Monday Morning Stepback: Rigged contests, Guided reading, Harlequin's Enhanced Online Reputation

The Weekly Links, Opinion and Personal Updates Post

Annoyed with bloggers who do constant giveaways to increase readership? Feel sure these contests are rigged? Their time may be at hand, if this angry person or this one has anything to say about it. A third post, Are Bloggers Conducting Illegal Lotteries? also raises interesting questions about how blog contests should be regulated. (via @myfriendamy):

Go right on ahead then honey because when the feds intervene, when state law governing sweepstakes intervene, I will be sure to grab some popcorn. Because I spoke about this issue once, about whether the sweep was a sham, and I was right then, I am right now. Bloggers are rigging their giveaways for winners based on whom THEY want to win, not by chance. Which technically if you as a blogger are conducting yourself in such a manner you are violating federal and state sweepstakes laws by crossing into lottery territory.

[Edited to add: Author and attorney Courtney Milan blogged about this a year ago. The post is called, “How to run a blog contest without going to jail.”]

*****

Have you ever read in a genre, noticed a trend, and thought, “I find this really weird, but since no one else is mentioning it, I’ll just keep my mouth shut.”? Well, that’s what I’ve always thought about the “bra suck” in romance. Luckily, SuperWendy has proven once again that the truth shall set us free, with her post on The Soggy Bra Epidemic, followed up by a somber and thoughtful discussion of this very important issue with her man. This is a matter of public health and sexual education, people. Go forth and read.

*****

Library Journals’ 10 Must Read m/m romances (via @katiebabs). Was happy to see Sean Kennedy and Alex Beecroft there. Many of the others are unknown to me.

*****

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape, by Jaclyn Friedman, in The American Prospect on the Assange charges and the media’s coverage of them (via @moirarogers(bree))

Here’s how it works: As soon as a rape accusation makes it into the news cycle (most often because the accused is famous), it’s instantly held up against our collective subconscious idea about what Real Rape (or, as Whoopi Goldberg odiously called it, “rape-rape”) looks like. Here’s a quick primer on that ideal: The rapist is a scary stranger, with a weapon, even better if he’s a poor man of color. The victim is a young, white, conventionally pretty, sober, innocent virgin. Also, there are witnesses and/or incontrovertible physical evidence, and the victim goes running to the authorities as soon as the assault is over.

But let’s face it, actual rapes almost never match up to this ideal. Most rape victims know their attacker (estimates range from 75 percent to 89 percent), most rapists use alcohol or drugs to facilitate the assault (More than 80 percent, according to researcher David Lisak), not weapons, and most of the famous men whose accusers receive media attention aren’t poor men of color. But once the accusation hits the news cycle, whatever pundit gets there first uses the non-ideal details of the alleged assault to argue that surely, we shouldn’t take this seriously, and other pundits nod their head in agreement.

*****

At Novel Readings, Rohan Maitzen weighs in on the debate over Oprah’s choice of Dickens for her book club. The literati are worried that the common folk won’t understand the book, apparently.

Maitzen rejects the idea that Oprah readers are too unsophisticated to “get” Dickens, noting that Dickens was once a “popular” author. Yet, as an English professor, she believes that guidance can enhance the reading experience. I especially appreciated her point that:

novels that don’t immediately gratify your taste may be revealing some of your own limits, not just theirs. Sometimes, you’re asking the wrong questions, for instance. Here’s where ‘real guidance’ might come in handy, at least in training you as a reader to stop and think about why the book is as it is, what purposes its aesthetic and formal choices serve, what ideas shape it. You might not like it any better, but you would understand a lot more about it.

Opinion

Mrs. Giggles is bored with the internets:

I decided to look for new titles to buy using online hype when I got home. I hit up the Web and… sigh. Is it just me or have all the major romance blogs are now collaborating to hype up the same 5 authors over and over again? I mean, come on. I’ve read those 5 authors already. I want to see the spotlight on someone new. Someone who isn’t published with Harlequin, please. Seriously, have Harlequin bought over the blogs when I wasn’t watching? It used to be that we laugh at the titles of their Presents books. Now, it seems like everyone is reading Harlequin category romances like they are serious business.

I have four things to say about her post (too annoying to try to comment over there. HATE LiveJournal):

1. It’s true that this is a small community and we like to read what our peers are reading, in order to have shared experiences to talk about on Twitter and our blogs, and so some books get overexposed. But this is not just an issue with genre fiction. Anybody notice a little book by Jonathan Frantzen this year? And how that was the only book anyone in the literature/general fiction universe talked about for a month straight? Plus, if a book is good, of course we are going to rave about it, and increased chatter will be the result. And if a book is good and does something NEW in the genre? You do the math.

2. Luckily it is very easy to fix that sense of sameness: start reading other blogs. It is really quite simple to cut out of your life a blog that bothers you. I wonder why more people who complain do not try this? Alternatively, ask your readers to help you find new and unique books. You can see this last strategy at work in Mrs. Giggles’ own thread. (But see point 4 below). Or just surf or shop randomly, picking out what interests you.

3. I have only been on line a few years and even I have noticed the increased respect given to Harlequin, much of it driven by things other than the quality of its books, such as its marketing savvy, its embrace of digital, and its responsiveness to the online community (Blogger Bundles, etc.). But, unlike Mrs. Giggles, I think this is mostly a natural and good thing. Some Harlequin books are great, some not so great. To lump an entire publisher or line together is to do the same thing on a smaller scale that non romance readers do to the entire genre. Harlequin is our major genre publisher. Does it make sense to turn our noses up at it?

4. It’s kind of interesting how many commenters on that thread say they don’t read romance, and do not recommend any romance in their responses. I don’t know why, but I always find it kind of surprising how many people in the romance community don’t seem to read or even much like romance.

Personal

Hanukkah and both birthday parties are over. At his birthday party on Saturday, my 11 year old received a copy of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games from a friend, and to my shock, it turned out half the boys had read it.

I have a bit of grading to finish today, and then it’s break until January 10. We aren’t traveling, but we might toss some beach sand on our new kitchen floor, don sunglasses, and play some Jimmy Buffet.* (*actually, I hate Jimmy Buffet. Sorry Parrotheads.)

No idea what I will be blogging. Hope everyone who celebrates has a wonderful Christmas holiday!

I leave you with this very amusing Andy Samberg video, lyrics NSFW:

49 responses

  1. Very interesting about the blog giveaways! I have used twitter in the past to give folks two chances to enter if they so wish, but it’s always strictly voluntary. It in no way gains my any more readers and I didn’t expect it to. My stats have and probably always will be very modest and I’m fine with that. I’m no longer surprised at something like other bloggers admitting that they only pretend to randomly select winners. It’s unsavory for sure, but no, not surprised at all. Seems the longer you’re on the internet, the less your shock-o-meter pings. But really, Random.org, so easy! No excuses.

