I find it extremely encouraging that so many authors are now embracing the reality of modern publishing, and acknowledging that they are responsible for creating the buzz around their books.
Those who publish their own ebooks understand that the more publicity they can get, the more copies they will sell.
But even those looking for traditional book deals are starting to see the truth – that publishers now only pick authors who demonstrate they can help with promotion.
The problem is, most writers hide under the desk in terror at the thought of ‘marketing’, because their skill set is writing, not selling. The reality is that all writers need that elusive book publicity, but don’t want to become the literary equivalent of a used car salesman.
Nor can they afford to spend a fortune in the process. What to do?
The Solution: Get Reviewed By High-Profile Book Bloggers
Book bloggers are high on the trust list for readers, which means they’re among the most influential connections we can make. These bloggers read a large number of books, and have an audience of readers collectively amounting to millions. Their subscribers trust their opinions and buy the books they recommend.
This makes them an incredibly powerful source for promotional help. In fact, they can make an author famous, almost overnight sometimes. I’ll talk about that in a moment, but first, let’s look at a real life example of someone achieving incredible success from using this tactic…
Paranormal author Amanda Hocking is perhaps the most visible recipient of this ‘book blogger effect’. She had written solidly since a teenager without stopping, but no agent or publisher would take the remotest interest in her books.
Resolute, she decided instead to self-publish the books herself on the Amazon Kindle. But initially she only had the merest flicker of sales.
She was almost at her wits end when salvation suddenly appeared – in the form of book bloggers.
Quoting from her site (abbreviated):
“… In May, I sold 624 books and made $362. Then in June, something truly magical happened. I discovered book bloggers. I had no idea such people existed. These guys are my heroes. I asked several if they would be interested in reviewing my books, and most said yes, even if they didn’t generally review self-published work….
Then something surreal started happening. My books were selling. Like, really selling. So, thanks in large part to book bloggers, June turned into a very good month. I sold 4258 copies of all three books combined, and I made a total of $3180. In July, I sold 3532 books and made $6527. Here’s what August looks like for me: I’ve sold 4873 books this month (as of 12:50 am). I’m estimating that I’ll make over $9000 this month….”
The 26-year-old self-published author went on to sell over 450,000 copies of her ebooks in January of 2011 alone, for between 99 cents and $2.99. She’s since sold far beyond a million books, and belongs to the Kindle Million Seller club.
Do the math. She’s now a millionaire, and it was all set in motion by the book bloggers.
The takeaway lesson from her success is obvious – get as many high-profile book bloggers as possible to review your book. But to achieve this, you need to approach it the right way…
How To Be Reviewed By Book Bloggers
Influential book bloggers now receive so many books from new authors, they end up swamped. If your book is just another random novel ‘on the pile’, there’s a good chance they won’t ever read it.
Becoming known to a blogger before asking for the review can therefore make a difference. If you’re known to them, then given a choice of too many books to review, they’re more likely to choose yours. The solution is to open up a conversation about the genre in which you both are highly interested.
I’m talking about making them aware of you, and discussing things of joint interest, not becoming their ‘best friend’. Fortunately most book bloggers I’ve come across are very nice people, and I’d go so far as to say that they are the most helpful group of people I’ve come across online.
5 Tips For Approaching Book Bloggers
1. Find book bloggers who ‘fit’ with your genre best and have a large readership
To find out how popular the blog is, type their blog address into the ‘site info’ box at Alexa.com. If they are in the top 100,000, then they’re reasonably popular. Top 50,000 is even better.
You also need ensure that they’re the right fit for you. So look for bloggers who have already reviewed other books in your genre. Also check the general tone of their reviews – do they have a tendency to treat books harshly, and is this a risk for you?
2. Check their availablity
Look into whether they actually accept books to review, or you’ll be wasting your time otherwise.
3. Engage with them on Twitter
If you’re on Twitter, engage with them and cast opinion, and of course discuss the intrigue of genre – even argue the point if you don’t entirely agree. The same applies to Facebook and G+. Overall, you both have a fascination for books of this genre and the world around it , and that is the point.
4. Canvas their ‘expert’ opinion
Ask for help on things you really do want to know about, by email, Twitter or Facebook.
5. Engage with them on their blog
You can leave comments on their blog, again – all pertaining to things of interest in the genre, not your own book.
In sum, you gradually make yourself visible on your own terms. Taking a cynical or sycophantic approach won’t work either. There’s no point in artificially attempting to ‘be their friend’. Instead, being yourself and conversing about the subject intelligently because you genuinely like it is the path. Remember that bloggers are people too. You are making yourself visible with a unique point of view and a fascination for the entire subject of the genre.
It takes time, so start early while still writing your book. Eventually, when you introduce your book for review you will not be an unfamiliar ‘door to door salesman’. The book blogger will already be aware of who you are, and the door is more likely to open.
If you’re interested in learning more, I cover how to approach and connect with book bloggers in much more detail in Module 4 of my mini-course Twitter For Authors. As well as a detailed strategy for getting them to review your book, that Module also includes a list of recommended book bloggers and their websites.
Have you started talking to book bloggers yet? Are you a book blogger yourself? Please do leave a comment below.
About the Author
Jonathan Gunson has worked in publishing, and in television drama programming for more than two decades. He coaches writers in the techniques needed to get published and sell more books, including traditionally printed books and ebooks. His bestseller puzzle book The Merlin Mystery sold over 350,000 copies, and was translated into seven languages. To learn more about getting published and increasing book sales, download Jonathan's Free Guide For Authors.