The world is changing faster than any of us can keep up, and publishing is certainly not immune. Yet, one constant remains. There are only two ways to sell lots of books—good book and word of mouth. Period. Book trailer, bookmarks, giveaways, and flare are fun, but are certainly not major drivers of book sales. If you want to know why, take a few minutes to check out one of my earlier posts that explains why books are not tubes of toothpaste and writers are not tacos.
One of the best ways to generate word of mouth for our books is to enlist the help of bloggers who have large followings. Ah, but be careful. There is a TON of bad advice floating around out there about how to approach bloggers to review a book, give you an interview or allow you to guest post.
I know when I was speaking over the summer, a PR expert spouted off (with great authority) her “helpful tips” to get writers
hunted down and tarred and feathered . Um, I meant, tips to make bloggers want to talk about you and your books.
Um…so does this mean you WON’T be reviewing my epic fantasy?
Normally, I ignore anything I don’t happen to agree with, but this bad advice is just far too pervasive and it can land a lot of well meaning authors in deep *cough* yeah, that stuff. Many marketing people believe (quite mistakenly) that what works in the world of business works in publishing, and that just ain’t so.
So, let’s just take a look at some of the ways to make bloggers craft a voodoo doll of our likeness:
Bad Tip #1—Send Out Mass E-Mails
Yes, said marketing expert actually recommended that writers make a master list of all the big bloggers and send them an e-mail request for an interview, book review or guest spot.
No. For the love of all that is chocolate….NO.
One surefire way to make any blogger hate you is to send us a nice form letter that is clearly part of a mass e-mail list. I can’t tell you guys how special I feel when I see:
Wow! Whoa! Okay, I often argue that storytelling (writing) is really the oldest profession in the world, but Madam? Seriously? No wonder I suddenly feel the need for a feather boa and a chaise lounge. I just thought it was my normal weirdness.
Let’s just apply a smidge of common sense. The last time you went to your mail and some cable company sent you a form letter, did you get chills? Did you get ooey gooey feelings of super-specialness? No. Okay, so here’s a clue. No matter how “thoughtful” the form letter…it isn’t.
When this expert recommended mass e-mailing all the top bloggers, I just kinda wanted to punch her.
And don’t think bloggers will fall for….
Bad Tip #2—“Personalized” Form Letters
Yeah, I am not mentioning any names, but this advice really gives me an eye twitch. “You can send a form letter if you just make sure to personalize the first paragraph with tidbits about the other person.” I just love it when people fake interest in me, don’t you?
I love Dale Carnegie, and I read How to Win Friends and Influence
Enemies People about once a year. But, here’s the thing. Dale was trying to teach people how to actually CARE about other people FIRST. His tactics were not meant to be some phoney-boloney schtick to get people to lower their guard so they could be more easily manipulated.
We are not idiots, and we spot a form letter when we see one.
At least once a month, I get something akin to:
Dear Ms. Lamb,
Wow. I see that you like training sea monkeys for world domination. But have you ever thought, “Gee, New York just doesn’t publish anything good anymore”? Critics are hailing The Chiropractor’s Assistant—A Tale of Love, Betrayal, and Orthotics as the best thing since Snookie’s unauthorized biography. I know your blog is top-notch and that’s why I am offering you a rare chance to interview me before I’m too famous to be reachable…
Yeah…I’m right on that. Right after I organize my liquor cabinet.
I know it is tempting to take short-cuts. I’ve listened to the fancy Power Point presentations at writing conferences, too. But, what might work in Corporate America can make us a digital leper in the writing world.
Bad Tip #3—Faking Fandom
This should fall under the “No, Duh” category. Don’t tell a blogger that you are a fan of the blog unless, well…you are.
Okay, now that I have talked about all the BAD advice, how do you really get a blogger to review your book?
Smart Tip #1—We Should Never Ask for What We Are Unwilling to Give
When a writer is asking a blogger to review a book, that is a HUGE time and energy commitment on the part of the blogger. It takes an average of 10-12 hours to read a book. Then the blogger needs to think, make notes and write a post. You could easily be asking for 20 hours the blogger might not even have.
