Perception, Reality & Our Super Reader Community

perception-reality-online-book-community

 

I was on Twitter the other day and I saw a conversation, not at all a bad one, and there was just a random comment along the lines of “oh yeah that author is so popular and probably doesn’t really need the buzz like others do.” Totally understand the sentiment of wanting to support the authors that might not get as much buzz or that might be debut authors or under the radar! TOTALLY. I love doing that and do it all the time. SO MUCH. That’s not at all the point of this post.

What this comment made me think about is perception vs. reality. They aren’t always aligned. I knew this statement that was made about this author wasn’t necessarily fact as I know the author and know a little bit about their publishing journey. They are totally ~popular~ within our circles but outside of it they just aren’t as well known/have struggled. But I could see how this person who made the statement could think this given what they see online and in this particular community of ours! I really could! Especially in relation to how well loved they are IN our community. And I think this sort of thing happens a lot  — these innocent misperceptions based on what we see online vs the actual reality. (Especially since as readers, pre-social media, I don’t think we really HAD much of a look into ANY of this).

I think in our book blogging community, which is comprised of super readers and people who are really IN the KNOW when it comes to all things books, it doesn’t always reflect the reality of how a book does on a grand scale or how popular an author actually is. I know authors who are super popular in the book blogging world and I don’t think they’ve quite reached that level outside. It’s been jarring to me to think in my head how super popular and hyped a book is in this community and then talk outside of our community and realize it’s not as big at all. Or how I can talk to a librarian about a super popular book I see embraced by our community and they tell me it doesn’t move off the shelf ever. I’m like “WAIT NOT EVERYONE HAS HEARD ABOUT THIS AND AREN’T CLAMORING TO GET THIS ONE COPY?”

It’s so interesting to me sometimes how our reality in our community doesn’t always accurately reflect sales numbers or popularity out there in the world. Sometimes it makes me really sad. I’m like “LOOK. WE ALL LOVE THIS. WHY CAN’T THE WORLD?” And sometimes our reality totally align with the rest of the book world and, hey, maybe we even helped champion it. I wonder if it’s just that sometimes, despite how big our community feels and has gotten, it still is just a small sampling but we are passionate and loud and we see what feels like a lot of people talking about and reading certain books. It looks popular to us. We are just in this community where everything is amplified because we are so saturated with conversations about all sorts of books that it kind of skews our perception a bit. It’s a little bit like an echo chamber but not like in a negative sense. (Does that make sense? Maybe I’m looking for another metaphor?).

The other thing it made me think of, regarding perception and reality, is of authors themselves. I know that before I joined this community I automatically thought published author = successful and rich and being an author is their only job. That’s true sometimes but I know a whole lot of authors who have other jobs and being an author isn’t the only thing they do at all. There have been authors who have shared about the realities of being a mid-list authors and it definitely was one of the things that opened up my eyes to how off perception vs. reality can be.

I don’t really have a point to this post. Just a whole lot of musings on something that’s kind of fascinating to me. But I think, in thinking about this, it has just reinforced how super important it is to leave reviews for books I like and love on sites that might reach the non-book bloggers and people who aren’t saturated in this world like we are — Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble because every little bit counts and we are already championing these books so why not make sure our love for the book is heard outside of our community? (not saying you are awful if you don’t…god knows I am SO behind in cross-posting reviews).

It makes me want to think about what other avenues I can spread the word and how I can use my platform BETTER to help further champion the books I love. How can I better be a resource to people like teachers and librarians who are reaching people that I might not? We do an amazing thing by creating buzz and talking about these books and writing reviews but I’m asking myself how I can do better with just even a little more effort on my part personally to reach beyond this community.

Thoughts on this? Even if you don’t agree with me or think I’m totally wrong, I’d love to hear them! How can we reach beyond our community to make a difference for books we love?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. Thanks for putting this out there, Jamie. I had a similar rude awakening a few years ago when I was chatting with an author and she mentioned that before Vlogbrothers, John Green was notorious for having super critically acclaimed books that no one ever read. Librarians loved him, teachers loved him, but his sales were super low. It was only after YouTube that his books started selling. I was just completely shocked because to me, he had always been, like, the pinnacle of success…but it just goes to show what we see in this community vs what sales/outside really is. I’m really glad you wrote this post, because I’m sure lots of people think this of many authors, and it’s just…hilariously untrue. Everyone I’ve ever met in the publishing industry, authors, bloggers, publishers, etc…most people do it for the love of it and don’t always make a really good living. I absolutely think that Amazon, GR, and other bookstore reviews from us help a ton, but I do think we could do more with the whole #quietYA thing. When it comes to those gems, I think our enthusiasm comes out naturally through our reviews, but also through discussion with other people (that’s how Emery Lord week was born!). There’s nothing like online or face-to-face discussion to get books into people’s hands.

    • YES this is a phenomena that happens a lot I feel — books and authors become the darlings of librarians and teachers but outside of that nobody is really buying them.

      And totally agree! Taking time to really shout out the gems is key!

  2. This is such a fantastically articulated post, Jamie, and I agree with so much of it.

    It’s hard to understand the disconnect between bloggers and readers, but there’s a definite one. You’re totally on point when you say that bloggers are very immersed in the world of publishing- we know about books, and we get excited for books WAAY early on. And I think that’s a major thing that contributes to the disparity between how hyped up a book is in ‘the blogging world’ persay, and outside our little circle. When a book has been getting hypes for months, we automatically think it’s going to be super successful/assume it already is, although a lot of the time that just not true. Which is so, so interesting.

    It’s obviously so difficult for us to understand which books are truly popular and which ones may be inflated, but yeah, your suggestion for cross-posting is totally spot on. I also think it’s a cool idea to go to a bookstore and kinda talk to the people about what’s popular, or even just see what’s being highlighted at B&N. I also ask my friends (subtly, of course ;)) what they’re reading, or if they’ve heard of this book, etc etc. I just want to be aware of the true popularity of books, because this is something that’s intrigued me for a while.

