When I launched my first book in the summer of 2016 I hoped for 20 reviews in the first month of release. I hit my target but I didn’t do that by sitting back and hoping for the best.
I spent some time researching reputable book bloggers and identifying those people who read in the genre that I write in.
Then in the two months before the release date I approached the ones that I had identified as suitable and emailed them to ask if they would be interested in reviewing a copy, mindful that these bloggers are extremely busy people who often run their book blogs alongside having a day job and whose TBR piles are probably higher than yours and mine put together. I approached 27 bloggers in all aware that some bloggers might no longer be accepting new books and that I was an unknown with no track record. I expected to hear nothing at all from lots of them.
I didn’t want to send off a batch of bland emails so once I had picked the bloggers I wanted to approach I spent a bit more time checking out their blogs and reading the ‘Information for Authors’ section. Many of the bloggers had specific submission criteria and so I was careful to follow it. There is no point annoying a book blogger before you have even struck up a relationship with them because you ignored their submission criteria or you didn’t research the genres they were interested in before approach.
My email was a few paragraphs long setting out who I was and gave the important information about my book – title, genre, release date plus whatever information individual bloggers had requested. I finished my email by including links to my website and social media pages in case the blogger wanted to check me out before replying. I also included a link to an excerpt of my book (that was available to all on my website) so they could get a flavour of the book they would (hopefully) be reviewing.
The genre of romantic fiction is a broad church and I did not want someone to accept my book for review expecting a certain type of read (chick lit for example) and then being disappointed.
From the 27 bloggers I approached, 13 did not reply, one said it wasn’t her thing, one said she might consider it if she had the time and space to do so (but I didn’t hear back) and 13 offered to read and review which I thought was a pretty good strike rate.
Because I didn’t have a large social media reach at that time I also engaged the services of a blog tour operator to book me a blog tour. [Although now that Amazon’s rules surrounding reviews have been updated I probably would not do this again which is a shame because the people I worked with were lovely but if the reviews are no longer eligible to appear on Amazon as a result (if I am interpreting the Amazon rules correctly) it doesn’t now make sense to engage their services]. See Anne Allen’s wonderful blog for more information on this http://annerallen.com/amazons-new-review-rules-should-authors-worry/
I made a diary note whenever a review appeared so I could check them off my list and I sent a couple of gentle reminders to people which helped me keep track of reviewers who were reviewing some weeks after the release date.
I should stress the fact that I offered the book in all instances in exchange for a fair and honest review. It’s the only way. I had a few stinkers as a result which is to be expected as the appreciation of books can be so subjective. One reviewer, in particular, hated the book, did not hold back in saying so and referred to me throughout her review either by my surname alone or simply as the author. Ouch! But in a way I was glad because it proved that my reviews were authentic.
This was my first foray into sending out ARCs. It was an interesting and, on the whole, positive experience. I think I had reviews from everyone I sent a copy of the book out to all bar one who I have since discovered was having some health issues which makes her lack of review completely understandable.
In order to boost the launch of a book particularly at this early stage in my career I would certainly do it again but always mindful of Amazon’s review policy at the time of the book launch.