Interviews are also tough. We need to read writing samples, research your background and even come up with witty and thought-provoking questions. I, personally, have to get my creepy panel van detailed and buy fresh candy. Interviews are A LOT of work.
So, before you e-mail a blogger asking for something, take a gut check. How much have you given?
Trust me when I tell you that we pay attention to people who take time to leave comments regularly. If a blogger gets a request from a REAL fan who has been leaving comments for months? Often it is a no-brainer. Bloggers are people and if you sow kindness and generosity, most bloggers will respond favorably.
Smart Tip #2—Make Sure the Blogger Actually Does Book Reviews or Interviews or Allows Guest Posts
I don’t do book reviews, so to ask me is kind of a waste of time. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to ask me anyway. Years ago, back when she was squeaky new, Piper Bayard hired me to edit her first 100 pages…and then promptly named me The Death Star. Yeah, so asking me to review your book is kinda like asking Ice Pick Vinnie to babysit your kids.
You need some wet work? Some little darlings that need to disappear? I am the right gal. Reviews? Eh, not so much.
But, there are bloggers out there who do review books. Seek them out. Follow their blogs and leave comments. Then, when your book is to a point it needs a review, you will have an established relationship and getting a review will be far easier.
I rarely do interviews. In fact, in three years I have done…TWO. So again, I am not a great choice when it comes to soliciting an interview. My blog is primarily a teaching blog and a formal environment for my general goofing off. Interviews are not my specialty.
If you have a blogger you like, just take some time to see if they even are open to reviews or interviews. This is just common sense. If you need to buy new shoes, don’t go to a florist. Check the blogger’s About Me section and many bloggers will say if they do reviews, interviews, allow guest posts, etc.
Smart Tip #3—Ask the Blogger What You Can Give TO Them
Present yourself as a solution to a problem. Many bloggers are short on TIME. Hey, we’re writers, too. If you want to do a guest post, have some written ahead of time and allow us a choice. If you desire an interview, have a nice bio handy and prepared. You might even have a list of questions to help us out. We might not use your questions, but they can at least help us get us focused and give us a place to start.
This is all just common sense. Serve people first. Be kind and authentic. I know it seems like it takes more time than e-mailing 50 bloggers and hoping a couple will bite. But, if you work to forge relationships FIRST, I promise that your time will be far better spent.
A really great way to meet bloggers is to learn to blog. There are few tools more powerful for creating an author platform. For those interested:
Starting a Successful Blog
Time is running out to sign up! A lot of blogs fail simply because writers take off with no instruction, and, because of this, they are left to learn by painful trial and error. If you believe you would like to blog, but you’re uncertain, I’m doing something new. To accommodate those who are still on the fence, I’m now running a Basic level for my upcoming blogging class that starts next week (and it is only $50 for TWO MONTHS).
In the Basic class, you get to be part of the WANA1012 team and receive all the forum lessons (none of the live webinars are included). This is a really great place to learn if blogging is right for you (Blogging Training Wheels).
If you’re ready to skip the training wheels and get started blogging, then get your spot NOW. My classes have a history of selling out. I offer a Blogging Bronze, Silver, Gold, and even Diamond, for those who are ready to go all the way.
This is a TWO MONTH class—one month for lessons and one for launch—that you can do in your own time, at your own speed and from home. And since you will be part of a WANA team, you won’t have to do this blogging thing alone, so your odds of success are MUCH higher. For those who want to do NaNoWriMo, we can extend the two months if we have to. That’s one of the benefits of being the owner of the interface .
So whether you start your own blog or just get out there and read a few, getting in the mix and forging relationships is more critical than ever. Have I missed anything? For you bloggers out there, what makes you feel warm and fuzzy? What can writers do to get your attention that isn’t illegal in all Southern states?
I LOVE hearing from you.
To prove it and show my love, for the month of October, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less). Will announce September’s winner on Friday. Been out of town and need to catch up.
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of October I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.
Kristen, once again you have come through for us. Your advice is always direct, accurate, and valuable, but this time it is also very timely. A friend has contacted me to ask her to help get the word out about her new Kindle (memoir) book. Among other suggestions, I wall also refer her to your blogs, and particularly, THIS one. Thanks for all you do.