    Love, love, love this post, Jamie! It’s been something I’ve been thinking about, but you put it into words so perfectly. <33

    • YES totally agree. We see these books get hype WAY in advance and by the time they come out and we see all the marketing being done for it and by the time it comes out it feels like OMG wait that book wasn’t out already?!? lol

      Yes I like your suggestion of going to the bookstore and talking! I do talk a lot with my indie bookstore about these sorts of things and it is SO interesting to hear what’s popular or HUGE books for bloggers and they haven’t heard much about it except maybe getting an ARC for the store. Another thing I like to do, especially when I go into B&N, is if I don’t see a book I want on the shelf I like to ask the store to order it.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. LOVE this post – I was thinking about this not so long ago because there are authors who found their feet within this community, who we all rant and rave about, but when I talk to someone who reads outside of the community (and someone who therefore doesn’t usually read the same quantity), they have no idea who I’m talking about. I love how the online community of readers and authors has made us all more aware of the struggles writers face, and the fact that so many have to work full time or part time jobs as well as finding the time to write their book. It baffles me to be honest. Great post, definitely food for thought!

    • YES! It’s definitely strange to see authors you feel like EVERYBODY is reading (bc like more than half of the people you follow HAVE read it) and then IRL it’s like crickets about the book and author. And oh my gosh yeah that was one of my biggest misconceptions — I thought if you were published you made good money for sure and that was your JOB…just that. Funny how much we’ve learned from being apart of it. I think sometimes there are moments when I wish I was still ignorant to a lot of the behind the scenes stuff with books like I used to be but more often than not I’m glad I know so I can support my passion better!

  4. YES THIS! I agree so much! I often hear bloggers say “this book is SO OVERHYPED” when I know it’s only getting the hype from the bloggers they are reading which really is only a small group of people in comparison. Just because you see a book a lot in your social circle, doesn’t mean it really is that popular.
    I notice this quite often because I’m part of both the English and German (blogger who read English books only) blogosphere and sometimes there are huge differences in what is popular and what not.

    • YES. Esp this author that was being talked about that inspired this post. I was like eeeep that couldn’t be further from the truth in the grand scheme. Sure they may be popular here but I’m like omg not AT ALL outside of this world and i KNOW they need all the hype they can get. It kind of made me sad of the perception because this author has struggled big time 🙁

      And that’s SO interesting to think about in regards to international bloggers! I bet you see a LOT of differences in popularity. You should consider doing a post about it! I would LOVE to know more!! 🙂

  5. Crystal B says:

    I am not a blogger but I am pretty active on twitter, so the books I hear about are all hyped through that channel. I hear people talk all the time about how hyped a book is and I cant even find out much about it. I think the book blogging community is relatively small and people sometimes forget that they are part of a small subset of readers at large. They put time and effort into reading and have made it a priority. Not everyone who loves books can do that. I personally had to stop reading reviews about upcoming books because I am still trying to catch up on releases from years ago. I just started the grisha trilogy and mara dyer series. I still havent read divergent. So hyped to me feels a little bit different.

    • I’m so happy to hear this from someone who isn’t a blogger bc it confirms a lot of why I blog the way I do for the past five years. I have always tried to be conscious of the fact my readership is not only comprised of book bloggers. I’ve always wanted my blog to feel inviting to non-bloggers which is why I tend not to talk too much blogging specific stuff and have a mix of old and new (also bc that reflects my reading life). I think your thoughts are so on point..the blogging community feels so large sometimes when everyoneeee is talking about a book but really it’s so small. And hey don’t feel bad I still have read beyond the first books for any of those series haha! Thank you for your perspective!!

  6. Oooh this is a super interesting post, Jamie. I’ve never thought about this before, but you’re so right. Something that seems really popular to us may not be popular at all in the real world or may just do okay. I definitely think that can get skewed because we are surrounded by people who just love books and love to read and love to talk about books, but the rest of the world isn’t necessarily like that. Definitely emphasizes the importance of cross-posting. I’m really good about cross-posting to GR, but Amazon and B&N not so much. Which may even be more important that Goodreads because I feel like even GR doesn’t reach all readers. And this has got me thinking about how I can help spread the word to teachers and librarians in my area. Hmm… I will not go and think on this all day while I should be working… As always, great post dear!

    • YES we are so immersed in it that we get a skewed sense of reality. I mean, we see these books from the time some of them are announced, through the ARC process and through campaigns and then they are published and we are seeing cover reveals and blog tours and reviews for them and it’s like WOAH. It’s not a bad thing necessarily but I think it’s good for us to be cognizant about the reach outside.

      I’ve been WOEFULLY behind on cross-posting. I used to be like OOH so important and then I felt like, “oh am I REALLY contributing to helping them?” and also got lazy.

      RE; teachers and librarians — yeah, I’m totally brainstorming how I can do better. I give arcs to teachers I know and my friend who is a teen librarian in hopes that can help in some way. I try to request things from libraries or bookstores if I don’t see it on the shelf. But beyond that I’m lke WHAT CAN I DO. Hopefully this discussion will get the creative juices flowing for a lot of us!

      Thanks for your input!!

  7. When Leigh Bardugo came for a signing in the Philippines, I was so scared that there were going to be 500 people. It’s one of the most celebrated books on the blogosphere. So I woke up early to get in line early, and in the end, there was just about 100 people in that 10 AM line. By the end, only 200-300 people had arrived. In terms of a Philippine signing, that was few.

    It is just so easy to forget the readers who’re only interested in John Green or the bestseller or whatever is front and center on the display tables. Money’s also a factor, I believe. Leigh’s books were selling for a lot in hardcover, and without R&R in paperback, other people might have been turned off. They’re not interested in collecting. Also, the general PH reader doesn’t care much for fantasy, I’ve noticed. And I was thinking, “The Grisha trilogy has great characters! A lot will come to the signing!”

