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Looking for 10,000 Book Review Bloggers

ThomasnelsonI just came across this exciting announcement from Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson.  You might recall earlier this year Michael offered a free copy of Thomas Nelson's recent publication on Barack Obama to any blogger who agreed to write and post a review of the book.  That resulted in almost 200 blogger requests, almost 70% of which wound up posting reviews (including my review/post).

Thomas Nelson is now offering a much broader campaign and Michael Hyatt's goal is to enlist 10,000 blogger reviewers along the way.  The program is called Thomas Nelson: Book Review Bloggers and they've kicked off with their recent publication by Lynne Spears.  Hyatt's post cites three key program benefits for bloggers: free copies of Thomas Nelson books, content for your blog and a promise for Thomas Nelson to provide a link back to your review posts.  This is a great idea and something that's long overdue from a major publisher.  Kudos to Michael Hyatt and his PR team on this one!

Comments

Joseph Devon

This is one of things where I'm actually sitting here with my head tilted thinking, "Wait. Why has no one else done this yet?"

Book Calendar

I thought it was rather interesting. In addition to posting your review on your blog, you also have to post the review on Amazon. The idea is quite interesting. It makes for a partnership between Amazon and Thomas Nelson.

Kat J Meyer

Hi Joe:
There was some back and forth about this on twitter today. Ami Greko broached the subject. It was quite a good discussion, with bloggers and publishers voicing opinions and ideas. Many bloggers felt the suggestion that one would be obligated to submit a review (quid pro quo style, in return for copy of the book) a bit strong-armish and presumptive. On the other hand, everyone seemed excited and hopeful that publishers are reaching out to, and facilitating the book blogosphere. Also of semi-interest - is TN going to be sending out print copies, or are they perhaps considering use of such services as NetGalley? something that could very much lessen the costs of such a venture.
You can kind of sort of follow the stream via http://twitter.com/ami_with_an_i
Again, congrats on the new position with O'Reilly. And, thanks always for your wonderful posts!
~ Kat Meyer

Francis Hamit

I am open to any request for a review copy of "The Shenandoah Spy".

We can't afford to carpet bomb the media with copies, but I figured if someone asks they will review it. So far I'm about half right, in that I'm still waiting for some of those folks who asked for review copies to publish a review. The reviews received so far have been almost entirely five star and very thoughtfully done.

I was a reviewer myself for the Los Angeles Daily News for several years (those old reviews can be found on the Newsbank database) and know how many blind submissions publicists send to the media, so waiting until ask is not just economical but ecologically responsible. Review copies that don't get reviewed tend to end up in the secondary market..and there is nothing you can do about this. You end up competing with yourself, so you really want to get some promotion out of it. It costs about ten dollars to send a review copy.

Newspaper reviews, which produce book sales, have been eliminated or reduced most places as a cost-cutting measure. There is a lot of discussion about the abdication of responsibility to cover this part of the cultural conversation, and what is left , because of cost, are reviews syndicated from large papers like the New York Times and the Boston Globe. There is a strong tendency to review only the products of mass market publishing; to focus on best-sellers to the exclusion of small press publications, and an absolute prohibition against anything that might be self-published. The same market forces that enforce these prejudices also tend to discourage editorial innovation or experimentation at large publishing houses. Non-fiction is now preferred over fiction because it is easier to sell. Nothing can be read by the large houses that is not submitted through an authorized literary agent, and such people are risk adverse and chase the market.
They also tend to bully new writers into a deadly conformity with the status que ante. It is not surprising that bloggers are taking up reviews, because a lot of books will otherwise go unreviewed. Recent conversations with some distributors have revealed a kind of circular logic as to what makes a best-seller. It is a book in the brick and mortar space with major reviews from accepted media outlets. Of course those review spaces, fewer every month, are saved for those titles which will be prominent in the brick and mortar space. These decisions are not a reflection of any literary merit, but rather of the huge marketing advantage enjoyed by large publishers over smaller ones. They literally buy shelf space, reducing their products to the same status as breakfast cereal.

At the same time, there are more small press and self-published titles produced every year by people who no longer bother to submit to agents or large publishers. Given the demands for exclusive access and the slow turn around times imposed by most agents, it is simply not worth the effort. Electronic publishing, the Internet, and Print on Demand publishing all offer easy publication to just about any one.
Most of it, as Theodore Sturgeon so famously said, is crap. But it can't all be crap. And publishing , while demanding and meticulous, is not rocket science. It is a skill set that can be mastered by any reasonably intelligent person. The ranks of self-publishers include Willa Cather, Charles Dickens and Walt Whitman. This is not ego, but simply a business decision.

That said, "The Shenandoah Spy" is available for review to any blogger
with a blog that focuses on The Civil War, Spy thrillers, or feminist
topics. You have but to ask.

Jess H

Wow, smart move Thomas Nelson! I don't think my company is in the position to be giving away 10,000 free books, but it's definitely a great idea for a company like this one. I only wish we could too!

Jess

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