How to be pitch perfect
By Stephanie Pegler
You’ve written and published that book. Now you need to get it noticed. One of the first places to venture these days is the book blog, run by a not-so-rare breed which inhabits cyberspace to share their love of reading. With most book bloggers in danger of being engulfed by their teetering TBR pile, how do you convince them to take a chance on your title? ♥
- WRITE AN INTERESTING BOOK PITCH
The key is to make a good first impression. There are many rules about how an author should approach book bloggers with a review request. Some of these include:
- Use the email subject line to state the obvious ie Review request for My Book Title by Ima Author
- Have all the information in the body of the email. That includes the release date and your back cover blurb – don’t force the blogger to click on a link to find out more about your book. But do also include a link to your up-to-date website and Amazon so they have the option to follow up. (I often use these to check out the cover.)
- Talking covers, bloggers DO judge a book by its cover. If it isn’t professional looking and appealing, many will be less likely to follow up.
- Include a brief author bio or any other relevant personal information.
- Use a snappy hook – sell me on why we should read the book.
- Offer a review copy!
- Offer something beyond a review copy. The blogger may not be able to read it but with a giveaway, guest post, interview or blog tour invitation, they can still help promote your book.
- Get your review requests out as early as you can, so reviewers can slot it into their schedule.
- Find blogs that suit your target audience and genre. Promoting your sci-fi fantasy to a romance blogger is probably a waste of time.
- Don’t pitch via social media unless there is no way to contact the blogger by email. (Most will have their email address clearly displayed on their blog.)
- Don’t send the ebook as an attachment unless your review request is accepted.
- Be professional and courteous, not desperate or pushy.
- Don’t pretend your book is something that it is not. You may claim your Gothic murder-mystery is chick lit because a character wears high heels but it won’t stop me pushing that delete button.
Name Games: One of the biggest peeves of book bloggers is not being addressed by their correct name. Others want to hear feedback about their site, that the author knows who they are. For me, I don’t care if you start with an informal Yo! And I’ll be skimming straight over whatever compliment you’ve paid me and my website and how your next-door-neighbour’s cousin lives in Australia (and do I know them?). All I’m interested in is finding out whether your book sounds interesting enough to review. But for some bloggers this personal attention alone can make or break a pitch for them. As an author you no doubt have better things to do with your time than writing individualised emails to every blogger on your list. So a good approach would be to use the same standard request but retop it quickly to personalise it for each blogger.
Do Your Homework: It makes sense to spend a little time researching the blogger, checking out their website (do check the archives and search your name as you will come across as slack if your request is for a book already reviewed) and following them on social media. Take extra care when sending a batch of emails to a number of bloggers at once – addressing a blogger as someone else and then offering compliments on a competitor’s blog isn’t going to go down well. And many bloggers turn up their nose at a mass email, particularly if the BCC option hasn’t been used and they can clearly see they are one of hundreds hit by your blanket approach.
Follow the Rules: Remember how it was drummed home how important it was to fulfil the submission guidelines of agents and publishers. You should also adhere to a book blogger’s review policy. Some bloggers may state that they are currently not accepting new titles; or that they don’t read self-published; or they don’t have an e-reader. There is no point trying to sell your raunchier-than-Fifty-Shades title to a blog that specifies it doesn’t accept erotica.
While you are lovingly crafting your pitch, bear in mind that the average book blogger does indeed have a job, family, other hobbies and an addiction to the Real Housewives franchise. I will probably give your email about 30 seconds of attention before a) deciding is it for us; b) considering how we can best work with you; and c) forwarding to my team of reviewers. For me, the vital elements are KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET.
These are the type of pitches I don’t want to see:
- A book blurb that contains errors or doesn’t make sense. (If you can’t write 300 simple words, I really don’t hold much hope for the rest of your book.) Ditto for the rest of your correspondence.
- A storyline that makes me laugh – for all the wrong reasons. (Because your plot sounds crazier than a Disney star spiralling towards rehab.)
- Boasting you are the new Sophie Kinsella or Cecelia Ahern. (Actually the reading public will determine that. In the meantime I’ll determine you’re slightly up yourself!)
- The “I’m thinking of publishing this one day, wondering if you’ll give me your opinion” plea from a newbie author. (Get back to me when it’s edited and the publishing date is imminent.)
- No mention of a free and easily accessible review copy. (I don’t like being presumptuous so tell me straight out that a copy is mine for the taking. Don’t send me a link instead informing me it’s available on Amazon – there is more likelihood that Kimye will celebrate their golden wedding anniversary than me forking out for a book you want me to review.)
- The diva lists of demands, such as requiring a blood oath that the review will appear by a specific date and in umpteen dozen places such as Amazon, GoodReads and your alumnae newsletter. (Feel free to ask for these favours, many bloggers are more than happy to agree. But if you make it a requirement of receiving a review copy, that makes your book a no-go for me.)
- Constantly emailing to check if we are indeed interested in reviewing the book. (Again follow the blog’s review policy. Chicklit Club’s states: “We get too many review requests to always reply individually. If you do not hear back from us, assume we have NOT found a reviewer for your book.” Although this goes against everything I’ve been taught about basic etiquette, the simple reason is Volume of Requests x Not Enough Time = Sorry No Reply For You.)
OTHER THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Book bloggers are a good measure of how the general reading public will respond to your book. If it doesn’t interest us, you may need to reconsider how to make it more appealing.
- Remember it is our right to not like your book – by putting your book out to book bloggers, you run the risk of a negative review. It happens, don’t engage, move on.
- Reviews are written for readers, they are not intended as critical analysis for authors on how to write better.
- Bloggers do try to read as many authors as possible and don’t like turning people down. But we have to.
- Often a book is refused not because it doesn’t interest us but because we simply don’t have the time. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to try again at a later date, particularly for blogs with multiple reviewers.
Stephanie Pegler is an Australian journalist and publisher of Chicklit Club, Connect and We Heart Writing. She fields hundreds of review requests every month.