Connecting with Book Bloggers

In the run up to publication of my first book, Close To Me, I plan to share a few of my experiences as a debut author; from the events that led up to my book deal, up to publication and beyond. First up, I’m looking at the world of the book blogger, those industrious readers who work tirelessly to create a buzz, often many weeks or months before a publication hits the shelves.

One of the first events I was invited to as a newly signed author was Headline’s Blogger Night, held at their head office in London. Carmelite House is a beautiful venue with a gorgeous rooftop terrace overlooking the Thames, although with a few flakes of snow in the air that chilly February night, it was far too nippy to venture outside. It’s a measure of the contribution bloggers make to book sales that such events are so popular, a great chance for authors, established and new, to meet with the people who in the coming months will discuss, share, review and blog about their books. I met some amazing authors and bloggers, and even signed my first books! The whole evening was a joy, and whizzed by far too fast.

Here I am with John from Last Word Book Review at the Headline Blogger Night.

(Picture courtesy of Georgina Moore Communications Director, Headline)

As proofs have been sent out of Close To Me, and early review copies via Netgalley, it’s been great to see the photos, tweets, comments, and reviews coming back via social media.

Anne Cater, a blogger for six years now, talks about this process on her blog http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox.blogspot.co.uk

‘New bloggers often ask for blogging tips and I always say 'Twitter is the best'!  Publishers and authors promote their books on Twitter all the time. They tweet tantalising pictures of new releases, and book trailers, and cover reveals. Often, publishers will shout out for bloggers and reviewers via Twitter. They have proofs, they want reviews, 'RT if you'd like a copy', they say, and we do, and we get a copy, and we review it, and we tweet the review ... it's the circle of Twitter. Lots of bloggers and reviewers will tweet a photo of the books that arrive in the post. Commonly known as #bookpost.  #Bookpost is not a brag, it's a way of saying thanks to the publisher and the author, but it's also another way of getting the book noticed. Other readers will see the photo, it creates interest, and pre-orders, and conversations. It's great marketing. It's all about the book.’

So what else did the bloggers have to say when I asked them for tips and suggestions for a newbie author? The number one piece of (universal) advice is to always be polite! It should be a given, shouldn’t it?  Lainey from alwaysreading.net says it’s not always the case,

‘It can be frustrating when you are trying to get your work out there, but being aggressive and/or rude will only get you the wrong kind of attention.  Bloggers talk, harassment (sadly it does happen) will get a blanket ban and reputable bloggers won't give you the time of day.’

John from thelastwordbookreview.wordpress.com concurs,

‘I think the main thing is respect for bloggers. We give our time freely. We ask for nothing. Reading a book then writing a review is not easy and we do not always get it right. But at times the pressure is huge. Most (bloggers) have day jobs and cannot respond straight away, remember how many books we have arriving and that we are not obliged to review every single book.’

You only have to look at the tottering TBR piles of books the bloggers Tweet about to see how long the review queue can be. That’s not to say some books aren’t bumped up the pile, but good manners and respect are the key when requesting a review.

Sharon from shazsbookblog.blogspot.co.uk says it’s important authors do their homework,

‘Most bloggers do have an about me or review policy on the blog which is likely to show whether they are currently accepting review requests, what genres they read & whether they do guest content or author features. Check out their sites to make sure that their blog is the best fit for your book... nothing worse than contacting someone who only reads crime with a steamy romance novel. If emailing or contacting a blogger via their blog, address them by their name etc. I've had emails just addressed to dear blogger or no one at all, but definitely preferable to being addressed by someone else's name entirely!’

Lainey also has some advice regarding negative reviews, which may temper those feelings of rejection when faced with an unenthusiastic response to your book,

‘Some authors get really upset over low star reviews but these have their place and generate sales.  I recommend all the time, even books I didn't love because I have such a wide variety of friends and we won't ever all love the same thing. How you (author) respond to reviews (good and bad) says a lot about you and I personally love when authors take it in their stride. Some authors share them and acknowledge not everyone will enjoy their books.  I like knowing there are authors out there who take the good with the bad, even masterpieces will be hated and trolled by some.  Doesn't mean the book is bad it just isn't for that reader.’

Let’s face it, no one likes a bad review, but even a critical review can help with sales, it’s an interesting thought. So why do bloggers blog? Anne sums it up beautifully,

‘I love the fact that I've met some amazing people: bloggers, reviewers, authors and publishers. I've been to some fabulous events, in places that I'd never ever have been to otherwise. My reviews have been quoted on real books; books that are sold in bookshops and supermarkets - my words, that I wrote, there is nothing quite like that feeling. I’m part of a community who all love the same thing; the written word. I love that.’

Many thanks to all the bloggers who helped me with comments and feedback for this article.

Amanda Reynolds - March 2017