I've frequently mentioned how wonderful book bloggers are on this blog. Sometimes I hear it's impossible to get bloggers to feature your book (which is a myth), but since I started doing reviews of indie books myself, I can kind of see why this rumor might get around. Authors aren't sure how to conduct themselves.
You can read a million articles on the right way to approach editors and agents, but what about the friendly book lovers of the world?
I've sent out fifty review copies of Six Moon Summer to book bloggers now and queried many more. Here's a few suggestions on how to handle the approach.
1. Be polite and professional.
Your query email asking if they would like to review your book should be as cleanly-written as your book itself. (You did edit your book, right?) Don't be needy, cajoling, rude, pretentious... whatever. Be professional. They are essentially providing a service to authors and readers for free, and they don't owe you anything.
2. But be friendly.
Book bloggers are human too. Because we have something huge in common (loving books), they're pretty easy to get along with. Reading is usually a passion for these folks, so they want to have fun with it, too, and usually don't want to treat it as a business (except the really big ones).
3. Don't be demanding.
I've heard book bloggers complain about how much extra work indie authors are than publicists. All you should ask of a book blogger is to read your book, and hopefully review it. That's it. You can offer to do additional promotions (like author interviews, character interviews, guest posts, giveaways, etcetera), but try not to be a pain in the butt.
4. Be brief.
I keep my emails asking if they would like to review my book to about one paragraph. I explain that I'm the author of Six Moon Summer, describe the genre, link them to the official website where they can find the blurb and trailer, and explain that I am interested in doing related promotions if they have the time. Short and sweet. Book bloggers are usually very busy and don't have time to read pages and pages of how you're going to be the next JK Rowling.
5. READ THEIR REVIEW POLICY.
I'm going to repeat this a few times. Almost every book blogger has a review policy. FIND IT. READ IT. If they don't review your genre, don't ask-- you're wasting their time. If they say they don't review indie books, leave it alone. If they say they're not doing reviews right now, leave it alone. This is how they communicate their tastes to authors and publicists of the world, and they don't put it up there for funsies. They do it to reduce unnecessary communications. Respect it, yo.
6. Offer to do some kind of promotion if they're too busy for your book.
There are alternatives to the book blogger reading and reviewing your book. If they're busy, offer to do all the work yourself. Guest blogs take virtually no effort on their part and still get your name and cover around the internet.
7. READ THEIR REVIEW POLICY.
I said I was going to repeat this, didn't I?
8. If they aren't interested, leave them alone.
Don't push. No means no. Indie authors learn to be salespeople, which is an obnoxious but necessary personality trait, but you are not going to "sell" your book to a blogger with pushiness. You'll just get a reputation for being annoying. I've run into a couple authors who keep emailing until you change your mind (which I don't do), so I can only imagine it's worse for people who do more reviews.
9. If/when they do review your book, thank them for their time.
Don't argue. (Are you listening, Jacqueline Howett?) I've had a couple bloggers offer not to post reviews if they're unfavorable, and I always politely decline. If they've taken the time to read the book, it's rude to refuse their review, and one or two bad reviews doesn't hurt. They're inevitable, in fact. So get a tough skin and be grateful.
10. Be patient.
Even though over fifty bloggers have review copies now (damn that's a lot), I've only gotten about a dozen back. That's okay. It takes time. Like all book lovers, they usually have huge reading lists, and many of them also have major publishers throwing books at them, too. Indie books are often not high priority. They're doing the best they can! Also, if you hope to get a review in time for your book's release, give them at least two months of warning.
Bonus tip! Keep a database of which book bloggers have worked with you. This (usually) prevents accidentally sending them duplicate emails, and it lets you get back to them fast if you have other books or promotional opportunities to offer. I also note if they're not interested in participating in promotional stuff so I won't bug them about it twice.
Extra super bonus tip! Don't send a form email to a million bloggers at once with all their names in the TO: line. It's just rude. Don't do that to anyone. (Even if you have the cutest cat picture ever and you're sure your family wants to see it.)
What say you, book blogging friends? Any corrections? Additions? What can indie authors do to make your experience as book bloggers more pleasant?