[Guest Post by David Wogahn, posted on July 4, 2018 on DavidWogahn.com]
Book marketing is often the Achilles heel for new authors. So, it is especially valuable when we can learn how a marketing professional approaches their own book launch.
Marketing veteran turned novelist, Anna-Marie Abell, recently shared her secrets to getting reviews and promotion from book bloggers for her first book, Holy Crap! The World is Ending!
In this case study, I asked Anna-Marie 7 questions about how she worked with book bloggers to launch her book. She shares her strategy, pointed advice, and a template you can copy for your own book.
1. How far in advance of your release date did you start approaching bloggers about reviewing or featuring your book?
I began the process about four months before my launch date. Most bloggers only want to review new releases and need at least three months to read and review your book (they all have giant TBR lists). Once your book comes out, it is old news, unfortunately. You really need to give yourself a full month to research and contact all the bloggers, so starting four months ahead is essential.
As far as being featured (non-review), you would be surprised how many bloggers will agree to do it. Release day blitzes are very popular and fairly easy for them to do. If you have all your information (book cover, description, author bio, links to buy, and social media links), you can request to be featured on your release date. The only requirement is that your genre fits their blog.
For the featured spot, I would suggest doing that a month before release. Along with book spotlights and release blitzes, bloggers love to do author interviews, guest posts, or giveaways if you are willing to put in the extra work to make that happen with them.
2. Did you have criteria for selecting a blog? What were you looking for?
Oh, yes. I think it is very important to research and make sure the blogger reads your genre. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it goes further than that.
Almost all blogs have a page that tells you what they accept and their pet peeves. If you don’t adhere to this, then you could get a really bad review. For example, I had missed on one blog I submitted for that they hate cliffhanger endings (which I have) and so my review was less than pleasant.
I soon learned that those who hate cliffhangers REALLY hate cliffhangers, so a book review can go from a 5 star to a 1 star simply for having it. Had I paid more attention, I could have avoided a bad review (which can drastically take your star rating down on Goodreads and Amazon).
Bloggers have things that bug them, and if you don’t make sure your book avoids hitting any of their hot spots, then your review could be painful.
3. Every blogger has a preference for how they are contacted. What process did you follow when approaching bloggers?
I always checked their website before submitting. When bloggers get too overwhelmed, they will shut down submissions, so taking the time to submit your book would be a waste.
Some like e-mails; others have contact forms. Never bug bloggers over social media or direct messaging unless they say it okay to do so. This will guarantee you don’t get reviewed.
Also, make every e-mail is personal. Take the time to find their name and address them personally. Never do mass mailings or you will be rejected. They are taking the time to read and review your book, the least you can do is address then by name.
Bloggers also require different things when you submit. So what I did was create a template that had every single thing they could possibly want, and adjusted according to their requirements. Also, never attach your book unless asked. This oftentimes will earn you a one-way trip to the trashcan.
Scroll down to resources to see a sample of what I had ready. Feel free to copy this if you want to use it.
As far as being featured (non-review), you would be surprised how many bloggers will agree to do it. Release day blitzes are very popular and fairly easy for them to do.
4. Can you share what your process was for contacting bloggers? i.e. recordkeeping habits, what you prepared ahead of time, how much time you invested, etc.
Excel was my best friend. I contacted a couple hundred bloggers, so I made sure to keep track of all of them. This was essential because I didn’t want to repeat any submissions (trust me, this is very possible as they all start to blur together).
This also allowed me to make notes and add details like if I contacted them via a form or e-mail. I had my basic email drafted out with all my book details ready to go (see below). That way, when I contacted someone, all I needed to do was personalize/customize it based on their requirements and then press send.
5. What tips can you share about the process?
- This is a very time-consuming process; so make sure to start early.
- Bad reviews can hurt your overall star rating on Goodreads and Amazon, and bloggers DO post bad reviews everywhere, so that is why you have to be diligent that your are contacting a blogger who reads and likes your specific genre. For example, if you have a romance novel, is it historical, paranormal, erotic? Check to make sure they review your sub-genre. Romance bloggers usually have a specific focus. In general, e-mailing every single blogger you come across can lead to some unwanted results.