    Hope your days off are wonderful! Be careful with that sand in the lovely, newly renovated house! :D

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  2. I am saddened to hear that giveaways are rigged by bloggers because if one blogger rigs it, then all the giveaways are tainted (or it seems that way). I’ve some thoughts about giveaways. First, if a blogger is running giveaways for traffic, then they are going about it the wrong way. In other words, unless you are constantly running giveaways, the traffic that you get won’t stay because the people who come for the giveaways will not come back unless the regular content you serve up is of interest to them.

    For example, the Times article noticeably increased the visitors I had for about two days, but since then, my traffic has settled down to mostly normal levels. Increased regular traffic comes about only because there is content on the site that interests readers enough to return. I view the giveaways in the same way. Giveaways can lure traffic in but your content is the only thing that will keep them. So rigging a giveaway seems to be a a) useless way to increase traffic and b) an easy way to ruin one’s reputation.

    Further, giveaways can be rife with problems. I viewgiveaways as a service for the reader, particularly the ARC giveaways because as a reader you just don’t have the opportunity to get these books early (or you didn’t in the past). But fulfilling the giveaway is an issue of customer service. I don’t want a reader to be unhappy with the results of a giveaway. I’ve sent the wrong books to the wrong people and when notified of that, I will send out (and pay for out of pocket) the right book because I want that reader to come away feeling good about the contest and the site that ran the contest and the sponsor. If bloggers don’t view it this way, then the goodwill achieved through the giveaway is easily wasted, in my opinion.

    Giveaways are difficult to run (or at least they are for me). We get requests to run giveaways all the time and we won’t do it unless a) the sponsor agrees to give away a lot of books or b) we really, really love the book that is being given away. I put these constraints on giveaways because giveaways are really time consuming. Thankfully I don’t have to mail out the over 100 books we gave away in the last two weeks at Dear Author, but I do have to mail out about 30 of them and that will take me a whole day. But again, giveaways are services for the reader and rigging them or not treating the readers right will only end up biting the blogger in the ass.

    For me, I use random.org to pick out the winners for my giveaways. I once posted about it and I think, jessica, you wondered why I had to do that. But I do that because I want people to know that we don’t rig contests and everyone has an equal chance of winning. Plus, there is nothing greater at the end of a giveaway than to see a commenter say that winning has made their day or that they never win anything. That’s a great feeling. Why ruin it by rigging the contest?

    As for Mrs. Giggles and her audience, I wonder if they aren’t suffering a romance genre malaise and that the genre isn’t meeting their needs right now. I have long time romance reading friends who have definitely drifted away from the genre because whatever they got from the genre isn’t fulfilling them anymore.

    As for harlequin, given that they publish 50% or more of the romance books, it would seem normal that they would get 50% or more of the attention of book reviews. In fact, I think what we may be seeing is an increase in attention paid to category romances which comprise what 40% or more of the genre? I think the category is one segment of the romance genre that was largely ignored for the past few years. Ebooks received more attention than category romances.

    I also think that Harlequin has made huge efforts in courting bloggers and not by trying to buy positive reviews, but just get more attention in general. Their books are on netgalley; they are actively training their authors to contact bloggers and participate in social media endeavors. I receive email notices from harlequin regularly and by harlequin authors about upcoming events, new promotions, and new digital product initiatives. I don’t get that kind of information from other publishers (except for Penguin) so it’s much harder to give attention to other publishers’ activities if they don’t share that information. I have set up google alerts for other publishers but often don’t find anything of interest regarding romance. The other publishers are much more focused on their hardcover authors than what the mass market romance divisions are doing.

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  3. I don’t mind everyone talking about the same books if they’re GOOD. What I hate is when I pick up a hyped book and end up not liking it at all. Which leaves me feeling like the odd person out. Did everyone really love that book or were they saying they loved it because of the peer pressure?

    I don’t see a huge percentage of blogs reviewing Harlequin category romances either. There are a few, yes, but definitely still a minority in the blogs I follow.

    I get a giggle out of the literati in general. They make a big assumption that those who don’t love Dickens don’t understand his work. The masses may get far more out of it with guidance, true, but I’ve never found Dickens all that difficult to understand.

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  4. >>” I always find it kind of surprising how many people in the romance community don’t seem to read or even much like romance.”

    I think most people who go to the trouble of posting at romance sites do actually like romance, but I’ve seen some who don’t and it surprises me, too. I once got an email from someone berating me about one of my own reviews and it started off with, “I can’t believe you gave [Book X] such a high grade. I don’t really like reading romance and books like [Book X] are the reason why.” To this day, I have no idea why this person bothered reading my reviews if she doesn’t like romance, but to each their own.

    Re: Harlequin – Even though the titling in some of their lines makes me rant on occasion, I am glad to see their books get more attention. I’ve been reading from various Harlequin lines since college and while some books aren’t so great, they’ve also published some real gems.

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  5. Yes! The soggy bra thing has always bugged the hell out of me but I figured it was just me! I’ve always assumed that it was because, as a modestly endowed woman, I always wear bras that have some padding, or at least are heavily lined, so obviously there’s no way to suck through all that. I figured women with large breast, which make up 99.98% of romance heroines, would wear thin bras (which explains why their aroused nipples are always obvious through their clothing, which also bugs me because isn’t nipple coverage one of the reasons to wear a bra anyway?) so maybe it would make sense.

    I totally get where Mrs. Giggles is coming from. There is definitely a sense of sameness among the romance blogs (I don’t read blogs about other genres), both in the books that get reviewed–which actually doesn’t bother me–and in the grades given out–which does…a LOT. Not to start another discussion about Lord of Scoundrels, but that book is a perfect example. Hell, even if I agreed with the majority about a book, it still irks me that none of the blogs disagree. To be fair, I haven’t been reading many romance blogs for that long, but off the top of my head I can’t think of a single book where the reviews among the big blogs ranged from “This book sucked!” to “OMG best book EVER!!!” which is a shame, because it’d be really interesting to read that kind of discussion among bloggers (instead of it always being just the commenters that publicly dissent).

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  6. Hey, thanks for the shout-out!

    Echoing your sentiments exactly on #3 of your Mrs. Giggles musing. I’ve been reading category romance for 10 years now. Some of them are gems, some of them are good, some of them are ho-hum and some of them cause my eyes to bleed. But you know what? That’s pretty much all publishers across the board. Harlequin doesn’t hold the market share on awesome books or crappy books. Also, hot damn – do you realize how much category romance is published every frackin’ month?! A ton of it! For one, I’m glad there is an increase in reviewing exposure. It helps steer me toward potentially good reads that I might have missed because 1) I have a Real Life 2) am a slow reader and 3) haven’t been able to clone myself yet in order to get more reading done.