    Being bookish online, no matter what, makes a person’s book knowledge so much wider. And yes, there are some things that are hyped; in my opinion, Throne of Glass is the one that’s always hyped. I have my doubts, though, if it is that popular here, because even if it is in the bestsellers section at times, is that any indication of popularity? My general rule is just push books that I wholeheartedly enjoy, that stand out really brightly for me in the sea of all the other books that I read. Which was just The Summer of Chasing Mermaids for me so far. And Illuminae too! ;D

    • Oh wow! I would have definitely thought a LB signing would be one of the bigger ones as well! Also, AMAZING that you have 200-300 people show up to events. That just doesn’t happen around here for events at bookstores.

      Yeah, it is really hard for me to remember being in the mindset of a person who only really reads what is popular/around the display tables. I think those are great because they DO help people find books when a whole bookstore is overwhelming but MAN sometimes do I wish they would stop pushing they same books haha.

      Very interesting about your thoughts of maybe why not as many people didn’t come! I do think money plays into it as well! And v interesting about genre preference! What authors have done really well on tour that you’ve seen?

      YES that is my rule too! No matter what book or how popular..if I love it, I’m shouting it from the rooftops! And omg I’m reading The Summer of Chasing Mermaids right now and it’s so good!

      • YES LOVE IT FURTHER. That book was so good. *sighs in happiness*

        And the size of popular signings makes me wish for US ones. A Ransom Riggs, Tahereh Mafi, and Veronica Rossi event got a above a 1000 attendees, but more were there for Ransom and Tahereh. Stephanie Perkins was like, 800-900, and the same for Marie Lu. Basically, to have a crazy or somewhat big turnout, the author has to be contemporary, popular, or at least has been in the stores for some time. The bookstore tends to stock books for non-mainstream authors after announcing the event, and sometimes it’s hard to find the books, and there’s never enough stock at the actual signing. :/ There’s always a shortage of authors.

        The problems with that rush stocking is that the possibility of having more fans is less. Popular books will get sold, but for regular readers who just browse bookstores, it might take some time for them to want a book. I was that type, since I didn’t have a lot of money, and the only book discovery I did was browsing bookstores. Price is always a concern; for Leigh, paperbacks were on the more expensive scale too, and while there are some just out to attend every signing, there was a Melissa Cantor, Katie Cotugno, Robyn Schneider event two weeks later, and that’s a lot of book purchases. Lastly, the rival bookstore with a more complete collection had it stocked for years, and then the bookstore with more signings announces they’re doing a signing, and we can’t bring in the rival bookstore’s books. That frustrates me the most. It’s not our fault your rival has a better selection than you do. *humphs*

  8. Good ramblings. I’m off to post my reviews on B&N. I’d been doing Goodreads and Amazon, but I should do B&N too.

    As a new book blogger, there have been quite a few authors I’ve learned of recently that everyone in the blogging world seems to have read, that I’ve completely missed out in the regular world. 🙂 Sarah Dessen is the one that comes to mind right now. I’d never heard of her until about a month ago. But her books are being reviewed all over the place!

    • Teach me your ways of being dilligent of cross-posting to GR and Amazon!! I’m always like GAH I don’t have time to do that but I know I need to make it a priority like I used to!

      That’s so interesting to me re: Sarah Dessen because she is one who I feel like EVERY BODY (at least teens) outside of the book world have heard about. All my teen cousins are obsessed with her and besides John Green I would label her as one of the most popular YA authors ever. Just goes to show even when you think something is SO SO SO popular and everyone has heard about it, even IN our community, that it’s not true. Thank you for that reminder! I read a Sarah Dessen book recently and didn’t review it because I’m like OMG everyone has read this (and yeah a HUGE portion has) but now I kind of feel bad that maybe someone would have benefited from my talking about it.

      • I always post my reviews on Goodreads and Amazon the day the post publishes. I link up to my post from Facebook in the mornings, so then I’ll do the reviews at the same time. Now I’ll add B&N. We’ll see if my diligence lasts. I’ve only been blogging for 3 months.

  9. This is a little bit mind-bending, but I totally understand what you are saying. In reality, book bloggers and other book enthusiasts are only a small portion of the population. Everyone else is not as much in the know about books. They do not regularly tweet authors, scour Netgalley and EW for the latest and greatest books, or have intense conversations about their favorite OTPs. Some of those things are unique to book bloggers and reviewers.
    I agree that our perception of a book’s popularity is not equal to the public’s perception of a book’s popularity. For example, I was walking through my library a couple of weeks ago, and I saw A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab on the shelf. I immediately stopped and wondered why it was still there. I mean, this book has been hyped for over a year in the book blogging community and everyone seems to want to get their hands on it. But apparently not the average library patron. (And I went back to the library yesterday, and it was STILL on the shelf!)
    Another thing we have to keep in mind is that most people do not read at the same rate of book bloggers. Most people read like 10 books a year. So it is likely that they have not read all of the “popular” books in our community.
    Great discussion! It is always good to take a step back and really examine our community and its effects on the world. So, now we know what to do better!

    • Yes exactly that! LIke our world seems BIG to us but really it’s just this small subset and representation of the bigger reading world. They don’t KNOW the things we know because they aren’t as immersed in it and maybe also don’t read AS much as we do. My friends IRL who read STILL think it’s crazy how much I read and how many books I own. And I don’t read as much as HALF the people in this community haha

      Omg yes that is so one book I would have been SHOCKED to still see on the shelf!! That has happened to me before I’m like WHY IS THERE NOT A HUGE WAITING LIST FOR THIS??

  10. What an excellent post! Yes, before I really began to blog and sink into the bookish community, I too thought that published=successful. Not that they had loads of money, but that they made it and that’s the end goal. Done.

    But then I blogged. And saw lots of buzz online for some books, but not in the stores. The stores would give big buzz to other books that I haven’t seen mentioned AT ALL online. And then all those other books on display I haven’t heard a single thing about — nothing, nada, zilch — from either stores or blogs.

    And after becoming an agent, the reality of being an author, published or otherwise, really hit. You could sell millions as an author and still need a supplemental job, thanks to royalties. You could be John freakin’ Green and still need to run your own separate company that, even if it was all he did, still doesn’t make enough to live on. Isn’t that insane?

