Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pea plant or shrinking violet?--veinglory

A new blog for lulu book reviews has opened. In their first post, as in most summaries of POD review sites I see a number of blogs are mentioned--but not this one. So after three years and 68 reviews I have to ask, why does POD people as one of the most long-standing and productive review blogs in this area continue to fly under the radar?

Because, to be honest a little light ego-stroking is all our get out of this. And also the point is not just to create reviews but promote them and self-published books in general. Ergo a higher profile would be helpful.

All suggestions greatfully received. For example, what types of content, what tone and what other strategies might I employ to increase our profile online and in the minds of people writing about indy books and indy book reviews?


Will Entrekin said...

I wonder if the answer lay in honest reviews. Honest reviews are helpful, certainly, and worthwhile, but if the raison d'etre is to promote, positivity is the name of the game. If you really want to promote self-published books in general, one option is to consider less reviewing them than highlighting them, as promotion.

You know the story about journalism, that dog bites man is not a story, but man bites dog probably is? Same here; it's not news when a self-published book gets a negative review, because, let's be honest, most of them are awful. Rather, it's news when a self-published book is actually good. The original PODdy Mouth wasn't known for her blog so much as for her Needle awards; that's why she was profiled in Entertainment Weekly. Notice that profile didn't note any reviews she gave only one or two stars to; rather, it covered the five books she had handpicked as the best she'd reviewed that year.

I think doing so might keep you writing about something you love and believe in, which is when your reviews are most cogent. Otherwise, they sometimes make rather sweeping generalizations or don't contain the insight you seem otherwise to display.

It's also worth keeping mind that a little light ego-stroking is all just about any of us get out of POD.

The Lulu Book Review said...

Hi Emily-

We owe you an apology. The Lulu Book Review website was not intended to go live until this Saturday as we were still editing the rules, the greeting, the pages, etc. Oops...guess what we discovered this morning?

POD People has now been mentioned in the greeting and added to the Blogroll. As we are only reviewing Lulu books, we by no means want to be in competition with you. After all, we are all here supporting the same cause.

Please accept our apology!

Emily Veinglory said...

LOL, no need to apologise. That was a recent and probably unfair example. POD peeps are generally not much cited and I do presume that to have something to do with the approach or content here rather than anyone else's oversight :)

The Lulu Book Review said...

I have to admit it wasn't because I didn't know about your site. Two years ago I almost submitted my own first POD book to you for review. But anyway, I'm looking forward to growing the website and appreciate your feedback and support.


Floyd M. Orr said...

I wrote a long e-mail message to you today that I cannot seem to send to your regular address. I have tried several times and given up. I have kept the message in my drafts folder so I can try again later. What gives?

PubGuy said...

Hi Emily:

An interesting question, how to raise the profile of one’s blog? I think the original POD-DY Mouth is recognized as the top performing POD-centric blog. I believe there were three main factors in her success.

1. Credibility — the fact that she was a traditionally-published author with industry contacts made readers pay attention to what she had to say. Being featured on her site would get an author’s name and book in front of agents and publishers. That’s the goal for many POD authors, novelists in particular.

2. Compelling Copy — girl could write! In addition to her reviews, her agent interviews and industry insider notes were always interesting. She was able to produce snappy copy that had a bit of bite without ever crossing the line into mean-spiritedness. I do think it is important to have more than reviews on the blog. It is also important not to get bogged down in minutia when writing about the POD industry.

3. Consistency — this was huge in hooking me as a reader. In her first year, PODDY had a review posted every Monday. I first discovered her blog when she reviewed Waiting for the World to End by Nicole Hunter. Ms Hunter then added the story to the Authors in the News section at the POD that I used to work for. I’d check her site consistently to see what book she had reviewed that week. The volume of work that she did on her blog was just amazing.

One trick that even the original POD-DY Mouth struggled to pull off was bringing POD readers (or better yet, POD buyers) to the blog. That’d be the real trick wouldn’t it! I think the next step would be for a POD blogger to become a columnist someplace like Publishers Weekly, Bookslut or something along those lines.

I think the longevity of POD People certainly goes a long way toward establishing credibility. You may want to reach out to traditional publishing people (agents, editors) to get their take on POD. That may encourage those traditional publishing people to follow your blog and, in turn, lend additional creditability amongst POD authors shooting for a traditional deal.

Consistency has been an issue for me. I post a little over once a month and on no particular day or date. If a reader can count on seeing a new review every Monday or a new news item every Thursday, I think that can go a long way toward establishing a readership.

Then, we bloggers face the same challenges as POD authors. Marketing! I’ve made a bit of an effort to post comments on other blogs of late. I think that helps get the word out about one’s blog. My PubGuy blog faces many of the same issues that POD People does. I do think there are ways to increase readership. Of course, they do take time and effort.

I hope these (long-winded) suggestions are helpful.

Good luck!