Hey there! Welcome to my new series of blog posts for authors. I’ve wanted to create a crash course on how to work with book bloggers for a long time.
Since it’s a new year, I figured there’s no better time to start than now.
I’ve been a book blogger for five and a half years and I get approached by many, many authors and publishers, asking if I’ll read and review their books.
Most of the time, I say no. After all, this blog is a hobby that takes up a lot of my time and I can’t read EVERYTHING. (I wish I could, but I’m only human.)
Sometimes, however, I say yes.
I’m going to tell you what makes me say yes to a book review request and how you can improve your chances of getting book bloggers to say yes to you as well.
We’re also going to discuss other (non-review) ways of how to work with book bloggers to promote your book. Many authors think of bloggers only as a way of getting book reviews and they pass up wonderful opportunities to get their book in front of readers.
Keep in mind that this is a crash course overview. I’ll be going into more depth on each of these points in later posts.
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Ready to dive in?
Understanding the Book Blogger
First things first. If you want to work with book bloggers, you need to understand them. If you just rush ahead without understanding us, you’re not going to have much success.
1. Why Book Bloggers Blog
Book bloggers are avid readers who started a blog because they wanted a place to talk about books and discuss what they loved and hated about a specific title.
Book bloggers love joining the tightly knit online book community. They love connecting with other bloggers to host events, post on each other’s blogs, discover new books, geek out, and participate in memes together.
Don’t shoot the messenger, but I don’t know many book bloggers that started their blog because they wanted to become a free publicity service for authors. Don’t believe me? Download a copy of Book Blogger Survey: From a Survey of 500+ Book Bloggers (affiliate link). It’s only $0.99 and contains some very interesting insights.
Sure, helping authors is a nice side-product of blogging and some bloggers offer services or products for authors. But as a whole, book bloggers are online to have fun and connect with other bookworms.
2. Book Blogging is a Hobby, Not a Job
If you want to work with book bloggers, you need to remember that they often don’t get paid for the work they do. For most of us, book blogging is a hobby. And like most hobbies, it sits pretty far down on the list of priorities.
Family, jobs, forgetfulness, other books, and life often get in the way of book bloggers posting reviews on time (or at all).
Working with book bloggers can get frustrating when they don’t post in a timely manner. But remember that unless you’re paying them for their work, they aren’t obligated to post at all.
3. Understand What You’re Asking For
If you’re asking for a review, be prepared for honest feedback, both positive and negative. That’s what a review is. Bloggers have a responsibility to their audience to write honest reviews, not just positive ones.
If you don’t want to deal with negative reviews, there are plenty of other ways to work with bloggers to promote your book.
For example, you could ask for a sponsored spotlight post, social media post/blast, lifestyle post, book list placement, or something else that falls under the umbrella of “advertising”. But be prepared to offer monetary compensation.
After all, you’re requesting hours and hours of the blogger’s time, energy, and skill set.
7 Things You Need to Catch a Blogger’s Attention
With so many books being thrown at bloggers every day, it can be tough for your book to stand out from the rest. So let’s talk about the things you need in order to catch a blogger’s attention.
1. A Stunning Book Cover
There are no two ways about this, folks. If you want to catch a blogger’s attention, your book cover needs to blow them away.
I get many books submitted to me every single day and the first thing I look for is the book cover. It tells me just about everything I need to know about a book.
Your book cover is your #1 asset (other than offering payment) to getting book bloggers to work with you. If your cover stinks, you may as well save your energy because book bloggers will simply delete your email.
2. A Professional Pitch
When you work with book bloggers, your pitch is almost as important as your cover.
Use the blogger’s name and please be polite and courteous. Keep it short and sweet. The shorter the better. And be clear about what you want.
My favorite pitches go something like this:
I have a new book that I’d love to share with you.
[Insert book cover and Goodreads synopsis here.]
Are you interested in receiving a promotional copy for review or mention? I can also do a giveaway or guest post. (If you’re asking for promotional posts and advertising, mention that here.)
And whatever you do, keep it professional and watch your wording. Don’t crack jokes at the blogger’s expense (it’s happened), beg, grovel, or make demands.
Keep it simple and professional. You’ll be fine.
3. Great Cover Copy
If you have a stunning cover and you’ve managed not to scare the blogger off with your pitch, then you’re doing very well. The next test is going to be your cover copy, which you should insert into your pitch.
As you already know, your synopsis or cover copy is a huge selling point for readers, and bloggers are no exception. We want to be hooked without having the entire plot spoiled.
Some bloggers are strictly in the hobby zone and refuse to take payment for anything, which is fine.
But most bloggers are open to accepting payment for posts. If you mention in your pitch that you’re interested in purchasing a promotional post or another form of advertising, you can bet your booties you’ll have their attention.
5. Some Reviews on Goodreads
If you want to work with book bloggers, it’s a good idea to have some initial reviews on Goodreads before you approach them.
I always check Goodreads before I say yes to a book. I quickly check the average star rating and maybe scan a review or two to see what people are saying.
But be smart. If you have your mom write a bunch of five-star reviews for your book, using fake Goodreads accounts, it’s going to be pretty obvious.
