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Bloggers: The Opinion Czars to Readers

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Congratulations, your novel is published! Whether you joined the DIY movement or sold it to a publisher, you're feeling great. Take a moment to enjoy this milestone.

Now, get ready to switch gears. You are no longer a writer but a marketing machine.

Wait, you say. Writers sit in ivory towers, churning out their next masterpiece. Unless you are a brand name author, you will soon realize that the publisher is counting on you to market your work. Especially, if you self-published.

As you consider your options, you may feel overwhelmed about where to allocate your time and money. Placing ads seems a logical choice. But ask most writers about the effectiveness of paid ads and you will hear nothing but disappointment.

The American Booksellers Association has 1,900 independent, brick-and-mortar members. Yep, that's all. And although they have had an increase of 15.5% since January 2010, is there any community that hasn't seen a longstanding bookstore bite the dust? Sadly, I experienced this firsthand: the local bookstores where I held book signings in 2007, the beloved Dutton's in Brentwood and charming Village Books in the Pacific Palisades, no longer exist. Recently, my book launch for my new novel, Revealing Eden (Save The Pearls Part One), was held at Frank Pictures, an art gallery in Santa Monica. It was a great party, but I missed the company of other books.

And with the proliferation of self-published e-books, the market feels inundated; your fabulous book into which you've poured your blood, sweat and tears, soon lost in the crowd.

So what's a writer to do?

Coming from the world of indie filmmaking, I learned long ago that with limited resources the only way to reach your unique audience was through niche marketing. Unfortunately, if your book lacks an easily identifiable genre, your marketing job will be that much harder.

All you have to do is study the bestseller lists to see that, on average, only a handful are general fiction. God Bless Kathryn Strockett, the author of The Help, for beating those odds.

And yet, while the growing trend towards genre fiction has limited the marketplace for more inventive works, it also has produced a plethora of niche groups interested in those subjects. Storefront bookstores rely heavily on traditional pre-publication reviewers when determining which books to order. With the huge surge in online book buyers, the relevance of those reviewers' opinion has diminished -- and will continue to do so.

Do you really think any teens who bought The Hunger Games through Amazon.com cared what School Library Journal had to say about it? More likely, those buyers follow one of the many blogs that cater to Young Adult books, or particularly, dystopian fiction.

And that is why niche bloggers are the new opinion czars for readers.

Reaching out to these bloggers simply requires time and patience. Each has a different set of requirements: some will add a Q&A, others, an online chat, or perhaps, a book giveaway. And unlike the nameless façade presented by the traditional reviewers, most likely, you will find passionate readers who are thrilled to receive a copy of your book and post a review on their blogs. Despite the conduit of e-mail, the one-on-one interaction that these blogs provide writers and bloggers feels fresh and intimate like a visit on a Southern porch!

In 2007, when TeensReadToo.com gave The Virtual Life of Lexie Diamond a Five-Star, Must Read review, I was thrilled, but made sure to include their quote after Kirkus Reviews and the Recommendation from The Center of Children's Books.

Today, my main approach hinges on appealing to bloggers! To date, I have sent out over 60 copies of Revealing Eden (Save The Pearls Part One), my new fantasy/sci-fi/adventure/romance, a veritable pastiche of genres, at their request. I deeply care what they think. And I have been richly rewarded for the attention I've paid to them.

Even though Revealing Eden will not be officially released until January 10, 2012, it already has received 4 blog reviews as well as many posts to Amazon, all of them enthusiastic. And more are coming.

Live To Read highly recommended it with Five Stars to young adult and adult readers, and included a lengthy author Q&A.

The Bookshelf gave Five Stars for a "fantastic read, I recommend everyone to check out this book!" Amanda's Writings "Revealing Eden was a great read. The end left me hanging, and I can't wait to read the next book!" And Books Obsession: "This was a great book to the start of a unique series." And I have begun a series of online chats: Wednesday the 14th, I chatted with followers of YA Bound, which was an amazingly rewarding experience!

Being directly connected to these lively communities of readers is a writer's dream. Many of these clever bloggers also post their reviews onto Goodreads.com, one of the largest sites for readers, thereby widening the scope of their influence.

And what has did it cost in dollars? Shipping costs and a discounted copy of my book.
Just as the Internet has provided direct avenues to consumers in almost every area from buying real estate to testing your DNA, authors can connect to readers through blog. The world of opinion has come to roost on niche bloggers to the benefit of readers everywhere, and writers, too.