Guest Blog by Julie Anna
Julie Anna is a book blogger and Bookstagrammer who writes book reviews for authors.
Congratulations on writing your newest book! You’ve put lots of time and love into your work, and it’s time to share it with the world. One way of doing that is connecting with book bloggers and exchanging one of your copies for review.
Working with book bloggers and other bookish influencers and reviewers can be a great way to get your book out there! Many readers that take part in the bookish community get recommendations from each other, and many reviewers also post to retail sites to bring their reach outside of the community. However, there are some things that you should keep in mind when reaching out to reviewers to pitch your book.
As a blogger and Bookstagrammer myself, I receive many requests from authors to review their books. And while I’d love to take on everyone’s requests, there’s sadly just not enough time to read them all! Additionally, sometimes I get requests that don’t match the type of content I post. Bloggers don’t review full time and this is a hobby for us (and a time-consuming one at that), so there are only so few requests we can take at a time.
So, if you’re looking to reach out to reviewers, how can you increase your chances of bloggers approving your review request? Here’s what to do (and what not to do) when approaching bloggers and how to improve your chances of having your review request approved.
What Book Bloggers Want You to Know
Blogging might be a hobby for us, but it takes a lot of work to make it happen. Here are a few of the many tasks that make up being a book blogger:
- Reading books
- Writing reviews
- Planning content
- Writing other creative posts (lists, blog features, etc)
- Participating in blog tours
- Cross-promotion to other platform
- Visiting other bloggers
- Site maintenance
- Coordinating reviews with authors and publishers
And this is all just for the blog! Bloggers might also be on other platforms, including but not limited to Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Long story short, we put a lot of time into blogging. Not only that, but working with lots of time-sensitive content means that book bloggers have to juggle and prioritize quite a bit. Most of the time, when we reject review requests (other than not having the time), it’s because it’s apparent that the requester didn’t put the time in to look at what we do.
Just one review equals several hours of work for us. At the very least, we’d hope you spend a few minutes getting to know us and our work before reaching out. It’s something that’s not done often when we get requests. So, when we do see the time put into a request, it makes a world of a difference. Here are some tips that show what I mean by that:
Do Your Research
Before reaching out to a blogger, you should get an idea of what they like to read and review. Making sure that your book’s genre(s) fit with the blogger is crucial for several reasons:
- Reviewers likely won’t accept genres that they just don’t read.
- Some books outside of a reader’s genre just won’t work for them.
- If the reviewer sticks to particular genres, their audience likely does too.
This might seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to review books in genres I never read! It’s definitely worth it to do this research in advance. Make sure the bloggers you’re reaching out to are a good fit for what you’re writing.
Additionally, check out their reviews! Bloggers have different reviewing styles and include different things in their reviews. Sometimes reviewers split reviews into likes and dislikes. They break it down by plot, characters, etc., and sometimes they just write based on what stood out to them. Sometimes reviewers will also let you know which readers will like the book most, whether or not they personally liked the book. Reading their reviews will help you learn what they’re looking for in books and give you a better idea of whether they’re a good fit.
Check the Book Bloggers Review Policy
If there’s one thing I’d like you to take away from this post, it’s this! Review policies tell you everything you need to know about how bloggers take requests and their process behind writing reviews. Information that you’ll likely find in a review policy includes:
- Whether they’re currently open to taking review requests
- What genres they do/don’t accept
- Their rating system
- How they write reviews
- Turnaround times
- What they require from the author
- What happens if they didn’t like the book
- If there are situations where they cannot / will not write a review
- What formats they will read
- Where the review will be posted
The number one reason why I don’t take on reviews (other than time) is when it’s very clear that the requester did not look at my review policy. It’s highlighted in both my Instagram bio and on my blog, so it’s not exactly hidden. Bloggers do expect that the requester would at the very least check out what we do. Make sure we’re a good fit for their book if we’re going to read and review it for them. We put these policies together so expectations are set and common questions are answered up front. So, please be sure to visit it before reaching out!
Reaching Out – Make it Personalized!
Now that you’ve found some bloggers you’d like to reach out to, how should you go about making your request?
For one, if they mention how to contact them for review requests, make sure you use that contact method. I personally ask for requests via e-mail, so all of my requests can be tracked in the same place. Others may have a contact form on their site that they prefer you use.
When I receive review requests, what makes me interested in a book the most is seeing that the requester took the time to get to know me and my blog. This is key! Copy-paste messages starting with “Dear book blogger” that give me no indication that the requester even looked at my content likely won’t be accepted. Instead, tell me why you reached out to me in particular. Did you notice I love space opera, and you’re coming out with a space opera book? Tell me about it! Did you notice I’m a big fan of books about found families, which is a central feature of your book? Let me know! Making connections like these are a great way to pitch your book and show bloggers that you’re interested in our content, too. It makes your pitch stand out against others who didn’t take the time to look around.
Make Sure You Include Everything You Need in Your Request!
Many times bloggers will ask you in their review policy what they need from you to consider your request. But if they don’t, make sure you share everything we need to know about your book! Including information about your book, such as the synopsis, content warnings, genre(s), number of words/pages, a link to buy, etc. can be really helpful to have in your request. At the same time, keep your request concise and easy to understand.
One thing to avoid is sending a copy of your book with the original request. It comes off as direct and presumptuous, and should wait until your request is accepted.
Plan to Reach Out to Book Bloggers Well Ahead of When You Need Reviews Posted
Since blogging isn’t a full-time job, we can’t drop everything to read and review your book (as much as we might want to!). In addition to general blogging and life obligations, there may be other ARCs and preplanned reads in the queue. Some bloggers will give you a better idea in their review policies what their turnaround times are, but your expectations on feedback should be at least couple months out, especially if they are reviewing many other ARCs. If you’re looking for a specific timeline for the review to be posted, be sure to let the blogger know and they can tell you whether or not they’ll be able to accommodate your request in that timeframe.
Positive Book Reviews are (Unfortunately) Not Always Guaranteed!
Even if your book seems like a great fit, unfortunately, that doesn’t guarantee that the reviewer will like it! That being said, don’t anticipate that connecting with bloggers and asking for reviews will lead to positive reviews. We don’t love writing negative reviews – we want to love every book we pick up and write gushing reviews for them too! But honesty and integrity are critical for reviewers, and we have to be truthful about what we’ve read. Some book bloggers will also include in their review policies what their process is if their review is negative.
If You Liked A Book Blogger’s Review/Content, Share It!
Personally, I think a great way to say thank you to a blogger and for their time is to share their post on your platform. It’s a win-win situation – it’s promo for your book, and it’s promo for the blogger’s site. Over a year ago an author I worked with shared my review on Facebook, and it continues to see regular traffic to this day. It can be a great boost for both parties (and can apparently last for quite some time, too)!
Be Involved in the Book Community
I’ve taken several review requests from authors I met on Instagram as well. And what all of these authors have in common is that they interact with Bookstagrammers, too! Your socials might be used primarily to promote your books, but you can also use them to share some other books you’ve been loving and engage with other bookish accounts. The book community is that, a community! We love making friends and discussing books. And engaging with the community can be a great way to find reviewers that enjoy the kinds of books that you write.
These are all of my tips for getting your requests out there and working with bloggers. I hope that this information was helpful to you in getting your work out there and wish you all the best throughout the publication process!
Julie Anna is a book blogger and Bookstagrammer. She primarily writes book reviews, posts bullet journal inspiration, and creates other bookish content to share with her readers. She can be found at julieannasbooks.com and on Instagram @julieannasbooks.
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