Five Tips for Seducing Book Bloggers
One of the biggest complaints from self-published authors is how hard it can be to get reviewers and bloggers to read and review their books. Some send out dozens upon dozens of emails and don’t get a single reply. It’s disheartening and sad, and leaves authors wondering either what they’re doing wrong, or that book bloggers just don’t care.
But there’s a predicament for book bloggers too. Many of us get such a high volume of emails that we simply can’t respond to every one, and thus many book bloggers have a site policy that they only respond to requests they intend to approve. We’re volunteers who don’t get paid and we simply don’t have time to read everything. We have to chose based on what we like, and what appeals to us. So the end goal is to increase your success by appealing to book bloggers. Every book blogger is different, it’s impossible to get them all, but there are a few things you can do to improve your chances as your wade into the wonderful world of promotion!
1. Have all the information in the email
Seems basic, but you would not believe how frequently we receive emails that lack even the basic information. The first and most important aspect is to have all the information in a professional email presentation that stands out.
So often we get emails that look like this:
“Hey! Love your blog! Can you please review my book, Totally A Book?
You don’t want people to have to go googling to decide whether or not to accept your request – because they may not bother, and simply ignore it. You probably need the following:
Cover image (if you have one)
General information about yourself and the book.
Relevant links to Goodreads, your blog and social media
Try to only contact bloggers who review in the genre that your book is in – unless you really think your book has crossover appeal and really want them to read it. We often get requests for Christian books, political books, memoirs, biographies and a whole host of genres that we don’t read or review. It’s a waste of the author/publishers time and our time.
2. Personalize your email
Every now and again we get a kickass email that we simply can’t ignore. One such email came from Jay Kristoff which I’ve reprinted here with his permission (and by permission, I mean I beat the shit out of him until he agreed). He sent this email in January 2012. Long before his cover reveal or publication date.
“Hi Kat,My name’s Jay, I’m a fantasy author debuting on MacMillan in Sept 2012. My book is a dystopian framed in a historical setting (feudal Japan). It’s about a sixteen year old girl named Yukiko who can speak telepathically to animals, charged with hunting down the last griffin left alive.I’m trying to drop a line to all the well-known book bloggers to introduce myself before it all really kicks into gear later this year, but I particularly wanted to say hey to you. Why? Couple of reasons:1) I’m tempted to say your snark is awesome, because I like snark. But it’s actually your honesty I dig. You call a spade a spade. You’re not afraid, and haven’t bought into the ‘auto 5 star anything with a pretty cover’ mentality that pervades a lot of reviewers. I like that (even if one day it’s aimed at my book)2) You’re Australian. So am I. Wooooo, Go team. But you’re from Sydney and I’m from Melbourne, so we’re probably fated to stab each other or something.Anyways, I don’t have anything fancy like covers or ARCs yet, but I thought I’d drop you a line and say hello.
So, hello! 😀
And seriously, where are my monkeys? I ordered them, like, 10 days ago.”
Anyone who knows me, would know that this was seriously my shiz! He nailed it! Humour, flattery, more flattery, and it was obviously relevant for me, which let me know that he actually DID read my reviews and that he was the kind of author I’d like to hang out with. He did the same to a bunch of other book bloggers. His book, Stormdancer, was one of the biggest releases this year for the Book Blogging community. We all know how that turned out for him.
That’s right! The exact opposite of this! His book was on it’s second print run two weeks after launching.
The point is to take the time to know the blogger you’re emailing. Have you read their review policy? Do you know their review style? Looked it up to see what kind of books they like? What kind of blogger they are? It seems like a lot of work, but consider your input/output ratio. If you do a blanket email, track down and find the contact info for 100 bloggers then get only 5-10 replies, then your success rate isn’t very high and you’re mostly just spamming and annoying people. But if you track down 20 bloggers you really like, whose style you enjoy and personally email each one of them – then you’re likely to get a higher rate of replies and a more enthusiastic response.
