practices in terms of size and presentation, each platform has its own purpose. Instagram is a photo sharing app. TikTok is where short form video reigns supreme, filling the void that Vine left when it shut down. Youtube (now) caters to long form video content, typically more polished looking that a 30-second viral meme video. Blogs are where we go to read the written word: reviews, discussions, and more. You can’t create a piece of content specifically for one platform and simply upload it elsewhere and expect it to succeed in the same way.
Each social media platform has its own user behavior and ecosystem, and the best way to succeed is to cater your content to that platform.
“We’re no longer a photo-sharing app.”Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram in July 2021 New Statesmen news article
We as content creators have to remain nimble in our promotional tactics, and I think that’s the core issue at play: in an attempt to chase the algorithm and go viral, we’ve forgotten about other methods of promotion that are just as good and still cater to an important purpose – longevity. It’s easy to get swept up in the numbers and initial boosts… but any good marketing plan should include book blog coverage as well as social media posts.
How I Engage with Bookish Content Across Platforms
I know I am in no way representative of the whole book community nor do I want to be. But my point is there are many different preferences within the book community and a good marketing strategy would engage as many of those as possible! (I know, I’ preaching to the choir.)
- Instagram: I look at the photo or the reel; I don’t read captions (there usually isn’t a review there anyways) and rarely look at Stories
- Twitter: discussion, mostly! I enjoy reading threads and checking out content that’s shared
- Book Blogs: long form discussions on books, reviews, curated lists
- Youtube: I don’t consume book content by video (sorry!)
- Tiktok: I’m there for the memes but don’t follow BookTok
This is where I am going to look Old as Hell to many of you, but here it is: I don’t like watching videos for reviews. I don’t read Instagram captions (which is fine because most of the time the captions have nothing to do with the pictured book anyways). Book blogs aren’t dying and they still have a place.
The (forgotten) Benefits of Book Blog Promotion
Book blogs are the backbone of the bookish community. That’s not to say that bookish social media doesn’t also play an important role because just look at the evidence of viral booktok boosting sales, but blogging’s role is incredibly underappreciated and underpaid. Paid sponsorships from publishers and book promoters are reserved for the booktubers, bookstagrammers, and booktokkers. They deserve it for the work they do, but so do book bloggers!
A book blog not only has a dedicated audience of subscribers and readers, but it also has longevity on its side in terms of promotion because a post stays relevant. Yes, other posts will eventually bury it in the reader so there is an aspect of timeliness involved before it goes stale… but a post’s life lives on beyond that period.
SEO & Searchability
I’m incredibly fortunate to have a dedicated follower base and friends who are incredibly supportive of Reader Voracious, but one thing is certain: the majority of my blog traffic comes from search results.
While it’s true that a lot of my popular search posts include my ultimate reader spreadsheet template and some of my guides, all of my posts get views long after they’ve gone “stale” in readers because I’ve optimized my content for search. Below is a list of my Most 20 Viewed Posts in 2021… along with when originally posted.
All but two of my most viewed book reviews in 2021 were initially published on Reader Voracious in 2019. Along with the fact that the majority of my blog traffic comes from search engines, this shows that people will Google books long after they are released to look for information. (This is why I talk so much about Evergreen content, friends!)
📝 Further Reading: Evergreen Content and Book Bloggers
Reader Search Behavior
While writing this post I found that I was relaying a lot on my experiences and habits, so I took to Twitter for a not-so-scientific poll to find out where other people in the bookish community turn to for information.
The big surprise to me here was Pinterest considering it is literally a search engine in its own right. The majority of “other” responses were Goodreads or The StoryGraph to look up reviews if they aren’t doing a Google search.
A photo that I post to Instagram won’t show up in a Google search looking for that book; each platform acts as its own search engine (with varying levels of success). Ultimately when someone is looking for information about something, they will open a new browser tab and perform a web search.
I’ve rambled for quite a bit about in my argument that book bloggers are an important marketing tool for books. After all, it makes sense that some of the promotion for products based on the written word are also in the written word. Photos of covers capture people who are more visual, and video is a combination of the two. But any meaningful book marketing strategy should include all and each should be fairly compensated for their work.
Looking at my most viewed reviews of 2021, it is evident that backlist books matter too. Perhaps a little more since publishers don’t dedicate much bandwidth to promote beyond a book’s publication date!
Too often do I see book bloggers getting burnt out and it certainly stings to see influencers on other platforms getting compensated for their time when book blogging is just as time consuming, valuable, and worthy. Reading books, writing reviews, curating list topics, and using social media to promote book blogging content is a lot of work and deserves to be recognized by the community.
A good way to think about social media in terms of book promotion particularly is that it relies on the algorithm and feed activity. Each social media post has a “life span” that varies based on the platform; this means social media promotion & discussions are great for getting the book in front of people in the short term. Depending on the platform, people might only look at the pretty picture of books and not even look at the book synopsis.
This post is brought to you by the Reader Voracious patrons. Please take a moment to check out their content!
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Marie @ drizzle & hurricane books says
Oh Kal this is such a fascinating topic and I’m so glad you were inspired by my post, thank you so much for mentioning it and my blog, it means so much! <3
I completely agree with you that book blogs are still relevant. I rambled on and on about it not that long ago on my blog as well and I'm so happy we're sharing the same kind of thoughts on the topic. I love how our content on book blogs have a longer lifespan and, most of it all, how it stays relevant even years later, while social media posts just… don't. This is a fantastic post!
Thank you so much for your lovely comment and taking the time to read my post, Marie! I actually have your recent post saved in my bookmarks to read for after this post was written… I will have to check that out soon!
