Friday, July 12, 2013

Five tips for snagging a book review

First, sorry for the sparse posting lately. I'm officially on vacation, but we all know how that really works. I'll be back at the end of July. Until then, expect random posts (or don't, and then it will be a surprise when one pops up).

Today, I want to talk about review bloggers. These fabulous bloggers are at the heartbeat of the writing community. They are avid readers, know what's new, what's hot and what's not and (depending on audience) can have a massive effect on your book sales.

One of the things I hear too often is that it's too hard to get reviewers to pay attention to a new writer. I wish I had a nickle for every time someone said I asked a million reviewers to read my book, but no one did.

And while it's true that reviewers are swamped with requests and many books never get read, there are plenty of things you can do to help your book catch the eye of the ladies and men who have the ear of the book world. Here are my top five tips for snagging a book review. Tweet This!

1. Get Specific
A good reviewer is going to list their genre and age preferences on their site, probably in the same place they list their submission guidelines. I don't need to tell you these guidelines must be followed to perfection, do I? These genre preferences are a great place to start when deciding who to send requests to, but don't stop there. Take a look at what kind of books are popping up the most on the site. A reviewer might list fantasy as an acceptable genre, but if she hasn't reviewed one in the past six months, she's probably not your target anymore.

I can already hear the complaint at this point. But Sarah, I don't have time to sit and read every reviewer's archive. I've got books to write and promote. I hear you, and to that I say, too bad. You are asking a reviewer to donate at least 6 hours of their time to read your book, plus another hour or two to write a thoughtful review. In exchange they get your $9.99 book. That's peasant wages for the work they put in. Reading through six months of archives won't kill you.

Let me add here this means you need to start early, really early. Like, as soon as you know your book is going to be published kinda early. If you give yourself several months to review blog sites, you can spread it out and not feel so rushed.

2. Share the comment love
While you're out there reading through the archives, be sure to leave a comment on some of those reviews. Bloggers love comments. It's how we know someone is listening. We know who our frequent commenters are and consider them our friends. People like to help their friends. Tweet This!

A word of caution here. Do not use a gorilla warfare strategy for commenting. You can't rush to a site, leave a dozen comments on random posts and then send a review request the next day. This isn't making a friend; this is spamming. You need to spread out your comments, become a member of the community, genuinely get to know the reviewer.

Does this mean you'll need to become a repeat visitor to these sites? Yep! But don't you want to do that anyway. After all, you're asking this reviewer to help you promote your work. Don't you want to know what kind of site it is.

3. Spread the word
So you're reading through those archives and come across a review that makes you laugh, stop and think, or nod your head in agreement. Great! Help a reviewer out by sharing the post on your social media sites.

This is the easiest task and takes less than a minute. Most review blogs are already set up with easy share buttons that let you post directly to Twitter, FB, etc without more than a click or two.

Not only does this go a long way toward building a relationship with a reviewer, it helps them to grow their audience. Since you're going to ask them to review your book soon, it's a no-brainer that you want them to have a large audience. Being a friend is a win-win.

4. Start a conversation
When you share someone else's review, don't be surprised if you get a nice thank you in response. This is the perfect opportunity for you to start a conversation without stepping too far out of your comfort zone.

You both love books, so you know right where to start. Ask them if they've read any other books by the author you shared. Ask about other books in that genre they can recommend. Share your favorite scene from the book. Anything can be a great starting place for a conversation. Be careful though, before you know it you might have a real relationship going on. :)

A word of caution, this is not the time to talk about your own book, no even casually. Unless the reviewer specifically asks you if you write, you should keep these early conversations focused on other authors' work. No one wants to be pitched on social media, not even a little. Tweet This!

5. Use your connections
Now that you've left comments, shared reviews and started up a conversation, you have successfully become an online friend (or at least an acquaintance). Now it's okay to ask for help. Go ahead and send that official submission (following the guidelines, but I don't have to tell you that). Don't make the mistake of thinking because you're friends, you can skip the official channels. However, it is okay to send a note to a friend and let them know you sent them a request.

Once your new friend has agreed to read your book, it's also appropriate to ask your new friend if they know of other reviewers who might enjoy your book. This is called networking and can be your best friend.

One last word of caution, once your new friend agrees to review your book, it is NOT okay to ditch them. I should hope you don't want to do this. But even if the thought crossed your mind, forget it. I'm not saying you need to go comment on all their posts, but popping in once a week or so will go a long way. After all, you plan to write more than one book, right?

3 comments:

  1. Enjoy your vacation! Nice to hear from you while you're out, though. Great tips, as always. I especially like the idea of not spamming people, but putting in some time on a regular basis. :-) Should be nice to have something to do once your book sells and you wait for it to be published too, other than writing your next book.

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  2. Hello! Long time lurker, first time commenter here. I hope you're enjoying your vacation.

    This post is fantastic, and I really like tip #4. Sometimes we forget to slow down and *gasp* get to know the people we want help from. This is an excellent reminder that relationship building will always serve us well over the long haul. :)

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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  3. You are such a wealth of information. I seriously love your blog. Thank you for sharing all your tips with us all the time, Sarah.

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