This advice is so true. Bloggers and reviewers get really annoyed with people that don’t take their time seriously. Being a guest is a great opportunity but it helps if you’ve built a relationship with the blogger through thoughtful comments. Fantastic advice as always Kristen.
I love when a writer comments on my blog and actually offers a thoughtful comment. Then I know they actually read what I write. It doesn’t have to be all flowers and candy (although it doesn’t hurt). Just a thought-provoking, makes me want to respond comment will do.
The worst is when I get an email from someone who wants to guest post on my blog, but immediately I can tell it’s from a “I have a list and am emailing 5 million people.” Right into the trash they go!
Great but RARE advice. I’ve read a bajillion books, blogs, articles about just this thing and more often than not the suggestion is to creep up on every blogger with a web address and BLAST them into submission. Thank goodness my childhood instilled sense of basic politeness and manners prohibited me from this route. Much appreciation for your SMART TIPS, Kristen — they don’t leave an icky taste in my mouth, and sound — well, really smart!
Kristen, another great blog full of timely, thought-provoking advice. Will you review my book and interview me? (Just kidding! I read it and took it to heart.)
Wait, your creepy van offers fresh candy? I’ve been climbing into the wrong creepy vans!
Good advice. Isn’t the first rule of marketing to know your audience? Because approaches like mass-mailings are inappropriate for the book community. I try to avoid listening to traditional marketers who claim that their sales in other fields will translate over, not because I don’t think they know sales (obviously success elsewhere means they do), but because few of them actually seem responsive to the community/word of mouth sales strategy.
Of course, maybe it does work for them. But I’m not interested in mass-marketing. I’d rather build a community… which is slow, hard work! Hopefully it will pay off when I’m published. If not, they can have the last laugh.
The creepy ice cream trucks offer healthy competition, so I’ve had to up my game. The rock hard stale Now & Laters no longer catch as many writers, LOL.
Superior advice. “For the love of all that is chocolate” … THANK you!
Coming from corporate America, I quickly realized that most things done promotion wise in that world don’t work in publishing and promoting books. Thanks for reinforcing my thoughts on that mattter.
I don’t think I need to sign up for any of your courses. What more help could you give other than what you write on this blog anyway? Another fine write, by the way. Your advice is spot on. Now I just need to make time to follow it. Hmm, wonder where I can find some advice that will help me find that elusive time I require?
I agree that the more I am “pushed” by an author into buying a book, the less I want to read it. Are all people as obstinate as me?
Your point about applying business tactics to publishing is absolutely dead on and I think it applies to blogging too. So many switch to .org sites for more views. But they are just hits. They lose all their contacts and interactions. I guess it depends on what you are looking for. As far as building a platform, it seems to me, it is about relationships, not numbers.
Well said. Now you can get back to reorganizing your liquor cabinet. 🙂
I’ve recently considered putting up a page on my blog to address guest posting. I do like to bring in people occasionally, but I can spot a form letter a mile away. The biggest giveaway is when my name and the name of my site are in a different font or different color than the rest of the email. Really? They couldn’t even take the time to make sure that when they plugged my name into the slot that they used the same font? I used to answer all those form emails. Now I don’t bother. They go immediately to trash.
I think that the more I am pushed by an author into reading their book, the less I want to read it. Am I the only obstinate person out there or is this true of others?
Like you said, the idea of using business practices for publishing is so wrong in so many ways. I’ve heard many say that it is all about the numbers, but switching to .org to get more views when they are really hits, gets people nowhere. I’ve learned that it is really about the relationships that you build.
Kristen – This post kind of had me rolling on the rolling laughing – not in the sense that immediately comes to mind, but sometimes I really wonder if authors are bothering to read great posts such as this one. I just received an email addressed to my FULL name – yeah right? And you think that I don’t realize that this a form-mass mail letter? Or the ones addressed to my blog? One I really love – different fonts – your name in one and the email in another – not a mass mail? Hello! Then – ask me to review horror (example). So…you really visited my blog and read my review requirements? And the one that says “I visited your blog and see that you review such and such and I thought you’d like to review my – horror book? Uh – I’ll get back to you right after I stack the toilet paper in the linen closet.
