Book reviewers are an author’s best friend. I’ve discovered over the past couple of years of marketing that book bloggers have an enormous influence over readers’ buying habits. As authors we can’t forget to include reviewers as part of our marketing strategy.
But what is the best way to ask book reviewers if they’d read and review our books?
Well, first and foremost, we MUST write a praiseworthy book. Enough said.
Second, we’ll likely need to have the means of offering free books to reviewers. Some publishers will giveaway free books for authors (and have review programs). But many authors will need to budget money for the giveaways.
I invited Rel Mollet, a well-known book blogger in the CBA market, to share a few of her insights about soliciting book reviews—the wrong ways and then some right ways.
1. What are some of the ways authors annoy book reviewers? What is the wrong way to go about asking for a review or gaining attention?
Demanding requests, ignoring review policies, haranguing reviewers with how amazing your book is, unrealistic requests (eg. Please read and review my book this week!) and failure to acknowledge a review that has been personally requested. In other words, doing the opposite of the etiquette hints in the next question!
2. What are some ways authors can solicit reviews in a positive way? What is good etiquette in interacting with reviewers?
• Be smart about the bloggers you target.
Identify which bloggers/reviewers read and review the genre you write in. Investigate the blogs you are interested in. Are they a respected blogger? Don’t just find a blogger who only posts 5 star reviews or send books to those who only do pro-forma posts. Ask around ~ don't send your YA book to a mummy blogger just because she has kids! Find a blog with a YA focus. Book bloggers know other book bloggers – contact a respected book blogger and ask them to refer you to other well-respected reviewers.
• Look for a review policy.
Most serious book bloggers will have a review policy – read it and respect it! If the policy says the blogger doesn’t review speculative fiction, don’t ask them to read your book on time travel, no matter how amazing it might be! Reviewers will always be impressed that you have taken the time to read their policy. A blatant disregard for their policy is a sure fire way to ensure your request is ignored.
• Write a personal email addressed to the reviewer by name.
A personalized email is courteous and respectful and shows you have actually looked at the reviewer’s blog (as most bloggers will have their name easily accessible). “Dear Blogger” or “Dear Relz Reviewz” is less likely to garner a response. Provide a summary of your book, cover art and indicate a reasonable time frame in which you are hoping for the book to be reviewed. Also, request where you would like it reviewed, on a blog, at Amazon, Goodreads or another location.
• Respond graciously.
Unfortunately, I have had to decline numerous requests for reviews due to a full schedule but that doesn’t mean a writer should never ask that blogger again. Don’t burn future review opportunities by a testy response when a reviewer has had to decline your request.
• Do not send unsolicited copies of your books.
Bloggers have reading and reviewing schedules that are booked solid, often for months into the future. An unsolicited book, just like an unsolicited manuscript, is unlikely to ever be read, let alone reviewed. Don’t waste money on postage without an acknowledgment that the reviewer intends to read your book.
• Do send a gentle reminder.
If you and the reviewer have agreed to a time frame, do not feel bad in following the reviewer up with a gentle reminder. I’m embarrassed to say that there have been times when I have simply forgotten a commitment I’ve made to review a book. I would rather be reminded so I can rectify the situation rather than live in ignorance of my error.
• Consider other options to a review.
A blogger may have other opportunities to publicize you or your book, even if they don’t have time to read your book. Personally, I also do author interviews, character spotlights and character interviews on my blog and that can be a less time consuming way for a blogger to publicize your book. (Some inside information: more often than not, those posts receive more hits than actual book reviews ~ that is certainly true on my blog!)
• Acknowledge the review.
If you have personally requested a review, a thank you is always appreciated via email or DM on Twitter or Facebook, regardless of the reviewer’s opinion of the book. Leaving a comment on the reviewer’s blog, liking the review on Facebook or retweeting a positive review link is another way of showing your appreciation which takes no time at all.
Thank you, Rel, for taking the time to share your insights with us! Head over to Rel’s blog if you’d like to see how she does a Character Spotlight, Author Interview, or Book Review. I was fortunate enough to get all three from Rel for The Doctor’s Lady.
How about you? Other book bloggers, do you have anything to add to Rel's list? And writers, when you think about asking for reviews, what's the most daunting aspect of the process for you? (Asking for the reviews? Giving out free books? Wondering how people will like your book? Other?)
************************************************************ BLOG TOUR STOPS & BOOK GIVEAWAYS!
Saturday 10/8: I'm visiting with Catherine Johnson on her blog and sharing how I come up with my plot ideas!