For the record, because Jay had obviously taken the time to both know me and seemed like an interesting, funny person, I wrote back with a more enthusiastic and friendly reply than I otherwise would have given. What’s more, he was memorable for that email. Meaning I took greater interest in his book. I’ve been harassing him continually ever since. Especially at 10:45 at night for his permission to be quoted here. It’s all about picking your peeps, guys. Particularly ones who aren’t annoying like me. Bad form, Jay. I’m sure it’s not too late to change your twitter account, email, blog and phone number though. Which leads to the next point:
3. Carefully consider what bloggers your want
Who do you really want reading your book? If you’re new, then your answer might be, “Anyone! Oh God! Won’t someone please read my book, PLEASE!?” You’re probably really excited to get your masterpiece out there and read. That is until you do start getting reviews in and you don’t like what you’re reading. That blogger you asked to read your book hated it. You go check out their blog and see that their reviews aren’t really your style and the books they like aren’t books that you like. Nothing is going to stop bad reviews from happening. But pre-reviews are important – which is why it’s so necessary to really consider which reviewers you want for that. A lot of authors don’t feel like they have a choice – that they’d be lucky to get any book blogger to read and review their book. But this is why it’s so important to have taken the time to know the people you’re contacting. Because the better you know and investigate them, the better you can tailor your pitch in order to sway them into reading your book.
If you have a first book coming out, you want the best impression possible. You want to handpick the reviewers who you think will love your book, who would get along with you, whose audience would get your book. People who read Cuddlebuggery are going to be a different audience to another blog that mostly loves and reads paranormal romances. Just a tip, people who read Cuddlebuggery generally like dick jokes. We’ve found that from experience. Lot’s and lots of dick jokes. You have to know who the right people are for you, and the only way to do that is to:
4. Be involved in the community
Almost 80% of the time I accept a review request from an author who I interact with and like. The Book Blogging world is an active, vibrant community that mostly takes care of its own. If the bloggers you are contacting have never heard of you or from you before you’re asking them to do you a favor – then maybe you need to rethink your strategy. If you want to take advantage of the book blogging community, then perhaps consider participating in it and becoming a part of it. Many authors have sparked a friendship with me over the years, leading me to read their books. It’s not a guarantee. There are a couple of author friends of mine whose books I don’t read because I don’t think I’ll like them. But, in my experience, the most active participants in the community, often do the best when it comes to exposure.
This is not a spam free for all. I’m not telling you to go and start tweeting them, “Hey! Love your blog, Hugglebuggery, Katelyn Kenedy! I’ve written some great books! Maybe check them out?! NOW IF YOU’RE NOT TOO BUSY!?!?!?!?”
Stephanie Parent, Shirley Marr, AK Host, Rachel Hartman, Shiloh Walker, KT Grant – I knew them all long before I even knew they were authors. The didn’t bring it up – I enjoyed interacting with them so much, I went and found out and made a point of at least looking into their books.
M.R. Merrick recently had the cover reveal for his third book, Release. He had over 150 bloggers sign up to help reveal it. Why? Well, other than being a well-written series, Matt connects with a lot of people. He tweets them – and not just random, “Hey! Sup! Read my book!” tweets. He has conversations, gets involved, participates. Don’t spam book bloggers. Become friends with them, and you will get so much more than just publicity.
5. Know how to sell your product
Never judge a book by it’s cover – that’s the age old adage, right? I judge self-pubbed books on their covers all the time. A professional cover is the best way for us to tell that the author takes their product seriously. We’ve had authors email us with something to the effect of the following:
“Hey, I’d like you to review my book. It’s currently available to purchase on Amazon. Just as a warning, it hasn’t been edited other than a spelling and grammar check on Word because I’d like to use the sales and positive reviews to convince a publisher to take it on. So, do you mind giving it a try?”
The authors we support have invested a lot of their own money into making the best possible product. They’ve paid for extensive editing, paid of a cover designer, and put down money for promotion. If you don’t take your book seriously, or if you don’t believe in it enough to invest your own money in it, then please explain why anyone else should invest in it. The cover, the professional synopsis, knowing what you’re doing in regards to cover reveals, blog tours and interacting in the blogger community is a good indication for us that you’re serious. It’s important. Because we’re serious. Book bloggers spend an inordinate amount of time and energy doing a free service. I spent $140 on shipping giveaways last week. I spend no less that four hours average a day book blogging. I spent five hours just putting this post together. Other bloggers are just as dedicated. We want to help share great books – but you have to make it easy for us. If your cover looks like something my blind, computer illiterate grandfather could design, then there’s a problem. If your cover is just as amazing and stylistic as this:
Then not only is it hard for us to get excited about it, but it’s hard for us to spread that excitement. Even if it’s the best book ever – we’re bloggers. Not miracle workers.