And don’t get me started on the incomplete emails or the ones that make me wonder if you ever took a grammar class. I, personally, really take a good look at the emails I receive. To me, it is a clear example of what your book must be like. So, if you think you have the next best seller you would like for me to read and review, then your email had better reflect it. Sometimes, just for fun, I have corrected emails and made suggestions and emailed them back – right before I tell them thanks, but no thanks.
You hit it on the nail with the hours it requires to read and then research and write a review. The author has also (I assume) spent untold hours writing the book – why not spend a few extra minutes composing a letter to sell yourself.
I’ve blogged on this topic a couple of times. Was anyone reading? This was a wonderful post and one I really enjoyed reading – although I enjoy all your posts!
Donna from My Life. One Story at a Time.
Reblogged this on My Book of Stories and commented:
Kristen always has great advice – today, she is spot-on!
This entry is filled with tons of common sense and good advice. Forging relationships is really what it’s all about. The most important one is the one with our readers.
Excellent advice, as usual. I cracked up at “The Death Star” title you earned!
One question about your blog classes, what if I already have a blog and just want to learn how to better use it? Would one of these classes work or do you have another aimed at current bloggers?
More excellent advice, Kristen. Thank you! From a sporadic blogger who keeps forgetting to blog, then dithers over what to blog about… maybe one of your online courses could kickstart me into more productive blogging behaviour?
I like the idea that there are no short-cuts with social media. It isn’t this cut throat business model where the pushy people get ahead – it’s slow and steady building of a platform (got that word from your book, Kristen!) where you treat others the way you would like to be treated. The Golden Rule of social media – I like it!
Really helps if you are friends with the blogger, author, etc. I am brand new to blogging and my friend, Catherine Ryan Hyde (Pay it Forward) did a guest blog for me that I published today. Feel free to check it out.
Thanks for the tips, Kristen! The more time I spend on twitter and blogging, the more I get fed up with the impersonal messages with the sole goal of selling books. I love #mywana for actually hanging out and chatting books and writing with a responsive, interesting, giving community. If you take the time to listen, sometimes you actually *gasp* learn something new!
Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! I have often talked about this on my blog, but there are so many battalions of publicists and their misinformed minions out there that it will take many many posts like ours to get the word out. 1) Do not mass-query ANYBODY. 2) Do not ask bloggers who don’t write book reviews to review your book. 3) Do not offer “free blog content!” to a highly rated blog when your content is nothing but an ad for your book. We get those high ratings because we DON’T post spammy content,
For some info on how to effectively query a book review blogger, I posted some advice from a high profile reviewer on my blog last month: http://bit.ly/UlW0Gi
This may be a bit over the top but I cannot believe you are offering two months of a basic level blogging course for $50. Your consistent generosity constantly amazes me as you take your unshakable belief in community to yet another level. Your kindness, your authenticity are what the world needs more of, Kristen.
As it has been noted in this group of comments, you offer solid and practical advice three times a week in your blog. At least once a week, I refer to one of your current/past posts for information. Yet, the courses that you teach expand this information exponentially. There is so much more to learn. Fortunate are the bloggers who take the time to study with you, and I could not be more delighted to be among the WANA 1012s.
Wow! The class is such a great idea! While reading both WE ARE NOT ALONE and ARE YOU THERE BLOG, ITS ME WRITER, I had several questions but since no one around me is a blogging guru, I didn’t get any answers. I launched my blog anyway with the knowledge that I earned from both. Still have a long way to go. Looking forward to the classes.
I don’t know – I think you should fire up the creepy van more often. Those posts are a hoot! Yeah, I get the form letters too. Recently, I’ve been hit with a new mass email ploy: I’ve created this really great graphic on x or y and I think this would be a really great fit for you because you recently posted x or y post (in a different color and font so I know it’s a mass email — and the post in question is 8 months old) Feel free to use this graphic with proper credit and attribution when posting on x or y topic. Meh – I’ll find my own pics and then write about what I want. I don’t just trash those emails – they go into spam.
