The simple, step by step business for self-published authors of finding bloggers to get book reviews
With the release of my new novel, I decided to set about the task of trying to garner reviews from book bloggers. For self-published authors, reviews are still one of the best ways to get the message out. Not only do the bloggers write the reviews that are viewed by all of their followers, they post them in important places such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more. There is no better free service out there for promotion than book reviews.
The task of getting these bloggers to consider your novel for review is another thing altogether. There is some work involved on the author’s part.
First of all, you have to find the bloggers to contact. If you’re brand new at this, you won’t have any prior connections and will need to start from scratch. A good place to begin is by examining some online book blogger lists. You can Google a search and come up with plenty of them, but for this examination, I’m going to list a few here.
If I’m going to pick a favorite to start with, it would be the appropriately named The Book Blogger List. It has a large number of bloggers listed and you can search through them by twenty-three different categories of types of books they review. This makes searching for ones that review what you write that much easier. The bloggers listed are almost all currently active so whoever is maintaining the site is doing a good job.
Another large list is the Book Blogger Directory. It also has a very extensive list and divides bloggers into categories, although not quite as detailed a division. I haven’t been able to do an exact count, but this site may actually have more bloggers listed, but one problem is site maintenance. There are too many blogger sites found there that are either no longer in existence, or the bloggers have simply given up and are ignoring the site without taking it down.
A third list worth examining is The Indie Reviewers List. This is another substantive list that features bloggers who are willing to review self-published and indie published novels. It provides some nice extra details, the name of the blogger contact, the link to their review policy, and what they review. Likewise, this site also lacks the necessary maintenance regarding active bloggers, but still a good site.
The last list I’m going to add is the YA Book Blog Directory. Like the name pronounces, a site where all reviewers review young adult novels. Outside of alphabetizing, there is no breakdown and, once again, a proper lack of site maintenance.
There are more lists out there – many more. Also, a number of the bloggers appear on multiple lists, so you have to watch out you don’t repeat review requests from them. For each other list I have examined, they are even further less proficient in the ability to search through the list, have categories, and site maintenance. I suppose I could list them, but at some point I want to move on to what’s involved in sending the actual review request.
What most bloggers have somewhere in their site is a Review Policy. It spells out what they will review, how they will review it, and what they require from you to do so. Some are very detailed. Some are not. Some are formatted through a contact form. What you need to do is make sure that with each and every blogger you have read through the policy before sending a request.
A check list of your own is required.
1. Are they accepted requests at this time? This one is tricky because the review policy may be old and the posting about not accepting review requests at this time may be somewhere else, like the home page.
2. Do they accept self-published, indie published works? There may be special circumstances for acceptance, such as whether the work has been professionally edited. If you haven’t had your work edited, you may want to stop here and go get that done first. It really makes a difference between a good and a bad review.
3. Do they review the type of novel you wish to submit? If they don’t say, a quick glance at what they have reviewed in the past will give you a good indication.
4. In what format are they willing to accept my novel? If you are only sending digital, there are many who only accept hard copies.
5. When will they be able to do the review? Many are behind in the TBR (to be read) piles and will give you an idea how long you will have to wait. My opinion is any review received, whenever it comes, is a good review, but if you have a deadline. make sure they can meet it.
You may have other questions for your checklist, but these five are a must.
The next step would be the drafting of a template review request. Creating a generic email saved into your drafts will give you a starting point on each review request you want to send out instead of having to create each one from scratch. You can paste your draft on each email and then amend it to meet the specific criteria of the blogger. In case you haven’t heard of the expression before, a good thing to keep in mind is the KISS method. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) That means short, direct, and meaningful in content. The blogger does not need to read your life history or how your mother loves your writing. Stick to the facts. There are some fairly obvious things to be included, but for the sake of this examination, I will give you what I put on mine.
1. A salutation. Hello, hi, or whatever your preferred greeting, it starts at the top. Do some homework. Bloggers have names. Don’t type “Hi The Book Blogger” or whatever the name of their blog is. Search the site and find out the name of the blogger. Hi Sue, or Hi Ann, is much more personable, and shows the blogger you have paid some attention to the site. Sometimes this requires more work than expected as many bloggers don’t list their name. Examining their posts, you might find a name at the bottom, or if they have a Goodreads button, you may discover it there.
2. A book cover. Many bloggers won’t open attachments so don’t do that. Shrink it down and fit it on the page as a large thumbnail.
3. A statistics list. What type of book is it? Genre? Word count? Number of Pages? Edited? By who? (not your mother) One sentence can list all these facts.
4. A short description of what the book is about. You know the kind, like what you see on the back of the book or the inside flap. Keep it short, and without spoilers. They aren’t interested in reading a full synopsis, just the blurb.
5. Links. Where can they see the book? Amazon? Barnes & Noble? Smashwords? Goodreads? While your at it, include a link to where they can see an excerpt. Other links needed are, if you have them – your website, your Facebook author page, your twitter account, your Goodreads page. Don’t copy the urls and paste them in your email. Insert them as hyperlinks. So, for example, instead of listing my website as http://www.michaeldrakich.wordpress.com, I would say, my website is here.
6. How you intend to deliver the book. As a business practice, I use Smashwords to distribute my digital copies. They let me create a coupon for the books which entitles the blogger to a free copy. There is no charge for the service. I provide the link and the coupon.
6. Other details you may want to impart such as whether you are prepared to do giveaways or author interviews. This is also a single sentence.
7. A thank you. Whether they accept your request or not, give thanks that they have read your email. They are not robots, they are people.
You may have other things you want to add, but at the end of the day it all must fit on a single page with very limited scrolling. Something a mile long will just get deleted.
So there you have it. A simple guide to soliciting reviews from bloggers. All that’s left is to get started. Good luck with your search.