Author Etiquette for Contacting Book Bloggers

Hello, everyone! It’s me again with another author advice post. Warning: This post isn’t for everyone. If you’re an author who finds etiquette posts tiresome, this post isn’t for you. If you’re already an expert on book marketing, this post will probably seem pretty basic, but I hope you’ll read on and add your advice in the comment section. This post is for people like me – people who came into the writing world with limited social media knowledge. It’s for people who didn’t realize book bloggers existed until they were told to go out and promote their book. If you’re intimidated or overwhelmed by the idea of contacting reviewers and bloggers, or if you’ve sent requests to bloggers and only received a lukewarm response, this post is for you.

  1. DO read the blogger’s FAQs, Policies, or Submission Guidelines. Each blogger is different. Some bloggers want you to contact them by email. Others have a submission form. Some are focused on certain genres. It’s important that you read the guidelines and follow them. It makes the process easier for everyone.
  2. DON’T assume the rules don’t apply to you. It’s not up to you to decide which rules are silly or unnecessary. You can either follow the bloggers guidelines, or you can choose not to submit.
  3. DO submit requested materials on time and in the format preferred by the blogger. If the blogger asks you to submit cover art in a JPEG, don’t send it pasted into a Word Document. Bloggers have different software and skill levels. Many of us also have day jobs, so if you submit your materials late, you might have missed our very narrow window of opportunity to get your post formatted and published.
  4. DON’T send unsolicited book review requests or manuscripts. (This goes back to #1) If a book blogger indicates they are not currently accepting unsolicited review requests, they mean it. Not only is it extremely rude to go ahead and send that manuscript, it won’t get you very far. I delete unsolicited manuscripts unread. To me, it would be unethical to read a free book given to me in exchange for review if I don’t have time to review it.
  5. DO remember that bloggers are working for you for free. Most bloggers don’t make any money on advertisements. In fact, most bloggers pay for website domains and hosting out of their own pockets. When someone is working for you for free, they are doing YOU a favor. Please don’t behave as if it’s the other way around.
  6. DON’T make demands. It’s perfectly acceptable to point out a broken or incorrect link. It is not acceptable for you to email the blogger throughout the day, insisting they add things you forgot to include in your original submission. It’s not okay for you to demand changes in formatting or appearance.
  7. DO contact your blog tour host if you have a problem. If you are paying a blog tour company to organize a tour, that company is obligated to do what you’re paying them to do. Please bear in mind that the individual blogs who are posting your materials are doing so for free. If there’s a problem, do not contact the bloggers – contact the tour host.
  8. DON’T expect a reply from every blogger. Some blogs have multiple reviewers and a whole team of bloggers. Most blogs are a one-man or one-woman show. Sometimes bloggers give birth, have a death in the family, get sick, or have other unexpected events that prevent us from blogging. Sometimes we just need a break. Bloggers are under no obligation to host you or respond to you. (See #5) I try to respond to everyone who contacts me, but there are times emails end up in my spam folder or accidentally get deleted. It happens.
  9. DO understand that bloggers can’t accommodate every request. There will be times when you send a review request, only to be told the blogger can’t read your book. They may offer you an interview instead. Or they may offer nothing. This isn’t a reflection on you as an author. When I was ill, I had to turn some authors away very suddenly. You might not always understand why a blogger is turning down your request, but try not to take it personally.
  10. DON’T harass the blogger. If you have read and followed all the guidelines, you may send the blogger a second request. Like I said in #8, sometimes emails are accidentally deleted or end up in spam. Before you send that second request, though, be certain the blogger isn’t on hiatus. Be sure you aren’t sending a review request to someone who doesn’t accept unsolicited requests. Make sure the blog is still active. If the blogger hasn’t posted in three months, they might have quit. Or had an unexpected life event and didn’t have time to update their blog.
  11. DO show support. If a blogger is kind enough to offer you a platform to promote your book, show your support for the blogger by following or subscribing to their blog. You might also consider following the blogger on Twitter or liking their Facebook page.
  12. DO thank the blogger. A simple thank you in a blog comment or email is so appreciated. Bloggers certainly aren’t in it for fame and fortune. A quick thank you is all we expect in exchange for our time and effort. And maybe a little support. (See #11)
  13. DO share. Share your book feature, interview, or review with all your friends. Send traffic over to the blog. Encourage others to leave comments and/or share. Bloggers love it when we get lots of likes and comments. We really really do.
  14. DO pay it forward. Many authors have blogs and host other authors, but you don’t have to do that if you don’t have the time. There are lots of other things you can do. Return to the blogs that have featured you and leave comments for other authors’ posts. Some authors don’t have a legion of friends or fans. A little support and encouragement goes a long way. Retweet. Reblog. Share!

