Tony Earnshaw: For as long as authors have written books they have needed the support of reviewers

JK Rowling's book launches a guaranteed to attract attention. (PA).JK Rowling's book launches a guaranteed to attract attention. (PA).
JK Rowling's book launches a guaranteed to attract attention. (PA).
Being an author of somewhat specialised fare '“ books on movies and TV '“ means I've rarely been involved in the swishy launches that greet soon-to-be best sellers by the likes of JK Rowling.

I can lay claim to have basked in the glory of a signing or three. Once I even shared a stage with the playwright Sir Ronald Harwood as we discussed a film he’d scripted and which featured in a book I’d written and to which he had provided the foreword.

But I digress. This week I discovered the rather marvellous notion of the “blog tour”. What that means – and some of you may already know – is that selected bibliophiles, reviewers and bookworms receive an advance copy of a new book and preview it online via their blogs.

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For the publisher it’s super cheap publicity. And for the writer or writers it negates the physical slog of schlepping around the country from one bookshop or literary event to another endlessly repeating stories of the gestation of the book in question.

Ah, you may say, but where’s the fun in that? Isn’t it better for a writer to make contact with readers? The short answer is yes. But in the case of Literary Landscapes, published this week by Elwin Street Productions, the stable of contributors tops 50. Imagine dragging them around the country. They’d need a team coach.

Thus we have the blog tour. For me it’s been a revelation. It may be a variation of just another online response but in this case it’s managed, organised and engineered to roll out a daily review that can then be shared globally via Twitter.

For as long as authors have written books they have needed the support of reviewers. The key is to locate the right voice.

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One of my books, a quasi history-cum-critical analysis of a classic film, was celebrated and lauded by one specific audience but slammed and patronised by another.

I realised later that it had been mistargeted – that the reviewer who hated it didn’t “get” it. It’s like proffering a frothy musical to someone expecting to review Beckett or Brecht. Not that there’s anything wrong with either but there’s not much of a crossover. The good people at Elwin Street know their readership and have identified key reviewers to consider the merits of Literary Landscapes, a sumptuous compendium that considers the fictional worlds created by everyone from Leo Tolstoy to Eleanor Catton by way of Dylan Thomas and 70 others.

The feedback is not identikit in nature; the reviewers are unafraid to offer criticism where valid. But there is a sense of immersive appreciation, of love for the subject and, in particular, of marvelling at the content.

For me there’s a sense of being caught in the warm embrace of the librocubicularist, and it feels good. Don’t know what that means? Join the club. I had to look it up too…

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