One of the questions I’ve been most frequently asked since The Kitchen Daughter was published isn’t about the publication process itself. Other than “How do you balance social media time with writing time?” the question I’m most often asked is “How do you get book bloggers to review your book?”
Answer: you don’t, really. You pitch, and you hope. That’s the most you can do.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t try. You should. Pitching your book to book bloggers who do reviews is actually not that different from writing query letters to agents. And you know how to do that, right? If you’ve gotten to the pre-pub or already-pubbed stage?
After soliciting input from the book bloggers I’ve met through Twitter, I’ve confirmed there are some ways that pitching book bloggers is very like pitching agents, and one way in which it’s totally different. So, let’s start with the similar ones.
With bloggers as with agents, the number one question is: why is YOUR book right for ME? I know what a nightmare process writing queries is, believe me. I’ve been through it multiple times for multiple books. But the truth is, it teaches you a very valuable skill. You need to differentiate more than describe. Just saying, My book touches on the all-important themes of identity, compromise, and adulthood doesn’t actually say much. A lot of books do the same. But why should an agent look at that manuscript? Why should a book blogger look at that book? The approach is the same. As blogger @BookaliciousPam put it, “Most of us are swimming in ARCs much like agents. Why do *I* want yours? you have to tell me.”
Another similarity: There’s so much uncertainty. If a blogger agrees to take look at your book for review, it doesn’t mean they’re agreeing to review it. Just like an agent reading a partial manuscript, or even a full. Manage your expectations.
Next: there are guidelines. Use them. Many bloggers have a published review policy, just like agents have guidelines on their websites about which genres they will or won’t read. Jenn of Jenn’s Bookshelves has a great sample policy, very clear and straightforward: check it out.
The most important similarity: Do your homework. A blanket “cc” to a zillion agents and a blanket “cc” to a squillion bloggers are likely to get the same result: zilch. Differentiation is key.
And how is it different from finding an agent to represent your work? Here’s the number one difference I’ve found:
With blog reviews, it pays to find professional help. In querying, I’ve read about “query services” that blast your query out hither and yon to a thousand agents, and that is most emphatically NOT helpful. You should do your queries yourself. Period. You can have other people read them (in fact, I recommend it) but it needs to be you, directly, telling the agent about your book. But with book bloggers, there are “blog tour” companies that assemble a roster of bloggers to review your book on certain dates, and they’ll do the legwork for you. Your publisher can also do this type of outreach for you. So, reach for the help you can get. But if you can’t afford outside help (and your publisher is focused on other things), it’s all doable yourself, as I said above.
It’s just about telling people why YOUR book is right for THEM. Period. And you can do that, right? Of course you can.
For more on this topic, check out @DevourerOfBooks’ guest post on Blurb Is A Verb: very helpful stuff.
(Image by Joost J. Bakker IJmudien)