So I've been at Quirk Books for a little over a year now. When I began, I had a ton of experience working in social media, communicating with bloggers, and working AS a blogger, but had little working knowledge of pitching blogs, PR, marketing, etc. As for my experience in publishing... well, it was limited to a magazine that doesn't exist anymore.
Needless to say, it has been quite the learning process, and I've been fortunate enough to have a team that believed in me, helped me grow, and was patient in teaching me the ways of book-life. And luckily, the book blogging community is an incredibly welcoming (and understanding) one.
So, here are the top five things I've learned working with book bloggers. Maybe it'll help you, dear reader, when you're pitching books online. Hope it does!
1. WRITING A PITCH? BE CREATIVE: Let's be real. Fact of the matter is, book bloggers get pitches every day. Some of them get dozens of pitches a day. Big publishers, small presses, self published authors... whatever, we're all haggling the hell out of them to cover our books. Nothing is more boring than a bland press release attached to an email, or a pitch that just states the facts.
Make your pitch letters as interesting as the books you are promoting.
Get creative. Be funny and friendly. Make some jokes. Poke fun at yourself. And most importantly, take the time to send a personal email now and again, not just a mass BCC'd email blast (though those are necessary now and again, I know). You'll get a response, and bloggers will look forward to your future emails later down the line. Trust me.
2. READ BEFORE YOU EMAIL: Take some time to really read through a book blogger's website and get to know that blogger's interests. Check out their Twitter feed, their Goodreads profiles. Find out what they like. Many bloggers have a Review Policy on their website (see Lisa's blog here for an example) that dictates what they are into, what they don't care to read, and most importantly, whether or not they are even accepting reviews in the first place.
If you're building a pitch list and researching new blogs... sure, this takes a while. For every blog you really read, you could have just cut and pasted a half dozen email addresses from other sites. But taking a few minutes to do this shows that you care about knowing what they want, and saves both your time and the blogger's time.
3. TRY TO ALWAYS SAY YES: You're going to get a lot of emails asking for a wealth of things. And I'm not just talking about review copies. Posters. Giveaways. Q&A's w/ authors and editors. Try your best to say okay. Even if its a backlist title you're not currently promoting. That's right, I don't care if it's 2011 and that book came out in 2002. SAY YES.
The fact is, all press is good press. And when a blogger asks for a book, it means they really want it. They're genuinely interested and care. Remember, they get free book offers every single day. Be flattered. Say yes. Send the book.
4. KEEP UP WITH THE CONVERSATION: Let me get this out there. I hate hate hate people who talk about social media and frequently preach the 'importance of the conversation'. Seriously. If you do it while using ridiculous buzzwords, you annoy the hell out of me. Yes, you.
There, I said it.
But, the fact of the matter is, it's important to keep up with what bloggers are saying. Save searches in your various social media clients (I use Cotweet), keep up with what people are saying whenever you can. Maybe you'll discover someone who wants to review a book, or a fan who has been dying to reach out and talk to a certain author. It doesn't take much, and by doing this, you're in the position to easily make someone's day AND gain new reviewers / fans.
5. SIZE DOESN'T MATTER: Heh.
But seriously. In book blogging, it doesn't. Whether you're getting coverage on a book blog that sees over 300k vpm or a small blogspot that only has a handful of comments... it doesn't matter. That blogger with a tiny website might become your strongest voice. They may have an enormous social media following. Don't be turned off because Compete or Quantcast doesn't have any information on that random Blogspot you've stumbled on. Because for real, you never know.