Jen runs the successful book blog Devourer of Books, which was recently voted ‘Best Eclectic Book Blog’ during Book Blogger Appreciation Week and is the host of the Debutante Ball Reading Challenge. She is also the proprietor of Booklicity, a company dedicated to providing targeted blog publicity for books and authors.
We’re delighted to have Jen join us to give us her worst (and best!) advice on reaching out to book bloggers!
The Worst Advice for Working With Book Bloggers
I have been blogging about books since February of 2008. In those days, we spent our time writing about what we were reading primarily because the people in our real lives were sick of hearing about books all the time, and we thought that the internet might care. Or maybe that was just me. Since then, book bloggers have become one of the go-to marketing venues for authors and publishers. Between the fact that it doesn’t cost more than sending out a review copy – and maybe sponsoring the odd giveaway – and the fact that more and more people are looking for information about pretty much everything online these days, we seem like a logical choice.
However, it seems that some author and publicists, both some independent publicists and a few who shall remain nameless from publishing houses, have been taking the absolute worst advice for working with book bloggers. For example:
Send out any pitch to any blogger you happen to know of. Don’t bother looking at their site or reading their review policy first to see if the book is a good fit: After all, they all read books, right? So they should be THRILLED to read your book, even though it is self-help and they only read literary fiction, or it is women’s fiction and they prefer narrative nonfiction.
Assume the blogger can drop everything to read and review your book by the release date, even though that’s only two weeks away and you haven’t even sent them a copy yet: Sure, most bloggers have families they want to spend and jobs that are actually paying the bills, since most blogging is unpaid and even those who make money through advertising and affiliate links generally don’t make enough to live on. And yes, they also probably have large stacks of books that were sent to them for review, in addition to library books and their personal TBR books that they want to read. That’s no reason, however, that they can’t ignore their kids, take a sick day, bump back other reviewing commitments, or stay up all night to get YOUR book. Lead times, schmead times.
Fail to treat bloggers like professionals: Yes, they’re giving you their support and exposure on their blogs just because they love books so much and for a very minimal output on your part – or sometimes for none at all when they review books they have purchased or borrowed from the library – but that doesn’t mean that they deserve your respect.
Luckily, the majority of authors are gracious, and many publicists are a joy to work with. Others are still learning but trying their best. It is a whole new world, however, and one that can take more time to learn than many people have the time or inclination for, whether it is because they are trying to promote their current book while editing the next one, or because they have more books to promote than they can give full attention to.
This is why my best advice for working with book bloggers is to hire a book blogger-owned business to do the work for you. We know how to address bloggers, we know the community and who best fits which books, and what kind of lead time is required, all of which helps your book be accepted for review by the best-fitting bloggers. I would feel comfortable recommending any of the blogger-owned businesses I know, all are the women who run them are smart, hard-working, and know the blogosphere well. I don’t think you would go wrong with any of them.
That being said, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I think you should check out Booklicity first. I recently launched Booklicity specifically to offer books and authors targeted publicity on book blogs. I love matching books and bloggers; it is like a logic puzzle to figure out whose traffic, audience, schedule, and reading preferences make them the best match for an individual title. I also do some social media coaching for clients who feel the need for it.
If you’re interested, even in just knowing more about Booklicity, shoot me an email. I’d love to talk to you about finding the best book bloggers to review your book!
Jen is one of those amazing people who makes you wonder, ‘How does she do it?’. Mom, book blogger, reader, business owner, and all-around wonderful human being, she’s exactly the kind of person we’re proud to call a Friend of the Debs. Ask about book publicity, book blogging, book reviews, or anything else you’d like in the comments!
And don’t forget to check out Jen’s Debutante Ball Reading Challenge!
15 Replies to “The Debutante Ball Welcomes Jen Karsbaek, Devourer of Books”
Pat the Bunny in your little guy’s hands? Awwww!
Great advice for writers. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the whirl you forget etiquette and lose perspective. SHE BLOGS SO SHE MUST BLOG MY BOOK! I’m thinking of cutting back to 2 pots of coffee a day in advance of my launch in 29 (OMG) days.