Thanks, Kristen, for the great post. For the first time, I just exchanged interviews with an author colleague this past week. I learned a lot about myself as a writer when answering his questions, and I gained valuable insights from him, an established indie author. We both posted them to our own blogs, thereby inviting new friends to share the things that we learned. It was a lovely experience, and I highly recommend interviews to anyone, whether new or established.
In addition, I granted my first review of another friend’s Kindle Single. What writer doesn’t love to read? It was joy to participate, knowing that perhaps my review might just sway a reader to to take a chance on my author friend’s hard work.
Excellent advice, Kristen! Thank you! I enjoy your blog posts as you cut through the fluff and tell us exactly what we need to know as writers. I feel like I’m taking baby steps in the blogging process and will definitely be working on my relationship building as my novella is getting close to release.
Keep up the good work!
Thanks for a great and timely post, Kristen. I just started a small press and am releasing my first book–a collection of 42 Oregon author interviews and essays about the writer’s life–this coming Monday. So far I have contacted one blogger about a guest post, and I interviewed her earlier this year, so we know each other. I’ve also had some great bloggers volunteer to help, and I have those 42 contributors doing their own publicity, so that’s really amazing. But I do need to reach out to other blogs at some point, and these are excellent reminders. I run author interviews regularly, so I definitely agree about what a huge time commitment that is.
My thought on this is, if you cannot approach a blogger in an engaging and personal fashion, what hope do you have when querying an agent or editor. Granted it is easier to be more personable since bloggers are more readily accessible, but it is still a good way to learn interpersonal skills. Blogs are not free advertising space and no blogger wants to be seen as such. ^_^
Reblogged this on Rantings of a Closet Vamp Princess and commented:
Once again, Kristen has excellent advice for writers. If you haven’t subscribed to her blog, I would highly recommend it. I’ve really enjoyed her recent posts on story structure. They have helped to get me motivated for NaNoWriMo.
Be sure to checkout her books, too. We Are Not Alone – The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, which can be found here: https://coolgus.com/index.php?route=product/product&keyword=We+Are+Not+Alone&description=1&model=1&product_id=87 She also has Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer, which can be found here: https://coolgus.com/index.php?route=product/product&keyword=are+you+there+blog&description=1&model=1&product_id=85
Thanks for the reminder Kristin I know when I start panicking about how to get sales, my thoughts go to the reviews and blog posts. I need the reminder to focus on my blog 🙂
Hmm, you earned the Death Star name from Piper? Do I really want an entry to win a critique from you???
Great post, as always. I need to start stalking … er, commenting on…reviewer’s blogs now, before I have a book out, huh?
Kristen – Thank you, thank you. Nothing makes me so not to want to review a book more than to have someone try to cram one down my throat. I review a book a week — and you are so right about the amount of time invested. I also don’t want people popping up out of the blue – asking for favors that I clearly don’t offer. Thank you for putting the word out there. Once again, you’ve said it well and I hope others are paying attention. Not all book reviewers host interviews/etc.
Great tips as always, Kristen! As part of the WANA 1011 class, I highly recommend Kristen’s blogging class. Her instruction is priceless and you will be part of the WANA support team.
My personal blog is an absolute farce and even thinking about it makes me cringe, but when I’m not dreaming about finishing that novel (NANOWRIMO here I come again), I review films for another site.
I am though an avid reader and can devour books daily. I love reading, but sometimes wonder if some writers have ever read a book. Twitter is wearing me out with the constant marketing tweets to people who ALREADY KNOW. Word of mouth is not something you can bully people into. It’s happens when readers feel in control of your book/film/whatever and SPONTANEOUSLY decide to share their feelings with others. Push and they won’t bother. Humans like feeling special.
You’re reminding me that I have a blog dedicated to recommending books (not reviewing; it’s nowhere near detailed enough for that), and it’s been a while since I updated it. I should get right on that…
Ooh you make me laugh… And because of that, what you say, sticks.
