While getting your book reviewed might only be one slice of your marketing pie, it’s an important slice—especially for indie authors. Word-of-mouth, spurred on by Web reviews, is critical for self-published writers on a budget.
There are hundreds of bloggers out there reviewing everything from historical nonfiction to romance to young adult, and most are open to suggestions. The question is: How can you get your book into the hands or onto the screen of a book blogger whose review will amplify awareness and sales?
In a sense, reaching out to a book blogger involves similar rules of etiquette as applying for a job: Be clear, be sincere, be personable, and do your research. But most of all, respect the blogger’s time.
“I know your book is incredibly important to you, but you need to keep in mind that other people may see it differently,” says Sue Gerth, the blogger behind Bookalicious Babe. “We know your book is your baby—but at the same time, it’s not our baby.”
Gerth, who reads between 100 and 125 books a year—fewer at the moment, she jokes, now that she’s pursuing a graduate degree in library science in addition to her full-time gig as an assistant manager at a Barnes & Noble in Iowa—receives at least one or two requests a day from review-seeking authors. Although she says she tries to write back to everyone who contacts her, sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day.
“Be conscious that bloggers do have their own things going on in their lives, too,” Gerth says. “Most bloggers do what they do because they love it—but they also have full-time jobs or families they need to take care of on top of it.”
Do the Legwork
Gerth advises doing a bit of research before getting in touch with a blogger. See what he or she is into—and make sure your request is relevant. If a blogger historically only reviews romance or mystery, that person isn’t likely to be interested in your sci-fi book.
“Check out the bloggers you’re interested in, see what they typically read,” Gerth says. “You’re only going to waste your own time and theirs if you don’t.”
In the majority of cases there’s no reason to guess what information a blogger needs from you before writing a review—just check the review policy posted prominently on most book blogs. The policy generally outlines bloggers’ rules for accepting books for review, including how they like to be contacted, whether or not they welcome indie books or e-books, what genres they prefer, whether or not they consider older books, and how long it will take for a review to appear once a book has been accepted.
If bloggers can see you’ve made the effort, they’re more likely to make an effort in return.
Don’t Be Generic
You’re asking a blogger to make a significant time commitment when he or she takes on your book—so take the time to write as personal a pitch email as possible. Form emails aren’t memorable and aren’t likely to cut through the crowd of other pitches waiting in a blogger’s inbox.
“It helps if the emails are sincere and not obviously reused for everyone,” Gerth says. “I know it’s hard to be personal with someone you’ve never met and don’t know, but take a look at their blog to get an idea of who they are and make a personal reference—that kind of thing goes a long way.”
Don’t Be Presumptuous
There’s nothing that annoys Gerth more than getting pitches by authors who take for granted that she’ll automatically review his or her book just because they sent it. Be polite.
“Some people don’t ask, they just say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this great book, Here’s where you can download it. Let me know when the review will be posted. Thanks.’ That’s a serious no no—please don’t do that,” Gerth says. “Be gracious and ask the blogger to read your book—don’t just assume they will.”
It also irritates Gerth when writers leave a comment on one of her already published reviews with a plug for their own book along the lines of, ‘I’ve got a great book about this too—want to review it?’
“Don’t ever do that,” Gerth says. “Always be professional and send an email.”
Don’t Get Discouraged
It’s a big book blog world out there, so keep plugging away. Just because one blogger isn’t interested, doesn’t mean others won’t be.
“If a blogger turns you down, just move on,” Gerth says. “Always be on the lookout—there are a lot, a lot of other bloggers you can try.”