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Let's Talk About… Questions Authors have for Book Bloggers…

Recently I had an Author send me over a question that really only a Book Blogger could answer and it got me thinking… I bet there are a lot of things that Authors wish they could say, suggest or ask a Book Blogger where normally it seems ‘rude/weird/demanding’.  So here I am… listing the questions & comments that Authors would love to ask you, but don’t.

I’m going to answer each question/statement with ‘my’ thoughts.
Melissa of Chick Lit Central is also going to answer each question with her thoughts.
(thank you Melissa for participating!)

If you’re a Book Blogger please comment on questions you’d like to answer in the comments!  This is a great opportunity for some chit chat on a subject often not talked about.

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– an author question

Since book bloggers are often inundated with review requests (I’m talking proper ones that adhere to submission guidelines), what are the top three factors that help them determine which books to accept? Do you know what I mean? anonymous author

-Aimee’s thoughts

For me these are my top three factors when choosing to say yes to a book review request –

-Did they follow my policy and get me everything I request?
Seriously, READ these.  So many people claim to have read them and then still send over their books that clearly don’t fit our genres but they try and force them to fit… we know, we check genre listings on Amazon.  Why would you want someone who doesn’t love your genre to review your book?

-Cover, if the cover isn’t good — well let’s just put it like this: say you’re getting a tattoo and two of your friends have examples of an artists work on them, one is obviously not so great when the other is fabulous.  Who are you going to choose?  The artist who clearly has skills to do fabulous work or the one who’s artwork is OK but could be better.
Your cover is a BIG deal… don’t just throw it together as cheap as possible, it shows.  Your cover is how most buyers will decide whether or not to even read the back blurb of the book.  If a cover isn’t great, we assume the writing is so-so too and I’ll pass based on that.  (I’ve never read a book with a GORGEOUS cover and found the writing to be crap)

-Be a person in your email… don’t talk yourself down, or your book.  Don’t beg, don’t give a backhanded compliment to the blogger.  Know a bit about the blog.  We are actual humans receiving these emails and we’re considering doing you a HUGE favor for FREE that often takes 6-8 hours of our precious time.  Be personable, thankful and NICE.  Offer to let us do something other than a review as well… for some of us our TBR lists are MONTHS long so if you give us an opportunity to interview you or have you write a guest post or do a giveaway, (and let us review when we get to it) you’ll get more yes’.

-Melissa’s thoughts

If it’s in the genre we cover, that definitely helps. Sometimes we stray a little bit if it borders on chick lit, but we try not to go way outside our comfort zone (i.e. sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc.)

The synopsis grabs us. While we know that no two readers are alike and that all books might not interest me personally, if I think it will interest my team of reviewers, it then goes to the next step, where I ask if any of them want to review it.

I agree with Aimee on her items, so that can all fit here. Knowing the blog you’re reviewing and being personable vs. sending out a generic request and bcc:ing us is definitely a determining factor. Demonstrating to us that you read our review policy and filled out the necessary form is helpful too. (I’m hoping to one day get that form into a better system, but still working out how.) And yes, the cover is important and I am not afraid to call you out on your cover if I feel it’s going to hurt your sales.

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– an author question

As an author who does some book blogging I would love it if when I’m hosting someone they/or the tour would email me a couple of days out and ask if I have everything I need (It’s a subtle way of being reminded). I don’t host people all the time (Though I’m happy to so my schedule can be lose and I forget).
As a writer I wonder if bloggers really think give-aways generate traffic?
– author Monique McDonell

-Aimee’s thoughts

-I agree… reminder emails are awesome… we as bloggers have busy emails and reminding us is great… continually asking when your review will be posted… not so much.

-Do give-aways generate traffic?  YES!
On my blog a normal review/promo post can get anywhere from 400 – 1500 views.  When I add a giveaway to that, depending on the book, it easily doubles those views.  If it’s a desirable book or popular author, it can triple the views.  So yes, without a doubt giveaways affect and generate traffic if promoted right.

-Melissa’s thoughts

As a blogger, I always check in with authors/publishers/tour hosts (whomever is the primary contact) to make sure I have everything I need before the post goes up. I also send a draft of the post at least a day before it goes up.

Giveaways DEFINITELY generate traffic. I see a lot more views on my giveaway posts than my non-giveaway posts, although people do comment on the latter more than I was expecting. There is extra work that is involved with doing a giveaway, so I try to do only two or three a week.

