Book review bloggers are friends, not foes–get to know them!
by Barb Drozdowich
So…who are book bloggers anyways? I know that Anne periodically talks about book bloggers on this blog – but many authors that I talk to seem a bit fuzzy on the subject. I’m going to see if I can help you understand who book bloggers are and help you with some tricks to find some powerful ones to promote your books.
My name is Barb and I’m thoroughly immersed in the book blogger world. One of my sites – The Book Blogger List has well over 2000 book bloggers listed. I’ve also carried out 2 major surveys of book bloggers – the most recent one ended in January. Between the two surveys, I’ve asked questions of 717 bloggers.
I’m in fact a book blogger myself – my book blog is Sugarbeat’s Books – I started blogging in August 2010.
I’ve spent a lot of time in front of a class – college classes, corporate training classes and more lately, virtual classes – always teaching science or technology of some description.
Although I’ve published a lot of books, I tend to come at the publishing world with a different view than most authors.
But you can’t really take the teacher out of the classroom…this will be an active post. And of course you’ll have homework…
Who Are Book Review Bloggers?
When I speak to authors, they assume that a book blogger looks like this:
A book blogger clearly needs a computer:
All kidding aside…let’s look at my survey results to create a picture of the average book blogger.
According to my surveys, a blogger is either male or female but more likely to be female. Put up your hand if you fit that description.
I think it’s a given to assume that a book blogger has a computer – or at least a smartphone. Keep your hand up if you fit that description.
According to my surveys a book blogger loves books and loves to chat about books.
Does that describe you?
You can put your hand down now!
Anne frequently encourages her readers to remember the Golden Rule. I would like to also. You are essentially the same as a book blogger.
The only difference is if you blog, you likely blog about your books, but not necessarily about everyone else’s books.
Treat book bloggers as you would like to be treated yourself.
Book bloggers love books and love talking about books SO much that they have created a website or a blog to talk about them. They could be any age and my survey has had respondents from 12 to 73.
Where are the Book Review Bloggers?
Although the majority of book bloggers currently live in North America and speak English, as time passes, access to Google and therefore Blogger is creeping around the globe. Soon people in nearly every country will have access to a free blog.
In fact in the last month of creating listings on The Book Blogger List every second listing that I created was for a blogger in India or Pakistan. Amazing, really! Did you know the first person who commented on my very first blog post was from the Philippines? We are still friends and frequently ‘chat’ thanks to Twitter!
Let’s throw in a few more stats:
- 30% of book bloggers post reviews on Amazon (as well as their blog)
- 45% of book bloggers post reviews on Goodreads (as well as their blog)
- 45% of book bloggers make some money off their blogs via affiliate links
- 36% of book bloggers review for other sites than their own
- 45% of book bloggers will rarely accept a book for review from a form letter
How To Find Book Review Bloggers
Let’s move on and learn more! If book bloggers are everywhere, how do we find them?
There are several databases of bloggers – the largest ones are mine – The Book Blogger List – and The IndieView. Each has listings laid out somewhat differently, but are reasonably kept up to date and are searchable. That means that you can work your way through listings and find a book blogger to review your book. My site has all the listings sorted by genre but still…2000+ entries makes for a lot of looking! You’ll need a big cup of coffee for this job!
I have a different exercise for you. Grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.
I want you to write down the name of 5 authors who write similar books to you – but are more famous or have been around longer than you.
Go back to your paper and write down the title of each author’s latest book. If you don’t know off hand, you can go look at Amazon.
Great! Now we are going to work through an exercise. I actually did this for Anne:
I looked on Amazon to find out what other authors Anne’s readers bought books from. One example is Dianne Harman and her latest book is called Murder at the Big T Lodge. I’m going to do a Google search for the book title in quotes (“Murder at the Big T Lodge”) followed by the word review. This will bring up a list of all the sites that have reviewed this book. You are looking for blogs as indicated in the screenshot below:
You aren’t looking for Amazon listings or Goodreads listings, you want to find blogs, and you can tell from the title and from the URL (red arrow)
Go ahead – take a break from reading my ramblings and see if you can do this for the list that you have made.
Are you back? Did you find some bloggers? See…it is possible to find bloggers out there that share a love of books with you!
Research the Book Blogger!
Keep one of your examples that you found on your Google search on the screen while you continue reading. We are going to study this blogger.
Although what the blogging world calls “Baby Bloggers” – bloggers that are just starting out – are wonderful and eager to share their thoughts with the world, they don’t have much in the way of an audience yet. I was a baby blogger once – and I know. Felt like I was talking to the dog some days.
We want to target experienced bloggers that have an audience to share information about your book with.
That’s where the 10 tricks come in.
