Marketing Plan priority one: Reviews

It is my personal opinion that outside of word of mouth marketing (which none of us have any control over), reviews are the number one way authors can promote their book.
If you don't believe me, let's run a little hypothetical here. Say you are exposed to some sort of marketing effort for a new book that blows you away. Seriously, as soon as you see it, you think, I need to read that. So naturally you hope over to Amazon (they are the undeniable big guys in book buying) to order a copy. Since the book released last week, you know there won't be any problem getting it. But before you one-click your new beauty, you take a peek at the reviews and see there are only a small handful. Half of them sound as if they were written buy the authors mom, aunt and best friend. Now how do you feel about this must read?

If you're like most readers, you're not quite as gung-ho as you were before you saw the lack of social confirmation that this is a book you want to read. Because that's what reviews are, social confirmation that you are making a wise investment of your money and time. Without them, you're book looks a bit on the pathetic side. While a book that has tons of reviews, even if a fair chunk are less than stellar, will feel like a safer bet. In fact, some marketing experts suggest that the presence of some negative reviews gives more credence to the positive ones (in essence, the reader knows the reviews didn't all come from the authors friends list).

So that's where I'm focusing my initial marketing efforts. The good news is this isn't my first time organizing a blog tour. The bad news is no matter how many times you've done it, it is still a tedious and extensive process.

Of course, I could take the lazy approach and send every blogger with an email address a copy/pasted review request and hope for the best. But that's not how I do things. For one, I think bloggers deserve more respect than that. And second, I know that my result won't be very good unless I do it the right way.

So what is the right way? Here we go.

First, I start with a massive list of bloggers. I got them from bloggers I researched in the past, bloggers I follow online, and bloggers who reviewed books that I feel are good matches to my own.

From there, the real work begins. Over the course of one really long weekend I visited each and every blog on my list. I looked to make sure of several things:
1. Are they open to new review requests?
2. Do they take self-published books?
3. Do they like to read my genre?
4. Do they regularly post reviews for books in my genre?
5. Are they a good match for me AND (really important) why?
Here we go

If a blog passed this screening they got entered into a secondary spreadsheet with all their critical contact info AND why they are a match for me.

You might see a trend here. It was really important to me to make sure that I was only reaching out to bloggers who would enjoy my book. Not every blog/blogger will be a good match for each book/author. This is a good thing as it means there is great variety within the book blogging community. But it also means you can't just blanket request everyone with an email address.

When I send my request, I'll use this 'why' to personalize each and every one. You heard me right. Each review request is personalized directly to the blogger I am contacting. This shows the bloggers that I am familiar with their sites and that I respect them and their time. And really, this is what most bloggers are looking for. Respect.

This post is already getting long so I'll talk a bit about how I personalized my requests on another post. But I figured I'd leave you with some stats to get an idea of what I'm working with.

Initial list: 322 blogs
Paired down list: 155 blogs
Time to pair: One very long weekend
Review requests sent: 146 (I had a few with broken emails or that closed in the few weeks since researching them)
Time to send: Three days (day one: 46, day two: 37, day three: 63)

Also, if you want a step-by-step breakdown, I'm following my own advice from the DIY Blog Tour handbook. If you haven't done so yet, go subscribe to my newsletter and you'll get your own free copy.