In my last post, I talked about using ARCs to make the most of early book promotion. Marketing starts long before the book ever hits the market, and it usually begins with pitch emails to media outlets in your genre.
For self-published authors, the media outlets that are typically available to you are book bloggers, ebook deal sites, and newsletter services like BookBub and Book Gorilla. Of these, relationships with book bloggers are the most profitable long-term.
When a blogger posts about your book (a review or otherwise), you get three things:
- Exposure to an audience of readers who share the blogger’s taste in books.
- A quotable testimonial regarding your book’s entertainment or educational value.
- A contact you can pitch to when your next book is ready to launch.
Ebook deal sites and newsletter services will cost you money. Book blogger outreach will usually cost you time. You need to find relevant bloggers (more on that below), cultivate relationships with them, write pitch emails, follow up, and promote the posts that bloggers write about your book. If that sounds like a lot, remember: publishing isn’t a hobby; it’s a profession.
Using Blogger Directories
When I began book blogging, I added my blog and contact information to every single directory I could find. I wanted to put my blog on the map, and I thought that was a good way to do it. Actually, it was a way to attract a lot of spam emails. Still, to this day, I receive terrible pitch emails from bloggers who have not bothered to properly read my review policy.
That’s the problem with these directories: blogs evolve over time, and bloggers don’t often take the time to update every single one of their directory listings.
There have been periods where I closed my blog to requests so I could deal with the backlog of books in my queue, yet I still received emails every day.
Dear Blogger, I found you through This Awesome Directory and I want to offer you a copy of my book.
You need to take these directories with a grain of salt. Take the time to review every potential blogger’s review policy — and adhere to it!
The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching to Bloggers
When you write a pitch email to a blogger, you are writing a business letter. Many people don’t realize that, either due to the informal nature of email, or because they aren’t used to writing business letters. Some people see a fun color scheme on a blog and take that as license to be very casual in a pitch email. There is never any reason to be casual in your pitch emails, and it’s a fine line between casual and sloppy.
- Follow the review policy. If the blogger isn’t open to requests, doesn’t accept your genre, or doesn’t have an ereader on which to view your ebook-only ARC, don’t waste their time by pitching to them.
- Adhere to review request format. If the blogger asks for pitches to be sent in a specific format, including buy links, cover image, etc., follow those requirements to the letter. It shows that you respect the blogger’s time and processes.
- Don’t send blanket/mass emails. Bloggers can tell when you do this. It’s especially cringe worthy when the author doesn’t know how to use BCC to send these mass emails.
- Address the blogger by name. Unacceptable variants include: Dear Blogger, Hi there!, Dear Reviewer, and Dear Thumbing Through The Pages. Even “to whom it may concern” is suspect. If you’ve actually looked at this person’s blog, you’d know their name — and prove yourself worth their consideration.
- Tailor your pitch to the blogger. The best thing you can do is mention a previous connection you made with the blogger (e.g. on Twitter), or reference an earlier blog post. For example: “I read your glowing review of the steampunk thriller Other Title, which is why I wanted to reach out to you. My book belongs to the same genre, and involves…”
- Turn off any automatic signature tools in your email app that might duplicate your signature unnecessarily.
- Learn how to create hyperlinked text in the body of an email. It is so unprofessional (and unattractive) to see a naked URL pasted into an email (or blog post, for that matter).
I can hear what you’re saying now:
But all of this is so time consuming!
To which I say: check yourself. You’re sending out emails to total strangers, asking them to spend 10-20 hours to reading, reviewing, and promoting your book — in exchange for a non-transferrable digital file. You can and should take the time to show them proper respect through every step of the pitch process. Cultivating relationships with book bloggers will come at the expense of your time, but it is well worth it. These people are readers first, and they may become some of your most loyal, dedicated fans and supporters if you take the time to support them in turn.