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As I said, self-published authors and independent publishers know the importance of book bloggers. During any discussion I take part in with authors and publishers, I am almost always asked, "How do we get bloggers to review our books?" As a book blogger and someone who works in publishing, I know the difficulties of getting a book noticed. Even when the author or publisher does everything right, they still might not get a response. I recently sent out 12 pitches for a middle grades fantasy adventure series and have only heard back from 2.
While it can be a difficult task there are some ways to increase the chances your request will be accepted. I have encouraged in a previous Tips on Thursday for every blogger to have a review policy. Authors and publishers should pay attention to what the blogger's review policy is. If, after reading the review policy, you are still unclear if the blogger would be interested in your book, contact the blogger and indicate you've read the policy. Bloggers put a lot of effort into their reviews and blogs with little (no) compensation, so demonstrating that you put a little effort into your request goes a long way with bloggers.
I've collected some PET PEEVES from bloggers and here are the ones that come up the most, so steer clear...
- Emails with generic greetings or the wrong name
- unsolicited manuscript - sending it as an attachment in your pitch email. While this might save you time, it looks presumptuous on your part. Also, sending a link to your book on Twitter when we've never communicated is just spam in my book. (With the amount of malicious links out there, I'm not clicking on a shorten url in a tweet from someone I don't know).
- No means no. If they say they aren't accepting pitches, then don't send them a review request. I feel bad when I say no to a review request, but I also only have so much time in a day. The sames goes for sending a request to a blogger who doesn't read your genre. If after reading the review policy you are unsure, check out their recent reviews or labels/tags - it'll give you an idea of what they read.
- Not enough info. You don't have to send us a three page query, but sending an email that says "I would love a review, find my book at Amazon or Smashwords. Here's the link" is going straight to my trash folder.
- Don't ask to spam my friends. As I said above we put a lot of effort into our reviews and blogs and we expect the author/publisher to at least put a little effort into their request. Asking a blogger for emails of other bloggers they know is WRONG. I understand you are wanting to use our networks to get more reviews. A better way than asking for email addresses is to offer "if you have any blog friends who would also be interested in reviewing my book, please have them contact me."
- So many books, so little time. Book bloggers are in demand. I probably have 20 paperback review copies sitting under my coffee table and who knows how many ebooks. It is okay to ask to have a review by a certain time, but don't demand it. That is the nice thing about the changing publishing climate. Authors and publishers are no longer confined to 6 weeks to build buzz. Offering guest posts and interviews can help get the word out about the author/book while waiting for the reviews to come in.
- Don't attack us. Bloggers give an honest opinion on what they thought of the book. True book bloggers are not out to destroy someone's career. When I read a book for review I feel I have two responsibilities. 1. Give enough info so a reader can make an informed decision on whether to spend their hard earned money on the title and 2. provide feedback to the author so that they may improve on their craft.
- Are they active in the book/blogging community (do they participate in twitter chats, offer advice either on their blog, facebook page, or twitter feed)
- Read a couple of their posts. If they give star ratings, see what they say about their 1 and 2 star books. (A lot of bloggers consider 3 star books to be good books and encourage people to read them).
- Do they act professional. While most book bloggers are doing it as a hobby, the ones who take it seriously have review policies and nice looking blogs (I don't mean they have a custom blog, but some thought has gone into layout, widgets, etc).
It's your turn! What advice do you have for authors and publishers to make their request stand out and not be immediately trashed?
Update: See the companion post about what bloggers can do to get noticed by major publishers.