Of course, similar stuff applies to Twitter – I’d rather be followed by a few people who really like the sort of stuff I Tweet about, than hundreds of people who obviously never read their own inboxes. One particular gripe is those “Want more followers? #Re-tweet me!” type messages that just clog up my Twitter feed. I want to hear good stuff, like thoughful quotes and links to great blog posts like this!
I’d add a couple more:
See what the blogger actually reads. I had someone who sent me a tweet about doing a book review — think she just typed writer in the search and started sending tweets. My profile says action-adventure thriller and fantasy, and she was asking me to review Christian fiction. Uh, no.
Don’t have a meltdown if the blogger turns you down. This happened to me. A writer approached me because I write fantasy/action-adventure thrillers, stating his was one. I looked at the sample chapters and how he described his book. It was a fantasy detective novel, so he’d billed it wrong. I turned it down with a “not for me,” because, frankly, that would have factored into my review in a major way. He pressed for more details, pretty much claiming something must be wrong with me because I did read action fiction and didn’t want to read his book. I had to tell him there wasn’t enough action for me, and that triggered the meltdown. Not for me means exactly that.
Linda Adams — Soldier, Storyteller
I’m with Lisa Hall Wilson. I think it’s time to clean out that ugly, dingy van and make preparations for the next victim. Oh, excuse me, I meant to say author interview. LOL! On a more serious note, I appreciate your input about “the Interview” because it IS a lot of work. Now about this nickname/alter ego from from an alternate universe. Darkstar? I like it. 🙂
I participate in the Novel Publicity Blog Tours on occasion. For the most part, all it is is a guest post, excerpt, interview, and, if the blog host likes, a review. More often than not I don’t do the reviews but I will do the others. I like helping people get their names out there and get their books read. If I find the book interesting, I will be a host for the blog tour. There have been occasions where I join in outside of Novel Publicity as well, hosting just a review because the book spoke to me in some way.
I’ve been following your protocol for scoring a critique, but I’d be reading this blog anyway! You know your stuff, young lady!
Thank you for not only pointing out some of the mistakes I’ve already made, but for pointing me in the right direction…
Great advice! Thanks for sharing your insight.
Wonderful advice; thank you! I have been feeling overwhelmed with marketing advice from all different sources, and my head feels like it’s about to explode. I finally gave in to the voice in my head that kept telling me, “go to Kristen Lamb’s blog” haha! You always give great advice AND make me smile. 🙂
Since I”m pretty new to all this stuff, blogging , book stuff, I’m glad I found your blog early. It will save me a whole lot of “I’m sorry’s” later on. Thanks!
I received a mass email from someone I consider an online friend asking for a guest slot on my blog. Our friendship was the only reason I responded and agreed to it. I was more than a little peeved at her; she really should have known better. We’d already discussed it briefly on Facebook – she couldn’t have sent me a quick message there instead?
Thank you! Great post. My two writing critique friends, Angela and Fabio, have taken your classes and are so far ahead of me in the blogging game. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to sign up for one of your workshops, and now I have! Thanks for making time to teach those of us who need a little inspiration. 😉
Tnx for this post, which helps me see why I am going so slow about marketing.
Tweeted your post. The part about personalizing the form letter was so right. That is what we did at Nintendo (when they had a correspondence section of the Call Center). The first paragraph would be personalized and the last. The rest of the letter was plucked from the files. We would have to add the name and address. It was possible to do over two hundred a day using that method.
Do I review books? Rarely…and then they have to do with thrillers, animals, or both. Do I accept guest blogs or do interviews? Even more rare! Yet like you, Kristen, I get pitches constantly.
And I do pay attention to those who comment. I even pay attention to those who “like” the blog and often check to see their latest blog and may share that in a future “Monday Mentions” recap.
Loved the pitch a few days ago from the child psychologist who thought her blog/article about child separating anxiety (back to school) should be a “fit” since I’d written about pet separation anxiety. Unless your kids have four feet and fur, it ain’t a match, sorry.
By the way, I credit my blog’s successful (such as it is :)) to having taken your awesome blog and social media course. HIGHLY recommended, folks!
