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Earlier this week we discussed ways to get your traditional book noticed (and reviewed) by book bloggers. Today I’ll try to tackle the much stickier territory of self-published books and e-books.

Unfortunately, this is a much steeper hill to climb for a number of reasons.

  • First, you don’t have the backing of a publisher or publicist. You are essentially on your own to build your platform and following.
  • You haven’t gone through the normal gate-keeping channels, and bloggers see this as a bigger risk.
  • Not all bloggers have e-readers, and I don’t know anyone who likes to read books on a computer screen.

I discussed this with Sara Gundell, founder and admin of www.NovelNovice.com. We’ve both been approached by authors of these types of books, and to my knowledge, we’ve never reviewed a single one.

Here are Sara’s comments:

 It’s really a personal preference for bloggers. Some will read them, others won’t. This goes back to checking the review policy. I don’t read/review e-books because I don’t have an e-reader (nor do I want one), but I’ll accept a bound manuscript if an author wants to send that. As a general rule, I don’t read self-pubbed books because (a) I’ve had bad experiences dealing with authors in the past (who didn’t like my review) and (b) in general, most self-pubbed books are not very good. There are, of course, exceptions … I recently read a self-pubbed book on the recommendation of Heidi Bennett at TheReadiacs.com … because I trust Heidi, I trusted her recommendation and I loved [it].

I do have an e-reader, but only recently started getting e-galleys from netgalley.com. Even then, I only review books that are available in Kindle form.

I asked some fellow book bloggers what would make them review a self-published book or e-book, and the answers ran the gamut. Some said they flat-out refuse to review nontraditional books. Others said self-pubbed books were among the best they’d read this year. Most had great suggestions, which I added the following list of recommendations:

  • Make it easily accessible. If you’re using, say, Smashwords, include detailed instructions on how to access it and transfer it to an e-reader (or provide a link to the service’s instructions).
  • Build your platform and WORK IT. Provide a link to your website/blog (which should look clean and professional, and have all the pertinent info we’d want). Also, if we already know you from Twitter, etc., we are more likely to take a chance on you. Comment on our blog posts. Take part in conversations. Build a relationship BEFORE you send your pitch. Sounds like a lot of work, but not really if you read the next point —
  • Do your homework. Ideally, you should already be following a number of blogs in your genre. After a few weeks/months, you’ll know who you should be targeting. Make sure the book bloggers you approach review your kind of book. Nothing is more frustrating than getting an e-mail about a book your blog doesn’t ever cover. Most of us don’t even make exceptions for traditionally published books outside our genre because we have an obligation to our readers/followers. Also, be sure to check if the blog has book submission guidelines listed on the site. If so, honor them. Don’t waste your time if they specifically say they don’t review your self-published/e-books.
  • Craft a great pitch. Just like a query letter, address us by name — it lets us know you’ve been poking around our site and like what you see. (“Dear blogger” = DELETE) This can usually be found in the “About” section. Since you didn’t go the traditional route, practice your pitch/query on us and give us the same basic information: a succinct and well-written description, your credentials, etc.
  • Link to positive reviews. If your book has already gotten some good reviews (especially from other book bloggers within the genre) LINK TO THEM! We’re a relatively small and tight community, so if someone we’re affiliated with gives you a good review, we’re much more likely to give your book a shot (see Sara’s comments above).
  • Have an attractive and professional cover. Sorry, but it does count. We know not everyone’s an artist, but if it’s professional and reflects the tone/subject matter of the story, you stand a better chance.
  • Consider offering a preview. Again, it’s like a query with the first ten pages attached. A chapter would be great. Hook us and we’ll ask for more.
  • Have the right attitude (regardless of the outcome). This is a biggie. Although I’ve never had a bad experience, a number of the people I talked to have had negative exchanges with self-published authors and it made all the difference. Even if that author goes on to publish via the traditional route, he/she has burned that bridge and will likely never get reviewed on that blog. And we talk. If someone blasts a fellow blogger, you’ll be unofficially blacklisted. Which is just a really long way of saying, be professional. Even if we say no now, there’s always a chance down the road and it’s nothing personal. We are honored that you chose us, and understand that you poured your heart and soul into your work (many of us are writers, too, so we get it!).

I hope these tips helped and didn’t scare you too much. They’re really just common sense and good business practices.

What else would you add to the list? If you’re a self-published author, what have your experiences been like? If you’re a blogger, how have your interactions been? (No slamming or names, please!)

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