Ask friends, neighbors, or book club members to leave you an honest review. You can also join Facebook groups or Goodreads groups for swapping reviews.
6. A Well-Written and Edited Book
If you want to work with book bloggers, you need to have a well-written and edited book. Book bloggers are unflinchingly honest in their reviews and things like spelling and grammar mistakes will plummet your star ratings.
7. Be a Blog Follower
If there is one thing that book bloggers want more than anything else, it’s engaged followers.
So follow the blog on social media and bloglovin (or however you follow blogs), make comments, and respond to their tweets. Cultivate relationships with bloggers and they’ll become some of your biggest cheerleaders.
After a Review or Post
Your relationship with a book blogger doesn’t end when they hit the “publish” button on their blog post. Here are some things to consider once the post is live.
1. Negative Reviews
Negative reviews stink. Bloggers hate writing them and authors hate getting them. (Yet another reason to consider sponsored posts or advertising as opposed to a review.)
Whatever you do, DO NOT RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS. Everyone gets them and everyone hates them. But responding to them or attacking the blogger will only hurt you.
It could literally end your prospects as an author — especially if you’re a self-published author and are relying on book bloggers for a hefty portion of your book marketing.
2. To Comment or Not to Comment?
If you get a positive review or the blogger included your book in a list or discussion post, feel free to direct a comment to the blogger, thanking them for mentioning you. Blog post comments boost engagement and help them get found in search engines, which helps both of us.
If you get a negative review, don’t comment.
Don’t respond to other people’s comments. I can’t even tell you how weird that is.
Don’t solicit reviews from other comments. Again, super weird and totally desperate. Just don’t do it.
3. Can You Share the Review or Blog Post?
YES! Please do.
Some authors get told not to, but that’s terrible advice. Bloggers want more page views. We’ve just done you a huge favor by reviewing or marketing your book. Please return the favor by sharing our hard work on your social media channels or in your newsletter.
Other (Non-Review) Ways to Work with Book Bloggers
Everyone asks for a book review, but unless your book is a bestseller from a large publisher or has a movie adaptation coming out, a book review isn’t the most effective way to work with book bloggers.
There are many other ways to work with book bloggers that don’t involve a review. These can be more effective than a book review and also remove any worry over negative reviews.
So before you ask for a review, consider one of the following options. Chances are, you’ll get more page views and engagement, which is better for both you and the blogger.
1. Guest Posts and Interviews
Cost: Usually free.
Readers love these — especially if you have something interesting to say. Write a compelling guest post about the story behind your story, or captivate an audience with a behind-the-scenes look at how you work.
If you’re doing an interview, put in the proper amount of effort. Don’t just rush through the questions with short, one sentence answers. Give us some funny personal anecdotes and make us fall in love with you.
Cost: Usually free, but you have to provide the prize.
These are great for building your social media presence and engaging a new audience. Bloggers usually participate in several blog hops and giveaways every month, so offer to sponsor one. The blogger will be happy that they don’t have to come up with a prize and you can get your book in front of hundreds of new people.
Yes, you CAN pay a book blogger. In fact, if you want to work with book bloggers to promote your book, it’s a good idea to have some marketing budget set aside for that purpose. Whether you’re booking a blog tour or asking for a sponsored post, you’ll need some cash to work with.
1. Blog Tours
Many bloggers offer blog tours as a service for authors. These are generally cost-efficient ways to get your book in front of hundreds or thousands of people.
Blog tours have become a staple in the marketing plans of many authors and book publishers because they can have amazing results.
2. Roundup Posts and Book Lists
Cost: Depends on the blogger. Check out their media kit or, if they don’t have one, email them and ask what they charge.
Book lists are usually more popular than a single book review and they perform well on Pinterest and social media and bring in consistent traffic over long periods of time.
Here are a few I’ve done recently:
3. Lifestyle Posts
Cost: Depends on the blogger and their audience size.
These can be just about anything, from favorite book quotes to bookish items found on Etsy that remind the blogger of your book. Share a bookish recipe, craft, or products related to your book.
Get creative and look around to see what other types of blog posts are out there. Here are some examples of popular blog posts I’ve written:
4. Discussion Posts
Cost: Depends on the blogger.
Bloggers love to discuss books, reading, and the bookish lifestyle. From characters to trends, bloggers want to talk about it all. Some of my most popular posts are discussion posts like this one:
Ask a blogger to come up with a discussion post about your book. It could be anything from favorite tropes in YA to best professions for female characters in romance novels.
5. Social Media Posts
Cost: Depends on the blogger, their following, and engagement.
Many bloggers will happily sell you social media posts. From creative tweets to Instagram posts to Facebook ads targeting their followers, the possibilities are wide open.
For example, you could approach a bookstagrammer and ask them how much they charge for creating a post with your book, description, and a purchase link in their bio.
Or you could ask a blogger to promote your book trailer or advertisement on their Facebook page.
The possibilities are endless if you’re willing to think outside the box and work with book bloggers in new and non-traditional ways.
While reviews are wonderful things to have, there are many other ways to work with book bloggers to market your book that have the potential to be highly effective.
Don’t pigeon-hole yourself and don’t sell yourself short. Get creative and see what options you and a book blogger can come up with.