This make me feel better about my approach to blogging. Instead of mass liking a million blogs I don’t have time to read I’m really trying to get to know the people I follow and who follow me as much as I can. Doing so has gotten me some great friendships and great advice. But there are those few occasions where I look at other people’s blogs who have a bajillion more followers than I do and I’m tempted to follow people for the sake of building followers… But then I get timely notifications of blog posts from Kristen Lamb in my inbox and all is right in the world again. Thanks!
This is an excellent post–great advice. I already tweeted it. 🙂
I’m fairly jaded on the whole reaching out to bloggers thing, but I suspect you are overstating the ease and benefits of getting book reviews. When I do a search engine search for blogs in whatever genre I hope to get a review on, I get mostly results with broken links or blogs that haven’t been updated in years. So just finding the right blogs is a huge task. I don’t know, maybe it’s easier for romances and other women’s books.
Then the whole idea of leaving posts and forging relationships is way overstated. They used to say leave posts on other people’s blogs so that they’ll come visit your blog and increase your traffic. Except they never did in my case (or mabye 1 time in 50), so that was wrong advice. Now you say take months to forge relationships through reading blogs and leaving comments. I just don’t believe that’s going to work. I tried that for three years with an agent, being a faithful commenter on her blog. I think she may have responded once or twice during that time, so while she might recognize my name when she saw it, that’s hardly a relationship. When she re-opened to submissions, I noticed a change in guidelines shut out the book I wanted to pitch. When I told her that she said it was inadvertent and revised the guidelines. I submitted my query—and got not response. So much for three years of effort.
Will it be any different for book reviewer blogs? Call me cynical in the extreme, but I doubt it. Can you point to anyone specific for whom that’s worked? Take months to create a relationship with a blogger with thousands of followers? AGH.
Actually I have had people come to me and ask and I forwarded them on. I know one loyal commenter wrote a book about having a premature baby. She wrote to me and asked for help and, since I recognized her from her months of dedicated comments, I plugged her in to bloggers who fit her book topic. A lot of bloggers also know other bloggers. Just because I don’t review books doesn’t mean I am against possibly forwarding people on to those in my network, but I am certainly more open to helping people I recognize. We are people, too.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I do know that there are people behind the blogs and they are like everyone else. Kindness and generosity go a long way, but in the end, you need to do what you feel is best.
Thanks, Kristen, for this funny and helpful post. I recently published my first book, and I discovered exactly what you’re saying: Fellow-bloggers that I’ve developed a relationship with over the last 3-4 YEARS were eager to interview me (I provided sample questions), review my book, and host a giveaway. In return, I gave them a free download of the book and in most cases, I provided a hard copy for them to give away, at my expense. It’s a universal principal: “give and you will receive.” It’s not “Be obnoxious and hope someone will pity you.”
Keep up the wise words!
I just found your blog this morning and decided to go through the old articles. This one stuck out to me like a sore thumb. Being both a reviewer and a writer I see a lot of what you have said in this. Practically no-one leaves comments on my blog when I review their novels – in fact I think only one author has ever left a comment on the blog (although another one did so on facebook instead).
But also requesting I can’t stress how important it is that having pre-made blog posts can be. Not only for when you want to guest post but for that emergency. If you have established relationships with bloggers and one of them gets let down by another author – if you are an established author with a reputation for guest blogging, you might get a last minute email asking if you have anything available for that slot that is left empty because someone else has let them down. Suddenly you get the exposure and you’ve had to do so little work for it.
That is an excellent suggestion :D.
Why leave out the smaller newer bloggers? Aren’t they potential new readers as well?
New bloggers are great for this sort of thing because many of them are in need of content. The thing is to just engage and talk to people and then it will be much more organic and authentic.
Great post, Kristen, and super advice! Thanks for sharing your expertise with the rest of us! xo
I’ve gotten several guest posts and interviews without asking. All I do is post on blogs that interest me or ask people if they want to guest post on my blog and then a lot of people wind up asking ME if I’d like to guest post or be interviewed on their blog as well. It’s nice.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking people if you can guest post on their blogs, even if you aren’t a huge fan, but sometimes reading other people’s blogs and following them on twitter and facebook with no expectations from them can lead to opportunities like this.
Good post! One I could send to several authors, along with my kind decline. 🙂