    Always push books! Online, in person, every day, throughout the year, years after publication — you name it, it’s the right time to push it. Authors (front-, mid-, and back-list) need readers!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who had this misconception!! LIke I felt like they were at least relatively successful if they were published. I also think I just had NO idea how many books are being published each season either because it’s not like the libraries and bookstores carry everything out there (clearly because half the time I go looking for certain books they aren’t even ON the shelves of either of those). I never realized the scope of publishing at all. It’s interesting the things I used to think pre-blogging as just a “regular” reader. Sometimes I wish I could still have some of that innocence but I do like knowing so I can support my hobby/passion better.

      And gosh yeah I’m sure you definitely have an even more in depth view being an agent!! It’s so insane to think about some of these money realities. GAH.

      And amen to your last line. AMEN SO HARD. I’ve seen people not review popular backlist books because “everyone has heard of them” and I was just guilty of this with a Sarah Dessen book I read but I think there’s always someone who hasn’t heard of it and WHAT IF MY SHOUTING TURNS THEM ON TO A NEW FAVORITE BOOK OR IS A GATEWAY FOR THEIR READING OBSESSION.

      • “Sometimes I wish I could still have some of that innocence” <– THIS. I love knowing everything I know about the industry, but at the same time I wish I could still stumble upon books without knowing anything about them except what's on the jacket.

        EXACTLY. WHAT IF. Even if the book won several awards, or turned into a movie, or was written by an amazing author (re: Sarah Dessen), still read and review it long after it's been published. Sometimes reading after hype can really give some quietness back to the book, and you can appreciate it so much more.

  11. I found the link to this via Twitter from Christina at Reader of Fictions (who I follow actually as much because we went to grad school together as her review, although I do skim a lot of them. I’m a teen librarian who goes to the conferences (at least one a year) and gets a lot of ARCs but, at the same time, cannot keep up on the scale that all of you do. I do follow and know a lot of the buzzed about online authors, but I remember when I was still in library school and went to my first ALA Annual and had never even HEARD of ARCs before that and what an eye opening revelation it was. And I’ve been a massive reader all my life. Even paying attention to these things, books can still slip past or escape my notice. I know I was trying to order for new YA books out in June, July and August the other day and just totally blanked on all the awesome books I’d heard about coming into those months. Anyway, it’s a really interesting thing to read about and to ponder from someone who reads a lot but also needs to buy things that will move off the shelves and it’s a weird fine line and sometimes I hate drawing it.

    • Oooh I love Christina <333

      I had NO idea about ARCs when I first started blogging. I was like WAIT WHAT. People read this before it comes out???

      One thing you made me think about re: ordering books but blanking on what was coming out -- I think sometimes I totally DON'T realize when books are actually coming out because I'm like hearing about them for a good year before and I'm like WAIT that book isn't out yet? haha.

      I have a girl in my book club who is a teen librarian and she definitely asks me and another blogger in our book club what the heck she should order and it is always interesting to see what does actually move from her point of view. It's not always the same things that are the movers and shakers in this community. It's gotta be hard to figure out that magic formula of what is popular/getting lots of pre-buzz and what you know your patrons might dig. SO MUCH RESPECT TO YOU GUYS.

  12. I love this post Jamie. I wonder about this too often. It is shocking to realize that a popular book in our community isn’t as known wide-spread. I would love to reach people outside our circle but I’ve struggled trying to figure out HOW. This post is so on point for where I am in my blogging journey and what I’ve seen around my own circle.

    • YES outside of the ways I’m already reaching outside our circle, I’m like WHAT MORE CAN I DO. I wonder too sometimes if everybody did their “part” (not like it’s required haha) if it would make an impact. If EVERY blogger or person who is involved in the online book community wrote a review of a mid-list book..would it help?? I DON’T KNOW. I hope this gets the wheels turning for a lot of us (myself included) so we can better support the books we think are worth it.

  13. I LOVE this discussion! You’re completely right, too. Sometimes I forget that the book I love and think is so, so popular is really NOT as popular as I think. Sure, it might be a well-known name or gaining in popularity, but for the most part it’s the community and anyone on Twitter that’s involved even a little bit.

    I became a bookseller in Sept. 2014, and that has opened my eyes SO much in terms of what is and isn’t “mainstream.” John Green is definitely mainstream now, but I know he hasn’t always been. Also, Sarah J. Maas seems like this HUGE author on Twitter that everyone is reading, but her books sell decently at the bookstore where I work. Not bad, but not at the level I would have expected considering her popularity.

    When I started working at a bookstore I remember thinking “I don’t need to be an advocate for these books! They’ll sell themselves!” when in reality…that’s not always true. I have Throne of Glass and The Raven Cycle staff rec’d because I love watching their sales climb because I’m talking about them even when I’m not there. That’s SO incredible to me. I just wish I could do that to the whole teen section!

    So basically: I hate hearing people say they won’t read a book/an author because they “already have enough readers.” Just because they have 20,000+ followers on Twitter doesn’t mean they’re as big of an author as one might think. They may still be considered mid-list! I definitely success in the publishing world is so varied, and it’s hard to look at an author and say “You are successful and don’t need my money” (unless you’re on, like, James Patterson’s level or something) because what’s popular to US may not be popular to the REST of the world.

    It’s so gnarly and a really cool discussion. I love meeting teens/young adults that haven’t heard of books I love but are eager to know more and give them a shot. It always always always gives me hope that people are still reading and promoting and enjoying YA on the level that they did when Twilight was huge.

    Loved this discussion, Jamie. <3

    • LOVE YOUR THOUGHTS SO MUCH LADY! Very interesting to see from a bookseller position!

      And yes….my librarian friend had told me about how Sarah’s books move off the shelf but not at the rate she’d expect from the online world. BUT that was also around when Crown of Midnight came out and she’s def soared in popularity even since then — especially in this past year or so I would say. But still v interesting to know she’s not a “household name” like she totally is here in this community. Even if you don’t read fantasy or even sometimes much YA you probably still know, if you are following any YA bloggers, who she is.

