Welcome Jane Litte, passionate reader and blogger at Dear Author.com...
There is a lot of handwringing within the literary fiction world over the decline of print book review sections in major newspapers all over the country. Websites and blogs, usually run by passionate individuals, have filled a void and shown that there is an audience for conversations about books. What is great about these internet hosted book forums is that it allowed for genre fiction to find a voice and an audience where it did not have one before in print book review sections.
" target="_blank">The Romance Reader, All About Romance, and Mrs. Giggles were the groundbreakers for the romance genre in turning a critical eye to the romance genre; thereby elevating the genre to something worthy of serious discussion. It was on these websites that I learned about great new authors, discovered old treasures, and partook of a community spirit that strengthened my love of the genre. In 2006, I was fortunate to convince a friend of mine to begin our own blogging journey.
Jayne and I began as a two person blog with an average of 100 visitors per day. Since then, our readership has grown in size but has kept a signature feature and that is the readers of Dear Author and blogs like Smart Bitches are passionate lovers of romance books. These readers talk about books; recommend their favorite reads; and most importantly, listen to recommendations from the bloggers and other readers.
The goal of an author in reaching this audience is to tap into the readership that the blogs have established. There are some methods that I think are more successful than others.
1. Be transparent. I think that this is the key to developing a relationship with a blogger. If you begin to email a blogger with the intent to promote your book, but do so by attempting friendliness when you have no intention of keeping that up, it will only serve to turn the blogger off.
2. Be bold. Do not be afraid to send your book to bloggers for review because the worst thing that can happen is to not get reviewed. I've had more than one person indicate that the worse thing than a bad review is no review at all, but if you never ask, if you aren't bold, you probably won't get reviewed.
3. Be prepared. Try, if you can, to seek out what it is that the blogger wants. At DearAuthor, we want an email with a short blurb and a link to an excerpt. If you send an e-arc, you are twice as likely to get reviewed compared to authors who send paper arcs because we at Dear Author prefer to read the E format.
4. Be persistent. Don't send emails to a blogger every day, but do keep them apprised of your release date at least a month before so that the blogger has time to pull out the book to read for review. Send a reminder the week before it is released so that if the blogger has read your book, she can post a timely review of it.
5. Be part of the community. If possible, become part of the bloggers' community. We've often noted interesting comments by authors and have decided to pick up their books because of it.
6. Be proactive. On each blog there is likely some kind of non review related promotional opportunity. Dear Author has two such features. First, we host a First Sale series which features the road to publication for new authors, midlist authors, and bestsellers. Second, we are hosting a new series called "If You Like" where an author, reader, or blogger can host a day about a favorite author. By hosting a post like this, you give insight to the reader as to what your tastes are like and therefore interest a reader in your own works. Or, ask a favorite reader to host this feature for you.
At blogs like SmartBitches, news posts and videos and provocative industry issues are emailed regularly to Sarah and she provides links back and credit for those who send the pieces. If you can find a news piece that is related to your own book, all the better.
7. Be helpful. Bloggers are often hobbyists which means that if you offer some content to them that is interesting and directed at their readership, they are likely to post it and thereby promote you. Anything that authors can do to help bloggers create content will make it more likely that the blogger will be receptive to promotional ideas.
I used the word "journey" to describe blogging intentionally because we bloggers are learning as we go. There are no hard and fast rules in reaching out to the blogging community. I encourage authors to give suggestions to bloggers and that we all maintain open dialogue about the best way to strengthen our community.
Thanks to Robin Bayne for arranging to have Jane blog with us today.