I hear this a lot from authors who are doing their own book marketing: “I can’t get book bloggers to review my book.” This is a real problem for many authors, but often it’s a problem that can be easily remedied. Book bloggers want to do book reviews, that’s why they have a blog – that’s their passion. But the other side of this is that there are a lot of books competing for the same attention, and the same virtual shelf space. So what can an eager author do? Well let’s have a look at the 10 reasons book bloggers might reject you, and then how to fix it. I’m also including a bunch of resources to prior posts, if you’re ready for a deep dive into this topic!
- It wasn’t the right fit: Book bloggers can really help boost your book profile and bring more readers (and sales) to your book. But it needs to be the right fit. Read the book blogger’s book review guidelines before submitting. Not only will you save yourself some time, but it’s also generally a bad idea to pitch people on something they aren’t going to care about. You may love what Book Slut does with her book reviews — but if it’s not the right match for you, it’s not a good use of your time and disrespectful of a blogger’s time, too.
- They’re too busy: Any book blogger will tell you that they wind up turning down more books than they accept – and often turning down books they’d love to otherwise take, if they had more time. Many times, book bloggers won’t respond to your pitch if they can’t accept your book, but every once in a while, they will respond and tell you they’d love to, but they’re short on time. In this instance it’s good to thank them and maybe ask the book blogger if you can pitch them at a later date. That way, you’re still leaving the book review door open, if their schedule is freeing up down the road.
- You didn’t start pitching early enough: It’s often hard to know when to start pitching your book to book bloggers. You want to start early enough so you give them enough time to read it, but not so early that if the book review appears on their site, there’s no book to link it to. Most book bloggers know pre-publication timelines very well, so if you get bloggers interested, let them know that they have X number of weeks (or months) before the book goes live. The issue is when an author pitches a book blogger on top of their release date, expecting a quick turnaround for their review. You should never expect this or demand it. A book review is a gift, and it’s also a gift of the book blogger’s time too, so be sensitive to that.
- Your book cover was bad: For most people in the industry (not just book bloggers) a bad cover is a deal breaker right from the start. If your book is getting rejected a lot, this might be the reason why.
- Your pitch was bad: I’ve written a lot about pitches for book bloggers or to get book reviews from media or Amazon reviewers, and here’s the thing: I agonize over any pitches I write. You can ask anyone on the team. We write and rewrite and rewrite again. Yes, the pitch is that important. If you’re just throwing an email together and hoping for the best, you won’t get much in the way of response from book bloggers or anyone else you’re sending your pitch to.
- Your email subject line just said ‘book for review’ or something equally as vanilla: This is also a big no-no. We read so much on our phones, that a subject line requesting a book review can make or break your pitch. I’ve written more about this and I’ll link to that in the resource section of this post. Suffice it to say, when I write pitches for book bloggers or anyone else, I’m always careful about the subject lines I use. And I create custom subject lines for different markets I’m targeting for a book review. So for example, a parenting-focused pitch won’t get the same subject line as a pitch for a grandparent market – even if it’s the same book.
- Your email wasn’t personalized: Personalization matters more than I can even put into words. Sometimes I’ll get emails addressed to Mr. Sansevieri, or my full name: Dear Penny Sansevieri. Both of those seem pretty lacking in personalization. Consider addressing the blogger by his or her first name, or if you’d like to keep it more formal, address them by Mr., Miss, Ms. or Mrs. In fact, I had fun with this once with a book blogger who had just gotten married and had blogged about it so I addressed her with her married name and congratulated her in the first line of the pitch, which she loved. The worst thing you can do for your book blogger pitch is bcc a bunch of bloggers with a vanilla greeting, like “Dear book blogger” – that’s almost guaranteed to net you nothing in the way of book reviews.
- Your book pitch was too long: Keeping book pitches short isn’t always easy, believe me I know, but most (if not all) book bloggers will appreciate it if you keep your pitch shorter. One paragraph, two at the most. Keeping it short and to the point will help to increase your chances for a book request and, possibly, a book review.
- Consider something other than a book review: While I know we’re focused on pitching book bloggers for a book review — there are other options. We’ve been doing a lot of author interviews, book spotlights, or book excerpts. All of these are great opportunities for some of the high traffic blogs you are pitching and require a lot less of the book blogger’s time. If you’re open to this (and you should be!) consider mentioning it in the body of your pitch. Yes, you’re asking for a book review, if they’ve got the time, but also mention that a book spotlight/book excerpt or author interview is also something you’re open to as well. And here’s another tip: if you’re offering up yourself for an interview, be ready with some unique interview questions, too!
- Your book is too old: The longer your book sits on Amazon, the harder it is to get book bloggers to consider it for book review, that’s just the truth. Even when an author comes to me a year after their book is out, I tell them it’s just hard, if not impossible. At the six-month mark your chances of getting a book review from a book blogger decrease exponentially. The message here? Start early. Start collecting names of book bloggers before your book hits Amazon so you’re ready to begin pitching as soon as the book goes live – or sooner if you’re starting your book marketing early.
Book bloggers love books, and they love writing book reviews, but with the flood of books hitting the market on a daily basis, the window of opportunity has shrunk. Be aware that most don’t want to say no, or just not respond to your lovely email pitch, sometimes they just have to. And here’s another piece to consider: while we’d all love the top book bloggers to review our books, if you’re just starting out maybe consider book bloggers who aren’t at the top of that list. Meaning: try pitching bloggers who aren’t getting targeted by every author out there. Start with smaller bloggers, ones that have more time to do book reviews, or lengthy author interviews. Not only is it great to help build your book review portfolio, but people like what other people like – and book bloggers are no exception. If you’re getting more book reviews from other bloggers, it’s a nice little incentive push for the bigger names to consider you as well!
Resources and Downloads
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