When The Writing Platform asked me if I would be so kind as to write something about how you lovely writers out there could approach bloggers I was really honoured. Yet after I had written down my initial ‘top tips’ I started to worry. You see in this article you may see the word ‘don’t’ quite a lot however I wanted to give as honest a response as I could so that those of you who have spent a year or five writing, which I commend you for having the determined drive and belief to do, don’t end up either getting a ‘no thank you’ or simply silence. The publishing industry is tough enough as it is (sorry, you probably don’t want that thrown in your face again) so I wanted to do something that might prove bluntly helpful. With that in mind here are my top ten tips on how to approach a blogger…
Do your research/read some blogs. This is probably THE most important tip, though the others will help too I hope so don’t just run off as soon as you have read this. The amount of times I have received books (from authors and publicists) about/or set on boats or featuring talking animals (or horses in general) when I frequently document how much those things turn me off a book, is amazing. Find the bloggers which firstly read the books in the genre that you are writing and secondly seem to like books in the style you write. There is no point sending your multi-generational spaceship odyssey to a blogger who never reads sci-fi, just as there would be no point sending your epic Man Booker worthy tale of Henry the talking WWII horse and his voyage on a submarine to the front line to me.
The easiest way to do this is check their ‘about’ page, if they have one. This is normally addressed to publishers but will give you details of their personal review/submission policy. Every blog is different and every blogger has their own code of conduct. Here you will also find out two other very important things: do they accept books from authors directly and if so by what medium. For example I don’t like e-readers, so I am not going to read anyone’s e-book yet I get sent free e-copies daily.
Once you have done your research contact the bloggers. Please don’t tell me you are the next Daphne Du Maurier/Margaret Atwood/Ian McEwan. Yes, you have found out my favourite authors yet to claim to be as good as them before I have even read a word is sure to put me off, just like if you tell me you have written the new Rebecca. True it is my favourite book but I really, really love it and don’t want a new version. However, if your book is gothic and/or has a feel of a psychological thriller and/or is written in the style of some of my favourite writers and/or types of books then tell me that and get me intrigued.
Keep it succinct. I know you really want someone to read your book, I know you have spent years on it but I don’t want to spend years reading your email about it. Nor do I want an email that is longer than your book. Say hello, say why you think we might like your book (in a paragraph max) and leave it at that. Keep it simple – and this comes from someone who loves to waffle.
Please do not attach your book in the email. I don’t speak for all bloggers but I get at least ten emails a day from authors and most attach their work to it. Firstly it looks presumptuous before we have even said hello; secondly it fills my inbox; thirdly you know I don’t have an e-reader. Seems like a minor quibble yet when they are arriving regularly it’s the little things that will end you up in spam.
Speaking of spam … don’t mass email or spam us with email. Emails that simply say ‘Hi’, ‘Dear Savidge Reads’, ‘Dear Blogger’, etc don’t show that you have interacted with us at all and that you are simply sending a mass email. At work I loathe sending a mass email and always apologise because they are really impersonal and whilst I don’t want to think you have been outside my house every night peering between my curtains, I would like to feel that you have done some research and this instantly shows you haven’t. Speaking of work, if you don’t get an answer straight away remember bloggers do this for free and for the love, they have jobs elsewhere and so they might not answer you the week they get your email, or indeed the second they get it. If you don’t hear anything for a month and they are a blogger you really want to connect with email them again then, not every day until they respond or until the end of time.
Don’t beg or bribe, or to put it another way please don’t tell me that I am killing children in Africa by not reading your book. Oh you may be laughing at your computer screen but one author, who will remain nameless, hounded me to review their book – after getting a polite ‘no thank you’ email back – before telling me that their books proceeds were going to children in Africa and I was killing them. It was extreme but highlights what I mean.
Expect us to be honest. If a blogger loves your book they will literally not shut up about it. They will tell everyone until we have just bought a copy to shut them up. However, if they don’t like it that is fair enough too. I know bloggers who hate some of my favourite books and vice versa, it is one of the joys of discussing books! If they don’t like yours then they might not review it, if they do and are critical but constructive take it on the chin, no matter how hard. Don’t ask for them to send you a pristine copy of their book, leave horrid comments on their blog or start a spat on Twitter. All these have happened and all of them are really unnecessary.
Just be nice. People say that it doesn’t matter if an author is nice or not but it does really. An open, funny, warm and friendly author is far more likely to get read by me than an arrogant, cold and self important/promoting one. You can see this all the more on social media. Just chat and say ‘hi’, engage in bookish conversations or correspondence but don’t be all friendly and then suddenly say ‘oh could you read my book now’ or ‘I am writing something can you tweet all your followers and see if they might be interested’. Firstly, maybe go for the line of ‘I was wondering if I could email you …’ and await the response. Secondly, no blogger can get you a book deal and they will just think you have been really smarmy and false and will avoid you like the plague.
Finally from me a positive don’t, as I am worried you all think I am a right Negative Nelly. In the words of Kate Bush – don’t give up. You have written a book, which is no easy task, I or whichever blogger you approach just might not be the right reader, and remember we are reader’s first bloggers second, for you or your book at the moment. Reading is so subjective and all about timing, so persevere. If you have done all the above who knows, they might put you in the direction of just the reader/blogger for you. Keep at it as without authors there would be no lovely books for us all to read.
Simon Savidge is a freelance journalist, blogger and book addict. He writes the (almost daily) blog Savidge Reads. He regularly contributes to several literature based magazines and lifestyle magazines. He is co-founder and Honorary Director of The Green Carnation Prize, you can also hear him on The Readers and You Wrote The Book podcasts. For full reviews of these, other Fiction Uncovered books and more do visit Simon’s blog Savidge Reads.