In the ongoing effort to sell more books in a saturated market, more and more authors are competing for book bloggers’ attention, and this means you’ve got to really step up your game when it comes to reaching out to them for publicity.
And stepping up your game is also about being realistic. Most bloggers have inboxes overflowing with requests for reviews. You’re one in hundreds, or maybe even thousands.
So taking this into account, what can you do to get their attention?
Make their job easier.
I can tell you from personal experience that I’m seeing more and more bloggers open to having authors submit guest posts than ever before. Because bloggers are busy, and wanting a review is asking them to do more work, but offering to provide content for their site – now that can seem like a mini vacation!
Guest blogging is a great way to network and build relationships with bloggers while still getting your books and your brand in front of their audience. Because reviews don’t guarantee you’ll sell more books than a guest post, it’s just the easier thing to do.
And if you haven’t noticed yet, being an author and marketing your book isn’t always easy!
So assuming you’re on board with pitching bloggers about writing guest posts, I want to offer you a few quick tips about maximizing on this book marketing strategy to sell more books:
1. Is guest blogging worth my time?
I shouldn’t even have to answer this, but our team answers this question nearly every week. Even when the blog isn’t the picture-perfect fit for your book, it’s absolutely worth your time to give them a guest post. Why? Every opportunity you have to reach a new audience and sell more books is worth your time.
Additionally, the more links you have to your site and your book, and the more times your name is mentioned, the better you will do in search engine performance. And as I always say, opportunities build on each other. So always take the time to take advantage of every opportunity. You never know what doors they may open.
2. How long should my guest blog be?
If the blogger hasn’t shared specifics, then a good target range is 600 to 800 words. Can you go over or under? Most likely. But this isn’t a time to share a 5,000 word post unless you’ve specifically run that past them. Similarly, 300 words may be too short. So shoot for the target range, and then if you’ve got more to say, offer to do a follow up to add more information.
3. What format should I use?
Word documents are preferred, with minimal formatting. Don’t send PDFs, and don’t send them as an email message.
4. Do all my posts need to be unique?
If you’re lucky enough to get invitations to do multiple guests posts, then good for you. But what if you’re short on time? Can you repurpose a blog post?
This is a tricky one. And the answer is: sort of. Although some bloggers may not care, a good rule of thumb in writing is to make each post at least 20 to 30% different from other guest posts you have written. You can write about the same ideas, but posts shouldn’t be identical.
Why? Well it does two things. One, it shows each blogger that you really appreciate the opportunity by crafting something for them that no one else is getting. Two, it allows each of them the SEO value of unique content. And each blogger will appreciate it. And if you’re going to do this, I’d recommend asking the blogger first. I do a lot of guest blogging and I’ll always ask if a piece I’ve already written can be repurposed.
You’ll probably get bonus points from the blogger if you take some time to flip through their site, look at their “About Me” section, and see what kinds of things they like and what their followers respond to. Because at the end of the day no two bloggers and their followings will be exactly alike, so treat them all with equal respect and use each opportunity as a chance to sell more books to a captive audience.
5. Should it be professionally edited?
Never send anything out into the world full of typos. It reflects badly on you, and it looks lazy. The blogger is also not planning on editing it for you. If you don’t have an ongoing relationship with your editor, see if there’s someone else with a critical eye that can do one pass on your piece before sending it off.
6. Should I include a bio?
Yes. If you don’t the blogger may just pull a bio from Amazon, or social media, or your website. And while that isn’t terrible, it may not be particularly current, or it’s not the impression you want to make on that audience. So start from scratch and include a few sentences about who you are, what you do, and where you find inspiration. Have other titles? Mention that. Have a website? Include it! And, don’t forget to link to your Amazon book page!
7. Should I include images?
Unless otherwise specified, absolutely. Send them as separate files so the blogger doesn’t have to cull them from the word document. Make it easy. At minimum, include an image of your book’s cover. And if you’ve got some fun images that help tell the story, then that’s great too.
8. What topics sell more books?
Well this is the $10,000 question. And the sky is the limit, which is what makes it so hard. If you write non-fiction, it may be easier for you to do. You know your topic well, and you should be able to come up with something that’s timely and sets your point of view apart, something that helps sell more books!
