Top Five Things I’ve Learned About Working with Book Bloggers

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.

Ahem.

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.

Comments

Shannon Collins
Reply

Awesome post, mister. Way to be a blogging machine!

Allie
Reply

Thanks for introducing me to Lisa The Nerd’s blog. Love it! I think it’s smart when bloggers outline their policies for everything from reviews, contests, photo sharing or legal garble. Keeps everyone honest and eliminates most of the guesswork.

<3 I love books <3

Teresa
Reply

This is a fantastic post. Thank you so much for sharing your insight.

Lilac Wolf
Reply

Great post! I especially love #3. :D And it’s true, if I actually track down the publisher (or you) it’s because I really, really want to read that book. And for me it’s a double bonus because as a stay-at-home mom I can’t afford to buy every book I want to read and my library probably won’t have the newest books for awhile. And I don’t mind sharing my opinion in return.

I also put my reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and LibaryThing because of the number of Indie Authors I get – it really helps spread the word.

jenn aka the picky girl
Reply

Awesome post! For me, it’s similar to real mail. Every week, I get to much junk that when I get something personal, it’s so thrilling. Same thing with emails. I have had several publicists and publishers (even authors) email me directly, in a personal way, and a. it’s flattering. b. it’s smart. When I know a publicist has actually taken the time to check out the blog, I feel much more confident accepting a book because I feel they picked it for me (though I know that isn’t necessarily the case).

Thanks so much for seeing potential in bloggers!
jenn aka the picky girl

Gwen
Reply

In my book, you have mastered the pitch, Eric. I get a few dozen a week and I always open yours immediately. Your creativity and enthusiasm for the title shines through with each and every one. I get excited about the title and want to be a part of the fun.

eric
Reply

Aw! Thank you Gwen! <3

Cate
Reply

Awesome! I agree with #2 and #5. I’m currently working on my review policy but I’m still wading through the free books that I already have.

And as an owner of a fledgling book blog, I appreciate the fact that publishers and authors do take time to read a post or two. A lot of us newbie book bloggers aren’t doing this to become internet famous or for site hits; it’s a hobby, a passion. It’s nice to be recognized for something you love to do. :)

Lisa the Nerd
Reply

i’m so flattered to get a shoutout from the likes of you, Eric. thank you!

you touch on so many important things in this post – the importance of looking at the blog/blogger and not the stats, the respect for the blogger, and the personal touches when making a pitch are SOLID points.

i’d love to see the inverse of this post – things that bloggers should do when requesting books from a publisher (or what not to do). you know, when you have the time. ;)

FOREVER YOUR FAN.

Dave Goodman
Reply

Very cool post. Lots of things I’ll have to remember when it comes time to pitch my comic for reviews.

It’s true – you really do rock.

Betty Ann Q
Reply

Awesome! Learned so much from this write-up. Thanks for sharing. Must get back to tweaking my blog and apply some of your pointers.

Joe
Reply

Pitches that begin with my name get opened, but if they move to “For Immediate Release” after two lines of greeting, they get archived. Of course, Eric could probably send me a pitch beginning “Hey Joe, you loser, consider writing about this stuff I’m pitching, because I TOLD you to” and I’d probably go with it.

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