September 21, 2011

Book Bloggistas Save the Day

So you've self-published your brilliant novel, and the only people who have bought it are your sister and the people you kept bugging at work. This is a common problem for the indie author, so don't feel discouraged. Both Amanda Hocking and Stephen Knight have said that book bloggers were keys to their success, and that's why it is important to submit free copies of your work to book bloggers in the hopes that they will review it and perhaps even publish an interview with you. This should be an essential part of your marketing strategy, because book bloggers will publish reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, Nook, etc.  and provide links that are crucial for search engine optimization. Without NY reviews on the sites of the big distributors, most readers are going to think your book is a dud before they even read the product description.

Unfortunately, previous knucklehead writers have pissed off book bloggers in the past by not following submission guidelines, complaining like Kindergartners in the comments about negative reviews, and other shenanigans. Remember that the reviewer is doing you a favor by taking the time to read through and publish their opinion of your work, so treat them with respect.

For my latest novella, America Goes On, I submitted it to approximately 10 book bloggers for review, and so far I've gotten 4. Not bad for a nobody! America Goes On received a 5-star review from Bornean Bookworm, a 3-star review at Novella Reviews, a 4-star review at Hampton Reviews, and a 3.5-star review at My Four Bucks. At Bornean Bookworm and My Four Bucks, I even got an interview published.

Here are some helpful tips when approaching book bloggers to keep yourself out of the shits:
  • You can find a helpful list of book bloggers open to submissions in various genres at Simon Royle's, the GoodReads Indie Book Collective group, and the Book Blogger Directory. Make sure that the genre of your book fits with the reviewer's taste.
  • Every book blogger has different submission guidelines, conveniently located under a tab that is usually labeled "Submission Guidelines." If they want a MOBI file for their Kindle, don't send them a 7MB RTF file with uncompressed pictures. Be sure to provide all the requested information (picture, bio, description, etc.)
  • Do not mass mail book bloggers. Do you like your inbox being shit-bombed with spam about penis enlargement pills? Didn't think so. Every email should be individually written and should address the book blogger by name (if they are not anonymous). Also, about 90% of book bloggers are women, so if there's something you wouldn't say to your mother, you probably shouldn't say it to them.
  • Under no circumstance should you contest a review, because everybody has different opinions. That is why the written word is so interesting--the words mean different things to different people. You should respect their review and learn from it.
  • Don't ever pay for a review. That is just unethical and weird.
  • If your book gets reviewed, be sure to reply with a nice thank-you email for the time they took to read your book. Also, make sure to provide links to their website to help promote yourself and them.
Book bloggers provide an invaluable service in promoting the self-publishing community, and they do it all for free. As long as you are not a jackass and you spend some time searching for book bloggers, you will have no problems getting your book reviewed. Best of all, the reviews provide helpful feedback on how to improve your writing in the long-term.


Unknown said...

Great links! You are on the ball, man.

Lindsay Buroker said...

Four is pretty good! You really have to be patient when you submit to book bloggers, since most of them do it purely for the love of it.

I had lunch with someone who runs a small book review site today (she just started it in Feb.), and even she is starting to get swamped with requests.

Paul Salvette said...

Hopefully more book blogs will start appearing that is proportional to the number of self-pubbers. We shall see.