Investigate before you publish. Laura Lam is a debut author whose book, Pantomime comes out next year. Yet she had her shit together. We thought she was a pro based on how she handled her cover reveal. She’d obviously researched, organized and worked hard to be as professional and make life as easy for us as possible. Taking your business seriously is the best way to help bloggers help you. Go to Absolute Write and research getting published. Be apart of the community and see what other authors are doing. Take notes. Plan. Network. Do this all long before you publish your book, so that when your time comes – you make the best of it.
There’s no sure-fire method to being successful. Much of it comes down to luck. Writing a great book is, and always will be, the best place to start. But there’s always things you can do to improve your chances. Particularly when you remember that book bloggers are there because they want to help! By respecting them, by building relationships with them and showing them that investing their time and energy in you isn’t going to be wasted, you can seriously improve your reach in this business. Believe me, we’re highly seducable! So give it a try!
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Livefyre is gone? O_o
Anyway, love this list. It’s so true. Pretty much the only review requests I respond to are the ones that flatter me, by which I mean indicate that the person has actually read my reviews. Part of this is that those tend to be the only ones who have any idea what my interests are. Just because you throw the sentence “I love your blog” onto the front of your stock email, I’m not going to by that unless you reference something specific about my reviews or interests. I’ve been asked to read and review pretty much everything under the sun from biographies to medical thrillers to erotica. I don’t even feel bad ignoring these people.
The ones that I accept generally mention something that Jay mentioned as well: that they like honest reviews, whether positive or negative. My reviews tend to be on the harsher side, and I’m not going to accept a review request from an indie or self-pubbed author if I don’t think they know what they’re getting themselves into. Basically, I don’t want to get attacked, so if you like that I’m willing to rip a book apart, then sure. Bring it on.
Having the full book info in the email is big too. I think I get that in about 1 percent of pitch emails, so I always have to go to Goodreads, and I inevitably make a disgusted face when I see the cover. Eesh.
I miss livefyre as well 🙁
I’m sorry! There was an outage yesterday and now the comments aren’t importing. It should be back up sometime today!
Fangs for the Fantasy
1) Buy me a drink
2) Buy me another drink
3) Repeat Step 1.
Though it’s amazing what people do – my biggest advice is NOT LYING! Honestly, the people who contact us saying “review my book” and we’re all “uh-huh we want paranormal elements, this doesn’t look paranormal…” “uh… yeah there’s a vampire in it. totally.” And then? No vampire. They promised me a vampire and I didn’t get one. Not even a shoddy, sparkling virginal vampire. I am owed a vampire, a wizard, a werebadger, something!
And stop describing books as “existential” in the blurb. What does that even MEAN?! We’ve got 6 or 7 submissions describing the book as existential – I tend to think it’s short hand for “pretentious and overwritten”.
Okay, that’s like meeting a guy through an internet dating service who says he’s six feet tall, really athletic, and 33. Then you meet up with him and he’s short, overweight and 56. Not cool, buddy, not cool!
@Kate C. Pretty much. I boggle that they thought it was a good idea. Well done, they’ve tricked me into reading their books – they think that will lead to a positive review?
@Fangs4Fantasy @Kate C. They probably think that by the time you’re done reading, you’ll be so dazzled by their brilliant writing and captivating story that you won’t CARE that there wasn’t actually a vampire or werebadger in the book.
It’s a sad arrogance and a cheap trick.
Kara @ Great Imaginations
I agree with all of the things you said, but especially number 4. If I have never heard of you before or you have never tried to talk to me on Twitter, or even Goodreads (and I don’t mean spamming me either), then I am not likely to even respond to your request. I am SO MORE apt to work with authors that I know are involved in the community and care about it and its members.
Elle @ My Life Through a Book
I could say Amen to this. Seriously, it’s very true what you’re saying in here. So if you don’t mind I’m totally quoting you on my review policy. And if you do mind, well… I’m quoting you anyways. Just saying… 😉 lol
Thank you for this!
“The authors we support have invested a lot of their own money into making the best possible product. They’ve paid for extensive editing, paid of a cover designer, and put down money for promotion.” Yes! I don’t want to buy a self-published book that the author hasn’t spent the time and month to make it the best possible product. Because of that, I have to rely on word of mouth (and your blog) for my next read.
