It started innocently enough. My mother was visiting, and she brought a newspaper with her – a major national newspaper she gets so she can do the daily crossword. Normally I hate newspapers, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the mess of paper that always seems to accumulate around my house. Why would I PAY to have more crap to recycle at the end of the week?
Anyway, said newspaper was left on my dining table, and idly as I ate my breakfast that morning, I perused the Arts section – in particular the pages dedicated to books. My first cursory glance didn’t reveal much to capture my interest. But on second look something occurred to me. I began checking author names. Specifically, I began to circle MALE author names. What I discovered didn’t surprise me exactly but, it did confirm some stuff I’ve heard about the publishing industry.
I did a quick statistical analysis:
Of the authors reviewed or profiled 83% were male.
That’s not right, is it? That’s not fair, that’s not representative of the population at large. It should be about 50/50, right?
Well I did another quick count, this time on the bestsellers list, and here’s what I found:
Only 33% of the authors on the bestseller list are male. This includes fiction, non-fiction, paperback and Canadian books. Of the 60 books on the six different top ten lists, only 20 were authored by men (notably, on that day, the YA and children’s bestsellers weren’t listed. If they had been the ratio would have been even more skewed). So what that tells us is that despite the fact that women are selling the majority of books, men are still getting the majority of column inches in major newspapers. That also tells me that when it comes to speaking to the book creating and consuming population at large, the mainstream media has a very limited outlook.
And you know what else that tells me? Unlike the mainstream media, Book Bloggers are awesome.
Book Bloggers Matter. Book bloggers matter A LOT. And to drive that point home here’s my own top ten.
The Top Ten Reasons Book Bloggers Matter:
- Book bloggers review genres that rarely get reviewed in mainstream publications – specifically but not limited to YA, romance and erotica and other genres that are typically maligned by mainstream publications.
- Book bloggers review indie published books. For an indie author to get a look-in at a major publication they need to be “a phenomenon” and even then they are usually only profiled as some kind of offensive or embarrassing anomaly.
- Book Bloggers come from all walks of life. You don’t need a degree in journalism from Stanford to be a book blogger. You don’t need to be the son of a prominent newspaper editor. You need a laptop and a library card. You don’t even need a laptop.
- Book bloggers can specialize in certain genres, and become not only experts in that genre but evangelists for it. Many blogs focus on paranormal books, or YA for example.
- Book bloggers are often (though not always) women, though they rarely have a bias toward women authored books. A good book is a good book in their eyes.
- Book Bloggers come in all ages. Unlike the Baby Boomer dominated mainstream media, bloggers come as disaffected Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers, hyper-connected Millennials, and the online natives Gen Zs. Boomers are in there too. And kids as young as seven or eight blog about books–it’s awesome.
- Some book bloggers specialize in books authored by under-represented groups or books depicting under-represented characters. Several blogs specialize in writers and characters of color for example, while some others are particularly interested in LGBT themes.
- Book bloggers are not beholden to advertising. If they want to sing the praises of smut-tastic gay erotica, or pan a treacly and didactic Christian romance, no amount of pressure from Chic-Fil-A is going to stop them.
- Book Bloggers ENGAGE with readers and writers. They don’t sit atop some Manhattan high-rise sipping kale smoothies with Jonathan Franzen while Joyce Carol Oates reads poetry in the light of an Arco floor lamp. They drink cheap martinis in dive bars in Vegas with Jimmy Thomas and Sylvia Day while fans line up to get their décolletage autographed.
- Book bloggers are ON POINT with social media and new technology. If they like a book not only will it appear on their blog but it will be Facebooked, tweeted, pinned, tumbled, Instagrammed and Snapchatted up the wazoo. Not only that but they RULE when it comes to eReading and eBooks. If a book is exclusive to eBook, book bloggers will be ALL OVER it.
Book bloggers not only respect trends, they make them. They practically invented the New Adult category (and maybe later killed it. Oh well), despite the mainstream industry’s insistence to “stop trying to make New Adult a thing. They have kept paranormal romance alive and kicking, despite the mainstream’s weary protestations that it was “over”. Things don’t become “over” with book bloggers. If one book blogger gets sick of Shifter Erotica or dystopian YA, there’s always another who just discovered it.
I could go on. While the mainstream media floats around in the haze of their own over-educated, organic lemongrass- scented farts, book bloggers have revolutionized how books are written, promoted, bought and read.
I, for one, am for it. You got this, girls (and guys). You got this.