I am excited to introduce our guest today, Paula Krapf. She is the Chief Operating Officer of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., a company that has its finger on the pulse of the publishing industry. She will be blogging on a subject that every writer wants to learn more about: How to get your book reviewed.
You may also want to check out the Publishing Insiders Wrap-Up: Blogging Ideas the Whole Year Through. This is the summary of the Blog Talk Radio program that Paula interviewed me on as a guest. You can also replay the interview on demand when you want to listen to it.
Make sure you check out the great additional resources that Paula lists at the end of the post.
7 Simple Steps to Getting Your Book Reviewed
By Paula Krapf
Your book is ready for reviews and all you need to figure out is where and how to find the appropriate reviewers – so you can add the reviews to your website (you were planning to add the reviews to your own site, right?), find blurbs for your book cover if you don't have any yet, and just generally spread the word about your book.
But first, you need to know what to look for and where to go online to find reviewers.
1. Google is your friend
You can always start with Google and type in your “genre” + “book reviews” to start building your list; or, if you are familiar with books already published that are in your genre you can type in the “book title” + “book reviews” in order to discover reviewers who have reviewed similar material and might therefore be open to reviewing your book. When doing these searches, be prepared to do some serious groundwork, however – you'll need to visit each of these sites not only to collect contact information but to learn about the blogger and his or her site. You'll want to make sure they're still accepting review requests, see the genres they typically review and get a general feel for the blog and its tone and whether you feel it fits you.
2. Use the free tools
If you can, download Google's free toolbar which includes the Google Page Rank (GPR) algorithm. This is a useful tool for determining the “weight” of a given site; the higher the rank (from 0-10), the more important Google deems the site. What you want to try to do is find the most active people who review in your genre. A rank of 3 is very good for a review blog; although that doesn't mean you should discard anything below a GPR of 3. You should also read the blog and get a sense of whether the blog attracts readers; one sure sign of this is the fact that there are comments following the blog posts. Certain factors don't weigh as heavily – for instance, many blogs have Google subscribers, but this number can be misleading as those who join have to sign up to do so. There are many regular blog readers who simply won't take the time to sign up, so the number of Google subscribers may not mean much. You'll also want to see if the blogger is active on sites like Twitter and Facebook; if so, then the books they review are most likely posted to those popular social networking sites, which is great additional exposure for you and your book.
3. Read the fine print
In addition, most bloggers post their blog policies and genre/publishing preferences – it's important to read their policies in order to understand what they review, preferred genres, whether they'll consider self-published books and how long they may need to review your book. Here's a great example of a review policy: http://blog.mawbooks.com/contact-me/. If you're working on a tight timeframe and they indicate it could take 6 months to get to your book, well... you probably won't pitch them. Then again, if your book is in a small niche and this blogger and site seem perfect for you, a longer wait might be worthwhile. Many authors do not read the review policies before pitching bloggers, which is a bad idea. This information is readily available and there for a reason. Also, never send attachments via email but DO send links: to your author bio, photo, press release, books blurbs and book excerpts. These should all be on your website, and including them in your pitch is a great way to make it easy for prospective reviewers to learn about you and your book.
4. Reviews versus blog tour considerations
There is a difference between pitching for reviews versus seeking a blog tour. Requesting reviews could lead to coverage at any time, really, unless you work out a timeframe with the reviewer, but each situation is handled separately. A blog tour is typically coverage of your book by a certain number of bloggers within a given timeframe – a week, two weeks, a month. Blog tours can consist of reviews, interviews, guest posts and giveaways – there are many options. But before you seek bloggers to fill your tour dates figure out in advance what you'd like to do, how long you'd like to do the tour (so you know how many bloggers you'll need) and if you can't prepare guest posts in advance at least have some topics ready to present. Some bloggers love blog tours, others don't want any part of it. Your research will uncover the best prospects to pitch; just give yourself plenty of advance time to set up your tour. Bloggers are busy so you may find a certain number must decline due to other commitments and you'll need to seek others in their place.
5. Be thorough
The key is to do your homework – research the blog, the blogger and learn the things that matter, such as the blogger's name, contact information and preferred genres so you can send a professional, personalized pitch. If your genre is a natural fit for them it's a fact you can use in your pitch by indicating that your book is similar to other books they've reviewed (and provide examples). Also become familiar with their style – some bloggers tend to emphasize the positive and if they can't say anything nice, they may decline to review the book. Others prefer to be honest (brutally) if need be. Some bloggers are not afraid to tear and book and its author apart and are quite merciless in their approach. You need to know this before you pitch and be honest with yourself – look at the tone of the blog as ask yourself how you'd feel having your book reviewed the same way. If you can't handle it, don't do it. There are hundreds of blogs out there and there's room for you to decide that a certain blog or blogs don't work for you.
6. Free versus paid
One final note regarding paid reviews or tours. There are some review sites that charge for reviews claiming that they must compensate their reviewers for their time. There are sites that will charge you for a blog tour. They do not do anything you can't do yourself – research and identify bloggers, pitch, schedule, send books – so let the buyer beware, as the saying goes. You may be much better off going the free route in the book blogosphere where hundreds of bloggers connect with each other daily and work hard to provide as much exposure as they can for each book.
7. You do know best
Don't be afraid to trust your gut, either. You might find a gem of a blog that has a low Google Page Rank, but it's a nice-looking site, well written, has regular commenters and basically demonstrates a commitment to reviewing books – if you like what you see don't sweat the statistics, make a pitch! There are things you can do to boost your reviews such as posting your reviews on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, and those techniques will help you gain even wider exposure for that review. Once you find blogs you like, you can also look at their blogrolls for additional blogs to check out – often bloggers who like similar books list each other on their blogrolls.
Looking for sites to pitch? Here are some great and useful lists:
* Book Reviewers on the Web – this list includes industry standards, literary blogs, off the beaten track blogs and the more opinion-driven book bloggers, http://robinmizell.wordpress.com/book-reviewers
* Midwest Book Review – a listing of a number of sites to check out, http://www.midwestbookreview.com/links/othr_rev.htm
* Best of the Web blogs – blog listing with a description of each blog listed, http://blogs.botw.org/Arts/Literature/Book_Reviews/
* YA Book Blog Directory – bloggers who specialize in Young Adult books, http://yabookblogdirectory.blogspot.com/p/ya-book-blogger-list.html
* Kidlitosphere Central – bloggers in Children's and Young Adult Literature, http://www.kidlitosphere.org/bloggers/
* Book Blog Directory – a large list of blogs followed by a brief description, http://directory.kaysbookshelf.com/
* FSB – search by genre(s) for bloggers, http://www.fsbmedia.com/book_blogger_search.php
* Book Blogs Search – a huge listing of blogs, http://fyreflybooks.wordpress.com/about/book-blogs-search/
* Things to know about Blog Book Tours - http://blogbooktours.blogspot.com/2010/06/blog-tips-to-consider.html
Paula Krapf is Chief Operating Officer of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., a marketing and publicity firm that specializes in Internet promotion, strategically working with social networking sites, blogs, micro-blogs, ezines, video sites, and other relevant sites to push an author's message into the virtual community and connect with sites related to the book's topic, positioning the author in his or her market. In the past 15 months their creative marketing strategies have helped land 10 books on the New York Times Bestseller list. Get free tips from our blog, http://www.amarketingexpert.com/blog/ and our biweekly newsletter Book Marketing Expert, http://www.amarketingexpert.com/. You can find Paula on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PaulaatAME.