Over the weekend YA author Anthony McGowan questioned the effectiveness of bloggers in terms of sales, and wondered why publishing publicists held them (in his experience) in such high esteem.
In the context of McGowan’s original tweet – which brewed up a flurry of vitriol (to call it trolling is too strong, but there was a fair bit of naive and perhaps wilful misreading of where he was coming from) – Scott Pack has published this informed and balanced blog-post on the “reviewing spectrum”.
I’m glad it’s changed McGowan’s mind “somewhat’ on the contribution of bloggers.
And then Twitter kicked off with lots of people, many of them book bloggers, up in arms that anyone would have the audacity to say such a thing. As is often the case with social media some of the comments were quite personal and insulting. The book world can be a shitty place when people disagree with you.
I have first-hand experience of this but, perhaps fortunately, from before the days of social media. I wrote a column for The Bookseller in which I pointed out that newspaper reviews didn’t really have much impact on book sales any more. I was being deliberately provocative but my piece was based on empirical evidence. At the time I was buying manager of the country’s biggest book retailer and I saw the stats on a daily basis. Of course a rave review in the Times/Observer/Telegraph/wherever would sell some books, just not enough to make much difference. As I recall the book that received the lead review in the Observer the week I wrote the piece sold one copy the week after. Yes, one single copy. In the whole of the country.
N.B. As of the time of posting, Anthony McGowan’s Twitter account is no longer active.