I’m writing this post following a rather disconcerting conversation I had with my talented book blogger friends, Megan and Laura. We were chatting about our general experiences of blogging when they told me some horrifying tales concerning how certain authors engage with them.
For me, the most alarming aspect was the audacious tone some authors use when contacting them and their fellow bloggers. A review request from an author/publicist is exactly that; a request, not a demand. Yet lots of bloggers receive literally hundreds of messages a month demanding that the recipient purchase their books and promptly write them a review. A link to the book’s Amazon page is usually included.
I was stunned when I first heard this; if you’re asking someone to produce a piece of work for you (a review) then you should at least offer a free review copy of your book. Otherwise, you’re essentially asking someone to work x amount of hours for you, and saying that they should pay you £y for the privilege. Obviously, people buy books and write reviews all the time, but, as an author, if you’re contacting someone directly and asking them to produce one, I personally think offering a review copy is the very least you can do.
Apparently, only around one in twenty requests are polite, include an offer of a review copy, and are addressed directly to the blogger. Some authors even attach an e-copy to their request – again, this is a big mistake. It creates the impression that you’re assuming a blogger will read your book, and implies that you want the minimal dialogue possible with said blogger: just read my book and don’t bother me with a reply.
Other gripes (particularly from indies, I’m sad to report) include constantly messaging to demand that a review be posted faster (bloggers have lives too, you shouldn’t really put a timescale on these things), failing to acknowledge a review that is posted (a thank you message only takes a few seconds) and neglecting to help with promotion (Retweets, Facebook posts etc).
Obviously, I’m not perfect and it’s taken me a while to get in sync with the way the blogging world works. But some of these instances really do defy common sense as well as common courtesy. As authors, we need book bloggers so, so much. They talk about our books and actually give us a chance of achieving some measure of success. On top of that, they talk to each other. If you treat one book blogger badly, others will soon know about it, diminishing your reputation. And beyond being professional, we’re all book lovers at heart, aren’t we? You don’t want to throw away the chance to make some new bookish friends!
A helpful article on approaching book bloggers properly can be found via Jenny in Neverland.