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– an author question

I once saw a conversation on twitter from a few bloggers who were giving out that they had requests from people who had never ‘interacted’ with them. I get not reviewing someone who doesn’t bother to find out your name, or the genre you read, but do you know many bloggers who feel like this? – author Bernadette Maycock

-Aimee’s thoughts

-This is kind of a tricky question.  It’s hard to say yes to everyone and honestly the authors who are friendly, thankful and chatty are likely to get more ‘yes” than those who aren’t.  I don’t base my ‘yes” on this nor do I give it much thought when receiving a request (have they ever spoke to me before? no… buh-bye  — I don’t do this.) but if I decide to say yes to an author and the only response after spending 8 hours of my time reading & reviewing is ‘Thanks’ on a tweet… then yeah, I’m probably not going to spend another minute on favors for them.  We as bloggers depend on the authors promo just as much as the author depends on our promo/reviews.  It’s just common courtesy to be nice and equally promoting.

-Melissa’s thoughts

I don’t think being interactive is the deciding factor. I sometimes don’t interact with an author until *after* they’ve sent the review request. And even then, sometimes it’s a quick back-and-forth e-mail to tell them if and how we’ll be featuring the book. I have become personable with some authors after initial review requests, while others I never hear from again, regardless if the reviewer liked the book or not. A lot of the time, I interact with publishers and publicists, but I do get authors who are representing themselves. As long as they are polite and if I am not able to feature the book for whatever reason, they are gracious about it, then we are all good. I’m in some groups on Facebook where readers and authors interact all the time in a forum-like environment. That has definitely been helpful and a good way for authors to get to know readers and bloggers better (and vice versa). I recently wrote a post about whether it’s a conflict of interest or not to review books by authors we’ve become friendly with. (Aimee included her thoughts in the post, as well!)

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– an author question

I’m curious how bloggers feel about reading/reviewing a book from an author they’ve read/enjoyed before whose new book is a different genre if they don’t typically read that genre. For example, from chick lit to young adult….(Asking for selfish reasons!) – author Meredith Schorr

-Aimee’s thoughts

Ok, so this really depends on how far off the genre is for me.  If you write ‘chick lit’ (the genre) and your new book is sci-fi… you lost me.  But if your new book is say ‘young adult chick lit’ I’m going to stick around and read your new book.  I think an author moving to a completely new genre is scary for readers but if it’s still very close then you likely won’t lose a ton of readers and possibly gain some you didn’t have before.

-Melissa’s thoughts

Meredith could write the phone book and I’d read it, but that’s another story…

In any case, it depends on the author and the type of book they wrote. I read a women’s fiction novel by Kate Moretti and was blown away by it, so I read her psych thriller, BINDS THAT TIE, afterward. (She has another one called THE VANISHING YEAR coming out this fall and it sounds fascinating.) Sophie Kinsella’s first foray into YA was impressive and I wouldn’t mind more of that from her. Also, Lauren Clark wrote chick lit and now writes psych thrillers as Laura McNeill. I loved CENTER OF GRAVITY and am excited to read SISTER DEAR. I am with Aimee on how extreme a genre switch it is. I’m not going to do sci-fi from an chick lit author,  no matter how much I love them. It’s just not my interest level. But psych thriller and YA are cool with me. I sometimes read women’s fiction novels by romance novelists, such as Debbie Macomber and Susan Mallery’s recent books. I loved them both.

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– an author question

I wonder about the effectiveness of cover reveals and book tours in regard to sales. Is there any kind of measurement tool? Am guessing not really. Also am wondering if bloggers have a wide circle of others they can reach out to for a review tour? As reviews are an author’s life blood, mothers milk, manna from heaven, etc.
How can we authors get “more porridge please”… If I had a blog perhaps I would put up a tiny ” review primer” for readers of the blog.. Something easy peasy like mention a character you like or if you’d like to visit the place or story setting…then the reader can add her name to a list of booklovers and maybe the blogger has a drawing later in the year for …Something(???)
– anonymous author

-Aimee’s thoughts

-Book Tours/Reveals/Promo they won’t lead to sales, and they definitely won’t lead to sales that are measurable.  There is no way to tell which post got you which sales or which promo/tour got you which sales.  Sad but true.  Book tours and promo posts are really just to gain interest in your book and get it into the eyes of potential buyers.  For more info on this I have a whole post about book blog tours here.

-Bloggers who run tour companies likely have a large list of ‘hostesses’ that they reach out to to participate in tours.  For instance, I have a list of 140+ bloggers who’ve signed up to be notified each time I have a new book on tour.  When I do the sign-up I then send out a ‘new book on tour’ info email to all of those bloggers notifying them of the details of the tour and they sign up for the tours they want to participate in.