    I think a big reason for increased blog exposure is Harlequin’s willingness to embrace digital. Bloggers are, after all, online. Also, it’s pretty easy to get your Harlequin fix via ebooks these days. No geo-restrictions, no pricing them higher than print editions and making all the new books available in both digital AND print at the exact same time. OK, so they’ve still got DRM in place – but in the grand scheme of things? I think Harlequin is running digital circles around the rest of the publishing industry…..

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  7. I loved Wendy’s soggy bra post, and the comments were hilarious.

    I agree with your thinking, Jessica, about why certain books and authors show up on a lot of blogs. Certain authors (many of whom publish only one book a year) are respected by many of us and their new books greatly anticipated (Loretta Chase and Jo Goodman come to mind), while other books represent something new in the genre that many of us are interested in or curious about (Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke and Zoe Archer’s The Blades of the Rose books, this fall). What I appreciate is that while the things we point out about these books are often similar (makes sense), there is respectful (mostly) disagreement. That seems to stem from a healthy sense of “not all books please all readers” and “your mileage may vary,” which I find less prevalent in reviews of some other genre fiction and almost completely lacking in the occasional reviews I read of literary fiction. This relates almost exclusively to the blogs I read regularly, and the two reinforce each other. I gravitate towards blogs where the breadth of possible opinions is acknowledged; I rarely return to a blog where the reviewer(s)’ opinions are presented as pronouncements from on high.

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  8. @Jessica

    4. It’s kind of interesting how many commenters on that thread say they don’t read romance, and do not recommend any romance in their responses. I don’t know why, but I always find it kind of surprising how many people in the romance community don’t seem to read or even much like romance.

    One one of my yahoo groups I have friends who don’t enjoy much of the romance they read. They used to love the genre but it has lost some of its shine for them. One friend for example loves complex historical romance but she doesn’t love a lot of sex or mental lusting. For that reason she finds much of the historical romance published today disappointing. Others have similar complaints — or they don’t care for paranormal romance, a subgenre that has become hugely popular in the past five or so years.

    For those types of reasons, some readers are drifting away from the genre, but they keep checking their favorite romance sites for recommendations from reviewers, bloggers and trusted friends in the hopes of recapturing what they used to enjoy so much.

    @Las:

    To be fair, I haven’t been reading many romance blogs for that long, but off the top of my head I can’t think of a single book where the reviews among the big blogs ranged from “This book sucked!” to “OMG best book EVER!!!” which is a shame, because it’d be really interesting to read that kind of discussion among bloggers (instead of it always being just the commenters that publicly dissent).

    At Dear Author we used to have dueling reviews where two of us reviewed a book and often offered differing opinions. We don’t do it as often anymore (and when we do, we don’t call it a dueling review). If memory serves, one of the reasons we’re no longer doing it with the same frequency is that we got complaints from commenters about reviewing the same book more than once. We also had fewer reviewers then, so there was less chance of duplication then there is today, and now we have to be more careful to review different books from one another.

    I have definitely done reviews at Dear Author that went against the majority of the online romance community’s opinion — for example I gave Brook’s Demon Angel, Hoyt’s The Raven Prince and Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady DNF grades, after Jane and Jayne had given these books grades in the B+ to A range.

    More recently I reviewed Mary Balogh’s very first book, A Masked Deception which goes for a bundle used these days, and gave it a D grade (although I have also given some of her other books much higher grades), and my grades for Megan Hart’s books have ranged from A-/A to DNF.

    But low grade reviews are probably the exception to the rule for me, because I have to get a fair way into a book even for a DNF review and most of the time, I don’t stick with books I don’t enjoy. Life is just too short, or maybe I’m not selfless enough, to spend it reading books I don’t enjoy. I wonder if that’s one of the reasons why we don’t see more dissenting reviews in the blogosphere when it comes to those popular books — perhaps the reviewers who don’t care for those books don’t get far enough in those books to review them.

    With that said, there are currently two reviews of the same book sitting in the DA backend waiting to post closer to the book’s publication date. One reviewer has given that book a B+, and the other a C.

    So it does still happen at our blog, but you have to keep an eye out for it.

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  9. @jane

    As for Mrs. Giggles and her audience, I wonder if they aren’t suffering a romance genre malaise and that the genre isn’t meeting their needs right now. I have long time romance reading friends who have definitely drifted away from the genre because whatever they got from the genre isn’t fulfilling them anymore.

    That.

    I’ve been suffering from that malaise since the late 90s and the genre hasn’t done anything to change my mind, except that now I’ve discovered Judith Ivory. Where was *I* when she was publishing? Oh, yeah, hanging out with Tom Wolfe and Umberto Eco and Neal Stephenson.

    I still CALL myself a Romance reader because that’s how I’ve, er, identified? since I was a teenager, and labels are hard to shake, especially self-imposed ones. What *I* see are people like me who call themselves Romance readers because they’ve always been, but the genre isn’t serving up what we fell in love with in the first place–and I don’t mean tropes, but depth of characterization, intricate plots, and heroine derring-do. Mrs. Giggles’s perennial complaint about UF is that the heroines are SUPPOSED TO BE badass, but turn out to be milquetoasts. I’d say the same about Romance.

    I’ve told this story before, but it applies: We moved into this house five years ago. I found a box of random romance novels I had bought and read, published between 2003 and 2005. I didn’t remember having read ANY of them. I know I did, but they were so not memorable I first asked “Where did these come from?”

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  10. @Janine

    I agree with you wholeheartedly on The Spymaster’s Lady. I so didn’t get the love (although I did finish it to see if I was going to miss some twist). Among other things, the writing was turgid and the heroine was a bit too stupid to be a spy (spilling all your secrets to a guy you don’t know and can’t see? Really???) On the other hand, I bought and read A Masked Deception because your description looked like it was up my alley AND because I kept hearing about Balogh’s Signet Regencies. A- read for me and I thought the rationale for her deception was thoroughly and completely justified. And oh, look at the copyright date: 1985. QED. (Not really. I just like saying QED.)

    Re dueling reviews: While I understand and applaud the purpose, two reviews of the same book does annoy me. Only so many column inches to go around, yanno?

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  11. It hadn’t occurred to me that giveaways might be rigged. I’ve received several books via the usual “leave a comment, perhaps get your name picked at random” process on at least four blogs. I’ve never participated in the points-for-more-mentions process because I’m too lazy/have a real life. I’m not sure why anyone would rig a contest when the toll on your conscience is so big (at least it would be big for me).

    As for Harlequin, I’m aware that they do a better job in the digital world than most other publishers. Their ebook prices are usually lower, and they always have something new coming out. If that means they’re getting more attention from blogs, so be it.

    Glad to hear your grading is almost finished, Jessica. Enjoy your winter break.

