This blog has come to fruition for many reasons. Yes, it is partially because I love Peachtree and would like everyone to know how great the books we publish are, and a little bit is because it’s my job, but it is mostly because of all the amazing book blogs I have been reading recently. Seriously, if you want to learn about what books you should be reading, bloggers know. They know everything, like Yoda, only with better grammar. I have been fortunate enough to work with many of them over the past several months on two blog tours for 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy and The Brain Finds a Leg by Martin Chatterton. Believe it or not, I have managed to go from knowing NOTHING about Twitter and blogging, to having a cursory knowledge of the subjects without stepping on too many toes. As many of you know, for a publicist, this is a mighty feat. It helps to learn from others mistakes, but it is best to go straight to the source—the bloggers themselves. So here, with help from Bri, of Bri Meets Books, and Gina, of Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers, I’ve put together some Dos & Don’ts for publicists in regards to the blogging community.
- Take the time to review a blog before pitching to them. Just because you have a great book, doesn’t mean that it is a good fit for every blog. Some focus on children’s picture books, others prefer YA Fantasy, and others still may be so specific that they only want books about the Battle of Hastings, dinosaurs, or pancakes. The point is that you don’t know unless you look.
- Read the review policy. Straight forward, I know, but you would be surprised how many bloggers state in their review policies that they don’t accept ARCs or nonfiction books and end up with nonfiction ARCs in their mailboxes. Time is valuable to a publicist and blogger. By sending a type of book that someone obviously doesn't review, you're wasting their time and your own. Taking the extra 5 minutes to check review policies pays off in the long run and lets the reviewer know that you respect their time and put thought into submitting a book to them.
- Use a bloggers name. “Dear Blogger” is a form letter. They know that, and it is rude because it clearly shows that you did not follow the previous two “dos.” Many bloggers have their name on their blog, but if they don't, a simple “Hello” works great. I know that it can seem time consuming to individually address twenty e-mails, but making the effort to establish a relationship in the beginning is important.
- Offer more options than just a review. Even the small gestures are appreciated and having unique posts helps keep blog readers interested. No one wants to read 10 reviews of the same book on a blog tour. They want to see a giveaway, a guest post by the author, an interview with an illustrator, a book trailer. This is for your benefit as much as it is for the blogger.
- Include extra materials in your pitch. Like any reviewer, they need information. It is helpful to include an author photo, press release, cover image, or interior art. Don’t forget links to the author and publisher websites. They will use all of these materials when they post about your book. The more information the better and it saves them the time of finding a cover image online that is possibly of bad quality.
- Remember that bloggers have schedules too. You cannot e-mail a blogger two days before you want them to post something and expect them to do it. Bloggers plan out their posting schedules and need time to fit your book in, as well as read your book and give it the attention it deserves in order to receive a thoughtful review.
- Be clear about the dates you would like things posted. If you are putting together a blog tour and need something posted during a certain week, approach a blogger a month (or more) ahead of time and be very clear about what dates you need, as well as what other blogs are posting on what days. You don’t want two interviews with the same author being posted back to back.
- If you want a review posted on multiple sites, let them know. A lot of bloggers put reviews on other websites like Goodreads, Amazon, and LibraryThing, and many are happy to post a review in multiple places if you ask.
- Ask if you want more information. Ask, and you shall receive. Most bloggers are happy to give you more information about their review policy, stats on how many visitors they get, how often they like to post, etc. They will not necessarily assume that you want this information otherwise.
- Develop a relationship with bloggers. By being friendly and getting to know bloggers better, you are better able to tailor your pitch to the right people. You learn who enjoys what type of books, saving your time and theirs. Also, establishing trust and a good working relationship means that people will be more willing to work with you again and pay more attention to your pitches, as well as get the word out to others about your books.
- Remember that most bloggers do this because they love books. Bloggers don’t get paid to write about books. They use their personal time to read and write about the books we send to them. This is very time consuming. Be mindful and appreciative of this.
- Offer a book just to get placement on a blog when it is obviously a poor fit. This goes back to the previous comments of reading review policies and looking at a blog before pitching. It only takes a minute to look at recent posts to see that a blogger has been on a young adult post-apocalyptic novel kick recently and that your fairytale romance may not be what they want to read right now.
- Don’t continuously e-mail a blogger about the same book. They got your e-mail, they’re just not that into you. Move on and contact someone else that the book is a better fit for. If you have already sent them a book, they need time to read it. They have a stack of books to read and yours may not be at the top of the list. If you need a response by a certain date, make that clear before sending them a book.
- Use all caps in a subject header. That is the e-mail equivalent of yelling and we all know that yelling is rude. If you are contacting them about a blog tour, put “Blog Tour,” followed by the title of the book. If you want to pitch an author interview, put “Author Interview,” followed by the authors name. Straight forward is the way to go.
- Assume that giving a book equals a good review. Like any reviewer, they may not like your book. They do not owe you a good review just because you sent a book. You don’t expect this from traditional print media, you shouldn’t expect it from electronic media either.
Thanks to Bri Meets Books, and Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers, for your feedback! I hope that my paraphrasing has gotten your ideas across properly! Be sure to comment and add (or subtract from) this list. I'm always happy to learn more.