Back in 1998 I ran a regular bookblog, and moderated open book discussions for what was then Borders, the book chain in the USA. The twenty-one years since have seen a rise in social media and a real dearth in mainstream book reviews. As a publisher with Barbican Press we’ve tried one blogging campaign – for Brian W. Lavery’s The Luckiest Thirteen. That was programmed by Anne Cater through her Random Things Tours – I’d noted the good work she does for Orenda. Now, with my new novel J SS Bach, it was time for the novelist in me to have an airing.
Anne arranged nine bloggers over a week. Several took on the book as a challenge to themselves – the book’s themes of Music and the Holocaust don’t make for obvious light reading. The feedback was welcome. Yes, while some passages were upsetting the writing carried its readers through, and several wrote how the book led them to hope – ‘brilliantly written, sweet and brutal in equal measures and one that brings history to life’ was donna’sbookblog‘s summary
Good things I learned: that quality still matters a lot to folk; that readers on a more regular diet of crime fiction can make the switch and enjoy the book’s pace; that John Lawton’s Lily of the Field picks up a similar theme but plays it differently; that my book about a musicologist passed muster with a musicologist.
There were a few challenges. One blogger found more comfort when the main male character is introduced in Chapter 3; another wants to learn much more of Uwe, and that’s good though I’ve told all I know. The main comfort is to learn that J SS Bach has been enjoyed and now lives in people’s heads.
I was unsure of blogging etiquette, so mostly retweeted and replied as I was moved. Some of the bloggers are clear parts of a community who all retweeted posts. My own followers began to pall at retweeting as the week moved on – it was good that some bloggers gave their posts a different look, as the blog tour poster can seem repetitive. Twitter was my main medium, with some Facebook and Linked In thrown in – with a reach to multiple thousands. I can’t say who has picked up the book and read it but I’m happy and grateful that these none bloggers did. J SS Bach had a test run with passionate readers who would likely not have found the book otherwise, and they pretty much loved it, so my twenty years of writing were not wholly daft.
FullyBooked2017 – to whom many thanks for the artwork on this page, and its quote. I find the image very moving – and appreciate how the music for Bach’s First Cello Suite scrolls across the blog.