So you’ve published your novel and four people more than your mom told you they couldn’t put it down. Problem is, you’ve self published and you’ve decided to avoid paying thousands of dollars for that must-have promotion package. Smart detour.
Or you’ve published traditionally with a boutique company with zero budget for marketing. You’ve set up your blog which is visited by thirty other writers just like you looking for the way to literary fame.
Jeezz! You can’t seem to get that obligatory word-of-mouth cranked up that Simon and Schuster generates with thousands of dollars of half page ads in the New York Times and face time for you with Jay Leno and the gals on The View.
So where do you get “exposure” when you’re on your own?
Winning the Pulitzer Prize for Literature and/or reviews from Book Bloggers is a good start. I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about book blogger submissions and what they can do for you.
But before you start the journey you’re going to need an ebook version of your novel, in all formats. A PDF of your manuscript is also necessary if your reviewer accepts works-in-progress. If you are already published or have an ARC (advanced review copy), and a low-res graphic of your book covers, AND the blubs that are printed on them, be prepared to submit those computer documents as well.
Yes, you can send hard copies if requested, but many times you can, or are asked to submit your book with the initial emailed query. That’s why you need a computer file as well as a real book.
Now, if you’ve got all your ducks lined up in a row, you are ready to proceed.
Book blogging ranges from readers who love writing about the classics to serious seekers of new authors and their evaluation with professional critiques. Ninety-nine and a half percent of those internet reviews come from women, and mostly younger women.
And…those female readers are mostly reading YA, and within that genre, all the fantasy subgenres. So if you’ve just scribed a young adult, paranormal, dystopian, werewolf romance, your chances of getting put on her TBR (to-be-read) pile are much improved. If you’ve written good, old fashion literary fiction about adult relationships in the real world, you better be able to pitch it with descriptive elements of the popular categories, or have such a compelling idea that the reader will break out of her comfort zone.
Other categories include: Mysteries, thrillers, horror, sci-fi, and in very few cases, erotica and religious themes. Forget about non-fiction.
Submissions to book bloggers is like submitting a query to agents and publishers. You send an email hoping you’ll capture interest with six hundred words. But there IS a big difference between publisher submissions and book blogger submissions.
Book blogger submission can, and should be, personal and shaped to the reader who invites you to send her your book.
Go to her ABOUT page. There she’ll explain her reading preference and lifestyle, which may fit your book theme, assuming you’ve already checked out her REVIEW POLICY preferences.But I’m getting ahead of myself.
First you need to know: WHERE YOU START YOUR BLOG SEARCH.
You start with lists of book bloggers. There are many. Here are three:
You now go down the inventory, preferably using the Chrome search engine. With Chrome you can get the Google rating bar that roughly shows how much traffic each site gets with a scale from 0-10.You need to install that rating system in your Chrome tool bar.
Subscribing to ALEXA also gives you a rating, but only among the Alexa users. Google and Alexa ratings give you an indication how “popular” the reviewer is. However, it’s more important WHERE the reviews are published. (More on that later.)
Okay, so you’ve begun clicking on links which bring you to the blogger sites. This is what you do now:
- Check the rating, if there IS a rating. A low rating does not necessarily mean a low review exposure. I will soon explain why.
- Check the date of the last review or article. If it was published six months ago, go to the next site.
- Check out the style of the landing page and any description about the GENRES reviewed. If you’ve written a Christian romance novel and you see ruby lipstick marks, fire, and naked men’s chests all over the home page, this site is not for your book.
- Look for your next stop: the REVIEW POLICY. If you don’t see a tab header for that page, go to the ABOUT page. Sometimes the review policy is a hidden link at the bottom of the ABOUT page. If there is NO review policy, chances are there is no review for you unless you are Stephen King or Suzanne Collins.
- Check out the list of genres in the REVIEW POLICY, what kind of submissions the reviewer accepts, and IF the reviewer is accepting new submissions at all. Will the blogger accept self published books? Will the blogger be open to submissions sometime later? Does the blogger accept ebook submissions and PDF files?
- If you fall into the preferences and requirements, go the to ABOUT PAGE. Learn about the reviewer and write directly to her. Let her know you’ve spent time on her site. In some cases a book blog is a collective. Read all the bios and choose the reviewer best for you.
- Check out where she leaves reviews beyond her own site. You want reviews posted on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other distribution and review aggregators. This exposure supersedes her website traffic.
- If she doesn’t specifically tell you NOT to attach your book files, do it. She may wish to read some pages to help her decide about accepting your book.
- Thank her for the time it took to consider your query and leave all the contact information you can, including your book site and blog if you have one.
- If you don’t get an emailed reply, don’t get discouraged. Most bloggers do not reply unless they want to review your book or secure a guest post. You can email a reminder six weeks later if the bloggers suggests you do that, otherwise don’t.
Here’s one more piece of advice. If the reviewers say they give book spotlights, guest blogs and author interviews, ASK for those opportunities independently of the review request. You’ll probably get that alternate exposure much sooner than a book commentary, which may take months. And here’s why.
Many bloggers need to fill daily pages with content, be it reviews, guests posts or author interviews. The interview is generally a set of questions mailed to you. You can modify those questions and change their order. When sending them back, include a picture of yourself, pictures of your book covers and links to where the public can buy your work.
Also, participate in ALL giveaways. Giveaways draw readers to the book blog and your novel. That’s what you want – people reading and talking about your book! So don’t be stingy with your samples.
Finally, if you do get positive responses, participate in the reviewer’s blog. Leave comments! Support your web reader, even after the review or author interview has been published.
Expanding connections is what publicists and marketing people do, and the reason they demand the fees they charge. It’s WORK, and it’s a business –and it’s that dirty little secret debut novelists hate to discover.
But discover it you must. Solicit, you must…or be prepared to pay someone else to do it for you. Either way, (unless you get discovered by Simon and Schuster) you’ll have to commit to the marketing game. And doing THAT, is learning to embrace it!