      And yes…a commenter above just reminded me that even the BIGGEST names might not even be known by some people. She hadn’t heard of Sarah Dessen, who I would consider one of THE biggest YA authors ever, before she started blogging which blew my mind a bit. And recently I had READ one of her books but didn’t talk about it on my blog bc I’m like OMG EVERYONE HAS READ HER BOOKS. I didn’t think I was guilty of doing that sort of thing because I’m hyper aware of the perception vs reality things but I totally have done that for books like Divergent, John Green’s books, Sarah’s books (minus when she has a new release out like Saint ANything). I think my rule, from here on out, is no matter HOW big…even James Patterson level…it’s still worth talking about a book I loved or enjoyed or meant something to me!

      YES I am also so loving interacting with teens and YAs about books. I just brought a huge bag of books on my vacation to my teen cousins and they just were so excited and I know a lot of these are midlist at best. Hoping they will love them. It was interesting to see what they were reading throughout the week — Eleanor & Park/Me Earl and the Dying Girl/Dangerous Girls (which I was surprised about that last one bc it’s not popular outside but I guess she was just browsing and found it) — and what they had heard about when I’d talk about books and stuff I love.

  14. YES. This is why I’ve been recommending the books I’ve read to my friends. Sometimes my roommates come into my room and ask for a recommendation from my bookshelves. And even my dad has read some of the books that I’ve reviewed very highly. And this makes me super happy because neither of them are in the book blogging community (at least I don’t think so ha), and hopefully they get that there are other YA books that aren’t on the featured Barnes & Noble bookshelves.

    • YES same! ONe of my good friends is a reader but maybe reads like 10 books a year and I’ve been reccing her books that are popular here but maybe not as much outside and she’s been loving them! She even got her friend to buy the ToG series after I had loaned her my copies and she devoured them. Plus I’m always reccing books to my sisters, teen niece and nephews and other teens in my life. Word of mouth is HUGE and important!! I even figure…when they borrow something of mine..even though it’s not generating a sale it makes them a) likely to buy that author in the future and b) likely to recommend to THEIR friends who will make a purchase like in the case of my friend.

      Thanks for your thoughts! Love your book pushing!!

  15. I’m not a blogger, but I read some book blogs regularly, and I’m also on Goodreads and Tumblr. Because of that, I probably get more exposure to “hyped” books than someone who’s not involved in the bookish Internet, and I read a lot of books that are popular in the blogging community but aren’t necessarily popular outside of that. It can be very jarring to see a book or author’s popularity online and then see zero mention of it offline, or only see “mainstream” authors like John Green promoted in stores (nothing against John Green or his books, but I’ve seen tons of John Green displays and no Raven Cycle ones, and they both have HUGE online followings).

    This post actually reminded me of an event I went to last fall with Sarah J. Maas, Alexandra Bracken, and Dawn Metcalf. I was expecting there to be a ton of people because of how popular Sarah J. Maas is online. But there were maybe 50 people? She was clearly the draw for that event (I’ll admit I only went to see her), but I was still surprised that so few people came, especially because she has such a huge online fanbase.

    That event made me a little sad too, because there weren’t that many people to begin with, and they were there for Sarah – so few people had Alex and Dawn sign their books. I didn’t even know who Dawn Metcalf WAS. It was sad a reminder that there are published authors who get no hype and very little publicity.

    I’m also trying to get better with cross-posting my reviews (they’re only on Goodreads for now) because I see some books that I LOVE with only, like, 20 reviews on Amazon. It’s something I want to work on – I may not be a blogger, but I always want to see great books get more love.

    • So happy to hear your thoughts!!

      I think the readers who aren’t bloggers but are following and involved in the community definitely get exposed to way more which is why I always have found it to be so important to not just cater to book bloggers and remember about the people who are readers looking for new recs!

      That is SUCH a good series to point out. Maggie Stiefvater is SOOOO popular here but you really don’t see much outside of our online community and esp not the kind of displays JG gets. And I love JG but UGH UGH UGH it’s not fair. HE IS NOT THE ONLY ONE (and I know he agrees with that sentiment of him not being the only YA author but maaaan it seems like from what you see on the outside haha)

      Your point about event signings? ON POINT. It’s always soooo jarring to show up to a signing for an author I thought was popular and there not to be many people. I’m like WTF why are people not here?? The event Sarah just had here was pretty large (150-200 people) but I’ve totally seen similar situations with authors I thought would garner way more of a crowd. Aw and it’s so sad when I go to a multi-author signing and nobody is in the line for an author or two. I try to always go talk to them and if I’m genuinely interested in their book I’ll just buy it or buy it for someone else (when I can swing it because I’m broke haha). I always feel so bad for them!!

      “I may not be a blogger but I always want to see great books get more love.” <--- love this! I definitely want to remind my non-blogger friends to leave reviews for books they love (if they feel so inclined). Word of mouth and leaving reviews on sites is so important no matter if you are a blogger or not because we are all super lovers of books!! Thank you SO much for your thoughts! Really enjoyed them!

      • Thank you, and I’m glad to hear it! I’m happy you wrote about this – it’s a super interesting topic and something that I don’t think very many people consider. And it reminded me to work more on cross-posting reviews 🙂

  16. I totally agree. A lot of the authors that I considered VERY BIG DEALS when I first started blogging are often ones that newer bloggers have never heard of. Series which I love and expect everyone to know (hi All These Things I’ve Done!) are largely unknown.

    A great example of this is Book Outlet. They sell remainders which are books that were over-printed/didn’t sell well or have a surplus for whatever reason (or in some cases with say Rainbow Rowell it’s just that they over-compensated for demand so there are extras around). So it’s always funny to see these books that are super popular among book bloggers listed on there and remember it’s probably because the general reading public either doesn’t know about it or had no interest.

    On the other end of the spectrum it always amuses me how popular some authors are with bloggers/hype/etc and then seeing them not move at ALL in my library where maybe the demographic is difference than the “average” reader or whatever.

    • OMG SAME! Especially being in the community as long as we have I can think back to books that were all the rage back then and people just don’t know about them as community-wide as they did back then!

      That’s a really interesting point about Book Outlet!!