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  12. @Moriah Jovan: I actually loved the language in The Spymaster’s Lady, it was Annique’s characterization that spoiled the book for me. I just couldn’t buy her as the super-competent spy she was said to be. Re. Balogh’s regencies. IMO she has much better ones than A Masked Deception> (for me she peaked in the early to mid 1990s, with books like Snow Angel, the recently reprinted A Christmas Promise and Dancing with Clara), but I’m glad that my review helped you find a book you enjoyed.

    Re dueling reviews: While I understand and applaud the purpose, two reviews of the same book does annoy me.

    That’s the thing; you’re not alone in being annoyed, which is one of the reasons why we’ve cut way down on it. But then we get comments like Las’, that there isn’t enough dissent on our site. And I can tell you that in my case, by the time I get to most of the buzz-garnering books and discover that some of them aren’t to my taste, they have already been reviewed on our site by someone else.

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  13. My 12-year-old son’s best friend just passed on his copy of Hunger Games, which my son is devouring. I was surprised too, partly because I thought of it as too much of a “girl book” for him, and partly because I thought of it as too “old”/serious for him. It made me look again at the breadth of his actual reading–everything from “adult” mysteries to (shh) some of his 8-year-old sister’s funny books–and reconsider what books I am offering/not offering him to try. I don’t want to be too quick to accept the claim that “boys won’t read books about girls.”

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  14. @Janine Ballard:

    At Dear Author we used to have dueling reviews where two of us reviewed a book and often offered differing opinions. We don’t do it as often anymore (and when we do, we don’t call it a dueling review). If memory serves, one of the reasons we’re no longer doing it with the same frequency is that we got complaints from commenters about reviewing the same book more than once.

    This paragraph made me laugh, because I was all, “Oooh, you guys should totally do that again!” And then you reminded me that, yeah, I’m not usually a fan of multiple reviews on one blog. Clearly, I’m just impossible to please.

    Seriously, I would love the dueling reviews if they were significantly different from each other. I see a C+ and a B as the same exact grade for all intents and purposes, but a book getting an A from one reviewer and a D from another is one I want to know more about (with the obvious caveats that the reviews are well-written, etc.). What makes me immediately lose interest is a string of gushing reviews, especially when those A’s come after several weeks of anticipatory hype (unless I’m already looking forward to it because I already like the author/series). I can’t make myself even the tiniest bit interested in The Iron Duke, for example, because A)the months of gushing over steampunk and how great the new genre is and how fantastic Brooke’s book will have to be had the effect of a bucket of ice water poured over my head, and B)well, gee! Everyone gave the book a great review when it came out. What a shock that was(n’t)! I believe the reviews were sincere, but…I don’t know, the whole thing still rubs me the wrong way. Which is why I agree so much with Mrs. Giggle’s post. Sure, a big part of her problem is probably genre malaise, but when so many of the bloggers are reading the same books and giving similar grades and rarely blogging about unknown books by new/unknown authors, it does feel like we’re just reading about the books the reviewers can get for free.

    I’m sure there are all kinds of examples out there that prove me wrong, but this has been my overall perception of a big chunk of the romance blogging scene for a while, and I can’t seem to shake it. At this point I read the blogs for every other topic except reviews.

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  15. Contests: Not surprised that some people rig them or that they could appear to be rigged if the same individuals enter multiple contests at multiple sites. I hope that this isn’t something that would need to monitored by the state for the individual bloggers because that would probably end the practice. **edited to add** will check out Milan’s post later.

    Soggy bra: As a large breasted women who finds lacey, shear bras quite uncomfortable and manual adjustment sometimes necessary throughout the day, this isn’t one of my particular fantasies. It was a great post by Wendy though and I looked all of her comments. I think part of this might also come from big/little screen as a way to get around the rating systems or a way to pull back from female star nudity. What came to mind was Sex and the City and the difference in the earlier seasons compared to the later seasons for the female stars and their bras. **edited to add** I also practically fell out of my chair with the wet spot comment.

    Rape: It’s interesting that I read *one* of Wolf’s posts on the subject and I didn’t come away with the same conclusion that Friedman did (specifically on Wolf’s post). I will see that I’ve definitely seen the tear down the victim bit in the media and in personal interactions within my community. So very, very much baggage. The timing of the Wikileaks case is rather convenient though given the use of Interpol and the back and forth on whether charges were being filed. In my mind, in this case, I’m not questioning the victims or their claims but rather the claims of the state on their public reasoning for seeking this man out because the man and his actions can’t be separated from his public release of state’s secrets and his claim to having secret data from at least one of the big financial houses on Wall Street that the organization was on the verge of releasing. If I recall my timing correctly that’s when the sh*t started hitting the fan. Honestly, I’m much more scared of the Orwellian undertones these days of Internet control and politician spin. The Internet as we thought we knew it (or at least we consciously acknowledged) isn’t a real place at all. Some of this stuff, if you stop and think about it, make Amazonfail look like child’s play.

    Oprah: I think Oprah’s readers will be fine. From what I vaguely recall of the Tolstoy novel they did, they posted a guide posts, reader questions and had open forums. So I’m sure the readers will be fine.

    Romance Genre: Sometimes you just need a palate cleanser. I, too, am sick of heroines who we are told are kick-ass and competent but aren’t in order to move the story along.

    I think there is a danger of blogs seeming to be more of the same even if they aren’t. It’s a matter of when one is actually paying attention combined with the mega-promotions being run, the books reviewed, the commentors. It’s possible that she is seeing an online trend that may be further solidified by orgs such as netgalley. It would be interesting to dig into statistics to see how her impressions compare to reality. Keeping in mind that we tend to remember a big name rather than the unknowns.

    I’ll echo the Brook comment. Overall I enjoyed her Let There Be Monsters story but for me it wasn’t the best thing since sliced bread. So when I see reviews for the Iron Duke based in the same world (which I haven’t read yet) plus the book club chats and jerk’em posts by a certain sci/fi author directed toward the subgenre (not Brook specifically) then every little post or comment about Brook or the Iron Duke makes onto my radar because now I’m consciously noticing instead of simply receiving and discarding. So even if the level of commentary at one particular site is about the same for that book as it is for a different, I’m hypersensitived to it. Also remember that we are getting the best of the year lists out, I suspect that many of them have duplicate books on them which would only reinforce that feeling of sameness.

    I like joint reviews where the reviewers come from different places. More like a roundtable where it’s like one is listening in on a book club discussion. On the order of what you do with your son(s)/husband, Jessica. I don’t care for the dueling reviews (individual reviews) unless the grades and perspective are very very different.

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  16. My frustration with books-reviewed on blogs is the focus on new releases. I want more discussion of old books – for that reason I have greatly enjoyed your review of an old Linda Howard recently and Janine’s recent reviews of old Baloghs on DA. But really, I’d like much much more of this and across the board.

