By way of introduction for any author who hasn't worked with book bloggers, this is one way to build publicity. When you've got some income, you can hire a blog tour operator to set up reviews and promos on book blogs for you, but when you're starting out, you might want to do all this on your own. I spent my entire first year as an indie author on a constant blog tour, querying every book review blog I could find. One of them was Ritesh's, and he reviewed my chick lit even though he'd never read one before and his review is the top rated one on Amazon for the book. He knows a thing or two about how to be a good blogger, and here's what he and others have taught me about being a good blog tourer.
I'll copy the outline of his post, using the same points:
1) Read the Review Policy. Sounds straightforward enough, so what could I possibly add to such clear advice? I've got two things:
a) Dig for that review policy. Whenever you click on a book blog, it may or may not have a tab labeled "review policy." Sometimes it's in the "contact" tab or the "about me" tab. Not all book bloggers post a review policy, but if they have, you better have read it. Take the time to make sure.
b) You can break their policy but you must pay the price, and that price is an apology up front and a really good excuse. i.e. "I notice you don't normally review indie books, but you asked me about my books at that party we were at last night, so here's a synopsis and links for you." Emphasis on a good excuse. "My book is just so awesome, you'll want to read it anyway" is not a good excuse.
2) Draft Personal Review Requests. When you query a lot of book blogs, you will develop a one size fits most form, but you *must* personalize it. Ritesh has a hilarious but embarrassing example of a query he got once. Now, obviously, don't do what that writer did. Here's what I would also add:
a) Find the blogger's name if at all possible, and really dig for it. This can be hard, it may be in the "About Me" section, it may be in the "Contact" section, it may be on their Twitter account, their Pinterest account, their FB page, or their Blogger profile. Only open with generic, "Hello!" or "Dear Blogger" if it's *abundantly* clear that this person is staying anonymous on purpose. Absolutely the number one most important thing.
b) Include every piece of information they ask for. Follow guidance in the review policy to the letter. Book bloggers get a lot of requests and can afford to throw every non-conforming one straight into the trash, so they mostly do.
3) Don't Attach Your Book to the Review Request. Now, I know one fairly big name book blogger who advises the opposite, to always attach your books, so I do that whenever I query him. I've found, for what it's worth, that "don't" is the more prevalent rule of thumb. While for some it's a convenience to have it right there with the query, most consider it presumptuous and it'll earn you a black mark.
4) Don't Assume Your Book Is the Best Thing Since Sliced Cheese. Or as we say in the U.S., since sliced bread. The gist of this one is, don't be arrogant. Don't bother with pointless hyperbole about how great you are. In order to sell a book, you need to find *your* readers, not jam the the book down the throat of every reader. Absolutely no one writes books with universal appeal, so bear in mind when you're querying that you're trying to assess, along with the book blogger, whether or not you're a good match for each other. Explain the premise of your book and the approach you took to it, and if they aren't interested, that is not necessarily a bad thing. You don't want to collect negative reviews from bloggers who aren't interested in the type of thing you write, and any book, with the wrong reader, will get a negative review.
5) Give out Review Copies. Frankly, this one surprised me, that Ritesh would even have to say this. I'll restate what he said, and then add a little more of my own point of view. To restate him: If you're asking for a review, you are offering a free copy of the book to the reviewer. That is how this works, with book bloggers or even with big name reviewers in newspapers and such. Some reviewers only review books they buy, but those don't take requests. Okay, so to add my own points on to that:
a) Don't worry about piracy. Listen, if your book sells, you are going to get pirated and not by book bloggers. Pirates have their own ways of hacking DRM or sneaking books off the gray market. It's one of the facts of the business, so being a jerk to people who offer you a service like a review won't prevent piracy and it'll alienate some of the people who can help you most.
b) If you aren't willing to be generous, you are thinking too small. I say yes to every giveaway opportunity I'm offered and every book blogger who requests a copy from me gets one promptly. Furthermore, I will provide any format they want, including a paperback. There are some books of mine that, some months, only "sell" paperback copies when I send them to reviewers. In fact, that's one of my top reasons for doing paperbacks, to get into review sites that review those exclusively. All my giveaways are open worldwide on all formats, and yes, this can get expensive sometimes. Mailing out 30 books worldwide for a Goodreads giveaway a couple of months ago cost roughly half the month's revenue, so why would I do that? Because the reading public is far, FAR bigger than you can imagine. A top selling author can move thousands of books a day. It is easier to dream too small than to dream too big. You may not even realize you're doing it, so take a good look at your motivation for limiting your opportunities. My philosophy is grab every opportunity, and if you're worried about things like piracy of the ebooks people win, a simple way to deal with this is to learn how to autograph your own ebooks - just insert your autograph in the ebook file as a graphic. It might still get pirated, but it'll look a little stupid if it's autographed to someone in particular. A person might edit the file and remove the autograph, but anyone willing to do that kind of work for that purpose is going to get your book some way or another. That's an inevitable pirate. You can't avoid those. See my last point.I highly recommend Ritesh's whole series of posts, beginning with: I'm a Blogger... part 1. In my next few posts here on the Cove, I'll go through the rest of the series, point by point. And authors, please do add tips and tricks you've learned in the comments section below!