A few years ago, book blogging was a fun and innocent affair and a good way for an avid reader to get books for free and make a little money on the side from advertising or affiliate book links. There are still some great book bloggers out there, and a few I still work with, so I exempt these few before I continue.
Recently however, a new income source for book bloggers has changed the way many operate their book blogs. Virtual Book Tour operators are now big business, and big money.
Let me explain. Recently, I was looking through my list of book bloggers with the intention of contacting a few to help with promoting one of my books. Something I have done from time to time over the years. When I lchecked the review policies on a number of these sites, I noticed that quite a number stated that they did not take submissions from individual authors. Odd I thought. I checked through more and found very similar review policies. So why don’t all these book bloggers want submissions from authors anymore?
A little more investigation and I discovered why. For between $300 and $2,000, or even more in some cases, Virtual Book Tour operators promise to promote a book on different book blogs every day for a month. Yes, 30 or 31 separate posts on individual book blogs. Some offer 60 and 90 day tours. Not only that, but many of these Virtual Book Tour operators promise up to 6 reviews. I know there is a lot of fuss about paid reviews on Amazon at the moment, so is this just another way of buying positive reviews?
When I checked a number of these Virtual Tours sites, the other interesting observation was that most had booking calendars and it was clear to see that they were booked out months in advance. So it’s obviously a very lucrative business that is locking up book bloggers, and worse in my mind, creating concerns about issues of independence and objectivity. If you’re a book blogger being paid to post every day by a Virtual Book Tour operator, would you threaten your income stream by posting anything but glowing reviews?
Judging by the huge number of these virtual book tour operators I found on the web, it would seem that it’s a real money spinner, but each one requires a long list of contracted book bloggers. So how many independent book bloggers are there left out there?
Everywhere I look now, money is being made from self published authors and it is starting to appear to me that quality writing is just not going to be enough to have any reasonable chance of success. Only money will bring a book and an author any success. So what’s changed really? Marketing, advertising and advertorial have aways cost money.
So is the age of independence in self publishing over? And have book bloggers’ opinions, reviews and independence been bought off by the marketeers?