Friday, January 30, 2009

About Stats and Readership...from Robin Maxwell

Robin Maxwell, author of the wonderful Signora da Vinci actually stopped by my blog last week and read the post Stats....Do You Care? She wrote me this email and gave me permission to post it here....she also talks a bit about using the internet and blogosphere for book promotion and that John Irving quote....


The first blog I ever wrote landed on the political page of the Huffington Post. It was called "Hillary Boleyn," and it compared you-know-who and you-know-who. I was taken completely unawares. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. The comments started coming in fast and furious, as the HuffPo was then a Hillary hating blog. The comments were mostly venomous, but once I got the hang of it, I didn't care. I stayed at my computer most of the day and read them as they came in - 106 in all. It was wild. And yes, you DO care about who reads your blogs and that you get lots of comments. The next one I did was called "MoveOn and keep on movin' right outta my life". It was my objection to MoveOn.com foisting their views about the Democratic candidate on their members. That one got, I think, 170 comments (2-to-1 in agreement with me). But one blog for them that ended up on the "entertainment page" - "The Swiftboating of Anne Boleyn," only got a handful of responses, and I was disappointed. Anybody who writes for anyone other than her or himself DOES care about what readers think. They're kidding themselves if they think otherwise.


As for John Irving's comments about only other novelists having the right to critique another novel is very interesting. I've always been very suspect of professional book critics, worried that many of them might be frustrated writers. These days it's getting so difficult to get reviews from newspapers (who are themselves going down the tubes... bigtime). Less and less space is given over to book reviews. National magazines are also ridiculously hard to get reviews in, and in radio it's rare to hear fiction reviewed -- it's mostly non-fiction ( political or health-related). After six novels, all brilliantly reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal and Booklist, for Signora da Vinci, I got one review out of all of them (and my publicist had to beg for it). Nobody can explain this trend, but everybody in publishing is tearing out their hair.

So for reviews on Signora, (without knowing this was John Iriving's opinion) I went to other historians and historical novelists that I respect for my blurbs. C.W. Gortner (The Last Queen), Michelle Moran (Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen), Vicki Leon (The Uppity Women in History series of books, and an in-process novel) and Sandra Worth (The King's daughter), and I was delighted and honored by their praise, knowing that they really knew what they were talking about. Knew how difficult it is to write these kinds of books.

This is my seventh novel, and it's the first time I've promoted one almost exclusively on the web -- in blogs and in online arts magazines, like the brand new TheRumpus.net (if you want to read my recent interview, here's the link:
http://therumpus.net/2009/01/the-shorty-qa-robin-maxwell/ . It is the future of publishing, whether we authors are ready to make the change-over or not. I, myself, came kicking and screaming into the blogosphere, but I'm liking it more and more, and I realize that people who read literary blogs are among the most devoted book readers in the world. So getting lots of attention from lots of blogs -- like what is happening with Signora da Vinci -- you can't beat it with a stick.




Amy

10 comments:

Karen Harrington said...

Bravo! I love this post. So glad you shared her email.

S. Krishna said...

This is a great post! Thanks for sharing.

Lenore said...

Enjoyed her response very much - thanks for sharing.

Marg said...

It seems that for a lot of authors they are suddenly finding that they are going to need to do their own publicity so using blogs is becoming more popular. And some of the authors that Robin mentioned are really good at generating online buzz about their books - particularly Michelle Moran.

shelburns said...

Thanks for posting this great response. I have been contacted by 3 authors this month, and I fell it may happen more frequently as they are seeing the benefits of self promotion and the advantage of book blogs, bloggers, and social networks.

Beth F said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing it. Lots to think about.

Elizabeth said...

I totally agree w/ Michelle that it is difficult to find reviews of novels in magazines & newspapers anymore. That's probably why there's so many of us receiving ARC and such.At least in that case the publisher is doing the work. For the author to have to take time from writing to hunt down their own publicity is nutty.
This post gave me one more book to add to my TBR!

Elizabeth said...

I don't know why I wrote "Michelle"!! I meant Robyn! I probably should go to bed now!

Beth Kephart said...

Very interesting. I can commiserate. And I thank you for this.

Literate Housewife said...

What a great post, and it is really hitting me where I'm living today. Since I moved to my new domain, my stats are really low. My comments usually are and I'm (mostly) at peace with that (although who wouldn't want more comments?). What should be a purely happy thing has been a little sad for me since the first three days. I'm just not used to seeing hits less than 50 anymore. I need to change my outlook, though. Rome wasn't built over night. Of course, I haven't had much time to comment on other blogs, so why am I complaining? :)

I have a copy of Robyn's book and it's next on my list of books to read. I can't wait!

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