When I first began blogging, I reviewed books that I'd bought. My weekly bookstore finds were the entire reason that I Was A Teenage Book Geek began. It was where I said, hey look - I bought this book, and I read it, and this is what I thought of it. My target audience? Anyone else who loved reading YA.
What I wasn't trying to do was sell books. In fact, nothing could have been further from my mind. I wanted to share my thoughts on the books I was reading, and hear about the books other people were reading, and that was it.
Gradually, things have changed. Now, the majority of the books I feature are ones that are sent to me for review. While I'm always striving to include older titles and include the odd retro review, I think of blogging in a slightly different way now. Somewhere along the way, I've begun to think of I Was A Teenage Book Geek as a site that promotes books. While it may sound like a subtle shift, the awareness that I receive review copies for a reason has changed the way I blog.
See, here's the theory: book bloggers give new titles publicity. Publicity sells books. Ergo, book bloggers sell books. Makes sense, right?
However, if we're honest, most book blogs are read by a relatively small audience - my own included. While there are some giants in the YA book blogging world, most of us aren't reaching the book buying masses on a daily basis. Which makes me wonder, are most of us just selling books to each other?
Now, I'm not saying that's wrong. It's great to be part of the book blogging community and if that's why you review books, fair enough. I also understand that some people just enjoy the self expression that comes with blogging about something they love. Some may also think of themselves as providing a service for readers by giving an honest review. I blog for all of those reasons too, to a greater or lesser extent.
But if you're someone who wants to make a difference - to get some buzz going for a title you're excited about, or to champion a little-known author whom you adore - well, what can you do? Cross-posting reviews to online bookstores or social networking sites is an obvious place to start, and it's something I'm committed to myself. When I write a rave review of a new release, I suspect it has less impact on people who read my blog than it does on those who read it at an online bookstore and then buy the book.
What I also try to do is spread the word within the blogosphere about particularly awesome books that, for whatever reason, aren't so well known. In the event that only the blogosphere is listening, I'd like to think that one of those book blogging 'giants' I mentioned earlier might spot my latest LGBT / verse novel / Australian-authored-book review and decide to read and review it themselves.
Still, it doesn't always seem like enough. If I'm besotted with a debut novel that hasn't had much buzz, I want to do more to let potential readers know about it. The question is, what? Should I be posting videos on YouTube raving about it? Should I be holding contests? Donating copies to libraries?
What do you think? Do book bloggers really make a difference? Does it matter? And if it does, how do we get the word out?