Approaching Blogs For Reviews
As I've talked about before (pieces from here & here), one of the many issues of being published as an indie author is that you do the majority of the work. You should be farming out your editing, proof-reading and other aspects like that, but the rest of it pretty much falls on your shoulders. It's not an easy task, and it's one of the reasons many people chose not to go the indie route, or if they do, they pay for other people to be in charge of the promotional side of things. For some of us, that just isn't an option and so, here my advice about how to approach people for reviews for your work.
Every writer needs reviews. It's a way for people to judge whether or not your work is something they want to read; after all, they are spending money and the general aim of reading is to escape to an imaginary world and people like to know in advance if your world is the one for them. I know that a lot of people in my author circle are constantly on the look-out for reviewers and I am no different. I have contacted so many different people and had wildly different rates of success when asking for a review. It's all about making contacts (a subject I discuss here) and using other resources to make sure that you can get as many reviews and as much feedback as you need to get your name out there and sell some books.
There are numerous websites that you can go to and look for book bloggers who will possibly review your work. I use one mostly for indie authors, which is quite good and has a very full database. It called Indie Book Reviewer and can be found here. They've got a whole bunch of blogs and you're able to browse by genre. I've combed through those and then gone on to fill out a spreadsheet of my own so that I can keep track of which sites I've contacted and their responses. Googling the same will probably bring up some other book blogs. So, now you have the information you need, what do you do when you are ready to contact the blogs themselves?
Simple really, make sure you ALWAYS read the review policy. Some blogs have a full list, or they only accept either paperbacks or e-books. Others will only read certain genres. Others have a specific way for you to contact them, a form to fill out or an email to send and all of them want some kind of information. Some will want you to submit your e-book or a sample along with your enquiry email and not doing so makes you look bad. So, step one, before you even think of opening an email is to read their policy. Make sure you meet their requirements and have all that you need to send them a request.
The second thing is to be polite. I know, right? Like who would be rude to someone when you're the one asking for a favour? I dunno, but it happens, so you need to be sure to ask nicely and say please and thank you and all that other stuff you learnt in primary school. The other thing is to be aware that they probably receive a huge number of requests. There simply isn't enough time for someone to read every book that they get a request for, and there's also the fact that some people just won't like or be interested in your work. That's not saying that it's bad, just that they read the blurb or info and decided it wasn't for them. It happens, move on.
It would also be good to prepare yourself for the fact that due to the volume of their requests, they might not get back to you quickly...or at all. If they've read the email and decided that it's not for them and they have another fifty requests, there also isn't time to shoot you an email saying so. Accept that and move on from them to the next site. Another big thing is to not bombard them with emails until they reply. Make the first contact, and wait. If they get back to you, then yes, you should respond in a timely manner, but if they don't? Keep waiting and/or assume they weren't interested. It's pretty much the way it goes. Always be polite and always keep it professional.
The last thing is just simply that sometimes there will be people who give you low scoring review. Basically a "bad" review. My thoughts on the matter are there are no such things as bad reviews. Yeah, you can get a one star, but as long as it's not directly attacking you, then it's just a fact of life. You can't please everyone and you won't please everyone. What appeals to one person may not appeal to another and a one star review may well be the thing that makes another potential reader say "yes, this is the book for me!" Book bloggers are promoting you for free, in their own time, and you can't demand that they provide you with a five star review just because it's your work. Learn from it, take whatever feedback they have and move on with your writing. Reviews are there to help you, to make you a better writer as well as to guide other people in which books they buy. So, always be polite, and always be professional. If you remember these two rules, then you're on the right track. Your mileage may, of course, vary.
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