You wrote a book. Great! Now how do you get people to read it? Marketing is probably one of the hardest parts of being an author–but oh, so essential! You worked so hard on your darling. Don’t let it languish.
One marketing technique I’ve been trying is to reach out to bloggers and asking them to review my book. Here’s how to do it–and how it’s been working out for me.
How to Find Bloggers
You may be familiar with book bloggers–people who specifically read and review books. Their “to be read” lists can be crazy huge, and if you get in with them, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back!
Because my book is non-fiction–and because book bloggers usually review only fiction titles–I took a different approach. The title of my book is Journaling to Become a Better Writer: 7 Keys to More Authentic Fiction. My topic is creative writing. There are countless creative writing blogs out there. I thought, why not see if any of them are interested in reviewing?
You can use this same approach even if your book is fiction. What are the topics in your book? Is it a Western? Why not look for country life blogs, ranching blogs, etc., and see if the owner likes to read? That could get you into a niche where the competition for book reviews is much lower than with book bloggers.
To find bloggers for my book, I started with a basic Google search: “writing blogs.” My first link gave me one blogger’s top favorite blogs for writers. From there, I’ve found other lists. And I literally start at the top of the list and work my way through.
How to Approach a Blogger
I’ve put together a form letter that I can send out to any blogger without having to write a new one from scratch every time. I keep my voice friendly and cheerful. And here’s the important part: I take that form letter and personalize every one.
How do I do that? I always make sure to read at least one of the blogger’s posts–one with a title that particularly interested me. I may also read their “about me” page. Another new trick I’ve taken to doing is to search their site for the word “journal” to see if they are journal keepers–which gives them a lot in common with both me and my book. (If they don’t have a search box, you can type this into the URL bar: “site:www.nameofwebsite.com journal.”
Once I’ve found some common ground, I start my letter with a line like this:
I just had to write and let you know how much I enjoyed your blog post, “Journal Every Day.” I agree that it really helps the creative juices start to flow! I shared your post on Twitter and Facebook.
P.S., sharing their stuff is so darn nice, you should really do it. It’ll show that you’re willing to do a favor in return, and not just begging the blogger to do a favor for you.
Then I merge into the request. Try to be friendly and non-salesy, and keep your letter short to respect their time.
Allow me to introduce myself. We. Us. Whatever. We are Indie Plot Twist, a blog for authors interested in the indie publishing revolution – though all authors are welcome to grab a mug and a chair at our writing table. Our first creative writing guide, Journaling to Become a Better Writer, is currently available, and we’re very interested in getting some eyes on it. May we interest you in a free copy in exchange for an honest review? (All the book details are below.) Both ebook and print copies are available.
From there, I mention that we’ll be happy to share some social media love with any review they post, then thank them and close my letter. I then separate the main letter with a few dashed lines and include the back cover copy from the book.
After the book description, I use a few more dashed lines and invite the blogger to reply to the email to request a copy.
What to Do if They Don’t Answer
Write to them again! I keep careful records of who I contacted and on what day. Two weeks after my initial email, if I haven’t heard back, I send a follow-up letter. It’s a form email again, and this time I don’t bother to personalize it. It’s a very short, simple message:
Hey again! Danielle from www.IndiePlotTwist.com. I got in touch with you a couple weeks ago to see if you’d be interested in reviewing our creative writing guide, Journaling to Become a Better Writer. I haven’t heard anything, so I assume you’ve been busy. (Story of our lives, right?)
Don’t worry, I kept the coffee on! If you’re interested, the book details are below. I look forward to hearing from you!
Have an awesome day.
From there, I include the back cover copy again and the final invite to get in touch with me. If this email hasn’t returned an answer in another two weeks, I assume the blogger is not interested and mark them as such on my spreadsheet. That way I won’t accidentally bother them again!
How Well It Works
I wish I could tell you that every blogger writes back within minutes to beg for their review copy. In reality, I have about a 20% success rate.
Now, I consider 20% to be pretty darn good, when you take into account my 1% rule. Whenever it comes to anything marketing, I simply assume that only 1% of my efforts will return results.
Bloggers are busy, maybe they don’t think my book is the right fit for their audience, my emails are getting sucked into spam folders, etc. There are many reasons for them to not read my book, and the likelihood that it’s just the read they’ve been looking for–and that they have time to read it now–is pretty slim. So I consider anything above 1% to be really good. Twenty percent is amazing.
How to Turn a Rejection Into Success
I’ve had plenty of bloggers write back to me and graciously decline. But I’ve learned how to turn even a rejection into success. The first thing I ask is if I can write them a guest post instead. Ten percent of the bloggers I’ve contacted have asked for a guest post.
If they don’t want a guest post either, I’ll ask if they’d be willing to share the link and cover with their followers on Twitter and/or Facebook. Fifteen percent of the bloggers I’ve contacted have shared my book with their followers.
Since my goal is for my book to eventually turn up everywhere (like dandelions), even a share on someone’s Twitter feed counts. It usually takes a reader several opportunities before they finally decide to buy, and if they see my book being mentioned everywhere, they’ll really start to pay attention! Or so my theory goes. Hey, if it worked for Jack Canfield …
When you add 20%, 10%, and 15%, I end up with a whopping 45% success rate of people who have promoted my book in one form or another. Farewell, 1% rule!
Stick With It
The most important thing to remember, no matter what marketing technique you’re deploying, is to keep at it. Contacting one blogger may not get you your book review. One book review may not get you your hundreds of sales. But just like millions of drops of water can carve out a canyon, a flood of effort can get you your book sales. Be optimistic, and be determined!