A currently popular book about getting book reviews is Book Review Banzai by Jason B Ladd. It’s a quick, entertaining read, and follows the proven approach of reaching out to book bloggers for book reviews.
Ladd outlines a five-step process to getting more book reviews, a process familiar to Book Reviewer Yellow Pages readers:
- Identify ideal book review bloggers.
- Find large groups of them online.
- Find their personal website.
- Prepare a spreadsheet. (For staying organized.)
- Connect directly with reviewers.
Here are a few highlights that we took away.
- Approach only ideal book bloggers. Most book bloggers like to read specific types of books. For that matter, many specify book categories they *don’t like* to read. Your odds of success are far higher when you contact reviewers who want to read books like yours. (With the added benefit that it helps all authors when you respect this rule of etiquette.)
- Be personable in your approach. After you find the right book blogger, the next most important thing you can do—to help your chances of being considered—is to make a personal connection when you contact the blogger. We really liked what Ladd had to say about this. He encourages authors to spend the time looking for something personal they can relate to. For example, if you share the same home town, call it out. If you both like the same team, mention it. If you are both struggling young parents, share it. Ladd adds a personal reference as a PS in his email pitch (actually, PSS, but we don’t recall if he ever mentioned a PS.)
- Be flexible with your review deadline. This is where planning ahead plays a big role. The object in any book launch is to concentrate as much PR fire power as possible around a specific date. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. But as Ladd points out, you’ll be able to secure more review considerations if you have flexible deadlines.
- Be organized to manage the details. Ladd’s process may seem tedious, but there are no shortcuts in self-publishing, or for small indie publishers for that matter. Yes you have to keep track of the details—what you said to whom, names, emails, last follow-up date, etc. If this isn’t in your DNA, you need to find someone to help you. Unless you are incredibly lucky, success for new authors comes from “base hits”, not home runs.
- Be prepared to give your book away for free, or at least cheaply. We’re surprised how many authors balk at parting with their book for free, or a low price. Some even want the reviewer to pay for shipping. Seth Godin uses the word friction to describe reluctance, as in high price=high friction. Free or a low price removes one of the highest barriers to getting people to read your book, especially important for first book authors. No reviewer should ever be expected to pay to read your book. It just doesn’t work that way, even for famous authors.
- There are no short cuts, it does take time. Without putting in the time, you achieve no or limited results. Its been said by Barbara Hendricks, a top book publicist, that authors should invest as much time marketing their book as they did writing it.
- You need to enjoy using technology. This might be a deal breaker for some people. Ladd goes into detail about using Excel, then transferring the data to Google Docs so he can use a mailing program called Gmas (which admittedly does sound very powerful). But to first get to this point, he suggests you use tools called IO and 80legs to process your blog reviewer research findings.
This last part—the scraping of websites to populate a spreadsheet with reviewer data—sounded like a fun exercise, but then we like technology and challenges like this. But for many others, it’s likely a bridge too far. For Ladd’s methodology to work, you will need to be technology inclined, or know someone who is.
As mentioned at the beginning, it’s a book we can recommend. Even if you never actually follow his methodology, there is much to learn.
The Book Review Banzai way: find the right blogger, make a personable pitch, be flexible, be organized, be generous, invest the time, learn to leverage technology.