You probably have found lots of discourse on the publishing industry that boils down to one thing – it’s hopping. We certainly talk about it a lot, what with more than 4,500 books published every day. That said, book bloggers are still reviewing and promoting books – and some books still generate a lot of buzz. If you haven’t tapped into the buzz yet – and want to know why, then we’ve written this article for you. Pitching bloggers, while not difficult, can be intimidating. Whether you don’t know how (and we’ll teach you), or you don’t like rejection, rest assured, book bloggers really do want to know about great books! So here are some of best practices for generating blogger interest!
- Are You Pitching the Right Bloggers? Although I’m sure you wouldn’t, it happens often enough that it’s worth repeating – don’t create a blanket pitch and use it for every blogger you’ve ever heard of. Instead, pitch the bloggers who read your genre or who have reviewed similar books. Read their terms carefully – if they say they don’t accept eBook only, or indie-published, or a specific genre – don’t assume they’ll make an exclusion for you. Respect their rules and don’t pitch them.
- Remember that Less is More: Lots of people (authors, publicists, etc.) are fans of pitching huge numbers of bloggers. And they often pitch them all in one email using the blind copy function. This is a bad idea for a variety of reasons, but one big one is this: being bcc’d on an email lacks in personalization, looks like spam, and seems as though you simply couldn’t take the time to address a personal email. Which leads me to my next point:
- Be personal: Several years ago, I took an unknown author in a heavily cluttered genre (romance) and I set up an email account for her that I could manage. I went through a list of 100 bloggers appropriate to her topic and pitched them individually. Not only did I personalize each email with a salutation, but I also took a moment to mention things from their blogs. In one instance, one of the bloggers had just gotten a dog and named it Library and I commented on how cute I thought that name was (and jealous I hadn’t thought of it when I named my dog!). This level of personalization got her 80 out of 100 blogger requests. An 80% request rate for an unknown author with no history, and little to no social media footprint. In an age of “point and shoot” it’s often little touches like these that make a difference as to whether your pitch is seen and responded to, or “filed” in the Trash folder. Yes, this takes a bit of effort but the results can be fabulous.
- Engage with the bloggers: Don’t just reach out to bloggers when you want something from them. Although most bloggers aren’t offended by this and generally get it, many appreciate a personal touch – where you engage with them before pitching them your book. If you’re not sure how to do this, start with five blogs you absolutely love and read what they blog about and start commenting. That simple act can get you more exposure than you realize. Just posting a thoughtful comment tells a blogger that you’re engaged with them, you are reading their blog, and you’re paying attention. I can almost guarantee if you do this, when your turn comes, they’ll be paying attention, too.
- Don’t expect a response: Bloggers often don’t respond to pitches that they don’t have time for, or don’t interest them. They aren’t ignoring you personally – it’s just that your book wasn’t a right fit for them at that time. Again, it’s not personal. A lot of our authors ask us what the response was when we’ve pitched them to bloggers and I always have to remind them that no response means no interest – but it’s anyone’s guess as to why. Bloggers are busy. And most book bloggers are doing it for purely altruistic reasons – they love books. Don’t expect them to respond to every email they get and don’t badger them when you don’t hear. That said…
- Take the Time to Follow up: While you shouldn’t ping bloggers daily, it is ok to send a follow up email to your initial pitch after a week or two. But I would not start by saying something like: Since I didn’t hear from you, I’m writing you again. (A blogger once told me they used to get this pretty often.) Any follow up should have a slightly tweaked pitch, maybe some great news if you won an award, got a great new blurb, or have a fantastic new book to boost the offer.
- Keep it Short and Sweet: Any pitch you send, I don’t care how fabulous your book is, should be short. There’s an old pitching adage called: above the fold. This comes from the newspaper industry where the biggest news is always at the top of the paper, so “above the fold.” Your pitch should be one paragraph, short, sweet – no rambling and I mean this sincerely. I get pitched for reviews more than you’d think (considering I don’t review books on my blog) and the pitches are often long-winded and take three paragraphs to get to the point.
- Take Some Time To Craft Your Email Subject Line: One of the most important pieces of your pitch is your email subject line. Remember, lots of people read email on their phones – and if the subject line is lengthy, unclear, or boring, it won’t get noticed. When I do pitches, I spend a lot of time on the email subject lines. Sometimes I spend more time on that than I do on the actual pitch. It’s that important.
- Think Outside the Blog: Sometimes, depending on your topic, it might be fun to consider bloggers who aren’t just book bloggers, who write about industry-specific topics. For example, Jane Friedman is a fab blogger who talks about all things publishing. Though she doesn’t review books per se, she’ll often excerpt my newly released books for her blog. If you wrote a book with a heavy focus on food, consider pitching food bloggers. Get to know your industry and what they are doing – and even if they specifically say they don’t review books, you may want to approach them with a book excerpt or guest blog post.
- Keep Pitching and Take Advantage of EVERY Opportunity: There’s no reason that pitching should be limited to the first three months of your book’s life. Keep pitching as long as there are bloggers you haven’t pitched. I often start with smaller bloggers if the author is an unknown and then build their platform from there. It’s much easier to get bloggers interested in something that’s showing a bit of momentum online and sometimes smaller profile bloggers are a great way to do that. Also, if you’re discouraged by the lack of response, maybe it’s a good time to try bloggers who aren’t getting thousands of pitches each month. You may get a better response and certainly you’ll get some nice attention for your book.
- Say please, say thank you: Anyone who knows me knows I am a maniac about manners. I send personal thank you notes, even if a pitch is declined and the blogger takes the time to tell me (which is rare). I always thank them for considering the book, as well as for taking the time to respond. Remember, a pitch that didn’t get picked up probably has more to do with the blogger’s schedule rather than your book. And again, if the blogger did review the book, or excerpt it or even mention it – never, ever, ever forget to say thank you. And finally….
- Promote the Blogger Review/Mention: Whatever you manage to get, promote it. Share it on your social media and be sure to tag the blogger, too. Bloggers appreciate that you share your good news and be sure to let them know when you do.
Although marketing has always been all about relationships, in my opinion it’s more true now than ever. Your friends, family, and any bloggers you already know already will play a huge role in the success of your book. But, as we discussed today, it’s also about the people that you have yet to meet. You must be willing to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to bloggers, or to thought leaders, and make the effort to connect with them – and although not everyone will respond, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by those that do. And I think you’ll see the direct results begin to come through in the form of promotional opportunities for your book – perhaps double, perhaps triple the requests you saw before!
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.