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R is for Romance #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

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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February 29, 2012

Keeps getting better: Earth Angel

Earth Angel (Falling Angels Saga #2) by E. van Lowe
Published December 2011 by White Whisker Books

Read February 2012

Between all the free Nook book deals and the ebooks I receive for review, I had not actually purchased an ebook for my Nook. Until Earth Angel. I had won a copy of Boyfriend from Hell last year and enjoyed the start of the series. After seeing the tweets about it being released, I decided I enjoyed the first book enough to want to know what happens next.

I think I liked Earth Angel a bit more than Boyfriend from Hell. Maybe because it focused more around Megan and school that I could get more into the young adult aspect of it. In my review of Boyfriend from Hell, I mentioned I related more to the mom. And as teen paranormal fiction goes, Earth Angel is pretty darn good.

There were a couple of bumps in the road for me. (I think he takes more of a Judeo Mysticism approach to God and Angels, than my Christian background allows for). But it didn't deter me from reading, if anything it made it more fun as I debated with myself free will, power of faith, etc. Someone without my background, probably won't even notice these points as they are pretty common in secular books.

While I was reading this book, my Mom substituted in a class where a girl was trying to find books similar to Twilight to read. Of course, Mom asked me what to recommend. Paranormal romance is not really my genre and I think Twilight is the only series I have ever read with a vampire in it (Oh, I take that back Immortal by Gene Doucette has a vampire, but it's not the same). I thought about it and then when I picked up Earth Angel that evening (yes, I broke my rule of only reading ebooks when out & about) and saw the appeal it would have to the Twilight crowd.

Guy is the perfect other worldly being that teen girls will swoon over. Though there is a lot more realism to him than Edward Cullen. I guess you could say he is softer around the edges, too. Megan is the typical teenager: not Miss Popular, but not really Miss Geek either. She is intelligent and likeable. I see a lot of my teenage self in her.

This book will appeal to a wide range of readers. If you are looking for something to fill that Twilight void, yet don't want just another vampire story, then Falling Angels Saga is for you (it has better writing, too.)

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February 27, 2012

Video Blog #6: Reading & Buying

Reading this week:

Doing Max Vinyl by Frederick Lee Brooke
Max Vinyl’s type of success story can only happen in America. Rising from humble beginnings, he has reached the height of the computer recycling racket. Problem is, he’s using Lake Michigan as his own personal profit center. Even that wouldn't have been a problem if his environmentalist girlfriend Tris hadn't found out his dirty secret. And while Max is devastated by his love crashing down around him, he’s about to learn that the rage of a woman scorned packs far more firepower and potential for destruction than he had ever imagined.

Iraqi War veteran Annie Ogden has spent three depression-filled months living in a cabin in a forest preserve trying to re-discover her purpose in life. When two of Max’s thugs threaten Annie’s sister, she is dragged into his corrupt world in an unwitting alliance with the environmentalist, Tris. And for Max, that’s really bad news. Will he hold up under the coordinated attacks of two angry women? Will Annie find the inner peace that has escaped her so far? As things spin completely out of control and complications mount, it’s all Max can do to stay one step ahead—until it’s all he can do to stay alive!

A farce full of hysterics and wholehearted chicanery, Frederick Lee Brooke’s first installment of the Annie Ogden mysteries is an incisive examination of corporate lunacy, greed and modern disconnection. Having received multiple four and five-star reviews on Amazon and, Doing Max Vinyl: An Annie Ogden Mystery is loaded with razor-sharp dialogue, ingenious plotting—and so much fun it should be illegal! From

Going Solo by Eric Klinenberg
A revelatory examination of the most significant demographic shift since the Baby Boom--the sharp increase in the number of people who live alone--that offers surprising insights on the benefits of this epochal changeIn 1950, only 22 percent of American adults were single. Today, more than 50 percent of American adults are single, and 31 million--roughly one out of every seven adults--live alone. People who live alone make up 28 percent of all U.S. households, which makes them more common than any other domestic unit, including the nuclear family. In GOING SOLO, renowned sociologist and author Eric Klinenberg proves that these numbers are more than just a passing trend. They are, in fact, evidence of the biggest demographic shift since the Baby Boom: we are learning to go solo, and crafting new ways of living in the process.Klinenberg explores the dramatic rise of solo living, and examines the seismic impact it's having on our culture, business, and politics. Though conventional wisdom tells us that living by oneself leads to loneliness and isolation, Klinenberg shows that most solo dwellers are deeply engaged in social and civic life. In fact, compared with their married counterparts, they are more likely to eat out and exercise, go to art and music classes, attend public events and lectures, and volunteer. There's even evidence that people who live alone enjoy better mental health than unmarried people who live with others and have more environmentally sustainable lifestyles than families, since they favor urban apartments over large suburban homes. Drawing on over three hundred in-depth interviews with men and women of all ages and every class, Klinenberg reaches a startling conclusion: in a world of ubiquitous media and hyperconnectivity, this way of life can help us discover ourselves and appreciate the pleasure of good company.With eye-opening statistics, original data, and vivid portraits of people who go solo, Klinenberg upends conventional wisdom to deliver the definitive take on how the rise of living alone is transforming the American experience. GOING SOLO is a powerful and necessary assessment of an unprecedented social change. From

What I bought this week:

Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman by J. B. Lynn
Maggie Lee is not your average hitwoman. For one thing, she's never killed anyone. For another, after hitting her head in the car accident that killed her sister, her new best friend is a talking lizard—a picky eater, obsessed with Wheel of Fortune, that only Maggie can hear.

Maggie, who can barely take care of herself, is desperate to help her injured and orphaned niece get the best medical care possible, so she reluctantly accepts a mobster's lucrative job offer: major cash to kill his monstrous son-in-law.

Paired with Patrick Mulligan, a charming murder mentor (who happens to moonlight as a police detective), Maggie stumbles down her new career path, contending with self-doubt, three meddling aunts, a semi-psychic friend predicting her doom, and a day job she hates. Oh, and let's not forget about Paul Kowalski, the sexy beat cop who could throw her ass in jail if he finds out what she's up to.

Training has never been so complicated! And, this time, Maggie has to get the job done. Because if she doesn't . . . she's the mob's next target. From

Farsighted by Emlyn Chand
Alex Kosmitoras's life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he's blind. Just when he thinks he'll never have a shot at a normal life, an enticing new girl comes to their small Midwest town all the way from India. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Sophomore year might not be so bad after all.

Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to "see" the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they suggest Simmi is in mortal danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex embarks on his journey to change the future. From

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