How To Reach Out to Book Bloggers for Reviews
Perhaps this is a blogging faux pas, but today’s post isn’t for my core audience.
While I hope my regular readers will find this interesting, this is for authors who are hoping to find bloggers like me to read and review their books.
I’m a firm believer in taking action when you are complaining about something. So instead of just being quietly disgruntled (or bitching to my husband) about the emails I receive, I figured I’d put some guidance out there.
Ever since I signed myself up to be on The Book Blogger List, I hear from at least one author a day asking me to read and review their book. At first I was flattered by how many requests I got – wow, my blog must be awesome! Then I quickly realized most authors are sending out form emails to everyone on the list. While I can see why someone would take that approach, I know that the people who don’t are generally the ones I am willing to work with.
I’m constantly backlogged with books to review, yet I’ll take on a new one when it sounds compelling, or I feel a connection to an author through our exchanges. I turn down over 80% of the authors who reach out to me because I simply can’t say yes to everyone, and honestly some of the books don’t sound like something I would enjoy.
So here’s my advice based on what has worked well to persuade me to work with an author.
How To Reach Out to Book Bloggers for Reviews
Step One: Look around my site before contacting me.
Without exception, if someone says something like “I’ve looked at your work and I think my book is a good fit for your readers”, or compliments my blog, I will work with that author. I might not be able to read their book but I will offer them an opportunity to write a guest post. This is NOT the same as saying “Nice blog. Will you please read my book?” If you are asking me to take time from my life to read your book, then you should be willing to look into my work as well.
Step Two: Introduce yourself and engage me with your email
An author once filled out my contact form with only this: Hi Ramona, Up your alley? With his name and link to his book. Are you kidding me? Would YOU respond to an email like that?
Step Three: Don’t make assumptions
I get a lot of these: “I have a new book coming out that you will love.” If you don’t explain why you think that (that you’ve read my Goodreads reviews or looked at my posts) then don’t tell me I’m going to love it. I recently got an Instagram message from an author who said, “Since you like to read, please consider my book,” then included the synopsis. I didn’t respond to this person because she obviously hadn’t taken even just a few moments to scroll through my posts and find one piece of common ground.
Step Four: Don’t ask me to buy your book.
This one I don’t quite understand. Most publishers and authors hand out galleys (copies for review) for free. Once after agreeing to read the book, an author asked me to purchase it from Amazon and he’d reimburse me. I said I wasn’t comfortable with that, but he could send me a copy for free. He said he would, and then I never heard from him again. I’ve also seen ads online for book reviewers that stipulate you must buy the book and give a 4 or 5 star review, only then will they reimburse you for the book and pay $8 for the review. That’s all super shady. Don’t do it.
Step Five: Keep track of who you contact so you don’t repeat.
I respond to every author who contacts me (except that one from Step Two) even if I’m not going to accept the book. I wish them good luck on their author journey, and I truly mean it. When I get the same form email from an author a second time, I don’t respond. This reeks of desperation and disorganization. I don’t want to work with an author who so obviously can’t keep a list of who they’ve reached out to.
Step Six: Don’t pester for that review.
Sure you can check in with me. Sometimes I forget or get distracted by other books. If there’s a deadline you’d like the book read by, be open about that up front. Don’t wait til I’ve had it for a couple weeks then tell me you want reviews by next Tuesday. Instead of continually reaching out to ask about the review, ask a question such as “When might be a good time to check back in with you on this?”
Step Seven: Be kind.
You are essentially asking a stranger for a huge favor. Don’t forget that. I am a human being with a busy life too. I’m also a writer. I understand deadlines and panic and all that other junk that comes with putting your story out there. Be nice. Be patient. Re-read your emails before sending them. And remember you are deserving of the same. If a blogger responds to you rudely, you don’t have to work with them either.
So now I’d like to hear from you! Are you a blogger with tips you’d add to my list?
If you’re an author, do you find this helpful?