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March 1, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Getting Noticed

As a compliment to the Tips on Thursday post I wrote 2 weeks ago, I have marketing and literary agent Lucinda Blumenfeld sharing what the publishing industry is looking for in terms of which bloggers get those coveted advance copies. (I had to bring in an expert because I wasn't sure what I was doing to get noticed.) As always, Lucinda provides great information (make sure you check out her blog). Also, if you are interested in taking your blog to the next level you will want to check out her Fangelism program.

Please welcome the lovely Lucinda to Girl Who Reads!

Hi, Donna. I really enjoyed reading the post on what ticks book bloggers off -- I'm pretty sure my asking you this very question was how we first became friends! So I'll give my few cents from a publishing perspective as to what bloggers can do to get our attention, and be first on the list for book submissions.

1) Develop a focus in a particular genre.
The biggest YA, lit fiction, mystery etc. bloggers have this down to the letter--even if your interests are diverse, you need to specialize. If you make efforts to know your own readership, you should be catering directly to them, and from there your following will only build, offering the luxury one day of having the soapbox for any book or other opinion you'd like to share.

2) Look around you.
Who are the book bloggers you are following? Learn from those who first blazed the trail: Ron Hogan, Jason Boog, Maud Newton. How are their sites structured; what is "reader-friendly" about them? What do their Twitter feeds look like? ENGAGE. Are you following the conversations in the news around recent or highly anticipated releases so you can chime in?

3) Do for others and they will do for you.
Do you want to get in with Random House and Penguin? Follow the imprints that fall in your category (see point #1). Comment, RT and talk up their author promotions, new releases, and giveaways. Don't forget to do the same for authors! If you're on their radar regularly, you may get the follow-back. And a direct message may yield faster results than cold emailing.

4) Develop personal relationships. Compliments count!
This is just the next consecutive step after doing for others. Through all the online mechanisms available to us, it's not difficult to find an email or Facebook account for a given editor or agent. If you've read the Acknowledgements of the latest Elizabeth Strout or Jodi Picoult novel, you now have that information. Write a short note to that publicist, agent, or editor including the link to a prior rave review you've given the author, and/or the reason your blog would be a strong compliment to the overall publicity campaign. (One way to do this is suggest a creative feature that's more than your average review/giveaway, and ties to the heart of the book, or promises engagement. Maybe you have a partnership with or HP Books, and are willing to pitch them to cross-promote.) It's fair, having established a personal relationship, to ask if you can get on the mailing list for future books similar to those you love.

Note: Editors may be your best route in terms of forming relationships with the objective of being first to know about new books. Publicists and agents are, as a rule, oversubscribed, and they're fielding multiple campaigns and cold queries. If an editor takes an interest, it's easy for him/her to get your name on the mailing list. If you're really determined, you'll try all representatives. There's nothing tenacity can't win.

Note: Smaller authors may show appreciation if you contact them directly, but larger ones will likely not have time to thank you. So I suggest going the editor route. Now go this extra step...

5) Know if your reviews are selling books.
Jesse Kornbluth of Headbutler, another well-known book blogger, can tell me how many books his post for one of my authors has sold in a day. So can the editors of Huffington Post if you have a responsive contact there. If you're a blogger with a big audience, you can actually make the claim that at 4pm Thursday when your post ran, the Amazon rank climbed for x new book, or that 10 copies were sold, and you will be an editor's new best friend. If you can't boast sales data? You can demonstrate that 20+ people commented, reviewed on Goodreads, planned to buy the book, etc. There are so many metrics that impress - like anything else it's knowing what matters to the person you're connecting to, and demonstrating that your advocacy matters: by way of quantity (following), quality (content/reviews), or your capacity to engage others and spread the word. And no one does this better than you, Donna.

Afterword: I personally believe in and admire the power of book bloggers -- see my post on "Why Book Blogs Matter." They represent a minority of book lovers who are freely advocating for authors and making a difference in a publishing world that's all about survival of the fittest: to survive, authors more than anything, need recognition.

Lucinda Blu­men­feld is the founder of mar­ket­ing and lit­er­ary agency Lucinda Lit­er­ary LLC ( She posts regularly on the publishing industry on her blog. If you like, you can follow Lucinda Literary on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Thank you, Lucinda, for this great post. It has given me some ideas to boost my blog's appeal to publishers. 

Ok, it's your turn readers: What draws you to a blog? And if you are a blogger, what are some creative ways you have found to promote your favorite books/authors? 
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  1. Great post, its great to see the publishers POV. Thanks so much for posting this Donna!!!!

    Ali @Ali's Bookshelf

    1. Thanks for stopping by Ali. I knew I was doing something right (publishers were contacting me) but I was never sure what it was. I'm really thankful for Lucinda breaking it down for us.

  2. Glad it was helpful to you, Ali. Oh, and I welcome intros from book bloggers!

  3. Good article! I enjoy reading blogs about children's picture books to see who's publishing what in hopes of finding where my picture book ideas might fit. When I review a book, though, it's either a new edition of the Bible or a poetry book published by a traditional publishing company. Besides posting reviews on Amazon or in poetry journals, I recently began the Bible Reviewer blog, and I suppose I could post reviews on The Poetry Editor blog, too, but would rather keep that focused on discussions about poetry writing, revising, and editing. So, I’m looking to expand my outlets and appreciate the hotlinks you included to good-looking review blogs and websites – thanks!