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How to Use Book Bloggers for Promotion and Book Reviews

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by David Wogahn, President, AuthorImprints.com

David Wogahn

Book bloggers continue to offer one of the best returns on your time investment. Why? Because you get a two-fer: a review, often posted in multiple places, and promotion when the blogger shares their review on their website and via social media.

Two more reasons to consider book bloggers are that they do not charge, and there are an increasing number who focus on narrow interests—for example, The Audiobookworm for audio books, Lone Star Literary Life for books related to Texas, and The Cookbook Papers for books with a cooking or food theme.

There are three key things to know about contacting book bloggers.

  1. They will consider your book for review. Just because they have a book blog featuring reviews of books like yours doesn’t guarantee that they will review your book.
  2. Their requirements are subject to change. This is especially true for their availability. Book bloggers review books as a hobby and often have more books on hand than they have time to read.
  3. Never, ever, send a book unless they ask for it.

Three more general points about improving your book’s chances of being accepted for a review.

  1.  Quality is paramount, especially writing quality. Unedited books will be discovered if they even make it past the consideration stage. Worse, the reviewer may express his or her dissatisfaction publicly in the review.
  2. Follow their directions about submitting a book for consideration. Their blog, their rules.
  3. Contact bloggers 30-90 days before your book’s release date to improve your chances of being accepted. (It’s also just good marketing!) If that is not possible, be flexible with your expectations.

Author Etiquette: The Art of Approaching Book Bloggers

1. Approach only those bloggers interested in your book’s category.
Then read their submission requirements before sending a query. If you don’t follow their directions, most will delete your email and never reply. Reaching beyond your book’s category will not get you reviews—don’t waste your time.

2. Quality matters.
Reviewers are inundated with books to read. Some have stopped reviewing self-published books due to poor quality, others because of self-published authors not following their requirements (see #1). A polished book is more likely to be considered and gain a favorable review.

3. Make your pitch friendly, respectful, and to the point.
Address them using their name. It is a sign you read their blog. Follow their instructions; never send a generic query or form letter.

4. Lead times can be long and schedules tight.
Bloggers are essentially volunteering to read your book. Manage your own expectations—plan ahead, be flexible, and don’t be demanding. Many bloggers clearly state how or if you should follow up after you’ve made initial contact.

5. The reviewer is doing you a favor.
Make getting your book free, easy, and convenient. Do not expect the reviewer to buy your book or pay for shipping. (They have too many other books to read! See #2.)

6. Don’t expect them to love your book.
Some won’t post a critical review and instead will provide feedback on why they didn’t like it. Some won’t explain themselves. Some will indeed post their honest opinion. Avoid potential issues by approaching only those reviewers who enjoy your genre (see #1).

7. Be gracious and say thank you no matter the outcome.
Remember, you are building relationships because you might be back with a follow-up book. Kindness, just like rude comments, has a way of living forever on social media and on websites. Reviewers can and do research authors.

Quick Start Guide

1. Create a process and recordkeeping system for tracking who you plan to contact and the status of each request.
2. Assemble your book’s details, such as metadata used to list the book with distributors and cover images.
3. Searching on Google is one option for finding reviewers, but there are shortcuts to more resources:

4. Use these resources to find three to five bloggers who appear to match your book’s subject matter and study their submission requirements. Look at the website’s menu or for terms like “review policy,” “review submissions,” or their about or contact pages for instructions. Do not to contact bloggers unless your book matches their interest. Never mass email (spam) reviewers. Keep good records (see #1).
5. Repeat steps 2-4 as you have time. There is no advantage to blasting out dozens of queries in one sitting. In fact, contacting bloggers in smaller batches will help you keep better track of conversations and be more human in your outreach.

This is essentially a sales process; you are trying to convince these reviewers that your book is worth their time to read.

David Wogahn is the president of AuthorImprints.com and publisher of the ninth edition of The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages, a directory of 272 book bloggers, blog tour organizers, and professional review businesses published annually since 2009. Learn more at BookReviewerYellowPages.com or visit the IBPA Bookstore.

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