I recently found a bunch of articles I wrote for the now defunct Young Adult independent author blog, YA Indie. The posts are almost 2 years old now but a lot of the advice I gave is still relevant to indie authors. I’ll be re-posting most of my articles here for a while. Hopefully they can help some new self published authors out!
You can find more of my YA Indie articles here.
Have I convinced you to look to book bloggers for reviews yet? Awesome. I understand that it’s probably a bit overwhelming thinking about finding someone for you. There are so many book blogs out there! How are you to know if someone is right for you?
I’m going to break down how I would find a book blogger if I needed one.
To start, think about what type of book you have. Is is a young adult book? Is it a middle grade book? It is something that will appeal to adults as well as younger readers? What genre is it? Does it fall into multiple genres? Write down quick notes about all this information. Having very clear cut, defined information like this will help you find a blog. You’re going to look for a book blog that focuses or a blogger who reads those genres.
Everyone is a unique little snowflake. Bloggers are no different. Every blogger has his or her own review style. Not every review style will work for every book or author. Here are some of the basic reviewing styles out there.
- Critical Analysis-These bloggers tend to be English majors (or something similar). Their reviews look quite a bit like academic papers.
- Casual– These bloggers are more laid back and informal. Not every review discusses the same points of a book. Their reviews sound a lot like talking to friends about books over coffee. They discuss their likes and dislikes of a book.
- Structured-It differs from blog to blog but these people have a strict structure to their reviews. Generally the topics include: characters, plot, setting, readability, crush factor, etc. They always devote a paragraph (or more) to each of their topics.
- Humor– These reviews are the blogger’s attempt at being funny. Sometimes it’s actually funny; other times it seems like they are being too harsh on a book. The reviews have lots of silly pictures and rants. Occasionally they help the reader figure out if a book is for them. I think readers like these reviews more than authors do.
Think about which one of those would work best for your book. Make a note of it so you know what to look for when you’re on blogs. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.
Time to start searching!
The Book Blog Search Engine: There are many, many book blogs to be found this way. The easiest way to find a blogger would be to search for reviews for a book that is similar to yours. Read the reviews of that similar book. If the blogger liked that similar book, they might be interested in your book! You could also just search for romance reviews or mystery reviews and look for bloggers that like that genre.
Those directories could be very helpful but require digging on your part. The YA Directory focuses on book blogs that review YA books. The Book Blogger Directory has book bloggers of all genres. Remember those quick notes you made earlier? Take a look at them and see if you can find a category for your book.
So you found a blog that might be a good fit, what do you do next? Take a look around! Do they normally review books in your genre? Do they like those books? What type of reviews do they write? Does your book look like it belongs with the books they normally read?
[I can’t emphasize how important looking around a blog is. We see pageviews. We know if you’ve taken the time to look around or if you’ve just clicked on our Review Policy. I’ve accepted books that I’m on the fence about simply because the author has taken the time to see if we’re a good match. If we’re going to spend 3+ hours reading your book and writing a review for it, you can spend 5 minutes poking around our blog.]
If the blog and blogger look to be a good match for you, it’s time to read their Review Policy! Read all of it. Does your book fit the criteria for books they are accepting? If no, move on the the next blog. If yes, GREAT! Make sure you contact the blogger the way they want you to. Some will take emails with all the information they need. Send them everything they ask for. Others have a form for you to fill out. If they don’t specify what needs to be in a review request, here are some things you should think about putting in it.
-Personal greeting. Call them by their first name. [If you can’t find it after searching for a while, it’s fine to call them by their “blog name”]
-If at all possible, tell them why you think they would like your book. Try to use “proof” from their blog. [“I noticed you’re a big fan of dystopia books. I think you might enjoy my dystopian book…”] It’s nice to know that the author really took time to make sure I would like this book instead of just bombarding the blogger with a random request.
-Title and author
-Summary of book
-Provide links to the Amazon (or Barnes and Noble) page for the book, Goodreads page for the book, and your blog or website.
-Is the book already out? When is it being released?
-If you need this review by a certain time.
-If you are willing to do a giveaway or interview in conjunction with the review.
-Any other information you want to pass along.
-Make sure you’re friendly and personable. You don’t want to sound like a robot spewing out review requests.
A big bonus: If you are able to give a genuine comment about their blog, do it! [“I really enjoyed your review of XYZ book. I had never thought about…”] We love talking to people about books so it’s great that you want to strike up a conversation about books with us. Only do this if your comment is genuine. We can tell if you’re just trying to “suck up” to us.
I know that seems like a lot of work but it is worth it. Wouldn’t you much rather send out 20 review requests to get ~13 or so reviews from bloggers who are a great fit than send 100 review requests to random bloggers only to get ~11 reviews from bloggers who might not enjoy your book? You will be able to do all of this faster if you practice doing it.
The best part of all this work is you have target marketing work done at the same time! If a blogger focuses on Contemporary books, chances are many of their readers are Contemporary fans. If your book is a perfect fit for the blog, BAM your book is projected the best possible buyers of your book.