Today I have my beautiful bloggy buddy, Rhi, joining us for a great guest post with some tips on approaching authors. She offers some great advice and I hope that you enjoy it!
Rhi is also offering a great giveaway at the end so make sure to check that out when you're done. Big thanks to her for stopping by. XOXO Girl!
I struggle with shyness more online than in my everyday life. It was never an issue until I began blogging. Then I discovered how easily I become intimidated by the book community. It ain't pretty. If you're a bit shy like me and you'd like to ask an author about an interview or guestpost I hope I can offer you some useful tips on how to get started.
One very important part of book blogging is being able to put yourself out there. To other bloggers, to readers and to publishing industry professionals. Assuming you've established yourself as a blogger already and you're looking for tips on how to approach an author you admire or would like to interact with I think my tips can help. If you're not already established and comfortable in your "brand" the very first thing I would encourage you to do is build your blog and write for it every day. Having something to show the person you're approaching that you have a solid foundation as a blogger is essential, and this doesn't mean a huge follower count, I only had 10 followers the first time I requested an interview!
• Read their blog. Are they busy with edits? Heading to a convention? Doing a blog tour?
• Know their bio. What are their outside interests? Who is your author? Do they write under more than one pen-name?
• Be familiar with their work. Is this their debut? Do they write multiple series?
It sounds like common sense right?
Because I'm shy I find that the more I know about the author the better I can judge whether I should approach them. I have emailed dozens of authors and publicists and never had any response. It feels worse than an outright rejection because you have no idea why you didn't get a response, did you email the wrong publicist? Maybe I just sounded like a crazy fan wanting free stuff? Was my email lost in the shuffle of fans begging for spoilers from the next book?
By doing your research you might decide the author might be too big of a name for you to approach at the current time or their stance on negative reviews might not be aligned with yours. Plus, if you're requesting an interview you can have an early start on your questions.
The most important thing I want to note, before I go any further, is that authors and publicists are frequently approached by fans and bloggers who want FREE BOOKS. If you are blogging in hopes of getting lots of free books I would highly encourage you to reevaluate your motivations. When you host a giveaway do you only want people entering for the free stuff and then going away? Not likely. Authors and publicists are no different. They want to get something from you in exchange for the ARC or review copy you've asked about. I always approach an author or publicist for an interview or guestblog when I am requesting a review copy of the book they are promoting.
Once you've established what you want from the author (an ARC, an interview, etc.) try to find out who the author's publicist is for the book most recently published or soon to be released. If the publicist's name and contact info isn't easily found on the author's website or via a search engine you might be discouraged. Don't be. You can always ask around to other bloggers who you see have the ARC or approach another publicist from the same publishing house you have worked with before. I haven't had much luck with it myself but there are many lovely bloggers who are happy to help their fellow book fiends.
• The worst they can do is say NO!
Many times I haven't had much luck finding the right publicist's email info, most publishing house websites have a general promotions one or a name for someone who is handling a similar book. I'm quite certain publicists don't like it much but there is never any harm in asking Publicist for Book A if they know who is the Publicist for Book B. I have had this situation arrise and had both positive and negative results. Publishing houses are big businesses and sometimes they simply can't help you find out who is working with an author/book, but I've had some forward my request to the right one for me. Remember, these are professionals who's job it is to make sure readers know about their books! They can't hurt you. ;)
When I can't find publicist info I write a short email to the author asking if they can provide me with their publicist's email address. Most authors are thrilled that you have shown an interest in their work and will forward your email to their publicist. I have had really pleasurable experiences using this method. Remember, when possible it is best to approach the publicist because it is their job to arrange promotional situations (blog tours, giveaways, interviews) for their author. When you write to an author because you can't find their publicist's info I suggest making it clear you want to work with their publicist to help promote the work, not because you want a review copy (see above info about free books). Think of the publicist as a sort of personal assistant. The publicist's job essentially saves the author time that can be used for writing their books or answering interview questions.
• Establish a form email draft to help save you time (for both you and the person you are sending it to) and keep you from rambling.
Authors and pubs have very limited time to spend answering your email. They have books to write and events to schedule. By keeping your email on the short side you ensure that it's more likely to be read. Find a formula that suits your personality and blog. One of the most helpful resources that aided me in figuring out my email formula is the form letter from Dear Author's post: How to Get Into Book Reviewing as a Blogger.
If I am approaching an author I include links to reviews I have written of their work and if it is a publicist I include links to other titles from their publishing house that I've reviewed. It might sound crazy but I try to include both postive and negative reviews so the publicist knows I am objective but if you're not comfortable with that in these crazy times that is a perfectly acceptable decision too. I, personally, enjoy approaching debut authors and their publicists the most. Not only do I like to be one of the first people to know about the book and who wrote it but they are often much more likely to have review copies available and the desire to get their name out there through guestposts and interviews.
• Lastly, don't stop trying!
No reply from that publicist? The author has no review copies and is too busy with edits right now to work with you? This isn't a rejection! Move on to someone else and try again when the next book is coming out. Sometimes the bigger names get so many requests they simply can't deal with all of them. Never hurts to try though. :)
Do your best to be friendly, professional, approachable and consistent and eventually someone will say yes. It might seem daunting at first but if I can do it you can too. Start with a small request and work your way up to more involved requests. And always write your review when you say you will, post that guestblog on the agreed upon date and thank everyone who helped make it possible! If the experience is enjoyable for all involved it's more likely to happen again.
Image Credits: http://www.sxc.hu/
Thanks Crystal for having me over to share my tips! I hope you readers who blog, or are thinking about starting one find something here useful.
To celebrate my first ever guestpost I want to giveaway a copy of one of the books I used the above tips to get my hands on, A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang!
• Giveaway is for one (1) paperback copy of A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang
• Must be 18 or older to win
• US only, this will be shipped from Amazon.com
• Closed for entries on Monday, April 18th at Midnight CST, Crystal will choose the winner by her preferred method and announce the winner after they have been contacted via email
• To enter leave a comment with your email address and answer the following question:
If you could invite any author to visit your blog for an interview or guestpost who would it be and why? (If you don't have a blog answer it as a hypothetical "if you had a blog..." question.)