      And yeah, talking to my teen librarian friend from book club has made me aware of SO many authors who are super popular in our community and they barely move off the shelf. I wonder what the disconnect is?? Any thoughts? Just a difference in demographic? Or differences in how we hear about books?

      • I’ve been waiting to get back to a computer to reply to this!

        I think *maybe* part of the disconnect is that bloggers/reviewers get a lot of the early marketing so we have been excited about a book or series for months before anyone else really gets to talk about it. The best examples of this are Throne of Glass and Grave Mercy which I cannot give away at my library (despite recommending Grave Mercy a lot which I do find harder to do with ToG as it’s not a personal favorite). That might also speak to more adults reading YA now and influencing the buzz and market than actual teens–it’s hard to say really but still such an interesting thing to think about.

  17. I think its so easy to assume that everyone outside our bubble knows about and cares about the books we so lovingly push forward. But reality hits me in my classroom when I recommend books to avid readers, ones that I assumed they knew about because Hunger Games and Divergent are among their favorites — but nope, its the first they are hearing of them. I feel like big chain bookstores feed into the hype of these mega-book-blockbusters too. When I walk into Barnes & Noble or Books A Million, I see John Green and Hunger Games at the front table. And yes, these are great books that should be read, but what about all those other not so well known books? I wish they got front table real estate too.

    A good example that comes to mind: Throne of Glass. A VERY hyped up, popular book series in the book community…. yet not so well known among the masses, as we’d assume.

    • SO easy to assume that because that’s a circle of interaction every day so we are just sooo immersed in it! YES that happens to me too with reccing books to my teen cousins and stuff who are avid readers and love some of the popular stuff. I’m like WAIT YOU HAVEN’T HEARD OF THIS OMG.

      And YES I get that the blockbusters sell but UGH they aren’t the only books. I would love to see more of “if you like John Green” type display tables like with his books on there but ALSO with books they are good John Green readalikes that aren’t as well known. Not other super popular blockbusters. Give things that need to move better a chance.

      Ah yes ToG was one that when book 2 came out my librarian friend was like yeah that book doesn’t circulate as well as you might think. I was shocked. I think NOW it is definitely way more popular because I feel like she has gained even more popularity outside of this community esp hitting the Bestseller’s list and going to big things like ComicCon and such. But the way that we talk about her you’d think she was a household name outside of the community! haha

  18. What a fantastic and on point post this one is, Jamie! It’s even more true for me here in Spain, where not all the books I like are even translated and available! Whenever someone asks me what am I reading I always have to explain that is a book in English that might have not been translated yet…

    • Another international blogger pointed this out as well and I’m so fascinated by it! I’m sure you guys really see such a difference in what is popular. This also makes me wonder at what point of success does your book get translated…or does it even have to do with success?? I would love to know that!!

      I said this to the other blogger but I would LOVE if you guys would talk about your experiences with this. Or what it’s like to be a blogger who reads lots of English books but living in another country. I’m so fascinated by all the differences and the observations you guys might have!!

      • You make a really good point wondering about what books get translated and what’s the measure of success to be translated. I don’t think you need to be a bestseller to get translated but I’m sure that helps!

        Whenever I got to my local bookstore I roam the YA section looking to see what books I know of are in the shelves, although I don’t read them in Spanish (things get lost in translation sometimes, and as better and better they might get, I’ve never recovered from the mistranslation in Prisoner of Azkaban in a Spanish edition, it bothered me so much!). And if I’ve really loved the books I’ll get them for friends I know they’d like them, or push the book on them!

        Getting YA books in English over here? Unless you want to buy Divergent, HP or Hunger Games, or John Green… tough luck! I always depend on Amazon ES or The Book Depository, because in bookstores the selection of books in English is MINIMAL!!

        Sometimes when I got to the bookstore I see many translated books that I haven’t really heard of as a blogger too, maybe because of what I usually read, but it always makes me curious about how do publishers select what to translate!

  19. You make a very good point about the “echo-chamber” effect — our (the online book community’s) perception of a book’s “success/popularity” tends to exist in a bubble, and a book’s wider popularity exists in another bubble, and sometimes the bubbles overlap and reflect reality, but sometimes they Very Much Do Not.

    Honestly, this doesn’t surprise me. The online book community reads a heck of a lot more than the average person; and thus, we get over-saturated on certain common conventions/tropes/plot elements/character types/etc. a lot quicker than the average person. Said average person might not care as much about a book that’s otherwise getting All The Hype in the blogging community for, say, breaking those conventions. And vice versa, a book that the blogging community feels is derivative or “seen this a bajillion times” might not affect the average person the same way — they might love it, and thus, it might be more successful than its popularity in the blogging community would suggest. So the differences there, I think, are to be expected.

    I do think it’s really interesting to think about the reach we have beyond the bookish/blogging community, though. I would love to figure out a way to better interact with the book community on a larger scale — beyond the, as you called it, “super-reader”/blogging community. I think our default setting (at least, mine) when we’re on Twitter is to react and talk to our perceived audience — which is….. who? Fellow bloggers, definitely. But who else? …Average readers! As shocking as that is, yes, they’re out there! And they likely have no idea what’s “hyped” in the blogging community. It’s really interesting to think about.

    Man, now I’m wondering how possible it would be to create some kind of feature specifically *for* those readers, and if they’d actually find it helpful…… *puts on thinking cap*

    • Yes exactly! It’s great when the two bubbles overlap but it’s sad how often it doesn’t :((