But before we get there, let’s take a wander around the blog of the blogger you have found. Everyone does things a bit differently.
a) Read the Guidelines
The very first thing you are going to look for is a Review Policy or a Submission Policy or perhaps an About page.
I know, you are probably rolling your eyes wondering why I have you doing a goose hunt on this blog that you have found. Stay with me – it’s important!
Before you start composing the perfect query note, you want to find out if the blogger is actually taking outside submissions, what she wants in a submission/query note and if she wants a note at all. She may have a form for you to fill out. No need to go to any work if she isn’t taking any submissions, and you won’t be sending an email at all if she has a form.
I mean, really…you don’t want a Newbie stamp on your forehead, do you?
b) Is This the Reviewer for You?
Generally speaking, bloggers get more queries/submissions than they can possibly read. To give you real numbers: 83% of bloggers who have been blogging more than 3 years receive more than 25 submissions/queries per month. Because they get so many, they need to pare down the numbers and people who don’t follow directions are easy to delete.
Let’s go back to this blogger that you found. We’re going to continue with the wander but keep in mind that if you find something on this blog that you don’t like, or makes you uneasy – virtually walk away – there are lots more bloggers! Our goal is to find experienced bloggers that are fair and balanced.
So the very first thing that I want you to do as we move on is to look at the posts – read a few. Do you find what this blogger says to be fair and balanced? Would you be okay with similar comments about your book?
c) How Powerful is the Blogger?
The next thing I want you to look at is how long this blog has been around for. Many bloggers have an “Archive” widget on their sidebar which will easily give you a date ordered list of posts. The longer a blogger has been around (and posting regularly) the more traffic they will have, generally speaking.
The next thing to look at is their social media. If you want this blogger to review your book, you want them to have friends to share with. In this day and age, the sharing is done through social media. Click on some social media icons and look at the blogger’s streams – do they share the posts that they create? Do they have a decent sized following? Essentially, will they promote your book?
Lastly, you want to make sure that a blogger that you choose has share buttons easily found at the top and/or bottom of their posts. Google uses how many time a post has been shared as an indication of quality content. Quality content ranks higher in searches.
10 Power Tricks AKA Your Homework
- Find some bloggers – try various methods until you find one that you are comfortable with. Try a Google search, or one of the databases. Use a spreadsheet and make a list.
- Check for a review policy and take note of the instructions.
- Look over the content of the blog to ensure that they are fair and balanced.
- Look for an archive widget to determine how long a blogger has been around.
- Look at the blogger’s social media to ensure that they have an audience.
- Comment on the blogger’s posts in a friendly fashion – bloggers will be more willing to accept a review request from a name that they recognize. That is NOT to say, leave a comment asking for a review – be friendly – think kindergarten and making friends.
- Write a unique email query (or fill out the form if that is what is required) addressed to the blogger by name with the required information in a persuasive fashion.
- Be professional in your note. Although you want to be friendly and persuasive, ‘Hey There” or “Dear Blogger” are not acceptable.
- Make sure the blogger understands why you feel that your book will be something that they will be interested in – why it would be a good fit for their blog.
- Follow up – if you asked for a review or feature – make sure their hard work doesn’t go to waste. Show in your actions that you appreciate their efforts. Even if they didn’t like your book, be an adult and leave a comment of thanks for taking the time to read your book
- Your bonus tip is….Don’t lie. Don’t lie about reading the review policy. Don’t lie about your book.
I hope you enjoyed what I shared about book bloggers. Book bloggers that become friends will work endlessly to help you promote your books. I’m still in contact with the original reviewers from 2013. They snap up each new book I write and promote it to the heavens.
As Anne says, remember the Golden Rule and go find some book bloggers.
Your homework is due next Sunday – I hand out virtual candy for completed work.
by Barb Drozdowich (@bakerviewconsul) July 10, 2016
How about you, scriveners? Are you published and trying to get reviews? Have you contacted any book review bloggers? Do you review books yourself? What do you look for when you read a book review?
About Barb Drozdowich: When Barb isn’t reading the latest regency romance novel, she’s likely explaining technical subjects to authors and bloggers through her courses at Bakerview Consulting. She has a knack for using common language to help non-technical people understand the tech side of the book publishing world. She also serves as taxi driver for her kids and treat slave to a very cute puppy. She and her family live in beautiful British Columbia. She’s also the tech genius who rescued this blog from certain death last May. Thanks Barb!
This week on her blog, Ruth has her mom’s simple, yummy recipe for blueberry cobbler and on Anne’s blog is another post in her poison series. This week she’s talking about the nasty poison, strychnine. (Don’t combine the two, except in fiction. Haha.)
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The Author’s Guide to Working with Book Bloggers
by Barb Drozdowich
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