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  17. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/20/naomi_wolf_vs_jaclyn_friedman_a

    Very interesting discussion. I do understand Friedman’s qualms/concerns (need a better word) much better now. I’d like to maintain my original defense of the words I read by Wolf but she does in fact step in it by echoing many of the talking points used within cultural to defend rapists when she’s defending Assange even IF she has personally classified this case as the “exception.”

    But honestly I just don’t know how one separates the rape issue from the politics at this point because I suspect the US will issue an arrest warrant for Assange to face terrorist charges while he under house arrest in Britain.

    **edited to add** Part II of that same interview

    http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2010/12/20/part_iifeminists_debate_on_the_sexual_allegations_against_julian_assange

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  18. Does it annoy anyone else that blogs will say, if you follow me on twitter, facebook, my blog, you’ll get an extra entry for a contest? And the fact that some blogs have a follower button or widget showing the number of followers they have? More than half the time the reason they have so many followers, is because that’s their way to sign up and try to win contests.

    Maybe some bloggers or readers have romance reading fatigue because that’s all they read? Perhaps if readers shake up their reading with different genres, they’ll find the love for romance again?

    It’s pretty telling that only 1 romance is in my top 5 favorite books for 2010.

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  19. I started doing m/m romance contests as a sort of karmic balancing. *waits for snickering to die down* Seriously. I’ve won a ton of contests – having contests feels to me as if it balances that somewhat. It also feels like doing my part (as a member of the m/m romance community) to promote authors and books I enjoy. Contests are not rigged – bless randomizer.org. :) I do simple contests (leave a comment) because I personally hate contests that have lots of hoops to jump through. (Although I must confess to enjoying a good “leave a haiku” contest.) Not sure that it increases traffic that much – I have a pretty solid core of people who stop by for cat pictures and rarely enter the contests. My traffic tends to spike on Mondays for the Misdadventures in Stock Photography and on Fridays for Linkity – completely non-contest events.

    But definitely good thinking points in those articles – thank you for that!

    Like

  20. Dickens & Oprah: The pick probably flopped because most people associate him with boring middle school/high school English class. And Dickens isn’t “in” right now: if Lady O had chosen an Austen or Bronte title, the tide might have gone the other way.

    Mrs. Giggles: I wonder if the lack of dissenting opinions (from commenters or other bloggers) is because blogs feel too personal. I know I don’t feel 100% comfortable with responding to a blog post if I disagree with the review, because it feels as though I’m disagreeing with the reviewer. I don’t feel that “Big Brother” sensation on a message board. However, perhaps it seems the major bloggers review/squee over the same books because the books no one else had read are frequently empty of comments–what can you say but “that sounds interesting”? But I second Tumperkin’s desire for reviews of older romances–there are gems I’m sure many have forgotten they’ve read (*coughbetinakrahncough*).

    Harlequin: Considering that category romances are considered the red-headed stepchild of the genre, I find it refreshing to see more and more reviews and the books treated with as much respect and interest as single-title romances.

    Dueling Reviews: I guess I’m in the minority, because I like them! They remind me of my much-missed AAR’s Pandora’s Box reviews, which I enjoyed because even if I didn’t read the book or had no intentions to read it, I walked away with a lot of food for thought about the book and the genre in general as seen through that book.

    Have a fun break Jessica!

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  21. I can’t reply to everyone this time out, but I am so pleased at the discussion. Exploring backlists and finding the odd romance is one of my favorite things to do, but I wonder if that’s because I am only 3 years in to reading the genre. If I had already been reading for 20 years, I may gravitate to the new as well.

    Thanks Janine, for noting that some readers of romance sites may have tired of the romance, but keep coming around in hopes of finding something new. That makes perfect sense. I am still in the honeymoon phase, so it’s hard to imagine getting sick of the genre.

    @Chris: I like occasional contests for the same reason. It’s a nice way to give back. But now I am wondering who needs the headache.

    @AQ: Thanks for the take on Assange and the links! I agree that it is impossible to unravel at this point, but Keith Olbermann and co’s scare quotes around the word “rape” bugged the heck out of me. Just say he is accused of rape, which is true, but don’t question the charge itself. There is a crime of rape, not “rape.”

    I also did not review TID because there are just too many reviews out there, although I did discuss it in a post with two other books.

    @Moriah Jovan:

    I’ve told this story before, but it applies: We moved into this house five years ago. I found a box of random romance novels I had bought and read, published between 2003 and 2005. I didn’t remember having read ANY of them. I know I did, but they were so not memorable I first asked “Where did these come from?”

    Chilling, but many of us could relate similar tales, I bet.

    @Evangeline Holland:

    I know I don’t feel 100% comfortable with responding to a blog post if I disagree with the review, because it feels as though I’m disagreeing with the reviewer.

    Interesting. This is like an iteration of the issue reviewers face with respect to authors (“I am reviewing the book, not the author.”).

    @Jane:

    For me, I use random.org to pick out the winners for my giveaways. I once posted about it and I think, jessica, you wondered why I had to do that.

    Once upon a time, I was a mere babe in the online woods.

    As a wise woman once said…
    @KMont:

    Seems the longer you’re on the internet, the less your shock-o-meter pings.

    @Jane:

    As for harlequin, given that they publish 50% or more of the romance books, it would seem normal that they would get 50% or more of the attention of book reviews. In fact, I think what we may be seeing is an increase in attention paid to category romances which comprise what 40% or more of the genre? I think the category is one segment of the romance genre that was largely ignored for the past few years. Ebooks received more attention than category romances.

    Agreed. I just really don’t like the idea of dismissing such a huge segment of the writing that is being done in this genre. Some of my all time favorite romances have been written by authors in category format. Also, some of the most unexpected stories have come out of category. Right now I am reading a 2007 Silhouette Intrigue set in a fictional African country, in which the hero is a dictator and the heroine is an Asian American psychologist. No joke. It’s quite good so far.

    @Tumperkin: It’s funny, but often if I review an older book that many have read, I get more discussion and comments than a newer release which few have read. So it is very rewarding all around. Expect more of the old time reviews form me over break, as I have a bunch of Baloghs and Beverleys and Crusies to get through.

    @Las: I really appreciate your perspective. And I agree that a B review and a C_+ review is not much of a duel, although I guess the two reviewers could have very different points to make about a book, or different aspects they liked or didn’t, even if they more or less agree on its overall quality.

    I do think, when a lot of people say “all the blogs are one”, they mean exactly two blogs, and we know which two those are. I want to tell those people that their perception is down to the fact that they themselves are focusing too much on more popular blogs, and that they would see a very different picture if they cast their net a little more widely.

    I am going to reread LoS in the near future and create a safe space for critical, even negative, discussion of it. But first I need to develop a passcode for participants, then hire extra security in case the blog gets hacked, and then enter the Witness Protection Program. When it is all in place, I will let you know.

    Thank you for all the holiday wishes!