      Definitely agree with you. It’s not surprising at all when you think about it. We are a minority when it comes to the reading world at large. We are in the know. We hear about ALL THE BOOKS. Our social circles are reading hte same things and talking about the same things. We follow publishers and authors and we hear about books WELL in advance…sometimes when they even get announced as DEALS. So by the time a book comes out it has that “wait hasn’t that book been out for a while now?” feeling haha. I think that’s why when I blog our talk about books I always try to remember that other people aren’t as immersed as I am. It’s easy to be like “UGH THIS IS SO OVERDONE OR LIKE SO MANY OTHER BOOKS” but I try to be careful in how I word that because I am not the typical reader. For quite a few years I have known I have a pretty good chunk of non-blogger readers and I love hearing their thoughts on stuff and getting emails from them. I think I just always try to be cognizant that the readers of my blog are NOT all bloggers. They are regular readers, teachers, librarians who come to my blog looking for a rec. That’s why I try to not think “oh that book is so popular, it doesn’t need coverage” and I kind of just did that recently with a backlist Sarah Dessen book and am kicking myself because I never do that BECAUSE I am so hyper aware of my readership. But I do think a lot of book blogs cater to other book bloggers. It’s easy to do. They are the ones interacting and that we talk with and they are leaving the most feedback. I think I’m just hyper aware bc in 2012 I had a post that went mega viral on Pinterest and i gained A LOT of non book blogger readers who I DID hear from a lot. So ever since then I try to think about them with every decision I make. Which is also why I don’t review a lot of books pre-pub. I might mention them or talk about them on Twitter but I try to wait when it will be effective for them to see it.

      oooh and I like your idea! Always here to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of. I think that’s why I do my “Whatcha in the Mood For” feature because it’s not full length reviews and helps people find a book they are in the mood for and I feature a lot books people may have missed.

  20. It is so interesting to see the discrepancy. Like.. we all know and talk about books ALL the time so something that seems so popular to us may not be! It’s strange what gets picked up for B&N and what sells. I know I’ll suggest my library to make purchases and they’re actually really good about it. I try to crosspost my reviews but eeek I am so behind. I just want to be able to book push to EVERYONE.

    • YES I do the same thing with my library! Sometimes they are receptive and sometimes they are not (ughhh esp with my audiobook requests lols) but HEY always worth a shot.

      I am also woefully behind in crossposting my reviews. Maybe we should do a crossposting-thon. lol

  21. I love this post. What you mentioned about a book being super popular within the book blogging world but not outside of it happens to me so often! I remember when Bad Feminist came out, going to my bookstore expecting it to be right in the front, easy to find, from all I’d heard in anticipation. In reality….ONE copy, in the back. I was shocked, and things like that have only continued to happen ! I’ve asked to write about books I thought were “big” for other websites, only to be told that it wasn’t popular enough, and that we had to be sure “non literary” people could relate.

    I think that’s why publishers of authors big AND small are usually so enthusiastic about blog reviews… Everyone needs all the good words they can get!

    • OMG Bad Feminist is totally a book I would think would be a big one! Shocked at your story! Wow! And isn’t it SO jarring when these things happen or you are told something isn’t that popular?? I’m like wait whattt?? Are you sure? Are we talking about the same book?

      And YES…I totally agree with you. I think most are so appreciative because word of mouth and recs and reviews are SO important.

  22. Yessss I’m not a book blogger and you guys do that!!!! 😉 Like with An Ember in Ashes, Wrath and the Dawn etc. idk for sure maybe they’re popular, but the only books that everyone knows are Paper Towns, Paper Towns, and did I forget anything?

    • Hahahha! It’s so true though…if you follow blogs you tend to see the big campaigns which are books that the pubs are super pushing for that season. An Ember in Ashes was DEFINITELY one of those books. That campaign was massive and…a lot. I DO think that both Ember and Wrath did hit the NYT Bestseller’s list the week they came out but def not as well known AT ALL as they are here where everyone has at least heard of them!

      Thanks for commenting, Rose! Really love hearing from people who AREN’T bloggers!

  23. Great post, Jamie! Before I was published I used to review books and I would read blogs by authors who were hanging out in Paris looking for inspiration for book #2 or talking about the research they were doing and I just assumed authors for major publishers made a comfortable living–something like 40 grand a year. And then I got published (and did not make 40K) and realized that some authors make $500,000 for one book and some authors make $500 for one book and when the ARCs sit side-by-side, you can’t always tell them apart. I also used to think you could judge a book’s popularity by the number of GR reviews, and sure, okay, a book with 50,000 reviews has probably done well. But my debut has twice as many ratings as my second book and less than half as many sales, so it’s definitely the case that “popular with bloggers” does not equate out to popular as far as sales.

    I think it’s great that you’re thinking about these things and wanting to increase your support for your favorite books outside of the internet/YA community. A lot of it comes down to whether a book gets placement in a bookstore, and whether it can keep that placement after it’s been out for 3 months (which is when the books that aren’t selling usually get sent back.)

    Some of the things bloggers have done for me offline include asking their librarians/bookstore clerks to order my books, encouraging their friends to use the library instead of illegal downloading (so huge), and handing out swag at literary conferences. And this is within the community and something I know that you do personally (because I remember retweeting when you gave away an ARC of LAINEY), but if you grab more books than you can read at a conference or get extra ARCs, please consider passing off or giving away the ARCs before that book is published. Sure, that author who sold for $500K might be getting multiple ARC print runs and print advertising and movie theater commercials and national tours and might not miss it if you take their ARC and don’t review it. But for that author making $500 or a couple thousand per book, that ARC might be a big part of their promotion.

    Thanks for everything you do!

    • Thank you for being so candid!! I appreciate hearing more of author’s own experiences. It’s crazy to think of the assumptions and then only to be hit with reality as you get more into the business side of things. Very interesting to know that about the bookstores! I feel so helpless there because obviously I can’t change placement or what sells (hmmm maybe I can just stand in the YA aisles and bully people to buy my fave books 😛 ) but I do try to request things I’ve loved if I don’t see it there.

      Heh yeah I am the weirdo blogger who takes maybe 10 books from a conference (and maybe a handful more from publishing parties at BEA that I didn’t take but were given) so that’s not a problem for me but I so agree that this is a thing bloggers should be doing. I tend to get a lot of unsolicited books and be on publishing lists (which is also a factor why I barely grab anything at conferences) but I move them off my bookshelves quickly. I go through them and know immediately what I’m interested in and the ones I’m not move off my shelves well in advance before they are published. I have a book club I give mine too (some of them are bloggers) and I have teen nephews and nieces I give them to who devour them. Also one of my book club ladies is a teen librarian and she gets MOST of my arcs and she has implemented an ARC cart at her library and the teens LOVE it and get excited when she brings it out. I *think* they leave reviews for them is what I think happens. One of my other personal rules is that I’m always cleaning out my ARC shelves. If I was interested in an ARC and didn’t get to it after 6 mos to a year (because sometimes I totally will still within that year of them being published and I get to include them in my yearly best lists if I loved them ) then I get rid of them and figure if I choose to read them at a later date then it’s better for me to go to the library and get it (if I don’t choose to buy it) because it’s more helpful and better for circulation numbers. I LOVE my library. Actually have a meeting with the director tomorrow to talk about doing some consulting with them and stuff 🙂

      But yeah SO SO AGREE with what you’ve said and appreciate your point of view!!

