The one where I give unsolicited advice

Dear independent* author
 
I understand that in today’s topsy-turvy publishing world you have to take on many roles in addition to your writing. I am sympathetic to you because in my job I too have had to become an expert on many things that aren’t part of the work I trained to do including budgeting, managing people, procuring goods and services within the ever-changing rules and regulations of the jurisdiction in which I work and having a grasp on a massive array of hardware and software. Frankly it sucks having to be a Jill of all trades and master of none and I appreciate that you’re probably doing the best you can.
 
I know too that you probably have received a boatload of advice – solicited and not – about how best to market your book and make it stand out from the million or so other books published each and every day. So the last thing you probably want is yet another piece of such advice but I’m gonna give you some anyway. 
  1. No means no. Not ‘maybe’ or ‘well since you badgered me I will change the habits of a lifetime and read a werewolf novel just this one time’.
  2. An unsolicited plea by you for a total stranger to read/review/promote your book does not entitle you to a response or an explanation. If you push for one, be prepared for it to be curt. Or even unpleasant. 
  3. Do not assume every book blogger on the internet is American. When you do (and a lot of you will) don’t be surprised that it irks those of us who aren’t.
  4. Before you plea with a book blogger to host your blog tour / interview / giveaway / free tattooing of first-born child with your book’s logo take 60 seconds to look at the blog you’re asking a favour of to see if such things are regular features there and/or whether or not your particular book is the kind the blogger(s) reads. Or if you don’t do this (and a lot of you won’t) don’t be surprised when you get no response.
  5. Spell and grammar check your begging email. 
Kind Regards
 
Bernadette at Reactions to Reading
*After a comment I realise this might be unclear – in my head I was writing to authors who have ‘published’ their own manuscripts by whatever means available without those books having gone through the benefit of a process which has turned their manuscript into a novel (e.g. editing by someone other than a family member, proofreading, typesetting and the myriad of other things that the publishing process has traditionally taken care of). I wasn’t thinking of authors published by small publishing houses that are sometimes called independent (though rarely by me as I don’t really know what it means when it comes to publishers)
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16 Responses to The one where I give unsolicited advice

  1. Maxine says:

    Spot on! I would only take issue with the salutation. Self-published/vanity authors like to call themselves “independent” as it gives them some form of clout/identity/self-justification, but they are not, they are self-published or vanity 😉 (“independent” authors are people who have been selected by an independent organisation, the publisher….and published by that third party).

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  2. Refreshingly frank Bernadette…. It still amazes me how many people seek a review for a book without providing a link to it…

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  3. Bernadette – Oh, what a wonderful post!!!! Every point is completely spot-on! I think my personal thing is your point #3. I’ve had so many requests to do a review/interview/host a guest post, etc., and it’s clear from the request that the person has never read my blog. Or if s/he has, it’s been just a cursory glance at the title and maybe one or two post titles.
     
    I also agree one zillion percent that at least the person making the request ought to do a bit of homework and find out where the blogger is located, what her or his cuppa is when it comes to reading, and so on.
     
    I have empathy – really, really I do – for those who are trying to get their books noticed. I would love everyone in the universe to buy mine too. But there’s a way to do it and you’ve given great advice for how to go about it.

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  4. Aargh! I meant your point #4 – sorry!

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  5. Amy says:

    Can I add two more? Don’t beg the blogger to review a title and then tell them where they can go buy the book, because you don’t understand that we receive titles at no charge. And, if blogger has accepted said book to review, and chooses not to review it for varying reasons (like, it’s ghastly), do not harass said blogger.
    Great post!

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    • Good additions Amy. Youo’d think people would understand that by saying nothing you’re doing them a big favour as the alternative would be to be truthful about the dross they’ve produced.

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  6. Nan says:

    Excellent! Especially the part about reading one’s blog before asking a person to read their book. I get requests to read books I would NEVER read, even if they were the only genre available. :<)

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    • Yes Nan. I can’t imagine I’ve ever given any hint that a book featuring werewolves & romance is something I would consider reading. I’m sure there are heaps of blogs out there that would like such books so I don’t understand why people don’t spend a little bit of time and try to target their pitches a bit more.

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  8. Leeswammes says:

    Great post! I wrote something along similar lines with some examples on how to write a pitch email – which you’ve seen already I think. Just for future reference: http://leeswammes.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/authors-how-to-pitch-your-book-to-bloggers/ 🙂

    I really don’t like it either when authors try again, after you’ve already said No. They should go off and find more suitable blogs instead!

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  9. Another addition: When I say under my email adress “no books accepted for review” don’t email me asking me to review your book. The answer was right there.

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