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How to work with bloggers

Writing for and getting reviewed by blogs is still one of the best ways to get yourself known, build your platform and reach your potential audience. Especially if you are a non-fiction writer – it should be a no-brainer.

Pitch to publications that align with your book

Read a lot of magazines and blogs in your genre and get a strong sense of what is out there and what is successful. Know your market and match your book to bloggers who also serve that market. Seek out the magazines /blogs that will give you the most bang for your buck, which reach the readers who would likely be interested in your book and target those.

Follow the submission guidelines

Most magazines/blogs will have strict submissions guidelines, which you will need to follow. You may find bloggers use abbreviations for certain genres and categories in their guidelines. We have a list of the most commonly used in Appendices: Common publishing abbreviations.

Some like to be pitched to, others like already-written content. Some have a book review section and accept review copies, though few accept review copies three months after publication. Most want their articles to be written in a specific way.

When pitching for reviews, publications ask for all sorts of different information so draft a letter which includes it all, and cut and paste.

This would include:

  • Title.
  • Volume number if in series.
  • Publisher.
  • Publication date.
  • Links to amazon.com and amazon.co.uk and Goodreads.
  • Any good reviews or endorsements from "names".
  • Length.
  • Synopsis.

Offer the option of sending a printed copy or a PDF.

It can sometimes be helpful to include the first chapter in your email (not the last chapter – you don't want a "spoiler" – and don't send the email with attachments).

If you give them what they want, and approach the process positively, you can develop valuable relationships. However, it is highly unlikely that you will be paid, though with social media, and the right article at the right time, there is the chance of significantly expanding your audience.

Give them what you both want

When pitching, always think about what would interest the editor and what would engage their readers, and not what is of interest to you (i.e. telling people to buy your book).

The trick is to produce a piece that can mention your book in passing, or in your bio, but also satisfy the blog/magazine and their editorial agenda.

Start pitching early

Start your pitching to magazines and blogs early on in the publishing process. If you are using this to specifically promote your book, please wait until the book is available to pre-order. Six months before publication is advised. This timing does not apply to articles/blogs about you and your work, where you may just mention that a book is forthcoming.

Be economical with your correspondence

Online reviewers and editors are busy and swamped with requests, many of which are badly thought-through. Assume your reader is in a rush. Get to the point quickly, and say it in the fewest possible words,

Don't be upset if you don't hear back

Don't expect everyone you contact to write back. The response rates can sometimes be as low as 2 to 3 percent. But however many replies you get, don't be disheartened – it's massively competitive out there – keep going and don't give up.

Use our contacts database

We have many bloggers in our Contacts Database. Your publicist will contact those applicable to your book in their initial approach with a targeted email for a review or guest blog article/interview. Some publicists have built up relationships with certain bloggers to the point that they can send through extracted articles that suit the subject and style of the blog and the contact will automatically place the article for us, and share them to social media.

You can search for blogs by filtering your search by Type: Blog site.

Look at the contact's Marketing History to see how many books they have reviewed through our PR.

If you find a blogger that we do not have on our Contacts, please do add them. When we add bloggers to the database, we try to ensure that they are current, blog regularly and have a reasonable-sized audience.

If you're adding a new blogger/reviewer, enter her/him as an Organization rather than an Individual.

Copy and paste the relevant sentences on what the reviewer is looking for into Description rather than Notes – it's then quicker for future users to see whether the contact is relevant or not.

Checking on duplicates can take the computer a couple of minutes in some areas, so please be patient. More on Contacts in CHAPTER 10: USING AND ADDING CONTACTS.

Consider blog tours

Blog tours are when a number of blogs feature reviews, articles, author spotlights and giveaways, featuring your book. These tours can last for a few days or weeks and are best-timed on and after your publication date. They can be combined with other promotional incentives, such as an ebook special price-drop for a set period. They provide an author with links and items for their social media, help spread the word, and show that their book is getting exposure.

If you'd like to organize one, it is imperative that you link all the elements together.

Some savvy bloggers have got themselves together in certain genres and now offer such tours for a price to authors. To pay for such a service necessitates caution and research on behalf of the author. You want to ensure that the bloggers involved have a decent audience.

We have a whole chapter on blog tours here.

Write blogs on your own website

You don't just have to publish on other people's websites. You can publish on your own, too.

Ideas for you to blog

  • Expand the talking points you offered to your publicist pitch out into blogs. Break them down over several blogs.
  • If your book is non-fiction, write a series of blogs around its themes.
  • If your book is fiction, write the story behind your book. Is there an interesting story behind this book? What made you write it? Did anything happen to inspire you to create it? Did anything happen to you whilst you were working on it?
  • If you collaborated with others on your book, offer a series of E-interviews with the book's collaborators. You can ask each collaborator to share the blog to their following, workforce, company newsletter, personal blog, network, clubs and groups and so on.
  • Testimonial blogs are great. Real people discussing the benefits of the book. It's very effective.
  • Consider a series – start with the overall concept and then in another blog, maybe give an example or excerpt (to introduce the book and the benefits).

Hints and tips on blogging

  • Remember, you do not want EVERYTHING about your book to be out there. Just enough to make people want to buy. Please don't tell people so much about your book that that they feel they know enough not to buy.
  • Always ensure a call to action to (Buy Now, Pre-order Now, Read Now) is on every blog to make it easy for the reader to buy.
  • Link any pictures you use in the blog to a site where your book can be bought. People click on images in blogs!
  • Put effort in getting people to read your blogs. One common mistake authors make with blogging is they spend a lot of time uploading blogs and not focusing on using them to reach new potential readers. One author posted several blogs a week and a Vlog on YouTube every week and reached less than 100 people over two months. The effort should have been on getting the first blog/video seen and building a following around it.
  • Upload a blog and set yourself a target on how many people you want to read it. 1000, 10,000, 100K and then formulate a campaign on how you intend to get that post out there.

Ways to encourage people to read your blogs

  • Email to your newsletter contacts.
  • Email to your email contact list.
  • Post the blog link to your social media platforms.
  • Share the blog link to other social media groups.
  • Use paid-for promotion like Facebook boosting to reach a keyword-targeted audience.
  • Ask your author contacts, collaborators and followers/supporters to share the blog.
  • Ask any collaborators to share the blog to their following, workforce, company newsletter, personal blog, network, clubs and groups and so on.
  • Ensure your blog links are added to the Marketing Activities to your book' s page so your publicist can use them promotion.

JHP Blogging challenge for your book launch!

Write an engaging blog once a week for the next nine weeks with enough hook to make a potential reader click the buy link and aim to reach somewhere between 10K and 25K (more if you can) reads per blog. If you achieve this you will have a very successful book launch.

Imagine... if you could reach 1 million people over the next two months with engaging blogs... the impact that would have on the book!!

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