  24. This is such an interesting post Jamie! It’s something I’ve been thinking about this summer as I’ve been interning with a publishing company’s sales department. They spend a lot of time trying to reach out and get their books into people’s hands. And I’m not sure how many ways there are to do this. Because even if you do cross-post your reviews to every site (Which I think is an excellent and honorable goal), I’m not sure how many “average” readers read those reviews? I think a lot of the reason an “average” reader picks up a book is from two things: they hear about it from media (TV shows, tumblr, twitter) or they hear about it in person (friend, librarian, etc.). I think part of our perception of how bloggers affect sales is also skewed. I mean, I do think we affect sales. But it might be especially in our corner of the blogging world. Like I have read books because you recommended them. But I blog on my own too. And I’m also a teeny-tiny blog (as in I have no audience, I just enjoy it a lot). So I’m probably making next to zero waves in the selling industry. So yeah, I think it’s important to spread the word about books that are loved and authors that are loved, but I also think it’s important to spread the word wisely. For me, I’d rather take to Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr. And make sure to design some rocking book displays at my library job 😀

  25. Great post! I feel like it’s similar to how sometimes people in publishing think that we blog full time. I was talking to a literary agent at BEA this year who was surprised that I had a job outside of blogging. I was really surprised by that because there aren’t very many of us in the book blogging/vlogging community who are able to make this our only job.

  26. I definitely agree with this post. There are so many books that are extremely well-known on the book-blogosphere, but if I mention it to my friends, even ones that read a lot, they will never have heard of such a thing in their lives. It definitely has to do with the nature of our community and our (moderate) obsession over books, and how they go around from post to post, blog to blog, blogger to blogger. There are some books I definitely wish the rest of the world could know about, and we should really try to get them out to the rest of the world.

  27. In our blogging world, if you haven’t heard of Maggie Stiefvater or Sarah J. Maas, people wonder if you’re living under a rock. In the real, outside world? Who is Maggie Stiefvater or Sarah J. Maas? Truth be told, I’ve been a book blogger for a long time and from young age so I’ve seen this happen in real life. I remember reading and LOVING Code Name Verity but no one at my school know the book or the author. I was so sad and shocked because everyone in the book blogging world knew Elizabeth Wein and CNV. I went to the librarians who I had a good friendship with and told them they both HAD TO read the book. They did get the book and loved it and recommended it to many more people. That’s when I realized how small our community is. This brings to my point that cross posting isn’t and shouldn’t be the only way people in the outside world should learn about books. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t cross post (because that is VERY important, especially in our online world today) but it shouldn’t be the only thing. I’ve seen lots of people on twitter push their friends on there to read their favorite books and I can’t help but wonder what would happen if they pushed people who were not a part of this community, in some way, share or form, to read the books they loved? I’ve been scouring the comments and I think you mentioned that you give your ARCs to a librarian and I love that! I tend to give my ARCs to my friends (my library doesn’t take them) and I talk about any and all books I’ve read and loved. I think word of mouth is super important.

    And this next thing I’m going to say might make me sound mean or something but…something I’ve come to realize is that an author who is loved in the outside world might not be as talked about in the book blogging world. Take Cinda Chima Williams for example. I’ve struggled for a long time to check out all 4 of her Seven Realms novels at the same time because they’re always checked out from my main library! When I volunteered at my public library, I used to have so many conversations with readers who loved her work! But in the book blogging world, her books aren’t as talked about or as popular. Maggie Stiefvater’s works,who I mentioned earlier isn’t as popular at my public library but Sarah J. Maas’s books tend to be taken on the shelf more often. There’s this big disconnect I think about who we love and who is popular in our circles then who is popular outside of it. Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy is one of the favorites of the book blogging community but I have yet to meet someone in the outside world who loves her books as much as friends of mine in this community do (in all honesty, it’s not that many people–about 30?–and many of them have been random people at the library with whom i strike up a conversation–I’m very nosy when it comes to what people are reading). In a way, I think, it’s trying to understand that an author who love in this community might not be as loved in the outside world just because. Not being we don’t talk about that book but simply because people don’t read them.

    I hope anything I’ve said makes sense…

    • But I wasn’t trying to say that we shouldn’t still tell people about the books/authors we love! Just that sometimes, no matter how much we love and talk about a book, not everyone in the outside world will love them!

  28. I’ve also been noticing this a lot lately! It’s funny when just about everyone in the blogging community knows about a book or author, but then you start to see people outside of that who have no clue about them. Especially because I want to be a published author, I find it interesting (and a little disappointing) that they’re not usually making as many sales, or as much money, as we think they are when we’re looking in from the outside!

    You make a really good point, as well, about cross-posting reviews. I’ve never thought about it in this way, but you’re right! Most non-bloggers aren’t looking at book blogs or even Goodreads for reviews. Maybe I should schedule a day or two to get caught up on cross-posting to Amazon and such 😀

  29. I travel a lot for work and about a month ago I was talking to a co-worker in a town about 2 hours away from home (Omaha) about books. She’s a big reader as is her teenager daughter so I started chatting about books and making recommendations and find out she hasn’t heard of Rainbow Rowell. It’s really a wake up call, because Rainbow is so well known in the blogging community, but here’s this reader who lives 2 hours from the city Rainbow lives in and was a newspaper columnist in for 8 years and she’s never heard of her. And I’ve had other similar experiences.

    If I love an author I’m going to shout about his/her books regardless of how successful they are.

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