Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to Query Book Bloggers for Reviews

I took the day and instead of writing, worked on accumulating more YA book blogs for querying when the time comes for SHUT UP to go live.

For those of you who are YA authors, there's an incredible list at http://yabookblogdirectory.blogspot.com/p/ya-book-blogger-list.html - but some of the blogs are down, some won't take submissions, and some will only read a certain type of genre - so an author who is looking to give away complimentary copies of a book hoping for a review must visit each site individually and figure out what's what.

1) Are they accepting submissions?
If yes, proceed to question #2

2) What genre will they read?
If it's the genre you hope for them to review, proceed to question #3

3) What format?
Paperback? E-book?
Make note of it and proceed to question #4

4) What's the contact information?
Some have an email. Some have a contact form on their website. Some forget to list it.
Make note and proceed to question #5

5) What's their name?
Some list their real name, other list a "pen name," some don't have any listed.

After all this information is accumulated, and your book is available as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC), write a lovely query letter to the blog and hope for a response.  Like querying agents, if you don't hear back, it's a 'not interested.'

In the query include:
1) How you came across their blog, and something specific you liked about it
2) Your name
3) Your book's name, genre, release date & publisher (if applicable)
4) A brief (brief!) paragraph about you
5) The paragraph from the back of the book
6) (optional) A .jpeg of the cover
7) Links to all your social media sites (ie. Twitter, blog, website, Goodreads.com, Facebook, etc.)
8) Offer a Guest Post for their blog, an author interview, or offer up autographed copies of swag (bookmarks, tee-shirts, handbags, etc.) or copies of the book for giveaways

If your book is not available as an ARC, then you will have to wait until after the book is launched.

Coordinating free e-book copies with your publisher can be tricky, unless they provide you with the various electronic versions.
Kindle = .mobi, or .prc (they both work)
Nook & iPad/iPhone = .epub
Also, be sure to have a .pdf because some Bloggers will ask for that.

Smashwords.com offers free coupon codes, but can only be ordered from the Publisher, and the blogger can then download any version they need from there. But some publishers will not supply a coupon code.
If you are an Indie Author, it can be a little easier obtaining one of these coupon codes.

Coordinating free paperback versions is easier, but more expensive.
Despite what the world thinks, authors do not have unlimited copies of their own books to give away. Yes, we receive a few complimentary copies (usually about 10), but the rest we pay for ourselves.

If the Blogger asks for a paperback, and you don't have any, order one off Amazon.com and ship it to them as a gift.  You'll pay full retail - but figure you'll get at least part of that back in royalties (eventually) and even more so if the blogger posts a positive review which results in sales.

Side Note:
DO NOT ASK AN AUTHOR FRIEND FOR A FREE COPY OF THEIR BOOK!
It costs us money.
There's nothing free about it.
Besides, this is how authors make a living.
Support your friend, and buy a copy.
It's just courteous.

Ok, I'm off my soap box now...

If you receive an email response from the Blogger, be sure to send them the format of book that is specified on their blog.
Even then, this does not guarantee they will read it.

Some Bloggers won't post about books they didn't like.
Some Bloggers you won't hear from again.
Some will review and send you the link.
Some will review and not send you the link and you won't find out until it hits Google Alerts.

In my latest run, I personally sent out over 400 Blogger queries, and got a 10% response. This does not include the review requests I received via my PR firm.

I wish you all luck!
Any way you look at it, a good review from a respected Blogger can go a long way to getting attention on your work.
And ultimately, that's all any author wants.