One of the top questions I hear from authors when discussing book discoverability and marketing is
"What can I do that doesn't cost a lot of money?"
My response is always,
Make friends with bloggers.
Unfortunately, I see way too many authors only using bloggers as review generators and failing to make any kind of personal connection with them beyond the review pitch. Bloggers are an awesome resource to have in your toolbox, but one many authors do not properly know how to implement into their marketing plans. As more and more bloggers close to review requests (I recently went through a listing where over half the bloggers were not currently accepting review requests), it is important for authors to find new ways to leverage the impact a blogger can have on a book's success.
I have a number of publishers and publicists that contact me about traditionally published books. I can almost always tell when an email is from the traditional side of publishing from the first few lines. It is subtle, but it sets them apart from the indie and self-published pitches. Pitches from traditional publishing rarely begin with a request for review. Bloggers are pretty smart and already know that if an author/publisher/publicist is contacting them, they are hoping for a review. Instead, these emails go straight to selling me on the book - why people should want to read it. After telling me how great the book is and how special the author is, they then still don't ask for a review. Instead, they ask if I can MENTION the book on my blog. They ask if I would like to do a giveaway. And then at the very last they offer to also send me a copy for review.
Asking for a mention is the key I think to these pitches. As a blogger who is still trying to get through review copies from last year, I don't feel the pressure of doing a review. Instead I can do a promotional post for it with the giveaway. I love when press release materials or a Q&A is provided at the end of the email because it gives me more information for the post without searching for it. Also, a Q&A can often be slipped into one of my guest post slots.
Speaking of Q&A and guest posts, I think authors often overlook these opportunities. You do not need to be on a tour to ask a blogger for a guest post or interview slot. Most bloggers welcome original content from authors at any time.
Even with the low pressure pitch email, you have not gone the extra step in making friends with bloggers. A relationship beyond the review request will better secure a blogger in your camp. I have a number of authors who I email, Facebook, or Tweet with. They show interest in me and my blog beyond what I do for them. They often share my blog postings on Twitter and Facebook. They also respond to my messages on Twitter and Facebook. They also stop by my blog from time to time to comment on posts. Authors who are responsive and attentive to me often will get more promotion for me. It's a I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine karma building thing . When I wanted to do a little impromtu cover reveal for my book, I knew exactly which authors I could contact and would help me out. Why? Because we talk about things other than their book and my promotion of it. They consider me a person first and foremost, not just a means to an end.
A key to successful networking is always being on the lookout for ways to help others.
By building a relationship with bloggers you will have people who will promote you without asking in the future. When I see an author I'm friendly with win an award or get mentioned in the news, I'm happy to share that with my readers on Twitter and/or Facebook. Also, if they contact me about something special I will do my best to find a slot for it on my blog.
Noticed I said SPECIAL. If you are contacting me every week about hitting a new sales goal or an interview on a blog, then you are going to lose my interest. Would you ask your friend in real life to post every week about every little thing about your book? I don't think so, and you shouldn't ask that of bloggers whom you are building relationships with either.
Bloggers can be some of your most loyal and vocal supporters, it is well worth the time and effort to cultivate a relationship beyond the review request with them.
Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads and author of the how-to manual Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.