-Giveaways by authors always draw in readers old and new.  It’s never a bad idea to offer ‘incentive’ to get readers to do something like sign up for your email list.  Getting reviews is a little less easy than that just because there are FAR more authors than there are Book Bloggers and we have to pick and choose through the many requests we get.  If we don’t choose your book it’s really nothing personal it just means that we probably have 471 books to review in the next 3 months and we can only read the books that really stand out.  So to grab those readers make sure you’re following the tips in the first question and READ policy pages.

-Melissa’s thoughts

I’m not exactly sure what the question is getting at. I’ve done cover reveals in the past, but have been moving away from doing as much of them. I will share another blog’s cover reveal for that book over at the Chick Lit Central Facebook page though.

I participate on blog tours if I feel the timing works for the book I wanted to feature.

I keep a list of bloggers who do book reviews and share them with authors who are interested. Especially if I’m not able to feature the book at my blog but it still sounds like something readers would be interested in. (Bloggers, if you want to be on this list, please let me know!)

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– an author question

In a review a blogger wrote that ‘The author should have written this’ and I found that offensive.  This is my job, I’m an author and I wrote the book how I (the author) wanted to write the book.  When writing reviews do you think it’s right when a book blogger tells the author how it should have been written? – anonymous author

-Aimee’s thoughts

-No, I don’t think anyone should ever tell an author how they should have written the book.  But keep in mind as book bloggers our job is to write how we see the book, what might have lost us, what we may not have liked, what we loved, etc.  There are classier ways to write a review than to tell an author how to write.  Talk about your personal likes and dislikes sure, but the author is the author for a reason and just because you didn’t like something, doesn’t mean everyone didn’t like it and it doesn’t mean it was badly written (normally).  When reviews are written I think they should be tactful, polite and honest, never bad mouthing an author personally.  

-Melissa’s thoughts

I always try to be fair, balanced, and tactful in my reviews. I expect the same from my review team. If I was hoping for something different to happen, I say “I would have liked to see…” but I don’t tell the author how to do their job. If I can’t give a fair and balanced review because the book just wasn’t doing it for me, I tell the author that we’ll feature it in another way, as it is not my place as a blogger to hurt an author’s sales. (Some people on my review team have chosen not to review books for similar reasons and I am always up front with the author about that.)

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Well.. that’s it for now.  I’d love to hear your author questions/comments below and I’ll give my thoughts (which are highly sought after, clearly lol).

This was such a fun and informative post to write and I hope to do another in the future.

Thank you Melissa of Chick Lit Central for helping me with this post!!

If you’re a Book Blogger please comment on questions you’d like to answer in the comments!  This is a great opportunity for some chit-chat on a subject often not talked about.

Amy Koppelman (8)

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  • Reply Melissa A

    Thanks again for including me!

    March 11, 2016 at 8:32 am
  • Reply Meredith Schorr

    Interesting and educational post – thanks, guys! (And THANK YOU, Melissa for your extra special awesome comment. I promise I won’t ever write a phone book, but it’s good to know at least one person would read it if I did 🙂 )

    March 11, 2016 at 8:34 am
  • Reply Kate Moretti

    This was a great post!! I’ve passed it along to a group of Author friends as a how to with book bloggers. I adore all the bloggers who have supported me and will do anything I can to support them! Thanks so much for the shout out Melissa! Xoxo

    March 11, 2016 at 9:12 am
    • Reply Melissa A

      You’re welcome. Thanks for sharing!

      March 11, 2016 at 9:22 am
  • Reply Phoebe Fox

    Love this–it’s always so helpful to see things from the other side of the coin. Thanks, Aimee and Melissa!

    March 11, 2016 at 9:42 am
    • Reply Aimee

      Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

      March 11, 2016 at 10:24 am
  • Reply Imani Coles

    Hey Aimee and Melissa,

    Thanks for this post! As an author myself, a few of these questions were definitely pertinent to me. I also appreciated the fact that you took it upon yourself to specifically include questions that might otherwise be deemed rude to book reviewers. What a fantastic idea to play devil’s advocate!

    I appreciate the point you made, Aimee, about taking care to have a professional cover. I learned a lot from the connection you made between how often the book cover helps readers decide if they want to buy, reviewers decide if they want to accept it, and overall that it’s a reflection of the content within the book. That’s a statement I truly needed to read.

    Thank you both!

    March 11, 2016 at 1:48 pm
    • Reply chicklitaimee

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Imani!!

      March 12, 2016 at 11:08 am
  • Reply The Belgian Reviewer

    Great blogpost. I can only agree that the cover and description play a big role. If it’s already had some reviews, I also look at the ratings on Amazon. If it’s only received one or two stars at that moment, I’ll probably pass…

    March 19, 2016 at 6:57 am
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