“How Not to Pitch Your Book to Bloggers and Reviewers” Guest Post on Thonie’s Hevron’s Writer’s Notes

“I would be delighted to be interviewed for the New Books Network. Thanks. Here’s my email.”

I just deleted that message. I am host for New Books in Literature, a podcast channel on the New Books Network. Although I interview authors of both commercially and independently published fiction, I focus on independent presses, which I believe deserve more attention. My purview is contemporary literary fiction and I have recently also started interviewing one literary mystery writer each month. To find authors, I review pitches from publishers and publicists, read journals, get recommendations from other authors, and scroll through my social media groups.

I am also an author (my first culinary mystery was released in 2019) and know how hard it is to find readers, so I’m surprised that so many authors and publicists don’t take the time to prepare before contacting me. They don’t look me up on the NBN website or listen to any of my podcasts, all available on the site for free. If they checked, they’d see that there is a place to pitch their books, they’d notice that there are many different NBN channels, and they’d learn that I’m the host for New Books in Literature.

For my own marketing purposes regarding my soon-to-be-published second culinary mystery, I’ve spent hours researching potential mystery book reviewers, podcasters, bloggers, and other sites. Before sending a request, I check the host’s review policy, I triple-check the spelling of the host’s name, and I confirm that the host is interested in culinary mysteries. I bet that most people who accept pitches would rather get books that interest them, presented thoughtfully, than three pages of blurbs about a book they won’t read or shot-in-the-dark messages which, like me, they’ll just delete.

I like to think of it as creating a relationship instead of asking a favor of someone I’ve never met.   Thonie Hevron, a mystery author who posts guest essays and book reviews on her website and in all the usual places, talks about professional courtesy. “Don’t waste another’s precious time. This business is about relationships, not what you can get from another,” she says, adding, “Some of the most satisfying professional and personal relationship I have are with authors I’ve met online.”

She’s way friendlier than me, but I finally figured out how important it is to become Facebook friends with authors I’ve interviewed and with bloggers and reviewers who have helped me publicize my culinary mystery. Even if I just follow them and they don’t follow me back, I get more of a feeling that we’re all in this together.

There is no guarantee that these suggestions will assure you a successful book launch or wonderful sales, but maybe they’ll help you establish a better relationship with bloggers, bookstore owners, and podcast hosts who just might dedicate some time to helping you publicize your book.

Be clear and upfront in the subject line. Type: “Book Review Request,” or “Guest Blog Post.” Remember that your e-mail could be one of hundreds in their inbox. One of my colleagues always responds, even if the subject line says, “You Must Read My Amazing, Award-Winning Novel.” That colleague is a sweetie-pie. I’d delete it in a heartbeat.

Acknowledge a human being in your greeting. Don’t start blabbing about your book without some kind of greeting. “Dear G.P.” is fine, or “Hi, Best Blog in the World.” Being friendly goes a long way.

Acknowledge the site before launching into a pitch, maybe say something about it. “Brilliant questions in your penetrating interview with W. Shakespeare. My novel is also set in England!”

Don’t give a host work to do. If it’s a mysterious title, explain it. If you message my Facebook page, say you’re requesting an interview and give me your FB link and email address. I’m not going to take the time to google you. And one message will be sufficient – I hate how FB Messenger interrupts whatever I’m doing.

If you don’t hear back, don’t send a follow-up request. Just put that host/blogger/reviewer in your ‘Not this time’ file. You can try again with your next book. Or the one after that. For this book, I sent out nearly 100 requests for reviews and received about 25 responses. It’s a numbers game. Just send out a lot of requests.

Don’t argue with a potential host/blogger/reviewer: If I tell you I’m not interested in ‘Mystery of the Lost Shoe,’ don’t tell me that it’s completely different from anything I’ve ever read. As my NBN colleague, C.P. Lesley, the friendly host for New Books in Historical Fiction writes, “If the host tells you she has no time in her schedule, don’t write back demanding to know when space might be available.”

Make sure to ask what format the host prefers: Don’t add attachments until they are requested. And if the host prefers reading a physical book, don’t go into a lengthy explanation about why it’s only available as an eBook. Yup, that happened once. You are asking someone to invest time in helping you market your book, so offer to send the format they prefer, even if it costs more.

Follow the host/blogger/reviewer on social mediaDenise Fleischer, who reviews books and offers book promotions at Gotta Write Network says, “This is the single best way of thanking someone who helps publicize your book.” Denise also suggests that you consider the nominal fee sometimes charged for coordinating a blog tour and thank the host/reviewer/blogger on your social media.

I’m sure, or relatively sure, that I don’t need to mention this (I can ‘hear’ you rolling your eyes) but it would be nice if you conclude your request with a “thank you.” 

Good luck, fellow authors!

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