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  22. This is a great article! Thank you! I’m commenting about the contest part because that hit home for me. I thought I was over analyzing blogs contests. I was just talking to a blogger about this. I actually won one of her contests and thanking her to death ;) She is one of a few blogs that I follow that I have won books from. I say this not “just” because I won a book but because I won period. You see, I’m a reader not a blogger. I lack of “real” computer skills.

    Back in 2007 (ish?) I created a very sad blog. I was an anonymous commenter back then & never won from posting a comment under anonymous. W/bloggers help, I created the most basic blog. I was discouraged & frustrated for months trying to figure out why I can’t make it look pretty like the other blogs so I left It in limbo for 3 years because at least I was now verifiable to the hosts and maybe this would help my odds.

    Wrong…

    I was just about to give up entering contests but then Blogfest 2010 happened. I thought I’d try my luck, If anything, I’d learn of new blogs and hopefully new books & authors. And, guess what? I WON! I couldn’t believe my luck @ the new places I subscribed to. I really won.

    This is where I learned of the use of Randomizer.org. A lot of the blogs I subscribed to, didn’t use this. All my long heartfelt comments by a reader of (why or what) from answering their questions didn’t matter for winning. They were still going to pick the person who had the prettier, most active, most followed sites, to win. These are the ones who can tweet a thousand times and facebook it to death.

    I also agree about blogs, blogging about the same 5 or 6 authors & books. I follow or email subscribe to about 200 blogs so I can learn of new books & authors. Each day in my email there are at least 10 bloggers, blogging about the same book.

    I also found someone to help me make my page look prettier then it was but it is still missing so much. Even though he added one to my page, I don’t know how to add contest buttons to my blog to earn extra points needed to win. I feel some of these contests are already geared towards letting those knowing the system to win. I often wonder if publishers make it kinda like an unwritten requirement. If we give you this book for review & contest, you also have to have the contest winner be a reviewer too and the winner also has to post a review on that book too. Double publicity.

    Regular people like me, who read for fun or hobby aren’t really reviewers and into dissecting books, but rather we liked or didn’t like the book. I may not have a following per say in cyber space, nor interested in trying to promote books with hidden agendas but I am a reader & fan of books and feel that people like me should count for more points towards winning books because really we are the ones actually coughing up the most money buying these books. (Now I’m not saying reviewers aren’t buying books before I get yelled at but they are getting more free books then winners of these contests.

    I buy approx no less then $50. to more like $100 in books every month. Before Blogfest I won 4 books in 3 years. Since Blogfest I did win about 10 books in which I still need to give them thank you credits for on my blog. I do admit my winning odds has gotten better but it is because I found blogs that are playing fair. Blogging is a blogging world, they are already sorta geared towards keeping certain people winning. Even If I figure out the contest buttons thingy, some techno geek will come up with new ways to sabotage ;)

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  23. the focus on new releases

    Which is one reason I share at least part of Mrs Giggles’ view on the way corporate relationships can come to dominate content. I realize it suits some readers perfectly to see the same books in the store, featured as new items on Amazon, reviewed on blogs, etc. But it doesn’t happen to suit either my book discovery process or what I want from blogs.

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  24. @RfP:

    I share at least part of Mrs Giggles’ view on the way corporate relationships can come to dominate content.

    I have found that there are some things it is impossible to have a conversation about online. And that is one of them.

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  25. Okay, part of me wants to go ARE YOU SERIOUS about the contest rigging thing. But um… I’m too realistic, and yeah, I can see that. Because sometimes, some people can really suck.

    *G* Soggy bras are public health issue? I know wet panties can be a health problem, but soggy bras? ;)

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  26. @Jessica:

    And I agree that a B review and a C_+ review is not much of a duel

    Somehow my B+ and C turned into a B and C+. I agree that B and C+ aren’t hugely different, however C and B+ do seem different to me and those are the grades of the upcoming DA reviews I mentioned. The reviewers (Jia and Jennie) also had very different takes on the book, as you’ll see when the reviews post.

    I’m on vacation visiting with relatives, so my posting time and opportunities are very limited, otherwise I’d reply in greater length to the posts here! Thanks Tumperkin for enjoying those Balogh reviews! I always feel a touch guilty for posting them, since the books themselves are so hard to find and expensive.

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  27. For bandwagon effects, the book blogs have nothing on knitting blogs. Hey knitters, remember Clapotis? And guess what, it deserved to be a craze because it was a great pattern. I waited 3 years to knit the damned thing because I didn’t want to be part of the herd. Then I knit 3 in a row. Sometimes the herd is right.

    I think netgalley has probably done more to facilitate review bandwagons than other corporate efforts, especially since it is willing to treat a wide variety of readers as potential reviewers.

    Sarah Frantz and I have done some joint reviews of books we approach quite differently. Our grades are frequently very close, but we don’t read them the same way. Same with Janine’s and my Balogh review. I really enjoy the joint reviews, but they don’t seem any more popular than single-authored reviews, and they take two people’s efforts, so you get fewer reviews overall. From my individual reviewing perspective, a C+ and a B are very different grades; a B can be a book I really enjoyed, whereas a C+ is usually below my recommendation threshold.

    AAR used to review quite a few books that were out of print and difficult to locate. While these were great for readers who could get library copies or find them at the UBS, they were really frustrating for those who found themselves dying to read a book that they couldn’t get (or couldn’t afford to pay astronomical prices for).

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  28. Sunita – Being new to the online knitting community, Clapotis was not on my radar until now. All I have to say is damn you for adding yet another project to my list! That is a beautiful piece and I have a feeling it will be gracing my wardrobe soon.

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  29. @Janine Ballard: Sorry for mesing up the grade differential, but I did say in my comment that

    the two reviewers could have very different points to make about a book, or different aspects they liked or didn’t, even if they more or less agree on its overall quality.

    I think for duel posts to be interesting, there have to be two different voices on the book, however that is cashed out.

    I have appreciated the Balogh reviews too and am looking forward to reading more of her books in the near future.

    @Sunita:

    I think netgalley has probably done more to facilitate review bandwagons than other corporate efforts, especially since it is willing to treat a wide variety of readers as potential reviewers.

    That is a pretty funny knitting story. Yes, the herd is sometimes right. and I had not thought of the impact of Netgalley on herd mentality in reading and reviewing romances. Maybe I’ll post on it. I’d be interested to know what others think.

    @Bonnie L.: Enjoy!

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  30. @Bonnie L.: Welcome to the herd! If you like to use different yarns than the pattern suggests, it adapts beautifully to yarn of any thickness as long as it has some drape. Be sure to google “Clapotis tips” before you start. There are a couple of shortcuts that make life much easier.

    @Jessica: I’ve just been struck by the timing of reviews for books that are available on Netgalley, and since everyone from Big Bloggers to Goodreads posters are able to join, a book can be reviewed in a dozen or more places around the time of its drop date, which undoubtedly contributes to the saturation feeling. If it really were only the highest-trafficked sites, I don’t think people would pay much attention, since you expect review sites to cover the major releases.