If you write fiction, know that bloggers love sharing anything that really enhances their readers’ experience. So narrow down what makes you or your brand unique, and find a way to turn that into a creative “insider” look at an author’s life. Don’t be afraid to get personal here. Not personal as in TMI, but personal as in share your world with them.
Remember, the audience likely doesn’t know you or have a vested interest in your books – but they are fans of your genre. So put yourself in their shoes, and really focus on topic ideas that cater to your genre and what makes its readers tick.
Consider guest blogging an extension of your social media. It’s a good opportunity to connect with more people. And to capture their attention, then take the time to let them get to know you. Share something interesting. Be vulnerable if that’s what it takes. Personalization sells more books.
Need some specific ideas for writing? Last year, I wrote this article offering ideas to share on social media, and a lot of it rings true for guest posting too. I also write a regular monthly series with content ideas based on official and unofficial holidays. These have an incredible range of emotion and interest, you’ll definitely find something to inspire you and the blogger will appreciate that you’re writing something timely.
And, like I said above, take a few minutes to explore each blog. Their “About Me” page or even some of their other posts may trigger an idea that will make an extra special post for them.
9. Should I share the final post?
Absolutely! Once your guest post goes live, be sure to share it on your own networks. It will again let the blogger know you appreciate the opportunity, and you’ll send some of your readers there. Book marketing is about sharing the love. And bloggers will remember. If you get an opportunity for one book, and you let them know how much you appreciate it, they’ll be more likely to help you out on future books. Also, I recommend posting a comment on the post once it goes live. Just a quick “thank you” for featuring me is always greatly appreciated.
Don’t be afraid to give them multiple shout outs, too! And if you need to remember to schedule this in, download my free monthly book marketing planner.
10. Be on the lookout for comments.
One thing you never want to do is post and ditch. So don’t let a blog post go live and then never visit the site again. If the blogger has a busy website you’re likely going to get comments on your post that you’ll want to respond to. Even if it’s just “thank you for your feedback!” it’s always good book marketing etiquette to post a quick comment so the blogger knows you are as engaged with this post their readers are. Plus this is a great long-term strategy to sell more books, going the extra mile makes you stand out in a sea of authors vying for reader attention.
Putting it all together
Ultimately, writing a guest post is a great book marketing tool for your arsenal and definitely worth your time as an indie author. Put your best foot forward. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours crafting every post, but you should make the time to make it meaningful. After all, the blogger took the time to offer you a guest post, so you should take the time to make the most of the opportunity. They didn’t have to offer you anything. In fact no one owes you anything, so be sure to thank each blogger for every opportunity you get to share with their audience. They’ll remember and appreciate the love you share with them.
Have any other best practices you’d like to add? Share them in the comments! I’d love to see your thoughts!
Penny, your number 4 point really spoke to me. Do our posts have to be unique? It was actually from reading your blogs and newsletters that I learned how we can take our original thoughts and essays and develop them further or tweak them to fit the article we are responding to, that we need not start from scratch every single time. That was an awesome piece of advice.
You asked us here today if we had anything to add to your great list and I say, yes, something I read that your wrote many years ago “don’t rush an internet relationship.” It’s important to understand that we need to take our time to develop a relationship with the people where we are blogging just as we do in our friendships and businesses. It’s respectful, too, as you wrote today not to drop in then “ghost” away. One builds a trustworthiness out there in the world “over time” whether in person or online; that’s the beauty of being genuine and consistently so because readers and site owners come to see what their reading audience has to share and they, the original essayists, can look mighty good too because we all know time is important and a good marketer will pick his or her spots!
You have helped many of us writers over the years with your books, your blogs and your newsletters, Penny. I have learned so much from you about marketing – a thrilling field you are passionate about – and, as a result, my voice has been able to reach and help many people who are grieving to find my website, my essays, and my book and to heal a little bit more. Thanks, also, for encouraging us to link to our books when we are blogging. I rarely do that but I’m taking your always wonderful advice and doing it today and in the future when I can. https://www.amazon.com/When-Every-Day-Matters-Mothers/dp/0981780903/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1522944977&sr=1-2&keywords=when+every+day+matters+a+mother%27s+memoir+on+love+loss+and+life
Thank you, Penny.
Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S., CGP
Mary Jane, I’m so glad you’re staying in the game. And I know at times the game is hard. But you have a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing that and your link here! And thanks for staying in close touch, all these years. More people need to know about your wonderful book!
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