- Print a handful of paperbacks (be sure to clearly mark them as ARCs) and be willing to ship some of those out. Bloggers like physical copies, so if you are willing to put in the extra money to provide one, you will get more who will read and review your book.
- Not only should you make sure the blogger reads your genre, but you should also check out a few of the reviews they have written. There are some bloggers out there who love to rip apart books. There are not a lot; most do provide honest reviews. But it is in your best interest to make sure you don’t contact a blogger who writes harsh reviews or is often negative.
- Bloggers get overwhelmed with requests. Sometimes hundreds of e-mails a day, so don’t be a pest. If you don’t hear back, it is most likely because they were not interested. The percentage that actually agrees to a review is small, so the more research you do ahead of time, the higher your conversion rate will be.
6. Any happy surprises or unexpected benefits from this experience?
I have gained some fans! I have bloggers in place that are excited to review my next book in the series.
7. How was your review or feature promoted by the blogger? And how did you promote it?
Most all bloggers will put the review on their website and social media platforms. They will also place their review on Goodreads, Amazon, and others upon request.
If the review is good, then you can retweet and share via your social networks. You can always use the review snippets for your marketing efforts. But if you do, make sure to ask permission to use it first. Remember, you do not own the rights to the review. But everyone will grant you permission as long as you provide them credit and link back to their blog whenever possible. [DW comment: reviewers love to be promoted so look at this as an “opportunity” to help them, don’t skip it.]
Anna-Marie Abell has been in the marketing and advertising business for over 18 years, specializing in delivering unique marketing content for her clients. She is most well-known for the promotional video she did for Oceanside Tourism that has generated almost 54 million views on YouTube. She currently runs her own marketing company, called Big Head Marketing. She published her sci-fi romance novel, Holy Crap! the World Is Ending!: How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of Earth, in 2017.
Title: Holy Crap! The World is Ending!
Subtitle: How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of Earth
Series: The Anunnaki Chronicles (Book One)
Author: Anna-Marie Abell
Publication Date: September 21, 2017
Categories: Science Fiction/Humorous & Romance/Science Fiction
Audience: Adult 18+
End Times Are Here! Now You Can Eat Whatever You Want and Not Care if You Gain Weight!
The president has announced that Earth is going to collide with a rogue moon, and in the process, our entire planet is going to be smashed to bits. As one would expect, upon hearing this news, humans went ballistic. It was as if every sports team in the world lost their championship game at the same time. No car was left unrolled—but oddly enough, Taco Bell remained open and made unfathomable profits in the last days. Apparently, Doritos Locos® Tacos were a popular last meal.
Autumn (who for the purpose of this retelling asked to be portrayed as drool-inducing hot with kick-ass ninja skills) has just been handed the task of saving all of humanity. With the help of her unbelievably sexy alien boyfriend and her kleptomaniac friend with fire-retardant hair, Autumn races to save her fellow humans by using the Ark of the Covenant. Along the way, she discovers how sheltered people are from the truth of extraterrestrials and their power to either protect us or destroy us.
Grab a bottle of wine, a shipload of snacks, and prepare to take a ride on this humorous chick lit romantic sci-fi paranormal adventure. If you’re into Ancient Aliens, conspiracy theories, UFOs, crave a little sexy time in your reading, are curious if we were genetically engineered (like the Sumerian cuneiform texts claim), and are dying to find out the meaning of life, then this book is for you.
About the Author
In college, Anna-Marie Abell was bitten by the “ancient alien” bug after listening to Zecharia Sitchin on Coast to Coast AM. In her pursuit to uncover the truth, she has spent the last two decades researching and publishing articles on the ancient Sumerian culture—in particular, their “gods” called the Anunnaki—and their connection to the creation of the human race. What she found changed her life, her beliefs, and her understanding of the universe and everything beyond. Her humorous science fiction trilogy, The Anunnaki Chronicles, is a culmination of all her research, her borderline obsession for all things paranormal, and approximately 2,300 bottles of wine.
Alien Abduction Press
Add Davis Wohagn to your list of people to follow if you want to learn more about being an indie author: DavidWogahn.com
Till next time,
Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi