Book Bloggers can be your best friend or a headache that you tackle because you don’t know where else to turn for reviews. Some authors find the whole process intimidating and others find it a time-consuming sinkhole. Other authors find working with bloggers the magic that gains them new readers and valid/credible reviews.
I hope this article takes the mystery of working with them and makes it a tangible marketing tool to add to your routine.
Before you contact any bloggers, create a file (or use Google Docs) that contains your cover, a list of the URLs where it is available, your bio, and a short (3 to 5 sentences) pitch of your story. If your story is holiday themed, be sure to mention it in the pitch.
How to Find Bloggers
There are a few sites that have a running list of available bloggers, you can also try Googling, FB or Goodreads groups, or asking the other authors in your genre—Networking for the Win!
Set aside 10-15 minutes every day that you market to go through the bloggers you’ve compiled. Read their FAQs to make sure your book matches the genres they read, that you abide by their submission guidelines—some prefer email, others prefer contact forms, and a few will link to a google doc or recommend contacting them through Facebook—and that they are currently accepting proposals. Some bloggers close/stop accepting submissions during certain times of the year for various reasons, and you don’t want to be the one that sends an email when their site expresses they are not accepting.
I advise you to make an Excel sheet with their name (always find the blogger’s name), their website, how to contact them, what format they prefer, and what genres they review. You never know what future work may hold for you, so save yourself some time and list all the ones that you check out. Excel makes it super simple to create multiple tab if you want to make lists by genre, or by using the sort function, you can have columns and rows sorted in ABC order.
Most bloggers I know already have a massive to be read pile (TBR Pile—awesome twitter hashtag by the way). Not all reviewers will contact you if they decide not to read your works. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of how to increase your odds that a no becomes a yes.
Address them by name. It might be in their About section, it might be in the FAQ, or you might have to take a guess that it’s the name their email goes to. I will openly admit that some bloggers I have checked out have made it nearly impossible to find their name—even their about section is “I” oriented which is something most authors are told NEVER to do on their own sites.
All that information you complied in First Steps comes in handy here. You’ll want to provide the blogger the information they need in as easily and quickly as possible so they can decide on your book along with offering them the option of a Mobi (Kindle File) or an Epub file. Some bloggers will have their preferred format in their FAQ and thus won’t be included in your pitch.
This is the pitch for Cracked But Never Broken that has resulted in the most positive interactions with bloggers.
Subject Line: Book Review Request: Cracked But Never Broken
Good morning (blogger’s name),
I’m inquiring if you would be interested in reading Cracked But Never Broken. It’s a contemporary romance set on the Laughing P ranch. Damien Payne returns home with the expectation of filling the shoes he once had, but caught between his expectations and reality, nothing is as easy as he had hoped. Caught in a love triangle of his own making, the line between friend and foe becomes gray.
This is book 1 in the completed Laughing P trilogy. You can check out the other reviews on Amazon (mybook.to/LPCracked) if you need to.
I look forward to providing you with the (eBook format) you prefer if this is something you’re interested in.
Have a great day,
- Always use your subject line to your advantage. If your subject line isn’t clear about what you are requesting, you risk the chance of your email being deleted or assumed spam.
- Greet by name—have I beat this in your head yet?
- Repeat your book title even if it’s in your subject line.
- Talk about your book. It doesn’t have to be long, but the blogger needs to be able to evaluate if they want to read the book or not. If you don’t convey what it is about well enough, the reviewer might not give it a second thought—they have a TBR pile to get through—or if you do get them to read it, and your inquiry wasn’t exactly truthful, you run the risk of a decent review being marked with the “this is not what I expected” and not in a good way.
If your blurb has a great conversion rate, feel free to use that. Just make sure that the blurb isn’t long—the average blurb is 250 words or fewer, please stick to that.
- Sign your emails. This isn’t verbal communication, use your name/pen name. Below your name, list your email address—if you haven’t had to hunt for the email address, you’re lucky, not all email providers make finding it easy, and if you’re using a contact form, the information may have been clipped off or obscured.
- Include your website and your main social media. The blogger might go explore, discover something else they like, sign up for your newsletter, etc. If you include a lot of links though, a blogger might ignore them, so if you include social media links, make sure it is the websites you are the most active in. Example: If you include an Instagram account, and the last time you posted was a year ago, that will not look as appeasing as your Twitter account where you’re active every day or every few days. If you aren’t including links in your email signatures/sign offs, you’re missing a potential follow-through.
- Attach your book cover.
If they respond favorably when you send the file, ask them if they do author interviews or would like your bio (some bloggers will have already requested it through their guidelines) to include with the review.
Key points when dealing with bloggers
Read their guidelines. If they went through the hassle of putting it on their website, the least you can do is follow and provide what they ask for. We are writers and readers, there is no reason that we can’t do this to make their lives easier.
Their reviews are their opinions. Treat them with dignity.
If you get a review you aren’t happy with, move on. Do not email them/threaten them/flood their social media with hate speech, etc. Make a note in your Excel sheet that their taste is not your style and don’t use them again.
If they say nice things about your book, point your followers at it. Dust it off every few months and say “hey did you check out this review on (book title) done by (blogger’s name/blog site). It’s networking.
Staying in contact with them also makes it easier to notify them if you change your URL, cover photo, etc. and you can respectfully ask them to update their post to reflect it.
There are thousands of book bloggers doing this for free. Do not pay for reviews (unless you book a blog tour which I’ll talk about below).
Do not demand a “review by” date. That is just plain rude. Sure, many will try to work your book in by your release date or whatever, but they are doing you a favor. Don’t be an asshole and think you’re the “special” one, especially if you’re wanting it “next week.” Give them an average of 8 weeks to read and review, if not longer depending on their schedules.
Most reviewers I work with average a 3-4 star review. Deal with it. Most readers disregard most of the 5-stars anyway, so a 3-star is great.
If you haven’t heard from a reviewer after they’ve agreed to review it within an approximate time frame, you have these options.
- Look on their website. They may have done it and just didn’t contact you.
- You can email them and ask if they have had the chance to read it. Please give them 4 weeks after their approximate date before emailing. Life happens.
- Chalk it up to them not liking your book/DNF (did not finish) and thus didn’t write anything about it.
I won’t deny contacting reviewers can be time consuming. It’s why I recommend 15-minute increments each time you market. You can get burned out doing requests and feeling disappointed when a month has gone by with no feedback—those who don’t respond to the inquiry, I usually strike them from future contact because there are thousands of others I can cultivate a relationship with.
Networking with them can be interesting and fun. As your readership grows independent of each other, and you cross-promote each other, the chance of both of your followings growing rises.
You can also use bloggers as ARCers.
Blog tours have fallen out of favor recently, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have great success. A blog tour is where you book a promotional run and a company handles contacting bloggers and organizing when the bloggers will read and review your book by.
These cost anywhere from $50 to around $200 or slightly more and they network with 5-15 bloggers. This is one of the few companies I’ve had the pleasure of working with http://www.goddessfish.com/.
If time is a factor for you or you feel that you do not have the skill set to reach out to bloggers, blog tours may be a valid option for you.
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This post was edited/proofed by ProWritingAid.