It seems that we spend a lot of time talking about how busy the industry is, how many books are being published each day (4500+) and how full everyone’s plates are (very). At the same time bloggers are still reviewing books and some books are still getting great coverage. So, maybe you’re wondering why your book hasn’t? Well, pitching bloggers isn’t difficult, though I know most indie authors tend to shy away from this aspect of book marketing. For some, it’s because they’re worried they don’t know how; others don’t like rejection. Whatever the reason (and despite the odds), bloggers do want to know about your book – you just need to make sure to tell them in the right way. Let’s take a look at some steps to obtain more interest for your book!
Pitch the right bloggers
Although this goes without saying, I still feel like this rule is broken enough that it bears repeating. Don’t flim-flam bloggers by pitching any and all of them. Pitch the right ones and read their terms. If they say they don’t accept eBook only, or indie-published or whatever – don’t assume they’ll make an exclusion for you. Respect their rules and don’t pitch them.
Less is More
A lot of authors are fans of pitching huge numbers of bloggers. Meaning that authors will often pitch hundreds of bloggers and often in one email. In other words, they will blind copy them all. 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:
I did a test a couple of years back where I took an unknown author in a super 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 –one at a time – with her pitch. Not only did I personalize each email, but I also took a moment to note things I had learned by reading their blog. 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. Yes, I said 80. This for an unknown author with no history, little or no social media footprint. In an age of “point and shoot” it’s often the little touches that separate out the pitches that get seen, from the ones that do not. Yes, this takes a bit of effort but the results can be fabulous.
A lot of times I see authors who only begin to engage with the bloggers when they want something – which is typically a review. And while most bloggers get this and aren’t necessarily offended by it, it’s always nice to engage with them on an ongoing basis even before you pitch them.
What does this mean? Well, start with five blogs you absolutely love and read what they blog about and then comment on those blogs. 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. That’s just the way of it, and it’s not personal. A lot of our authors will 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 what exactly that lack of interest is, is anyone’s guess. 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…
While it’s not ok to hound bloggers, it is ok to send a follow up email to your initial pitch. But I would not start the pitch off with something like: “Since I didn’t hear from you, I’m writing you again.” (I had one blogger tell 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
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.
Email Subject Lines
One of the most important pieces of your pitch is your email subject line. Keeping in mind that a lot of us are reading on our phones and if your email subject line is too long, or nebulous or just flat out 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. 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 & Think Small
There’s no reason that pitching should be isolated to the first three months of the life of your book. Keep pitching as long as you have bloggers to pitch to. In some cases, I’ll 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 a 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 hand-written 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 it. 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.
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.
They say that marketing is all about relationships and that’s more true now than ever. In fact, I recently wrote an article focused exclusively on relationships and book marketing. Your ability to connect with your friends, family, and yes, your new blogger friends, will have a great effect on the success of your book. Plus, as a result of building a relationship with bloggers, you’ll meet some really interesting people, and perhaps even make great new friends along the way…friends who love your new book!