I mention this by way of a discussion on influence and true reach on the internet. Those 133 people I influence are what Klout considers my "true reach." It's less people than the 361 that follow me on Twitter, but still way more than I'd expect considering I don't have a hugely popular blog or a book deal. And this brings me to the main point... book blogs. More specifically, the "true reach" and power of book blogs. Thanks to a conversation on Twitter and this post, I've found out that some publishing companies really prefer a blog to have at least 1,000 followers before sending review books.
The reason this bothers me (and it definitely bothers me) is probably the same reason it's bothering a lot of other book bloggers: because a flat follower count is not an indication of a blog's influence or quality. As I write this post Ten Cent Notes has 263 followers -- a modest amount that I'm happy with, but definitely not the 1,000+ I've recently come to feel like I should be aiming for. This doesn't include any email subscribers or people who actually type in the URL, of course, but more than that it doesn't take into account content. I know that there are some people -- even with all the other blogs and reviews out there -- who rely on my reviews and trust what I say about books. I put a lot of time and thought into my reviews (as well as the rest of the blog) and having readers who appreciate what I say is an amazing thing. But knowing that my blog, based solely on follower count, isn't popular enough to build a relationship or be considered by publishers is incredibly disheartening. And if I'm being honest it kind of makes me angry.
Because -- and I'm not saying anything that my fellow bloggers don't already know -- the easiest way to get new followers is by running contests that require or give extra entries for following. And while I love blogs that run giveaways, there are a lot of blogs that have thousands of followers based solely on the giveaways they host. It has nothing to do with content and it's obvious because, often, there isn't much content. I definitely agree that, especially with how many book blogs there are now, there needs to be some standards in order for ARCs/review copies to be sent. I just think that the 1,000 follower mark leaves out too much information and more often than not targets the wrong blogs.
Publishers, if you're listening, here are some things (I think) you should actually be looking at:
- Time. How long has the blog been up and running -- three months? Six months? A year? Blogging is one of those things that doesn't really seem like it would be work until you go and do it; in my experience most bloggers who stick around after the 6 month mark are doing this because they honestly love books and want to share that love. These are the bloggers who are going to stick around and build a readership.
- How often do posts go up? Different people have different opinions on this one but for me unless there's at least a post a week I'm going to lose interest... and I'm betting a lot of other readers will as well.
- Quality. This is, of course, unquantifiable, but generally posts should be fairly well-written and thought out. And interesting.
- Stats. Follower count, site hits... whatever. The tricky thing here is that I'm not sure any one form of stat counts includes everything and some bloggers don't keep track of counts. That's why there are so many other variables that should be looked at.
- Reader participation, a.k.a. comments. Blogs that get comments are doing something right.
That's about all I can think of right now, aside from the obvious common sense stuff like making sure the blog actually reviews the genre in question. Bloggers? What do you think of all of this -- should follower count be the be-all-end-all? What else should be considered? Did I miss anything?