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  31. @Sunita:

    you expect review sites to cover the major releases

    I’m curious how you would define a major release. One would think bestsellers – the books read by the greatest number of romance readers. Yet many of the consistently top selling books/authors are virtually ignored by the most popular online review sites. When did you last see a review of a new book by Johanna Lindsey, for example? But she’s still writing and still making the bestseller lists. (This is an observation, not a criticism. I’m not surprised bloggers prefer to write about new stuff.)

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  32. @Miranda Neville:

    Yet many of the consistently top selling books/authors are virtually ignored by the most popular online review sites.

    This is an interesting question. I’ve just looked at the USA Today best seller list, the top 150, and I see no straight romance on it save two Nora Roberts and a collection with JD Robb and others (as long as we don;t count Sparks, Steel, Meyer, Collins, or Read as romance).

    Sorry to butt in. I’ll let Sunita answer for herself!

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  33. @Jessica:
    I monitor the USA Today list for a writers’ loop so I can tell you this week had the fewest romances on it I’ve seen in two years. December is always bad for genre titles because everyone’s buying for holiday gifts. There are usually 25-35 romances in the top 150 the first week of any month, and 10-20 at other times. This is especially true in the past year or so, since USA Today started counting category sales. Harlequin Presents has a big USA Today presence.

    USA Today is interesting in that it includes ebook sales – sales in all formats are aggregated, making it a much more reliable indication of popularity than the prestigious and incomprehensible New York Times. This is probably far more information that you wanted to hear.

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  34. @Jessica: @Miranda Neville: Good question, Miranda. I definitely meant major releases as far as the online community is concerned, because as you point out there is a big discrepancy between what sells the most and what online romance readers talk about. Overall, I believe HMB sells the most, but wasn’t reviewed much (excepting Wendy SL, Rosario, DA and a couple of others) until the last couple of years. I think Cassie Edwards and Connie Mason still sell (and Janet Dailey too, doesn’t she?) and they’re ignored for different reasons. That’s been true as long as I’ve been online, though, so it’s not a recent trend.

    I was referring to the releases from NY publishers primarily. So Avon, Berkeley, etc. I don’t read anywhere near all the romance blogs out there, but the ones I follow tend to review all the works by a subset of historical and contemporary ( probably PNR) authors. Not every site reviews every book (these are primarily volunteer reviewers, after all), but you can compile a list of authors who get reviewed by at least one or two high-traffic sites and a bunch of medium- and low-traffic ones as well.

    You and Jessica make a great point about the discrepancy between the bestseller lists, what sells to on- and offline readers combined, and only to online readers. They overlap but they aren’t the same. I think netgalley and the proliferation of e-arcs has made it easier for newer authors to get covered, but it’s still an idiosyncratic process.

    Oh, I’m always up for talking about the vagaries of the bestseller lists! So many lists, so hard to penetrate the methods behind them.

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  35. I have found that there are some things it is impossible to have a conversation about online. And that is one of them.

    Agreed – there are many such things.

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  36. @Miranda Neville:

    Per my non-exhaustive dataset the following books had the most reviews from “romance blogs”:

    In alpha order by author then title:

    1. Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
    2. The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne
    3. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
    4. Dark Needs at Night’s Edge by Kresley Cole
    5. The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
    6. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
    7. Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
    8. Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas
    9. The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn
    10. Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh
    11. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
    12. Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh
    13. Lover Enshrined by J. R. Ward
    14. Lover Revealed by J. R. Ward

    Dataset is through 2009 with a few books from 2010. At a glance, out of the top 100, I’d say paranormal gets the most reviews followed by historicals. Only 1 Nora Roberts in that list and no Johanna Lindsey. On the other hand, I haven’t worked on the dataset for about a year.

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  37. And here’s what I found for reviews done specifically in 2009 (the previous was all books with no date restrictions).

    Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews
    The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
    Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole
    To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
    Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
    Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
    What Happens in London by Julia Quinn
    Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh
    Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh

    Again with the caveat on data limitations.

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  38. @AQ: Wow, that’s fascinating! I guess I was partly on target, but I really expected more reviews for Nora Roberts and other toplist authors. Also surprised at the omission of some of the so-called internet favorites (although others who fit that category are represented).

    Can you tell us a bit more about the database?

    ETA: Thanks so much for posting this information.

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  39. @AQ: You have a data set? This is amazing! Thank you for sharing. But I am with Sunita. Tell us more. In fact, let me interview you about your data set for a post so it doesn’t get buried in this long comment thread.

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  40. @Sunita: @Jessica:

    Yes, I has a database for a project I was working on, then abandoned for a while, and am now considering working on again. I mostly gather information on graded reviews and don’t bother with non-graded because I can’t easily compare the data without trying to guess what the reviewer actually thought of the book because sometimes people gush and gush and gush about a book but the actual grade is lower than expected or they nitpick but the grade is stellar. This is a known factor going in so if a blog reviewer doesn’t use grades, I don’t bother with them for the purposes of my dataset unless they strike a chord with me or review very unusual books on occasion. So those reviews are not counted in my numbers which could conceivable skew my numbers but even so I feel I have a big enough sampling to give out some baseline trending.

    I can tell you that my review dataset for 2009 included over 3,100 reviews. Now that’s not necessarily 3,100 individual blog posts because sometimes you have the joint review or a blog post mentions more than one book or the book is an anthology with individual grades for each story within. There are also some site that don’t track their review dates (Mrs. Giggles I’m looking at you!!) so if you don’t get the reviews while they are recent then you don’t know when they happen.

    If you have a specific question, I’ll try to answer it. But I will tell you that I don’t track publishers at the moment because I had this thought in the back of my head that I’d join my data with official publisher data somewhere down the road. I did do that with one publisher and it took me over a month to clean up their data (it was SOOOO not clean data) in order to merge it with mine so that got put onto a back burner. If someone really wants the publisher information, I’d could probably fangle a quick workaround over the weekend.

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  41. PS. I have captured over 44,000 grades for over 23,000 individual titles (titles not books). And, why yes, I worked on this for a few years and many, many mind-numbing hours. The data is still mostly raw as it has not gone through rigorous analysis yet (by me to my standards) but then I’m still in the data gathering mode assuming that I decide to restart the project. Why? Because my data is still incomplete and too limited in scope to start looking at the concepts I was interested in. Not that I exactly remember what they were originally since the project mutated after I started gathering data. I am on my third database revision and if I restart I’ll be on number 4. I’d have to go back and see what tables I left behind. Just rediscovered my best of table.

    Gotta run. Will check back in.

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  42. @Sunita:

    Nora Roberts/J . D. I have 34 unique titles with review links for this author out of the 194 titles (yes, this is not complete that are listed in the title table). Her total review count is at 139 at the moment. Although I know that number is low because there are certain “big” sites that I haven’t finished capturing. Even so that won’t increase the number that dramatically until or unless I expand my data gathering to include more sites (yes, that was my original intention).