And I agree 100% with personalizing the letter. I frequently get requests to be a guest on my blog. It drivers me nuts when I get a form letter copied to a list of other bloggers and it’s not personalized. I ignored one once by someone I didn’t know (other than she had commented a few times on my blog). She sent me a link to sign up for her blog tour. That’s it. No real letter, and what she sent me wasn’t even personalized.
I can finally post comments again! Livefyre doesn’t work for me. *happy dance*
Really? It never worked for you? What browser are you using?
Great Post! I have been swimming through a slew of mails asking me to review their books when I don’t even review books on my blog! I am actually an aspiring writer myself! It’s ironic but this whole deluge of people shopping their books has made me wary of self-publishing. (Which I was thinking of doing initially.) Now, I’m going the tedious traditional way. Yikes!
Phenomenal post! You are absolutely right, I don’t even reply to emails that have no essential information in them and contain links to horrendous self-published covers or the authors haven’t bothered to read my review policy first… I’m sorry, if you can’t be bothered with your product representation what is the chance that your book is great? Right, 0.5% maybe?
…and is that unicorn cover real?! Oh God, oh God, I bet it’s freaking real! I need saline solution to wash my eyes now, thanks for that, Kat! 🙂
I would never ignore a book review request, but I really hate it when it’s obviously a mass message. I’ve actually closed my review requests for now since I have such a backlog, but there was one author who sent me such a lovely email that I wanted to accept her request!
It’s the same reason I ignore friend requests from authors on Goodreads unless they state why they’re adding me – I don’t want to be used to promote something, I want to be asked because the author has an opinion of my reviews and would honestly like my opinion of something of theirs. Perhaps they’ve noticed I’m a fan of that particular genre, or I’m into similar books, or even just the fact that they’ve obviously browsed my website for more than a minute will make me more likely to accept.
It’s all about respect really – we’re taking the time out to review the book, so take the time out to write a nice, personalised email. I understand that it’s much slower than sending out mass mails, but really – you’re more likely to get responses, which will in turn help your book!
claps hands and nods in agreement. I dislike it when they get my name wrong. I will respond back to the email if its a second email but its usually to decline because it doesn’t fit with my blog.
My method of seduction uses cheap liquor and my awesome bod, but that’s just me. I should also mention that it’s not very successful, except with my husband.
LOL i agree w/ everything you said Kat, but that cover just about has me undone… “Killer Unicorns Rampage FairyLand?” xD *Dies* And that was awesome of Jay, did he ever send over the monkey? o.O LOL
That’s really good advice actually. Also, “Killer Unicorns Rampage FairyLand” looks like a betseller already 😀
Sugar & Snark
Now I want to read Killer Unicorns Rampage FairyLand!
@Sugar & Snark Me too!
This is such good advice.
You guys, and Forever Young Adult are two of my most fav book blogs ever.
Great advice! Love that email from Jay! I’m super jelly. 🙂
All new authors should read this post! I don’t know how many irritating emails I receive from authors and publishers that are obviously generic – and they quite clearly haven’t even read my policy page. It’s so annoying to get requests that are for books outside of my genres when I state right in my policy which ones I do and do not read.
When they actually show interest in my blog, I feel more inclined to show interest in their book.
As for covers…to be honest, if the cover is hideous I don’t even bother reading the email. I automatically click ‘archive.’ >.>
I nodded alot at reason #3. Keep on with your dick jokes, CuddleBuggery.
You mentioned me on cuddlebuggery…dying of happiness!!! And you know if you or any of your new reviewers (all of whom sound awesome, by the way!) ever want a copy of Defy the Stars so you can skewer it into tiny pieces of snark, let me know!
Excellent information! (Stina Lindenblatt linked to this post and had to check it out. Glad I did!)
Great post! Very informative and oh so true 😀
Thanks a million for the advice – boy did I ever need it.
You have shared great tips, i really like this post very much.
Thanks to Share
Required Reading: 11/4/2012 - Sliced Open Reviews
[…] past two weeks. Now go forth and enjoy…Five Reasons Your Young Adult Novel Might Suck ◊ Five Tips for Seducing Book Bloggers ◊ Five Ways to Survive Reading a Bad […]
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