In an effort to really get to the heart of what book bloggers are looking for when accepting submissions, I decided to ask an expert. Susan Toy is an author and blogger. Her promotional blog, Reading Recommendations, features a variety of authors and books. She offers writing advice and insights into the publishing world on her blog, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing. Susan offers the following advice:

From Susan Toy – Why I stopped accepting unsolicited submissions on Reading Recommendations

When I first began writing my author promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, I asked a number of authors I’d met  over the years if they wanted to be promoted. Then I opened up to general submissions by making announcements on social media. I received a large number of inquiries and accepted pretty much anyone who sent me an email. Some authors who came to me this way proved to be great writers and I like to say now that we have become friends over the course of this past year. They’re also many of the same authors who have hosted me on their blogs, reviewed my books, promoted other authors I’ve promoted, and just generally been very supportive of not only me but the entire writing community. They have also sent a number of new authors my way.

I made the decision to close the blog to unsolicited submissions mainly because I already personally knew or was discovering great authors on my own. When I find a book that interests me (usually on Goodreads, on another blog, Facebook or Twitter, or through comments made on my own blog) I contact the author and ask if they’d like some promotion. No one has turned me down yet.

What I consider is the book’s cover (especially true on Goodreads) and whether it looks professionally designed – I can tell the difference. I try to find an excerpt of the book, again to see how professional the writing is and whether an editor was involved at any stage. (Again, I can tell.) I also check that the author has some kind of a web presence – a blog, or that they are engaged on social media. (Note: I said “engaged” and not just that they have an author page, but that they post something meaningful and support other authors.) I also look at their profile. If all they talk about is their own published books (especially on Twitter), I don’t bother pursuing them. It’s become my bugbear with those authors who wish to follow me on Twitter that they tell me in their profile what’s in it for me. If I read, “Author of the breathtaking new novel XXX”, I will not follow. But if someone describes themselves as, “Writer, reader, promoter of fellow authors”, I’d not only follow, but would probably offer them promotion on my blog – once I checked out all of the above about them.

By the way, for me being a “reader” is the key word in that description, because the other way authors can get my attention is by asking me about my books or the other books I publish. If anyone asks to read and review either of my books, invites me to be a guest blogger or be interviewed, I automatically reciprocate and offer to promote them on Reading Recommendations. It’s only fair. After all, just like them I have a couple of books I’ve written and published that need promotion!

I’d love to hear from other bloggers and authors. What comments or suggestions do you have?

 


67 thoughts on “Author Etiquette for Contacting Book Bloggers

    1. I don’t know many people who are savvy with all forms of social media. I came into the writing world knowing nothing. I didn’t even have a Facebook page. My teenagers had to help me set it up. It was a long time before I figured out what the heck I was doing, and when I look back now on some of the things I’ve done, I’m horrified. I’m pretty sure I spammed people in my haste to take a quick and easy approach to promoting my blog. I’m glad you found this helpful. I’ll keep passing along tips as I find them!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Reblogged this on Leona's Blog of Shadows and commented:
    Another brilliant and extremely valuable advice post from my friend Tricia. As a book blogger, I agree with every single point. The other half of the post has words of wisdom from dear friend Susan Toy who is very experienced in the publishing industry and also a great blogger. There are a lot of good things to learn from this post, and following the advice of these great people is definitely going to pay off.

    Like

  2. I’ve only just noticed book bloggers. It is a wonderful thing you all do. I’ve been doing a review here and there for authors I’ve met via their blogs, but I would hate to be asked and expected to say yes. I’m still feeling my way. Thanks for this sound advice.

    Like

  3. Great post. This is a little off-subject, but here goes. I recently decided to join one of the writer haunts on Facebook. It is a place for writers to chat and interact. It was not a site that promoted books, and I was in the mood for some serious ‘writer-talk’ without all of the book-promotional postings. It is a new site, just starting out. I was looking forward to the camaraderie.

