November 26th, 2014

4 Tips for Working With Book Bloggers

Jen Karsbaek

Book bloggerSo, 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!

About Jen

Jen KarsbaekJen 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.

Books photo credit: Sunshine Lady ! via photopin cc

26 responses to “4 Tips for Working With Book Bloggers”

  1. Laura Drake says:

    Thanks for the great post, Jen! I love book bloggers. These avid readers work tirelessly, just for the love of books. They're gems. I have built a list, and have been lucky to meet a few in person.

    I love your point about approaching them with the attitude that they're agents you're querying. That applies to choosing what ones to approach, as well. The couple that haven't worked out well for me,were usually because their focus isn't on the genre I write, or the 'tone' of the blog doesn't match my voice.

  2. Rosie Amber says:

    What a wonderful piece of advice, I'm a small book blogger and I also have a small team of reviewers as we are so busy with book review requests. I fully support the need to check out a blogger first, read their policy and get a feel for the books they read and the style of reviews they write. It can be a thankless use of your free time when your own reading experience doesn't match what the author believes.

    • Jen Karsbaek says:

      I come from the book blogging world and the books that just blatantly don't match your blog are SO frustrating. Same holds true with authors who do zero research before they query agents.

  3. Great advice here, especially about finding book bloggers who fit your book!

  4. Barbara says:

    Great post! As a book blogger I find it very annoying when I get requests from authors who obviously haven't read our review policy.

  5. Jen knows her stuff. Her Short Fuse Guide is worth the read. So much more great info and tips packed into that booklet. And being a slow reader myself (yeah, Laura and Orly, you know about that one) I admire how fast and frequent book bloggers consume their reads, how passionate they are about their books. PS, hi Jen!

  6. Jenny Hansen says:

    Jen, thanks so much for posting with us! Great advice. I'm sure many others will be thinking the same thing I am: I've gotta go download this guide!

  7. K.B. Owen says:

    Fab tips, Jen! Thanks so much. 🙂

  8. Excellent tips, Jen! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Orly Konig Lopez says:

    Great tips. Thanks for posting with us!

  10. Thank You, JEN.
    I know nothing about Blogs . . . Bloggers or Blogging . . . you have opened my eyes and mind. Now to find BLOGGERS who 'blog' about Hollywood Celebrities, TV-Film and Memoirs and I'll be all set.

    Have a great weekend.

    Michael Phelps
    Author
    David Janssen-My Fugitive (With Ellie Janssen)
    David Janssen-Our Conversations-Volume One
    David Janssen-Our Conversations-Volume Two
    The Execution of Justice
    The Jockey's Justice

    www,MichaelPhelpsNovels.com

  11. karenmcfarland says:

    Ooh, great information Jen! I am a little green when it comes to book promotion amongst bloggers. So your post was timely. As Jenny Hansen mentioned, I too need to download your book! Thank you so much! 🙂

  12. jmcgarryxx says:

    I'm a book blogger myself. I like working with authors. One of my pet peeves is authors who essentially demand a 4 or 5 star review. I don't work that way. Any submissions are in exchange for a review. I determine the stars. If I like a book, I'll give it 4 or 5 stars. If not, I won't. I've also seen some authors (through Facebook posts; I didn't work with them) who want me to either not put in or bury the statement that I received a free book in exchange for the review. FTC Guidelines are very clear on this. If I receive a book or anything of value in exchange for the review, I have to disclose it. I usually put it at the top of the review, so I don't forget, and so it's out of the way. Otherwise, I like working with authors. I make sure to post on Goodreads, Amazon, and B&N (although with Amazon and B&N I have to wait until the book is published). My blog website is http://jmbooktalk.blogspot.com.

  13. Bob Rogers says:

    Well said! I often review Christian books and historical books, and sometimes authors pitch books to me for review by offering me a copy of their book. Often their books are totally out of my area of interest, and I just ignore their email. Only one author has offered a giveaway of his book on my blog, which I greatly appreciated, and none have offered to do an interview.


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