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Getting bloggers to notice your book

Reaching out to book bloggers can be a game changer, but how to do it?

When I published my first novel in 2016, I reached out to some big and medium-name historical fiction authors, hoping for book blurbs, kind words, review snippets, anything at all. The few who responded (let’s face it, their assistants responded) politely refused. As for the rest, my emails disappeared into a black hole. Lesson learned: the “cold approach ask” doesn’t work. I then turned to historical fiction book blogs with large followings. Bloggers who did respond told me, “No, not interested,” or “No more submissions, I’m drowning in books!”

Newbie blues

For a while I gave up on bloggers. I finally snagged a couple of worth-their-weight-in-gold blurbs from established authors, and made a few key connections with influencers in the art history world (my book series is about a Renaissance-era female artist). Meanwhile, I worked on book 2, published it, and dreamed about hiring the publicist who gets books into Oprah’s magazine.

Then I got a second wind. I was going to crack the blogger code. But how? I needed relationships. Sending emails or tweets or Facebook messages without introductions was a waste of time.

Getting a clue about bloggers

I joined a few Facebook author groups for historical fiction authors and noticed some of the same names I’d seen on Twitter and Instagram. A couple of author friends I’ve gotten to know through joint promotions or by helping them with editing and beta reading were involved in some of these groups. I realized they were well-acquainted with some of the people I’d struggled to connect with in the blogosphere. Bingo! They became my guides into historical fiction blogland. With email introductions connecting me to a few influential people, I submitted my book to more bloggers for review—and got the green light.

Then I noticed (why did it take me so long?) that many of the authors I was getting to know participated in blog tours to promote their books. A genius idea came to me: why not do that myself? So I did. In March, The Girl from Oto made it into the hands of a dozen or so bloggers through Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours.The result was several great reviews, interviews, and some social media “buzz” for the book. I did have to put some time into writing answers to interview questions, and one of the bloggers’ reviews has not yet been posted, but…fingers crossed! Here’s a link to a particularly lovely review on Coffee and Ink Books, and an in-depth interview with me about the book on Jorie Loves a Story.

Just as the tour ended, The Girl from Oto got more fantastic reviews and won awards from the bloggers I connected with thanks to my contacts in the author world. The book was chosen as a Discovered Diamond Runner-Up Book of the Month, and it was awarded the Coffee Pot Book Club Book of the Month. My Twitter feed was on fire with all the retweets from supportive historical fiction writers and readers.

Sales galore?

You would think all the great reviews and social media buzz would generate lots of sales, but sadly, that hasn’t been the case. There was a modest bump, but nothing like the boost in sales I get from advertising a price promotion. However, I now have lots more testimonials from influencers in the historical fiction world, plus some awards to highlight on my book sales pages. With all those new editorial reviews, my website and book sales pages now need major updates…work I’m only too happy to do!

Yes, it took me a few years to figure out how to get in the door with bloggers and hop on the blog tour train. Now that I’ve done it, I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. On the other hand, nothing of value I’ve ever done happened overnight. It takes me a long time to create the art I put into the world, to build meaningful relationships, to finish projects that matter to me. This indie author gig is a long game, and I’m in it for the rest of my life. Or until I become an overnight success, whichever comes first.

 

 

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