    One of the first subjects of discussion was the question: “Do you believe that it’s important for a writer to be a reader in order to become successful?” The entire thread was ablaze with 50% of people saying, ‘Yes, it is essential for writers to be readers.’ The other 50% were young writers starting out, stating with great conviction that it is absolutely unnecessary for a person to read in order to write good books.’ Many of them pointed out the fact that they, themselves, had never read books, and they were doing just fine, thank you. One person stated that she never read books for fear that the writing would negatively-influence the development of her own writing style. Another potential best-selling novelist (in his own mind) became angry with some of the respondents who insisted that reading was essential to success. He began singling the readers out and calling them names. When one reader pointed out to him that his comment was full of noticeable punctuation errors, the young man went berserk and informed the crowd that he was being unjustly picked on. The first thought that came into my mind was, “Wait till an editor gets a hold of you, my dear.” It became an all-out war of wills. I have to say…the nonreaders were the ones who were the most insistent. The reading faction eventually lost the war, backed down, and crawled away from their foxholes.

    That’s what is going on out there in the world, my friends. I am seriously thinking of opening a blog that would be open to serious writers/readers who have respect for writing as an art-form. It would be a sane and sensible community for writers to simply exchange ideas, share thoughts, and be emotionally supportive of one another. One of the requirements for admission would be the submission of the titles of the last ten books you have read in the last three years. I think that time-frame is a fair one. I refuse to debate seventeen-year-old non-reading bullies who lob me with hostile comments because I tell them that they’re missing one of the joys of life if they have absolutely no curiosity about reading the work of other writers. The blog would be a calm place.

    I have since retreated from that writers’ haunt. There was simply more conflict than I could tolerate. If I want conflict, I’ll watch the six-o’clock news.

    If I tried developing something like this, would anyone reading this find interest in being involved? I know we are all busy. But, I have days when I would love to talk to other writers in a casual format about writing issues. I am not a scholar. I do not have an Ivy League degree. I made my living in my ‘real life’ as a hospital staff nurse via technical training. I will never win a Pulitzer. My books won’t change anyone’s life, but they do have a purpose. I am not coming to this with any form of professional expertise. I’m just offering a place where we could share informal banter with writing and books being the focus. It would not be a place to formally promote our work, although I think I would love to feature a writer-a-month as a fun thing to do.

    Are any of you receptive to this, or is there enough to do already?

    Like

    1. I would absolutely be receptive to this. I think you have an excellent idea. I don’t know how anyone could write if they don’t like to read. Or how anyone could actually believe it isn’t necessary to read. I was an avid reader for years before I decided to write my own book. I’ve belonged to book clubs, swapped books with coworkers, and was a frequent visitor at my local library for years. I used to read 3 or 4 books a week, but after I began writing, I didn’t have as much time for reading. I MAKE the time to read at least at book per week, in a variety of genres. I love it too much to give it up, and if that means I’m a little less productive than my publish-a-new-book-every-month peers, that’s okay.

      Anyone who isn’t engaged in a passionate love affair with books shouldn’t be a writer. That might sound harsh, but that’s how I feel. Reading is the single best “training” you can receive if you want to be a writer. Humans learn by example. We learn by doing.

      Please contact me when you’ve established your blog or group. Not only would I love to join, but I know several like-minded authors who would love to do the same. Thank you so much for this idea!

      Like

      1. It mystifies me why anyone wouldn’t want to read the work of other great writers. It is vital, I’d say, to learn from the masters of the craft, whether they’re bloggers, novelists or journalists. To me, reading a wide variety of genres and studying different styles is how I became a writer and editor. 🙂

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      1. You are absolutely right! Most will probably learn the hard way, after numerous rejections from agents or bad reviews on self-published books. If you don’t read, you shouldn’t be writing. That probably sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. Real writers (whether published or not) are always on a quest to learn more. They want to talk to other writers to learn from them. They want to read books about craft. Writers should love books! I can’t understand why someone who isn’t an avid reader would want to endeavor to write a book.

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  4. Excellent advice, Tricia. Whenever a blogger gives me some of their valuable time to promote my work, I could no more not thank and support them, than I could cease to breathe. It seems the very least thing to do, in return for their hard work. 😀

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  5. Reblogged this on Write Through It and commented:
    Having been at various times a reviewer, an anthology editor, a newspaper features editor, and a few other things, I think this is excellent advice for any writer who is trying to get another writer to do something for free. Online, offline, anywhere!

