Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Reviews are Only One Form of Promotion

Publicity for books can come in many forms; the most common one being reviews. But I think people forget sometimes that there are other ways to promote books if you don't review. Depending on who you are and how you blog, you might or might not read and review all the books that you request. And if you don't, remember that's okay. As long as you're doing your best, that's all that matters. I do the best I can at this too, but it's still my hobby. I don't get paid to review books. I request very little physical ARCs because I got into a hole with NetGalley. Sometimes I read a book and don't have much to say about it. Sometimes I have A LOT to say about it and write a long-ass review. Sometimes I just feature it on my From the Den post and move on. Whatever I write about the book, it will at least get on my blog at some point. Whether that's near or on the release date, or months/even years later, it'll happen. But there are other ways I can promote the book if I don't review it, or haven't been able to read it yet. And these are just a few of the forms of publicity that I think are great ways of promoting a book in place of writing a review.

1.  Posting photos on your preferred social media platform. Most people use Instagram, but even Twitter is often filled with book mail photos. I, myself, am terrible at Instagram and don't necessarily like it because I don't have the space to take pictures. But I LOVE looking at my feed and seeing all of the beautiful photos there. Some people have serious talent for it. And I've found many books through just looking at pictures! I've heard bloggers say before that they love seeing hauls from conferences like BEA and ALA because they can check out books that they didn't know about before. Memes like Stacking the Shelves are also popular and have put books on my radar in the past.

2. Giving away the ARC. This doesn't just have to be a giveaway where you ask people to follow you and whatnot. You could pass it along to blogger friends, create a little ARC tour, give it to your local library or a teen you know would love it. It's your ARC, so it's your choice what you want to do with it. And if you send it to someone else who *could* review/recommend it themselves, and give it even more promo, then that's great! I did a giveaway for these two alternative history books about the Romanovs because I didn't like the first and wouldn't be reading the second. But I still wanted to do SOMETHING, especially since I was given the books from the publisher. So I put them on people's radars with a giveaway and sent them to someone who will *hopefully* love them and review them in turn.

3. Recommending the book to everyone you meet. Reviews are great, but here's a confession: I don't read them. If I have any interest at all in reading a book, I won't read reviews for it until I've read it myself and can discuss with people. So, how I find books is through Twitter and blogs, and people shouting about their favorites. There are MANY books I hadn't heard of until people started talking about them on Twitter. The Fixer, Uprooted, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Air Awakens, the Every Breath series, etc. None of those books would've gotten on my radar otherwise. And sometimes I even start books when I see a bunch of people talking about one, because I'm so curious and want to know what's up. Twitter is like a smorgasbord of bookish goodness; take advantage of it.

4. Putting the book in posts like Top Ten Tuesday or Waiting on Wednesday. I don't do WOW anymore, but I had used it all the time for finding new books (except when it seemed like the same ones were being featured all the time). But I never pass up the opportunity to add fave books to my TTTs. No matter what the prompt is, I can generally get away with telling people to read the same books over and over again. ;)

5. Listing reasons for why people should read the book. Instead of going the "conventional" route of posting a review, you could instead use lists to write about it. Tell us why we should be reading it in a format that is honestly sometimes more fun to look at. Your reviews do not have to be intro, body, conclusion essays. The best part about your blog being yours is that you can review books however you want to. And whatever counts as a review is up to you!

6.  Doing author features, blog tours, unconventional review styles. Email the author about doing an interview or writing a guest post about the book. They are always SO fun to read, especially if the topic is really creative. And a lot of authors are so nice about it and want to participate. And blog tours can be fun too. I like reading them (and participating) if I love the book or the author. I didn't feel bad about my teeny tiny Goldfish paragraph on my From the Den for May because I was on the blog tour for it last month. Or ask a friend to discuss the book with you and then share that (Amber and I did this for Fangirl last year). Do a photo collage and just write a few sentences about it. Record a Youtube video if you want to. Get creative!

7.  Writing a discussion post about a certain aspect of the book. Was there something about the book you just HAVE to talk about? Did it spark your imagination? Was it personal for you? If you don't want to write a review on the book as a whole, just talk about the part of it that stood out to you. Or tie something about it into blogging, social media, your life, etc. The great thing about some books is that they make us think and make us feel. Or make us angry. ;) You can also talk about a problematic aspect of the book you read and the larger context of it in the world. Publicity doesn't mean what you write about it has to be positive. Just be honest.


Of course, I'm not saying that you should stop writing reviews altogether. If you request a book, I hope it is with the intention that you will to read it, or try to (give yourself breathing room to DNF or lose interest without feeling guilty). But, as I look at stats for my blog, I've noticed how low on interaction my review posts are. They are just simply not as interesting for many people to read. So, I don't post as many in a month as I have before, and I use other ways of shouting talking about the books I love (especially if I only wrote a mini review about them). And my point is that IT IS OKAY TO DO THAT. The world will not end if you don't write a review, or if you post it late. In fact, I've heard from several authors that reviews AFTER release dates (preferably months later) can be even better. Because it keeps their book from being forgotten. It keeps their book on readers' minds, even when shiny new stuff comes out. 

Ultimately, just do what makes you comfortable and happy. You are the only person who knows your intentions. You are the only person in charge of your blog (unless you have co-bloggers). And what you review/how you review is up to you. After all, it's only one way you can promote a book. :)

What are some other ways you can promote a book that aren't on this list? Do you agree that it's okay to not review a book? Do you agree that these other ways of promotion in the place of reviews are okay? I'm curious!

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