Opening Shot: Blogging Books
Monday, April 4th, 2005 (from DTW)
Welcome to another edition of “This Week on IAOCblog,” where this week’s topic is “Blogging Books.” I’m the guest host this week, which means I invited our guest bloggers Kevin Smokler, M.J. Rose, Shel Horowitz, and Gwendolyn Gawlick to join me in a discussion about using blogs to promote books. All of these folks have invested a fair amount of time in blogs over the past few years, and we’ve all learned a few things to pass along.
I come into this week pondering these five issues. I’d love to hear anyone’s take on one or more of them this week:
- Are Blog Tours Worthwhile?
- Pros and Cons of Author Blogs
- How to Buy Advertising on Blogs?
- Will RSS replace eZines?
- Will Blog Spam Kill Blogs and/or RSS?
Here’s my take:
1. Are Blog Tours Worthwhile?
Yes. It’s a smart idea to approach the blogmasters of half a dozen blogs and see if your author can do a day on the blog, If done well, this tour can result in news and promotional announcements reaching dozens of other blogs and web sites. Google matches for your author’s name and the title of the book can rise exponentially, from 2 sites to 128 sites in the course of a month. A blog tour is the fastest way I know to spread news.
On the downside, to book an author on a 4-blog tour can be frustrating. Finding good blogs is not easy. I have to visit 100 blogs to find four worth pitching. Despite RSS, the cream has not risen to the top. Blogs have an alarming decomposition rate. They start to smell sour unless updated at least as often as the milk in your fridge. Web sites updated only once a year can remain valuable.
Blogs are hot now, and because of the way they are built and the way search engines operate, blogs can disseminate news quickly. But the actual participation in blog tours can be remarkably poor. Many sites offer no ability to make comments, or comments are buried, or comments require membership – all of which results in very few comments on most of the sites on a tour. How easy is it to comment on this post? How many people will bother?
2. Pro and Con on Author Blogs
Yes, if the expense of maintaining the blog can be spread over multiple books or author projects.
No, as a single-title project produced by publishers. Just as book companion sites aren’t worth maintaining unless they’re attached to an author, imprint or brand, single-title book blogs are seldom a good idea.
3. How to Buy Advertising on Blogs?
I’m curious about this. It looks like you can buy your way onto many blogs with Google Adwords and maybe Overture? There are a couple display advertising consortiums – I’ll look for URLs and report on a couple later this week.
4. Will RSS replace e-zines?
So far, I haven’t seen it. Setting up an RSS Feed that works well is a lot like fine-tuning e-mail filters to block spam: it’s fairly complicated to get it right, and even then the results aren’t perfect. There’s no reason to believe that RSS will be any more immune to spam issues than e-mail is.
5. Will Blog Spam Kill Blogs and/or RSS.
Yes, I believe there is a real risk that spam issues will plague Blogs and RSS and thus curtail growth in their popularity as media alternatives. In terms of online power tools, blogs will continue to run a distant third in behind web sites and e-mail. In two years, they might be as big as Gopher servers.
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