A week ago, I spent a whole day on the sofa, clutching my unhappy stomach. When I finally checked my email at 5 PM, there were 300 messages and almost a third of those were pitches to read or review someone’s new book. I deleted most of them—not because I was feeling sick and cranky (even though I was). I deleted them because most of the authors and PR professionals had no clue about my blog, The Write Now! Coach Blogs, and what kinds of books I review. Here’s how to pitch to a blogger or editor about reviewing your book or taking on a guest post from you:
1. Do your research. Before you pitch to a blogger about reviewing your book, read their guidelines and several blog posts. Know their readers, what kinds of books the blog reviews, and how your book will fit their market. When you do not do your research, you waste both your time and mine. I edit The Word in Season (TWIS), a devotional that publishes no book reviews, author interviews, or feature articles. And yet every single day, I get at least 20 queries asking if TWIS would be interested in reviewing books aimed at a Christian audience. Clearly these authors and PR folks didn’t do their homework!
Try this: You can find most of what you need to know by checking out blogs online. To find appropriate blogs, start with lists of blogs about your topic (either on a popular blog’s blog roll or by using a blog search tool like Technorati.)
2. Tell me why you are pitching to me. I’m busy. I get a lot of email. I want to know right up front why you think your book is right for my market. Your hook might rock, but if it does not apply to my readers—who are primarily writers—it won’t work. I’ll just press delete. I don’t care that your book will reveal 17 new secret truths about the book of Revelation because the book of Revelation has little to do with writing. One recent successful pitch came to me from an author who is also a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He led with that, noting that he’d come across my name on the ASJA website. I often pitch to blog owners I’ve met on Twitter, noting that I follow them, have tweeted with them, and appreciate their blog.
Tell the editor or blogger:
*What your book is about.
*How it will benefit their readers.
Be specific. Your book will not entertain or inform everyone.
3. Offer to send me a complimentary copy of your book. Last year I met a publisher on Twitter. They were looking for reviewers for their books. I was intrigued by the format and volunteered. Then I got the follow up email: the publisher provided a link and invited me to purchase the book I would be reviewing. Guess what, readers: I deleted that email. Here’s the thing—if you want people to review your book, you have to give it to them.
Budget how many hard copy books you want to send to reviewers. Offer some hard copies as giveaways on sites like Goodreads (where winners usually review the book). If your budget is tight, create an electronic form of your book to send to reviewers. You can do giveaways of your ebook on LibraryThing or post a sample on ScribD.
4. Tell me what you can do for me. As a blogger, I’m most interested in writers who will provide a guest blog post about their topic for me. That’s a win-win situation: authors get to talk about the content of their book (and thus promote it) and I get a blog post that brings new ideas or information to my readers. But here’s the thing: I need you to do the work for me or, once again, I’ll probably delete the message. Take a look at the blog you are pitching to and offer at least two blog topic ideas that fit their market. When you write your pitch, tell the blogger why you think your post might interest their readers. And stay open—the blogger or editor knows their market better than you do. If they suggest a tweak on your idea—go with it!
Try this: Brainstorm 25 blog topic ideas that you could offer in relation to your book. That way, when you pitch to specific blogs, you’ll already have some ideas to choose from.
5. Be generous. Blog posts that offer giveaways often get more traffic than the average post even if it is packed with good information. A few months ago, I responded positively to a pitch and suggested that the author or publisher give away a signed copy of the book. The publisher responded that this would be fine as long as I paid to ship the books. Seriously? Writers, if your publisher can’t or won’t be generous—you need to be. When you pitch, ask if the blog does raffles and offer to give away something (and ship it): a signed copy of your book, a sample of one of your services (e.g., coaching, consulting), or a fun item that relates to your book. When In Her Shoes came out, Jennifer Weiner’s publisher gave away a closet full of shoes. (I know I’ve used this example before, but wow, I really wanted to win those shoes!) While that’s more than most of us can afford, the idea is fun.
Try this: Imagine some fun things you can give away. Even small gifts can delight readers: stickers, postcards, or tiny children’s toys.
And don’t forget!
Finally, once you get that coveted blog post or review, don’t forget to:
*Write a post that does exactly what you promised it would do AND meets the blog guidelines. (Yeah, don’t turn in a post that’s 2,000 words when the blogger asked for 500 words.)
*Turn in your post on time with all of the other information that the blogger asked for including a photo, jpeg of your book cover, a bio, and all links for the article.
*When the article or review is published, promote it through your social media networks. Get your people over to the guest blog to read and comment.
*Send prizes to the winners as soon as you can.
*Send a thank you note (via email or snail mail) to the blogger or reviewer.
*Return the favor. If your blog hosts guests, invite the bloggers you guest posted for when your book came out to guest post for you.
Your turn: What have you done to get results with promotional pitches? What promotional pitches failed miserably?