Like many areas of the media world, publishing is becoming ever more reliant on it’s online presence. No book launch goes by without a relevant hashtag or two, book trailers that are worthy of the big screen, and websites created just for one book.
But often, the most vital tool at a publishers disposal is the blogger; ready, willing, and most certainly able, they can garner more buzz for a title than a thousand shop windows could ever manage.
So how to make this most symbiotic relationship work? And how can it fall apart?
Need a blogger?
Rarely will a blogger tweet without the #books hashtag, more often than not it’s attached to #blogging. Look for those. If they’re reviewers (and most are) you’ll find examples of their work. The ones who are PR-savvy will have everything you need to know about them in their bio, and probably a pinned tweet, so it shouldn’t take more than a few clicks to find a few willing candidates for your campaign. Exploit your genre as much as possible. New crime writer you want to promote? Search for the crime blogs and get in contact. I don’t know any blogger who doesn’t appreciate the direct approach.
Don’t just ask for reviews
If you’ve got a campaign that needs a rapid turnaround, say within a month, well not every blogger will be able to fit that in. Consider offering the chance to do cover reveals, excerpts, or meet the author pieces. A really popular piece of PR is the guest post, as they often build up anticipation for a novel, and it gives the blog readers an idea of the novel from the writer’s perspective, rather than just the usual blurb.
Author Q&As are great too, but do make sure you give the blogger time to not only read the novel, but draft the questions and get them to the author with time for them to write their answers. A good blogger will not even consider sending questions before they’ve read the novel. I have had one experience where I was expected to get all that done within a few weeks, and I was still waiting on the ARC after a week.
And yeah…Sending the books out within the time-frame is a great idea too.
Spread the word
When the blogger has done their thing, and the piece is up and public, they will share it. Many bloggers are very social media savvy, with great knowledge of reach, impressions and all other sorts of analytical aspects (google analytics will be a permanent fixture on their browsers) so pay them back in kind. Retweet, share, comment, like – all of these things mean better views, not only for their site, but for your property. Just one retweet by a publisher can achieve thousands of impressions. If twitter cards are used, that’s thousands of views of a book cover. Thousands. It’s one heck of a domino effect.
One aspect of reviewing that can cause a divide in this partnership is the issue of posting reviews on external sites such as Amazon and Goodreads. Personally, I wait a fortnight before adding my reviews and they’re always edited versions, linking back to the original. I have seen PR companies push for immediate sharing to help boost titles up the Amazon charts (or often to drown out bad reviews). This is a big no. These reviews are the intellectual property of their creators and as such, it’s up to them where, and when, they post them outside of their own site. Site traffic matters to all bloggers; it controls their index placing in google searches, it effects any site driven income, and attracts followers. No full-time blogger is going to place their work out there when it’s not in the least bit advantageous to them.
In summary …
So really, it’s a genuine ‘one hand feeds the other’ relationship, that thrives on open communication. Respect boundaries, time-scales, and work-rates; and remember that while you may be on commission, the blogger is doing it for free.
But most importantly, keep hold of the good ones, and they will provide the kind of publicity that money could never buy.
This is a guest post by Book Blogger, Kate Ward. Kate’s a keen supporter of literacy projects and firmly believes that reading of any sort should be available to the masses, no matter the genre or medium. Determined not to pigeon-hole her site, If These Books Could Talk, Kate covers and reviews everything she possibly can and will always thump the tub for independent authors and publishers.
For more info on book blogging, read Kate’s previous posts ‘Doing it for the love of it: the life of the unpaid Book Blogger‘and ‘Independent Book Blogging: 7 tips for writing a great review‘.