So, you have a new book coming out, not a ton of marketing support from your publisher, and not much of an advance you can put towards your own marketing budget. What on earth can you do to get the word out about your book?
Well, there’s this awesome community of readers out there who are extremely passionate about books and absolutely love to share information about what they are reading with their (sometimes quite large) audiences. Now, these bloggers aren’t your marketing team, but if you can find the ones most likely to love and review your book, they might help you build some nice buzz and word of mouth.
But how do you go about orchestrating reviews with the bloggers who could really do something for your book?
1. Find bloggers who fit your book
If you have a good sense of what your comparative titles (also called read-alikes in some circles, books which are similar to yours and which are likely to have similar audiences) are, a good place to start is by searching for bloggers who have reviewed (and preferably liked) those comp titles. Make sure you check out their review policies though, to be sure that they are currently accepting books in your genre. The review policy may also tell you what sort of lead time the blogger requires and how likely they are to be able to actually review your book.
2. Evaluate the bloggers on your list
Hopefully you found a ton of bloggers who you think would be a good fit for your book, but unless you have free range with e-arcs you probably can’t send a book to everyone. You may be tempted to just pick the blogs with the biggest audiences, but they are often the ones who are busiest, so you need to weigh bigger audiences against blogs where you are more likely to get reviewed. Big audiences may also not be as helpful as you think if the blogger in question doesn’t really have authority in speaking to your genre.
3. What to offer book bloggers
Obviously you can offer a blogger a copy of your book (which they will probably accept for consideration of review, not for a guaranteed review), but you can also increase your chance of getting blog coverage if you can also book an interview, guest post, or giveaway. All of these things require more work and/or resources on your part, so be sure you are able to commit what is necessary before you offer these things.
4. How to approach book bloggers
Most book bloggers have jobs and family lives that come before their blogs so be respectful of their time and approach them in a professional way. Book pitches should be done via email, unless another method is specified in the blogger’s review policy.
Pitches to bloggers should be approached in much the same way that you might approach a query letter for an agent or editor. In a pitch, as in a query, you will want information on ‘the hook, the book, and the cook.’ In other words, a brief hook to grab the blogger’s attention, pertinent information about the book, and a brief author bio.
If you’ve done your research on the blogger you are pitching, the hook may be something about why you believe that they might like your book, instead of only being about the book, since you’ll get into more in-depth information about the book in the next paragraph. It is fine to use your back cover copy or other marketing copy to describe your book in the pitch, but please also include your publisher and the book’s release date, at minimum. This information can help a blogger make a decision about whether they could possibly fit your book into their editorial calendar. Your bio can be very brief, but feel free to include any writing awards you have won here.
In your pitch you will want to be clear about what you are offering. Occasionally authors send bloggers pitches that make it sound as if they are asking for the blogger to buy and review their book, which usually leads to the blogger simply ignoring or deleting the email. Be clear whether you are offering a physical review copy or an electronic one, and if you are open to doing a guest post or interview, that information can be conveyed here as well.
So that you don’t waste your time crafting personalized pitches to bloggers who are unlikely to accept your book for whatever reason, it is a good idea to check the review policies of the bloggers you most want to have review your book.
Review policies are documents written up by bloggers to say whether or not they are accepting anything for review, what sort of things they’re open to seeing pitches about, and often how much lead time they prefer and what formats they like to read in as well. This is a step you may want to take as part of your initial ranking of bloggers, but even so you will want to check review policies again before you send out pitches. Being able to personalize your pitch with information gleaned from a review policy makes you look like someone who respects a blogger’s time and preferences, which can definitely help you get in the door at a busy blog.
There are many things you can do to optimize your experience of working with bloggers, all of which are detailed in my Short Fuse Guide to Working with Book Bloggers (which is free until the end of the year, so if you think you’ll need it at some point, get it now!). If you’re pressed for time and don’t want to read 8,000 words of ideas, though, you can boil it down to this: if you work with book bloggers in a professional manner you may not get all rave reviews, but you are likely to get fair reviews, and to get your book talked about on social media and help you build your word of mouth.
What questions do you have about working with book bloggers? What has been your experience with them so far? Are there any bloggers you recommend for a particular genre?
p.s. For our American readers…HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Jen Karsbaek is an associate agent at Fuse Literary where she represents women’s fiction, historical fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, and literary fiction. Before becoming an agent, she ran the very popular book review blog Devourer of Books. You can find her on Twitter as @devourerofbooks.
About The Short Fuse Guide to Working with Book Bloggers
One of the very best ways to reach readers is to connect with a passionate and internet-savvy group of readers and reviewers who delight in sharing the books they love with others: book bloggers.
In The Short Fuse Guide to Working with Book Bloggers, literary agent and book blogger Jen Karsbaek shows you how best to approach and work with book bloggers to secure reviews, spread word of mouth, and build strong buzz for your new release. The Short Fuse Guide to Working with Book Bloggers and Fuse Literary’s other Short Fuse Guides are free at Smashwords through the end of 2014 and are available for purchase as Kindle books.