There were a couple months there when “Pat the Bunny” was never NOT in his hands! These days, though, it is more likely to be a Sandra Boynton book, either “Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs” or “Barnyard Dance.”
So great to have you here at the Ball, Jen! Thanks so much for the excellent advice, for being so supportive to new writers, and for clearly passing the “eclectic” gene to your little boy since he’s devouring both the book he’s holding and the one you’re reading to him at the same time.
As for Boynton, Maddie loved all those books so much and we read them to her so often, that by age one and a half she had several memorized. It was our favorite party trick to bust out the books for family members and have Maddie miraculously “read” them.
Congrats on launching Booklicity! You’ve been a wonderful friend to all the Debs as well as many other authors…. I know I’m far from alone in feeling very grateful for you and many other book bloggers! Now go give that little cutie a snuggle from me.
Lovely to see you here, Jen! Thanks for being so supportive of the Debs, and for taking the time to give some advice to new authors.
It’s so important for authors to remember to do their research. It doesn’t take very long to click on a site and just see if your book might be one the blogger would like. The alternative begins to sniff strongly of spam, I’m afraid. And is a waste of everyone’s time.
My son loved the Boynton books, too. Now that he’s six, he loves the Magic Tree House series, but I miss those dancing hippos…
Great post w/lots of good advice. I have some advice to add. When I receive a book on short notice (only ones I have agreed upon) and if I think it’s a good one, then instead of a REVIEW I do an extensive ANNOUNCEMENT about the book, which I label as such. The author/publishers/publicists seem very happy with that. Then I review the book when I can. That puts a lot less pressure on my crazy schedule.
I definitely think an author can successfully reach out to blogs themselves, but it is a lot of work. Best is to spend a couple of months in advance of when you want to start contacting bloggers and just surf around blogs getting a feel for what bloggers might be a good fit. Start following blogs, following bloggers on twitter and interact with them naturally when the opportunity arises (leave a comment NOT related to your book, for example). If you have some sort of blog or twitter account, even better. Bloggers who feel like they at least know of you are more likely to consider your pitch, even when they have a lot on their plates already (assuming your books is of interest to them).
Besides saving you a lot of time, where a publicity company can really help out, whether it is Jen’s new venture, Winsome Media Communications, Social Media U, TLC Tours or one of the others that has cropped up recently, is helping you get your foot in the door with the more popular, busy book bloggers. I know when one of these ladies contacts me with a pitch on behalf of their clients, there is an excellent chance that the book will fit my tastes. Because they know me. And they know what I like.
By the way Jen – I love Barnyard Dance! I have a copy at home that I read to any young guests we get, and it’s one of those I buy a lot for new mothers. It’s just so much fun.
I totally agree, Lenore! There are lots of authors that do it themselves and do it right. They also spend a lot of time doing the research in order to get it right. It can definitely be done, but hiring someone else to do it saves time – and maybe even money, if that time would otherwise be spent on freelance assignments or the like.
True. The money aspect is something to consider. There are soooo many book blogs these days, even I feel like I’ve lost my overview and I spend hours on it.
I always try to talk Avery into reading Barnyard Dance. I like it better than she does….
Daniel’s first stop for Boynton is always “Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs,” but he does enjoy “Barnyard Dance” on occasion.
Jen, so good to see you here! (And, loved the cameo made by PAT THE BUNNY! The copy in our house is so tattered and torn it’s more of a rag now than a book, but we still love every page.)
Great advice and tips here. Loved reading your perspective. I have so much admiration for book bloggers.
We originally had two copies of “Pat the Bunny.” One is missing, presumed dead, and the other is so thrashed that the cover/first/last page is now missing!
Most bloggers have a review policy that says what they read and how they liked to be reached. My name is all over my website and I still get “Dear Blogger,” emails. I know the publicists and authors make long days but so do I with two kids, a dog, a husband and a stack of TBR. I haven’t touched my personal TBR in months. If you can’t find my name or don’t have time a simple “Dear” or even “Hi” will work. Thanks for the post Jenn but you already know you are one of my favorite bloggers.
Jen, THANK YOU for coming by – you are so busy and I’m so happy you came to visit.
Thank you for the excellent advice and good luck with Booklicity – I am so excited for you and I think it is a brilliant idea.
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