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  6. Reblogged this on SydneyGen's Reads Writes and Reviews and commented:
    I got into the book blogging game for fun. I love to read and thought it was a great way to reach people and tell them of the great writers there are out there. I’m yet to have any troubles, but here’s a great read for getting started/promoted/and just general etiquette. I’m going to pull together a FAQ page soon to add to the site.

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  7. Reblogged – a great short piece of advice and thoughts..
    Thanks for posting. I often take out some content sent to me for promo because it doesn’t fit with the style of my blog. It’s my decision to do that, because like you said.. it’s my blog 😀

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  8. Reblogged this on Anatomy of Perceval and commented:
    As part of promotion for “Perceval’s Secret,” I will need to approach book bloggers for reviews. Thanks to Leona Henry for finding this post at Tricia Drammeh and re-blogging it on her blog. I know that I will benefit from the advice in this post!

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  9. Excellent post – reminded me of what to expect for courtesy and also how I should be courteous. I’m just getting the the point in my blogging career where I feel comfortable asking for reviews but am really careful in my requests. My fellow bloggers are busy, maybe even more busy than I!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I started out as an author feeling very intimidated by asking bloggers to review my book. It’s hard asking for someone to invest such a huge chunk of time because I know how busy they are. I’m glad you’ve reached the point where you do feel comfortable contacting bloggers. For some of us, it’s very overwhelming. I wish I was a more confident person. Thanks for following my blog!

      Like

    1. I agree, Margaret. Much of this is common sense, but some people forget in the frenzy to promote and market their book. Kindness and courtesy should be the priority rather than hard-sell tactics.

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  10. Great post! I found it through The Story Reading Ape’s blog. I would add – remember that when you are asking a book reviewer for their opinion, not a positive review – and also – don’t send a request for a review or blog tour that has to be published right away. It takes time to read and write a good (good meaning thorough) review. My waiting list is usually about 2 or 3 months.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on Authors to Watch and commented:

    It feels a little weird reblogging a post from one blog to the other, but since Authors to Watch is THE place where I interview authors and feature books, it’s probably fitting.

    When I wrote this post, it wasn’t aimed toward any specific author. Before (and since) writing this post, there have been many times I’ve wished authors would read this post before contacting me. The following DOs and DON’Ts are not a list of demands or a list of expectations. If anything, it’s a wishlist. Every blogger is different. Some some very few rules; others are very specific in what they will or will not allow. I’m pretty flexible, as most authors who have appeared on this blog will tell you. I sometimes regret my flexibility.

    As a blogger, I appreciate the authors who contact me. I know how hard these authors have worked on their books, and it’s a pleasure to provide a platform for them to display their works of art. As a blogger, I spend a great deal of time carefully formatting each interview and book feature. I try to create a post the author will be proud to share with friends and fans. As a blogger, I try to accommodate nearly every request I receive, but as an author, a mom, a wife, a friend, and an employee, I don’t have the time to do everything authors ask me to do.

    When authors don’t read the FAQs on my “About” page, it’s obvious, especially when they ask me to review a book. I truly wish I could accept these requests, but I can’t. I’ve had to limit my reviews to the very occasional blog tour or to books I’ve bought. It hurts to have to turn people away or to tell them no. I hate it. I wish authors wouldn’t put me in the position to have to reject them. Authors face enough rejection – from agents, publishers, reviewers. I hate to be the one to dish it out.

    Authors, please read my “About” page before contacting me. Please don’t put me in a position where I have to reject your requests. When you ask me to review your book, you’re asking me to make a special exception for you. It may not seem that way, but you’re asking me to choose between my family time and your book. Or to choose between my own writing time and your book.

    I want to thank every single author who has been interviewed on this blog. I also want to thank the authors, bloggers, and readers who share and reblog the posts and help spread the word about the authors featured here. Authors to Watch has been around for over three years and I hope it will continue for many years to come.

    Like

  12. This is a great topic Cate. There’s lot of attention being paid to it. I’ve always done reviews, not only of other indie authors but of random books I had to read or I fancied. As I review for other sites apart from mine I haven’t open it out to submissions not to put myself under added pressure…And I’m always weary of imposing myself on others. Che será, será

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