Traditional magazine publishing suffered badly in the financial crashes in recent years and the growth of the internet. Many of the big names disappeared off the shelves. The losses were heavier in specialist genres magazines, which is where most of our imprints fit. It’s important to have some idea why this happened. Previously, magazines and papers were all printed on paper and this was expensive. You didn’t just pay the writers, but the printing presses and all the lorries and trains that distributed the hard copies throughout the world. Magazines and papers made money by selling advertising - and advertisers were more than happy to pay though the nose to advertise as there was no other way of reaching so many people through the medium of words and print. Advertising inventory was scarce – there was only as much as was relative to what was printed.
Then the internet came – the internet made the cost of starting a magazine and distributing content to everyone in the entire world effectively zero, meaning everyone had access to far more magazines and newspapers than ever before, making advert inventory effectively infinite (not limited by physical pages anymore) – so the cost of advertising fell massively.
In short – magazines, papers and the media could no longer depend on the plentiful advertising money they had had for years as they no longer controlled the means of distribution. There was suddenly more competition for everyone’s attention than ever before. Advertisers began to move to companies who could promise exposure people who had genuine interest in their products – people like Google and Facebook, who can target ads using the info they have about you and your interests.
For a great potted analysis of what has happened in media publishing read this piece by Ben Thompson of Stratechary.
From big papers to small blogs – everyone is trying to work out a way forward. As we’re sure you’ve noticed, some news sites (like this one, CNet) pepper their site with ugly ads, desperate to get the scraps of money left – and give the reader a terrible experience. The Times charges a monthly fee. The Guardian is free, but asks for donations. Some publications, like BuzzFeed, make an art of holding your attention and reaching the most readers possible, with addictive copywriting. The aforementioned Ben Thompson, writes unique specialised content, that people want to read, and charges $10 a month and does very well.
What does this mean for you, the humble author?
Well – writing articles for magazines and blogs is still one of the best way to get yourself known, build your platform and reach your potential audience. If you are a non-fiction writer, it should be a no-brainer. It’s up to you and your publicist to seek out the magazines and blogs that will give you the most bang for your buck – which ones reach the readers that most align with your book, ones with readers who actually stick around and read their content, and target those.
Some magazines and blogs also include a Book Review section, so you can offer them both a review copy and an article/extract.
Most magazines and blogs will have their own strict submissions guidelines which you will need to follow. It is highly unlikely that you will be paid – though with social media, and the right article at the right time, there is the chance of massively expanding your audience. Ensure that you mention this in your approach, that you will link to and share any coverage that you get.
Here are some top tips for working with bloggers when promoting your book.
And remember this – there is more fluff, and badly written content on the Internet than ever before. But there is still, and always will be a demand, for intelligent, unique, differentiated writing. If you're not operating at the level of international and national media, and therefore not chasing huge audiences, then think in terms of carving a niche for your unique voice. If there is a demand for what you and only you can say, then your words will become valuable.
Blogging and participating in blog tours, does not necessarily turn into sales. It is about exposure:
What’s the Real Point of Book Blog Tours? (article about why blogs are useful)
Book blog tours are the electronic version of an author meet and greet – a book signing, perhaps. This is a PR activity. The authors want to chat with as many readers as they can.
It also provides an author with links and items for their social media, to spread the word, and show that their book is getting exposure. Read the full article above for some advice.
Alan Rinzler, a Consultant Editor writes about bloggers and their usefulness to authors in Book bloggers can help sell your book: Tips for authors. He argues that authors can sell books this way, but the whole area of blogging is fast moving and changeable.
At the time of writing this (2017), an article with useful links to bloggers – How To Find and Work with Book Review Bloggers. Also check out Jane Friedman, a Publishing specialist whose advice is invaluable to writers, here is her list of The Best Literary Fiction Blogs & Websites for 2017.
Reedsy have a useful searchable database of fiction bloggers that ranks them by genre and audience size.
NB: We will update this section as we see useful advice for authors.