    My impression for this author so far has been that most readers believe that the book will be purchased regardless of whether or not there is any hype for it. The other important factor to note is that I started pulling information from the some of the bigger sites and then expanded outward in order to get enough data to create an overall grade. So I have a core 6 or 7 sites that do a lot of reviews (usually with multiple reviewers) then I have bunch of single bloggers and I also occasionally pull from over multi-reviewer sites in order to create my overall grade for one particular title. There are some sites that seem to be more promo sites so if I discover that while pulling information then my procedure is to not pull all of the data from the site, put a note in my site table to review at a later date and move on to the next site.

    I do this because I’m more interested in having a “real” grade for a title so if a review site (as opposed to an individual blogger and even then I try to carefully weigh the actual content of the reviews) only does positive reviews then I try not to include them. Now that was the starting premise that I tried to follow but that is part of the analysis that would need to be verified after data gathering is completed.

    I have a little under 400 sites in my database. Now some of these sites are dead sites, do not use sites or ones which I only have a partial listing of their reviews. Actually no site is current at the moment since I stopped working on this project but once I was up to date on quite a few and tried to update my database with their new reviews weekly.

    If you’re interested in a particular book and/or author, let me know and I’ll pull the data. If you’d like to know something offline, contact Jessica who has my e-mail address.

    @FiaQ: I’d love for someone to pay me to do this!!!!!

    @Jessica: My data is cool and I’m happy to run some stats but I doubt that it’s worth an entire post at the moment since it’s still officially a “dead” project.

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  43. @AQ: Wow, that’s fascinating! I guess I was partly on target, but I really expected more reviews for Nora Roberts and other toplist authors. Also surprised at the omission of some of the so-called internet favorites (although others who fit that category are represented). Can you tell us a bit more about the database? ETA: Thanks so much for posting this information.

    Like

  44. Again the cavaet: for the most part if a review site didn’t use grades then I didn’t capture the review. Without grades, the site really has to give me something different like what Jessica does here for me to include it in my data. Cuz ya know I’m lazy. lol

    So data. Here’s some data but with more caveats.

    Unique titles refers to unique for that given year not for all years. Reviews without dates are not counted in these numbers and yes those numbers do impact the data since that number is about 25%* of the total reviews at the moment. (This piece is subject to change with data verification and cleanup.) Individual books may have much higher total reviews but the captured reviews span multiple years. Lord of Scoundrels is an example of this. The only non-NY book to make it into the top 50 was Broken Wing by Judith James. It tied with 10 other books for number 40. The reason it doesn’t show up on any lists is because the reviews spanned the end of 2008 / beginning of 2009. The next non-NY books are from Lora Leigh but that should be discounted because she’d already hit the NY Times with her NY books. Even so, those review totals are down in the pack.

    Again this only refers to reviews captured by me, it doesn’t include author interviews, giveaways, excerpt teasers, book clubs, best of lists, or review sites such as Amazon, goodreads, etc., etc., etc. Sites that I haven’t gotten to yet. Or any of the best seller lists. Finally, my initial concentration was to go after individual bloggers not the major review sites although I did capture some data from them in late 2009. (see drop in unique titles and total reviews captured in 2009 as I went after the older reviews). And the sites which are primarily e-book review sites aren’t really represented that well here either and neither are m-m romances because my “site” net hadn’t expanded far enough yet.

    2009 (out of 2,019 unique* titles and 3,108 reviews):
    1.Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh
    3. To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
    3.Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
    5. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
    5. Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole

    2008 (out of 3,951 unique titles and 7,065 reviews):
    3. Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
    3. Lover Enshrined by JR Ward
    3. The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn
    4. Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
    5. Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn

    2007 (out of 3,183 unique titles and 4,957 reviews):
    1. Lover Revealed by JR Ward
    2. Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh
    5. The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
    5. The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
    5. Lover Unbound by JR Ward

    2006 (out of 2,717 unique titles and 3,942 reviews):
    2. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
    2. Lover Eternal by JR Ward
    4. Lover Awakened by JR Ward
    4. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
    7. Don’t Look Down by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer
    7. Date Me, Baby, One More Time by by Stephanie Rowe
    7. Dark Lover by JR Ward

    2005 (out of 1,947 unique titles and 2,634 reviews):
    5. Unmasked by C. J. Barry
    5. Revenge Gifts by Cindy Cruciger
    5. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
    5. Killing Time by Linda Howard
    5. It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas

    2004 (out of 1,942 unique titles and 2,538 reviews)
    11. The Last Mermaid by Shana Abé
    11. Blooming All Over by Judith Arnold
    11. An Irresistible Bachelor by Jessica Bird
    11. It Takes a Hero by Elizabeth Boyle
    11. My Forever Love by Marsha Canham
    11. Sing Me Home by Jerri Corgiat
    11. His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke
    11. The Spare by Carolyn Jewel
    11. Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas
    11. Facing Fear by Gennita Low
    11. When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn

    2003 (out of 1,861 unique titles and 2, 461 reviews)
    basically the reviews are pretty even here and it would be a very long list.

    2002 (out of 1,757 unique titles and 2, 310 reviews)
    11. Baby, Baby by Kylie Adams
    11. One Night Of Passion by Elizabeth Boyle
    11. Faking It by Jennifer Crusie
    11. Avenging Angel by Justine Dare
    11. My Favorite Bride by Christina Dodd
    11. Lola Carlyle Reveals All by Rachel Gibson
    11. Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon
    11. The Knight and the Rose by Isolde Martyn
    11. Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts
    11. Enchanted Afternoon by Susan Wiggs

    2001 (out of 1,338 unique titles and 1,765 reviews)
    6. He Could Be the One by Elizabeth Bevarly
    6. The Dragon’s Bride by Jo Beverley
    6. Bewitched by Heather Cullman
    6. Dear Cupid by Julie Ortolon
    6. An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

    older than this is evenly distributed to make no statistical difference because not enough unique review sites have been tracked.
    ——–
    Okay, so if you are still here. Here’s a couple of things I noticed while I was doing some additional data gathering. There is a much more concerted effort to do “organized” blog reviews. When I started doing the review tracking in the past, it seemed much more spontaneous and disconnected. Today, I went to an author’s site and saw here blog roll of all the sites which *will* be giving her book a review and the date which the review will be posted at each site. Netgalley is also turning up with greater frequency

    I’ve only been gathering for a week but I can already see the difference. As is the ARC notices. I suspect that’s partly because of the legal notification requirements and partly because there are more electronic arcs. The other piece that I’ve noticed is twitter and goodreads and some of the expanded communities that have popped since I stopped gathering.

    If you’re still here after my long post, color me impressed.

    Like

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