Who are Book Bloggers?
Very simply, book bloggers are people who love to read and share their love of books with others. Most book bloggers write about books on a regular basis for an audience of dedicated fans. They also publish reviews of new books for their audiences. While some bloggers only review books from big-name publishers, others are happy to work with the independent and self-publishing communities. Their careful commentary and insightful feedback can be very useful to indie authors, especially those who are just starting out.
Why use Book Bloggers?
Getting a review from a book blogger is a good way to get publicity. Bloggers usually command a large following of fans who trust their opinions. A positive review from a blogger will encourage their fans to buy your book. Book bloggers also offer additional benefits such as guest blogging, author interviews, and book giveaways, which can further enhance your visibility.
Don’t Start Searching Quite Yet…
Make sure you’re ready to submit your book to a book blogger. Book bloggers are selective readers—they will only review books that are a good fit for their respective communities. Despite their selectivity, bloggers often have to choose between hundreds of books to review. Fortunately, there are many ways to make your book stand out from the crowd:
- Write a good book. This is the most important part. Your book should have a strong opening, well-developed characters, and an engaging plot.
- Produce a polished manuscript. A first draft is never a final draft. Your manuscript will likely need several rounds of revisions and vetting by beta readers, editors, and proofreaders.
- Have a good book description. A boring book blurb is a boring book. An interesting book description is the easiest way to make your book shine among the competition.
- Have an excellent book cover. An amateurish, uninviting book cover will turn book bloggers (and their fans) away.
- Create and optimize your Amazon book listing. Make sure you categorize your book under the appropriate genre and with the right keywords. Many book bloggers read books from only one or two genres. Your Amazon listing is a great way for bloggers to determine if your book matches their interests.
- Create an online presence. There is some debate as to whether this is necessary. Some bloggers think not, but others believe that reviewing books for authors without an online presence is a waste of time. Nobody wants to write for a nonexistent audience.
- Miscellanea. Some book bloggers ask for additional materials like an author bio, headshot, and any press releases associated with your book. This can only help you, as many bloggers will use this information to help promote your book on their sites.
- Free copies of your book. Many bloggers accept multiple book formats. If submitting an eBook, a link to a free copy will suffice. If sending hard copies, make sure you have at least one distributable copy available for shipping.
Finding a Match
Finding a book blogger to review your book can be an overwhelming process. There are hundreds of bloggers out there writing about every genre imaginable. First time inquirers should start with book blog directories. Here are some sites to get you started:
- IndieView. This site contains an extensive list of indie-friendly book reviewers, as well as a wealth of information for independent authors. To make the cut, reviewers cannot be affiliated with a publisher, cannot charge to review a book, and must actively post reviews. The IndieView’s reviewer directory contains links to a blogger’s website and submission guidelines. The directory also provides information about a blogger’s preferred genres and where they post their reviews (Amazon, Goodreads, personal website, etc.)
- The Book Blogger List. This contains a large database of book bloggers by genre. The Book Blogger List also contains helpful information for independent authors, such as how to get started in self-publishing, book promotion, and working with book bloggers.
- Book Review Yellow Pages. This site provides indie and self-published authors with a comprehensive list of book reviewers, as well as eBooks dedicated to the craft.
Book bloggers are very busy, selective readers, so you might want to have a list of 5-6 potential readers.
If the Book Fits…
Finding a book blogger to review your book is a lot like dating: there needs to be a common interest and compatibility. The common interest is your book: you like your book, and you need a blogger to like your book too. Compatibility comes down to fit. Before reviewing your book, a book blogger will ask themselves two questions:
- Does this book appeal to my interests?
- Does this book appeal to my audience’s interests?
You need to be able to answer these questions too. How can you win the heart of a book blogger and increase your chances of getting a review? By reading their website thoroughly.
Book bloggers aren’t mysterious creatures: they will tell you exactly what they want to read and under what conditions. You are not going to change their minds, so don’t try. Instead, get a sense for who they are and what they read. Many bloggers will include information specific to themselves or their fans, but most book bloggers will give you some insight into their:
- Availability. Book bloggers will announce if they are accepting new books to review. If they’re not, find another blogger. Book bloggers usually do not maintain waiting lists.
- Preferred genres. Some bloggers read everything, but most specialize in one or two genres. Some, but not all, even specify preferred subgenres. Additionally, some bloggers will tell you what genres they don’t read.
- Preferred audience. Book bloggers will tell you if they read adult, YA, or children’s books.
- Preferred book format. Digital copies are more popular, but some bloggers also accept hard copies.
- Writing style. If a blogger doesn’t like a lot of violence, sex, profanity, flowery language, or excessive dialogue, they’ll let you know.
- Contact information. Different bloggers have different ways of contacting them about submissions.
Interacting with Bloggers
So you’ve found a potential book blogger. Now it’s time to reach out. Some bloggers simplify submissions by using a submission form. If that’s the case, fill out the form and you’re done. Others require you to pitch your book. This is a bit more challenging.
Your pitch should be short (no more than a few paragraphs), but must contain enough information to convince the blogger that your book is worth reading. Don’t know what to include in your pitch? You should probably mention:
- The book description. Keep it short, but interesting. If a blogger wants more information, they can check your Amazon listing.
- The release date. Most bloggers will try to have their review finished in time for your book launch.
- The book’s length. This helps a blogger determine if they will have time to read your book, especially if it has a release date.
- Any relevant information that will help bloggers determine if your book is a good fit, such as genre and targeted audience. The more information you include from their website, the better.
Book bloggers get a lot of review requests, so be patient. Wait at least a week before following up. Keep your follow up Email brief. Do not threaten or demand, and do not resend your pitch.
The waiting game applies to the review too. Bloggers will usually complete their reviews by your book’s launch date, but not before. If they missed a deadline, politely inquire about the status of their book review. Do not pressure them into working faster.
After Your Review
Book bloggers want to maintain a relationship with the authors they’ve reviewed. Keep in contact, especially if you plan on writing another book that you might want reviewed someday. This is extremely easy: comment on the blogger’s posts every now and then, or like their photos on social media. If they’re celebrating an important milestone, send them your congrats. Be authentic, and don’t like posts for the sake of appearances. Maintaining contact doesn’t require a lot of effort, but it does require intent and sincerity.
Don’t do this when using Book Bloggers
The most important thing is to remember is that bloggers are doing you a favor, not the other way around. If you want to establish a professional relationship with a book blogger, keep the following in mind:
- Don’t forget to read their blog. Always do your research before soliciting bloggers.
- Don’t ignore the review policies. Your manuscript will be sent to Trash (or the trash if it’s a hard copy).
- Don’t offer money in exchange for a review. Book bloggers offer their services for free.
- Don’t demand a good review. A book blogger’s fans are their greatest asset, and they will not damage their rapport with their audience by giving you an unjustifiably stellar review.
- Don’t demand a review, period.
- Don’t demand cross-posting to other sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Book bloggers usually do this anyway.
- Don’t expect a response. Book bloggers are busy, and they are inundated with submissions and pitches. Even if they wanted to, they may not be able to respond to every inquiry.
Working with book bloggers is a great way to get more visibility, increase your audience, and establish a strong relationship with influencers within online book communities. With a little preparation, you can leverage this amazing resource to increase your following—and your bottom line.