I thought I’d do something a little different around here – like interview bloggers and reviewers. There are blogs full of author interviews, contests, cover reveals. But what about the reviewers themselves? Have you ever wondered about the people behind the curtain? Want to know more about those awesome folks who help promote our books? Well, I have. I’d like to give them a huge shout-out and the credit they deserve. Please welcome Amanda from On A Bender book blog who was kind enough to be my first guest.
Pay attention, fellow authors. There’s plenty of pure gold in these guest posts.
Blog: On a Book Bender
Genres read: adult and YA in romance (PNR, historical, suspense), fantasy (urban), and mysteries
Preferred type of submission: ebooks are easier, but I don’t really care.
What I’d like to read more of: Well-written, creative, and engaging stories. They never get old.
What I see too much of: Love triangles in YA novels. The whole, “no guy ever looked at me but now I suddenly have two [or more] hot guys vying for my attention” is not appreciated. Love triangles that are poorly executed (i.e, it’s a love triangle for the sake of driving the plot along). I generally avoid books if I know they have a love triangle, unless a trusted reviewer says it’s worth reading anyway.
What an author should and should not do when contacting me: For me, there are really two different ways of communicating with authors: on a business level and on a personal level. It is important to make the distinction between these levels, as it is a line that is far too easily crossed. And when it is crossed, you end up with a lot of hurt feelings or pent up rage. Trust me. To me, the distinction is quite simple: if you are contacting me (or any blogger) directly and specifically to review or promote your book in some way, this is business. Anything else is personal, even if it’s to bounce ideas off me for something related to your book.
When contacting me for a review or for promoting your book, the first thing every author should do is read my review policy. Here’s a hint: review policies will be found on the reviewers’ blog. Not their Twitter account or their Goodreads account. Do not approach reviewers in that manner. Most reviewers that I know, including me, will ignore an author who asks for a review through Twitter or Goodreads. In fact, recommending your own book on Goodreads, for example, is not allowed, and I have been instructed by Goodreads support staff to flag these recommendations. Occasionally, if I’m annoyed enough, I will also report tweets directed at me specifically as spam if they are unsolicited links to books. If you want to promote your own book on Twitter, I encourage it. Just don’t @ me with a link unless I have specifically requested one.
When I receive a review request that has followed the guidelines set out by my review policy, the one thing I look for is whether the request has been personalized in some way. Generic “this is my book, please review it” requests are usually disregarded. In other words, if your review request feels like a mass email within the first couple lines, I won’t even bother reading it. Big warning signs go off when my name is not even used. I actually included my name in my review policy for this reason. If I don’t see “Dear Amanda” or some greeting with my name in it, I generally ignore it. Acknowledge me as a person, and I will do the same for you. I wouldn’t write an email that says, “Dear Author” or “Dear Your Book Title” so don’t write a review request that starts off with “Dear Blogger” or “Dear On a Book Bender” – or, worst of all, no greeting at all.
Furthermore, I am very suspicious of lines such as “I’ve been reading your blog for a while now” and “this book is similar to other ones you have enjoyed.” The first is because unless you have left comments or otherwise responded to my posts, I have no way of verifying this statement. And being the cynical and suspicious person that I am, I assume it’s just a line to flatter me. The latter statement I dislike because the books are not listed by name. In other words, back up your statement with something I can actually relate to. I like different books for different reasons, and being able to compare an unknown to something that is known makes my decision process a lot easier.
Including excerpts or links to excerpts in a review request also helps to make the blogger’s life easier when determining whether or not your book is one she may want to read. Right or not, accepting self-published books is generally seen as an iffy prospect. The quality of writing varies considerably, and including an excerpt may be the difference between a blogger accepting a review and a blogger ignoring a request completely. I also dislike “My book has received [X] number of 4 and 5 star ratings!” statements. First of all, I am not those other people. I have unique likes and dislikes, and just because you have received a good number of favorable ratings has no bearing whether I will enjoy your book or not. Furthermore, it shows a lack of understanding of my own rating system. I rarely give 10 on my enjoyment scale, which is equivalent to a 5 star rating. Most of the books I have accepted for review receive a 7, which is a 3.5 star rating.
On a personal level, it is an entirely different ballgame. Contact me through Twitter, Goodreads, or comment on my blog, it doesn’t really matter. Just don’t interact for the sake of gaining more followers. I’m not just a number. Interact because you genuinely want to know more about the person or because the blogger wrote an especially interesting or thought provoking post.
Biggest author or fellow blogger turn-off: Constant and blatant self-promotion, as well as cover reveal overload. I understand the latter as a marketing technique, but after the 10th post in my Google reader of the same cover, I am silently annoyed at the utter waste of time of scrolling through 10 copies of the exact same post.