Content staying relevant for long after posting is the biggest perk of book blogs and web-based content that’s indexed by search engines. There’s a place for all of us bookish creators in the marketing budget and I hope some publishers & pr companies realize that in 2021!
This is a great post. The more I learn about blogs from within publishing the more enlightening it is to me. Like, I think about all those emails I get from publicists with book blog tours, interviews, etc. What I know is that our physical presence and the trackability of our posts is integral to the way that publishers convince the team that the book is doing well which possibly means the author getting more trust in their abilities.
I’m surprised about discussions for blog content, as I don’t actually read a lot of discussion content on blogs. I rarely watch booktube anymore but the little I do watch are usually discussion videos which I know that platform is kinda known for.
You make such a valid point, Bertie! There’s definitely trackability with posts, especially blog tours, which is why it is so important that we interact with those posts to show the value to the publishers/publicists. I have no doubt that just looking at a blog tour review with 2 comments and 40 likes doesn’t look like much… even if the review has hundreds of views, since they won’t have that data unless they ask for it.
Love your perspective on discussions! I don’t do many of them myself, no more than 1 a month, and usually it’s more about topics in the industry like this than anything. I do want to do more lists next year though. Thanks for reading & your comment!
Shay @ Required Reading says
This absolutely echoes my experience! The vast majority of traffic comes from search, and reviews have a long tail–sometimes YEARS long. There’s a real overemphasis on social media which has a much more transient effect.
It’s really interesting to me how so many of my reviews pop off with search traffic 1-2 years after being published! Love that it isn’t only me experiencing this, Shay!
chelsea @ your bookish friend says
it’s nice to see i’m not the only one who doesn’t watch booktube!
i also rarely read instagram captions. i’ve noticed people do the same for my posts. i’ve learned to put a little qotd at the top of my caption as this is the only bit that people look at (if they look at all). they rarely click the “read more”.
We aren’t alone, Chelsea! Definitely not dissing on Booktube by any means, and upon reflection I do like the occasional discussion video, but overall I prefer to consume my bookish content via blogs.
I WOULD read the captions if they had anything to do with the book being pictured! Like I know that the qotd is an IG ecosystem thing but it is so weird to me. *grabs cane and acknowledges she sounds like a boomer* hahaha
Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts says
I’ve always felt weird about publishers not having a budget toward bloggers but will with other platforms. What baffles me the most is they’ll have the budget for OTHER blog niches sometimes as well, but not book bloggers… 🥴
Like you, I don’t consume book content through video. I tend to use YouTube for bloopers from behind the scenes sometimes, but more commonly, I use it to listen to music and discover new music.
“A post’s life lives on beyond that period.” THIS. Most of my reviews tend to go stale after some time but there’s always a few that somehow (by sheer luck and maybe SEO) don’t go stale and continue to get views for months or years after.
Yea I remember you showing me a couple niche bloggers who got money from publishers and don’t really do books. WEIRD.
I love us chatting about our posts and search views, it is always so interesting to dive into. Thanks for reading!
Clo @ Cuppa Clo says
I always find it interesting how they seem to ignore book blogs. A part of me thinks it’s because they’re trying too hard to appeal and connect with the younger generations? Which I do understand, if they’re trying to market a YA book then one would assume that their target audience is on social media. However they then end up missing out on those, who either don’t have social media or have social media but don’t consume book content on it. Not to mention there’s people like myself who are on certain social media but refuse to get into any other social media. I’ve managed to avoid snapchat and tiktok for this long, mostly because instagram decided adding reels would be great and so people cross post tiktoks to it now. *grumbles over my explore page being a hot mess sometimes*
Blogs will outlast social media content though. Also not to mention the fact if a social media platform goes down, gets bought up/acquired then you could potentially lose the following/content you put so much time and energy into. With blogs, you own it and have more control. Like you said as well, posts may not always stay fresh on the blog but they will still pull in views months/years after they were first posted. Whereas on social platforms, that’s not always the case unless something goes viral.
I used to watch Booktube before I became a blogger, then i just stopped. I don’t enjoy consuming bookish content in video form anymore, the only exception are vlog style videos I can consume if I wanted to. Other than that though I use Instagram mostly for stories, and the explore page I rarely go through my feed because it feels never ending. Twitter I love still for discourse and connecting with other people. I don’t have tiktok and don’t really feel the need to get it.
I adored this post so much kalkal and I agree with all the points you made 💜
I agree that younger generations really are gravitating toward video and especially TikTok, but there are also so many teenaged book bloggers??? I think regardless of trends and age, people will always have a personal preference. Blogging has never been for everyone. AND I DON’T KNOW IF YOU COUNT AS YOU ARE THE BOOMIEST GEN-Z I HAVE EVER MET
You make a super important point about owning your content on a blog, though! That’s why social media influencers really should be diversifying and not relying on one platform. Especially since fads are rapidly changing…
May @ Forever and Everly says
kal omg i LOVEEE this post!! tbh i personally think blogs are dying in the sense that people are caring less and less about them (and that i see a lot of bloggers getting burnt out lol, but i think that comes from lack of support), but certainly not in value. i totally understand how much easier it is to stumble upon new books on social media platforms, but the longevity of blogs and how search engine-friendly they are in comparison to social media is such a huge plus!!!
omg thanks so much, May! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post — I get what you mean about people caring less about blogs but I refuse to consider them dying (too depressing hahaha). blogger burnout is rough, and most certainly exacerbated by the lack of support. thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Mary Kirkland says
This is great. I learn more about books from blogs than anywhere else.
Great to hear and thanks so much for your comment! Viva le blogs!