by Kristopher Zgorski BOLO Books
As column space in newspapers and magazines continues to decline, book bloggers have risen to fill the void. Authors know how valuable reviews are to the success of a book, but approaching bloggers can be a time-consuming and confusing process. First, remember these folks are a part of your tribe; they choose to write about the books they love not because they are getting paid to do so, but because their heart insists that they must. Think of it as talking to a very supportive friend.
How can you get the most out of your interaction with book bloggers?
Do your research
Before approaching a book blog, please do your research. Make sure that the blog covers your genre, accepts review solicitations, and has up-to-date content on the site. Please don’t say you don’t have time to do this research; keep in mind that you are asking this person to devote hours of their time reading and reviewing your book.
Remember, book bloggers are looking for an audience as well – and you want them to have that audience because those are the folks that will read the review and buy your book. How can you help?
Occasionally share the content of book bloggers you respect. Certainly, they are reviewing books by your friends, so why not re-tweet a review once in a while – it will please your friend who wrote that book and the book blogger will notice. When it comes time to ask them to review your novel, a book blogger is likely to remember that you have shared their content and will be more receptive to your pitch.
Should they review your book, make sure that it too is getting shared. If not by you – although, I think it’s perfectly fine for an author to share reviews on occasion, especially around the launch of a new title, and within reason – you can also have your colleagues/friends in the genre share the review. Book bloggers depend on stats, so if the review of your book does not generate enough interest (i.e., hits) on the blog, a book blogger may be unlikely to review your future books.
When sending a review pitch to a book blogger, provide all the necessary information in as brief a format as possible. Book bloggers get more pitches in a week than you can even imagine. Tell them who you are, the title of your book, a brief synopsis, and the release date. It will go a long way if you address them by name – most bloggers will have their name listed on the blog somewhere. If you include it, it shows that you explored their blog and are not mass e-mailing review requests to hundreds of sites (even if you are).
Be timely and reliable
Some book bloggers prefer to work directly with a publisher (or publicist, if you have one.) Since most authors receive a limited supply of ARCs, this is not necessarily a bad thing. But it still falls to an author to ensure that their desired blogs are being contacted in a timely manner. Timing is very important. Most of the popular blogs will be generating a schedule several months in advance, so keep that in mind. Even if your book is not ready yet, interacting with a blogger will get you – and your book – on their radar.
If a book blogger asks you for an ARC, do everything you can to get that book into their hands. There are so many books out there; if a particular blogger felt strongly enough to request your book, they clearly feel it is a strong fit for their platform. Often bloggers do not guarantee a review, but the likelihood of getting reviewed is much stronger when the blogger initiates the interaction.
Follow up after a book blogger posts a review. A quick e-mail, social media comment, or direct message is all that is needed. Say thank you – regardless of whether the review was good or bad.
Most book bloggers don’t post outright negative reviews, but even if that were to happen, you want to thank them for taking the time to read your book and share their thoughts.
It is probably best not to directly engage regarding the content of the review, especially if you disagree.
Remember, sometimes a book is not the right fit for a particular book blog – even one that covers your chosen genre. This can happen for a variety of reasons: everything from the schedule being overbooked to the book synopsis containing an element the reader is simply not a fan of. If a book blogger turns down your request for a review, accept that. (Believe me, there are no shortage of book blogs out there.)
But it is also perfectly acceptable to inquire about other opportunities with that particular blog – perhaps a guest post, an interview, or some other standard feature the blog is known for. If you are nice about it, most book bloggers will do what they can to find a way for you to promote your work on their site. If the answer still remains no, consider that the blogger knows their audience and for whatever reason, your book is not considered a good fit. It is their site and they have the final say over content.
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Kristopher Zgorski is the founder of the crime fiction book review blog, BOLO Books. Kristopher also has a column called Central Booking in Deadly Pleasures Magazine. His reviews have appeared in genre-specific publications such as Crimespree Magazine, Mystery Readers Journal, and the UK-based Shots Crime and Thriller Ezine. Kristopher is obviously an avid reader and regularly attends industry conventions such as Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and BEA.