By A. Yamina Collins
In terms of book blog reviews, one size does not fit all.
I know, I know. You’ve just written the most fantastic book in your respective genre, and now all you need are a few bloggers to give your book some positive reviews so the rest of the world can know how marvelous it is.
I think it’s great you have so much faith in your book. Keep it going because faith is a central force behind how well we do in any endeavor. But let’s also deal with how to get those pesky little bloggers to actually review your book in the first place. Because trust me, it’s not as a simple as, “Hey, here’s my brilliant book, please review it.”
First, let me start off by saying that I’m offering this advice as one who has been on
both sides of the spectrum: I’m a blogger who gets a decent number of book review requests on my literary blog, Yaminatoday.com.
My blog is by no means BIG. On the other hand, it isn’t so small as to be virtually off the map either. I currently receive 12,000 visitors and 130,000 hits per month to my site, and it has taken almost two years to build these numbers. It’s a lot of work, but I’m grateful for the experience, especially now that I’m also a published author.
And the insight of being a blogger and an author has helped me develop three very basic steps an author needs to take to get the attention of the elusive (and very busy) blogger, and I’d like to share them with you.
After all, like people, blogs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, moods and shades, and so do the people who run them. One size does not fit all.
You, the potential number one bestselling author, would do better to find only 10 bloggers who fit your niche perfectly than send out 100 emails to blogs that have absolutely nothing to do with what you’re trying to pitch.
Here are three rules you should consider when querying bloggers.
1) Know The Bloggers Name
One of my pet peeves as a blogger comes from authors who contact me with a generic “Hi” introduction. It always feels so spammy and impersonal.
It kind of goes like this: “Hi. Will you review my book? It’s a great book. You will love it. Thanks in advance!”
Listen, this isn’t about vanity. I don’t need you to know my name as a point of personal validation. But when someone doesn’t bother to take the time to know my name, even though it’s splashed across the top of my blog, I already know they haven’t read my guidelines. And if the author hasn’t read my guidelines, then he or she is probably going to request a book review from me. And if they’re going to request a book review from me, then they’ve just wasted their time and mine, and violated my first rule of submissions…because I don’t do book reviews. Never have.
Honestly, you want to lure the blogger with honey, and not to sting them with an insult.
Please, know the bloggers name. Because even the bloggers who don’t mind the occasional, generic “hey” inquiry will certainly tire after a few rounds of these.
Trust me: I used to try to respond to everyone who contacted me in this manner, mostly because I didn’t want to be rude. But as I’ve gotten busier (and not because I hate you), I just don’t have time.
Besides, I now reason that I was never much on that writer’s radar anyway if they didn’t know whom they were addressing. So it’s not like they’ll miss me or notice when I don’t respond, will they?
Please, authors. Do yourself the favor and take a few minutes to know the name of the blogger you’re requesting a review from.
2) Know What The Blogger Actually Blogs About
This seems like an obvious piece of advice; one of those, duh, Yamina, moments. And
yet again, the most common inquiry I get are from authors looking for me to review their books. Problem is, once again… I don’t do book reviews.
Listen, bloggers have a lot on their plate already. They don’t have time to read or review a lot of books, so in many cases, they’re just looking for excuses to say no to you (sorry, but it’s true).
I spoke with one blogger who told me how absolutely insulting and frustrating it is to have writers contact her without reading her guidelines.
Her stance was, “If I wrote the guidelines, why wouldn’t I expect you to read them? They’re there for a reason.”
By the way, it’s not just insulting to refuse to read the submission guidelines it’s also rather baffling.
Why would you shoot yourself in your own foot? Why would you lesson your chances of getting on a blog by doing the opposite of what the guidelines and the blogger requested?
As I said earlier, it would better for authors to target specific bloggers who fit their needs rather than sending out the same generic request for reviews to every blog and hoping someone bites.
P.S. I am rather curious how many responses authors get when they do send out these “blind” requests. I can’t imagine they receive a whole lot of positive feedback. It’s just the nature of the beast.
Besides, I certainly know what my response is, due mostly to time constraints and now a whole lot of frustration: delete.
3) Offer Something Of Value
This is probably the surest way of getting your book onto a blog.
I’ve said it once. I’ll say it again. Bloggers have a lot on their plate. Let me break it down for you in another way; bloggers are often scrambling for ideas of their own to post. So don’t assume they’re teeming with ideas on how to make you look good.
Seriously, assume that they don’t have time to read your book. That’s a safer bet to make; never mind the fact that the books they want to read for sheer pleasure don’t always get read.
So what’s an aspiring author to do to get their book out there for the public to read? Simple. Offer to write a post that’s full of information for the blogger’s audience.
For example, describe the process you went through when you sought an agent for your book; talk about how you healed from a bad relationship, just like the bad relationship you now describe in your novel. Write something personal that the readers of that blog will benefit from.
Think of it this way: the post should not be about you and your book – the post should be about the reader.
Want to step it up another level? Give the blogger topic ideas he or she can choose from. Offer them various topic ideas, and then write the one that the blogger most enjoys.
Yes, this will add to your writing schedule, but you already work full time anyway, don’t you? And you’re just dying to get out of that rut of a job you’re stuck in anyway, aren’t you? Well, it’s going take hard work to get your writing career going full time. So…work.
Ironically enough, you can actually find great ways to mention your book in informational posts anyway.
For example, when I first contacted Rachel to tell her about a post I wanted to give her, she said yes right away. After all, I wasn’t seeking a book review, but explained that I wanted to write an article that had something to do with marketing advice for authors; a great fit for her blog.
Obviously, I couldn’t have written about how wonderful my new short story collection “The Blueberry Miller Files” is (wink, wink); I couldn’t just do a piece about its multi-ethnic cast of characters, or its African-American Anglophile who lives in Harlem with her parents but is convinced she was raised by English Thespians. I couldn’t do any of that because that’s not what Rachel is about. (ok, ok, ok, I obviously name-dropped my book here. I wasn’t even sly about it was I? But hopefully, you’re getting the point. You can always find a way to mention your book in an informational blog post).
What Rachel’s audience needs is information about how to market their own books. Think about it. Would you have read this post if it was only about my book? Probably not—and who could blame you?
So remember to offer something of value to people; know the bloggers and know
their names; take that little extra time to shoot for stardom without shooting blindly from the hip. Then sit back watch some of your literary dreams come true.
And with that I say, good night, and good luck.
Author A. Yamina Collins runs the popular literary blog Yaminatoday.com. She has been featured on About.com for women in business. The Blueberry Miller Files, a collection of tales about the humor, awkwardness, and tragedy of the human condition, is her first published book. Follow her on Twitter @YaminaToday.
Please leave your comments or questions for Yamina or Rachel below!
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.