As part of the Romance Festival going on this weekend, bloggers are giving tips to authors. So, being both a blogger who reviews novels and an author, I decided to sign up to take part as I get an insight into both worlds. My blogs have been active for a little over 2 years and I have been writing novels since I was 14 so I have seen a lot and have made many contacts over the years with bloggers. By doing both it's made me understand why certain things are annoying, why authors do it and what to avoid.
So, as part of the festival, here are my experiences to help you contact bloggers.
When contacting bloggers, these are the four points I'd consider most important and I think if you follow them, you can't go far wrong.
1) Read the entire review policy before sending a request and stick to it.
I know it's a tedious task, hopping from one blog to another to read pages of writing (I've done it countless times), but this is the best and most important advice I'll probably write in this post. A blogger's policy outlines everything you need to know to request a review/promotion and believe me, if policies aren't followed, we get ratty. ;)
You wouldn't believe some of the emails people send out that make it clear they've never visited your blog, let alone read your policy. So, if you follow their guidelines, your email stands out. Personally, I ask for specific information in my policy so I can make a decision on whether the book is for me. I need to be able to access all of the information instantly and easily due to time constraints. When I'm getting 50+ requests a day, I have to find a way of narrowing it down so if not all of the information is there, then I have to decline because I don't have the time to look for it myself.
However, if you don't want to do this and would rather send out a generic email to those who accept your work, I'd suggest including:
Title, Author Name, Genre, Word/Page Count, Blurb, Format that would be provided, Published or Self-published, and Link to the book (only need one) as the basics. That covers most of what bloggers need to make decision and it avoids spam filters by using attachments. The main thing to remember is, it's your job to provide the info and to sell your book to us. You have to make us want to read your work!
2) Personalise every email.
This point really depends on the blogger but for me, I've always found you get a better response by personalising the emails you send out. I hate getting requests that say 'dear blogger', 'hi' or don't even use a greeting--which is most common. I know this is going to sound harsh, but if I don't see my name or my blog's name, I decline those requests automatically . My thinking is that if an author can't be bothered to look up my name (it's stated everywhere on my blog), then why should I spend time reading their email?
I understand the time it takes to send out personalised emails to everyone--I've done it for every book I've released--but trust me, you want your book to appear in the best light possible. The greeting is the first thing the blogger reads, so you don't want to turn us off before you've had a chance to sell you book.
3) Don't send anything they ask you not to.
What I mean when I say this is don't send things they either specifically ask you not to send, like the book before they've accepted, or requests for a genre they don't read.
I know we all secretly hope everyone will want our book and they will fall in love with the concept but that's not the case most of the time. I've had many emails stating "I know you said you don't review [insert genres here] but..." and it doesn't matter what they write, it's an automatic no. Again, I know that sounds harsh and you're probably thinking how do I find new books if I'm not willing to consider everything but I know my likes and dislikes. There are a few genres I don't consider because from previous experiences I've found they don't hold my interest, so I decided to rule out those requests.
If you look at it another way, who would you rather read your work? Someone who states they don't normally read your genre but will give it a go if they have time and aren't excited, or someone who loves the genre, knows it well so is excited to read new material, and will be able to provide better feedback? You want people to be enthusiastic about your work (at least I do) so send it to those who you think are a good match. :)
4) Be polite and professional - even if it's a no.
It should go without saying, and most authors do this, but over the years I've been running a book blog, I've noticed an increase in authors who seem to think bloggers are under an obligation to review every book they're sent which isn't true--seriously, some can get really nasty if you say no to a book.
Bloggers generally read and review for pleasure so my advice would be not to offend them or be rude in your email as you're asking them a favour. Some authors seem to forget this point--that reviewing your book is a favour--and it comes across in emails.
Remember, bloggers don't know you. All they have to go on is what you write and text can be interpreted in many ways due to there being no intonation. It doesn't take a lot to make the effort to be polite and it could be the difference between a yes or a no. For me, even if a book doesn't sound like a good fit to read, if the author sounds nice then I still offer promotional spots because I want to help them. Simple 'hellos', 'thank yous', 'would you be interested in' or 'I'd love you to consider' etc. don't take long to write and keep you in the blogger's good books :) This may be just me as I get slightly picky, but it can't hurt to do it, right?
Those are my main points but above all, I'd say just be friendly! We're nice people really and love hearing from new authors with new releases. I love helping people out where possible so don't be afraid of contacting us--we love books and anything related to them!