AuthorsGetLit is a series on This is Lit that will focus on tips for authors, self-published or otherwise, from both bloggers and other authors.
I’ve had this blog for a couple of years now and I’ve worked with different authors and publishers throughout. Of all the authors I’ve worked with, I continued being on good terms with a few long after I’d reviewed their books, all of whom have written for AuthorsGetLit. Today is the final day on this series of writing resources and tips for authors and I’ve saved the best for the last.
Lev Lewis, today’s author, is one of the authors I worked with in the initial days of this blog. I simply loved his book, Jellyfish. You can read my review here. Lev will be talking about how you can reach out to bloggers to review your book.
Over to Lev.
Book bloggers and me
Keen to spread the word after publishing my book, Jellyfish, on Kindle, but being a social media, and hitherto an independent publishing, virgin, I found myself at a bit of a loss.
A friend, ahead of me on the indie authoring front, told me about book bloggers. What a wonderful breed they were, hanging out in cyberspace, just waiting to review my book.
Full of the keenness of a newbie, I began contacting them. It was going to be another 16 months before Shruti posted her valuable ‘5 tips for getting a blogger to review your book’, but as luck would have it (‘luck’ being the operative word), I did, more or less, the same things.
I would start by finding them online, initially looking for crime book blogs and then bloggers who included crime in their lists, before going to their ‘Review Policies’ and ditching all the ones that said, at worse ‘no eBooks’ and, at best, ‘closed for reviews’.
I then began another perusal of their online lives, hoping not just to find a name (which in some cases was not at all obvious), but some interest or characteristics that I could weave into my emails in order to make them more personal, though they might just have sounded cheesy.
For example,one blogger said The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was her favourite read; I mentioned (truthfully, but modestly) that one of my Amazon reviewers had likened my style to that of its author (“Written by the lovechild of Raymond Chandler and Douglas Adams”). Another described herself as a bookaholic; I began my email ‘At the risk of being an enabler ….’A third said, as far as she was concerned, life was all about books and red wine; I agreed, ‘drinking in books and reading wine labels’. You get the gist.
When a book blogger seemed to fit, and they had an email address (some didn’t: there would only be a contact form on the blog, so I had to adapt my approach), I enthusiastically sent them my, hopefully, tailored enquiry email along with 2 attachments: an information sheet (containing publication details, links, a summary and readers’ reviews) and a photo of the book’s cover.
It was then just a question of waiting, and waiting, and waiting. After 2 months, replies did begin to trickle through. Most said ‘no’, some said ‘not at the moment’, but a few, yippee, said ‘yes’. Often ‘yes’ under the proviso that it would be several months before they would be able to read it.
Every ‘yes’ made my heart sing, never mind the delays, and to these few, I promptly sent out copies of Jellyfish. From 6 of them, that was the last contact I ever had. Over a year later, I really ought to email them again, just as a reminder. Though I don’t want to hear that they started reading it, didn’t like it, and so deleted it – although I guess that’s better than them actually publishing bad reviews!
Anyway, after 3 months of earnestly pursuing book bloggers for reviews, the outcome was 96 enquiries, 28 replies and, wonderfully, 5 reviews.
Was it worth it?
Well, 5 reviews out of 96 enquiries is a 4.8% success rate. I wish it had been a lot more, but, say, with direct mail marketing, it’s held that 2% is a pretty good response rate. So, by that token, I’m well ahead of the game. And just 5 reviews can do a lot to increase your online profile, often in unexpected ways, like me doing this post for This is Lit!
From the book bloggers who responded positively to my approaches –and I’m sure the same applies to all those who didn’t – I found it to be true: they are a wonderful breed, completely dedicated to all things books and to the running of their blogs. It’s just that there are so many books around that it’s difficult for new authors to get noticed, no matter how much care and thought they put into their opening email.
In retrospect, instead of a 3 months campaign, I should have kept chasing them down, even when I could no longer claim that Jellyfish was a new book. That way my 5 reviews might have been turned in 10, then 15, then . . . .
About the author
Lev D. Lewis is UK-based author. He was born and raised in South Norwood: the wrong side of Croydon. If you’re unfamiliar with London-speak, Croydon is shorthand for ‘the armpit of the capital’. This maybe so – but he’s still living there. After various false starts, he qualified as a solicitor. His legal career was cut short, not because of any disreputable deeds à la Frank Bale (thehero/antihero of Jellyfish), but through ill-health. That’s when he started writing, basically as occupational therapy, but it’s led (after quite a few years and creative writing courses) to his indie publishing ‘career’.
MORE ABOUT JELLYFISH
When Frank Bale was a lawyer, he wore Savile Row suits. Now he has holes in his trousers and serves papers for other, successful, lawyers. Life is bleak but he is kept going by a Philip Marlowe obsession and a longing to prove himself. When a student winds up dead, he gets the chance to investigate a real crime, relying on advice found in an old Tradecraft Manual and the sayings of his nan. But neither the manual nor his nan nor Marlowe prepare him for handling the slimiest of London’s underbelly, jellyfish, who hit back first with fists, then with golf clubs and finally with guns. Can Frank stay alive long enough to find the killer – and get the girl?