Friday, April 22, 2011

Pitch Like a Pro to a Book Blogger

copyright 2011, Brianna Ahearn

As an author, you have to take marketing efforts into your own hands. Unless you wrote the next Twilight, chances are your publishing house – particularly if you’re an indie author – might not have the marketing budget.  So where does that leave you?  The Internet. 
The Internet offers numerous opportunities to market yourself and one such route is book bloggers. But how do you get your book in a blogger’s hands so they’ll (hopefully) tell their readers why it’s worth reading? The all-mighty pitch is your ticket.
Bloggers might seem like a mystery to a novice author. I mean, if you stop and considerate it, these are people who devote hours upon hours to reading and promoting books, often for free. While some bloggers do receive ARCs and giveaway copies for review, they’re not raking in the bucks.  Just know that bloggers are people just like you who love to read and more importantly, share what they read. 
To approach a blogger is a simple science.  The pitch must encompass several things and answer any questions that may arise:
1) Why they should read your book.  Does it fall within a genre they read? Is there an author they favor who is comparable to you?  Have you followed their blog for a few weeks and seen that they regularly mention certain characters they enjoy?
2)  A synopsis of your book. Think of this part like a mini query. A blogger wants to know the who/what/where/when/why. 
3) What you can do for a blogger when they review your book. Can you offer to participate in an interview or sponsor giveaway? Cross-promote their blog’s review on your websites?   Tell them!
A Sample Pitch
The following is a mangled version of how I might write a pitch for HARRY POTTER by J.K. Rowling.  Ignoring my meager plot description (how could I mess with a master!?), do take notice of how I highlight the major facts of the novel and why a blogger should read and review it.
Dear Bri,
Harry Potter lives a rather unremarkable life at Number 4, Privet Drive, with his aunt and uncle and horrible cousin Dudley.  Unremarkable, that is, until a series of letters begin arriving to Harry and a mysterious giant informs Harry of the truth: Harry is a wizard and has been accepted to the wizard school Hogwarts.   Life at Hogwarts brings friends, a first taste of magic, a feeling of acceptance, strange and wonderful encounters, and a mystery involving a stone from which an elixir of life can be retrieved.  Can Harry solve the riddles before and vanquish his foes to retrieve the Stone?
Based on your past reviews of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDDROBE and THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, I feel you would really enjoy HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, the first in my Harry Potter series.  Your readers will enjoy following Harry as he experiences life at Hogwarts, within a world where ghosts haunt the halls and paintings come alive.
If you’re interested in considering HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE for review, please reply with your mailing address and I will have a copy sent to you. 
Thank you for your time (or an otherwise polite phrase),
(Author name)
The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching
As a blogger of a couple years, I’ve heard horror stories about blog pitches and experienced some of my own.
DO address a blogger by name. I’ve received pitches addressed to “Dear blogger” or “Dear reader.” Now my posts are signed, my name is in my site address, and on my site profile, I say my name.  Showing you spent at least a minute on a blogger’s site or a minute to craft a personalized pitch will cause them to spend that amount of time reading your pitch.
DON’T say anything generic like “I love your site” without demonstrating you know the blogger and an ounce of what their writing style is like.
DO be very clear on what you’re pitching.  Nothing is more annoying to a blogger than a murky pitch. Remember the three things a pitch must accomplish.
DON’T pitch them a genre they don’t read! That’s not to say you can’t still target a blogger outside their preferred genre. If they clearly state they enjoy historical YA and your adult historical novel features a favorite topic, you can still pitch to them.  However, offering to send your Christian mystery to a purely paranormal blogger is just bad business.
DO read a review policy before pitching. A good review policy will tell you what genres the blogger reads, what formats they accept (ebooks vs hardback/paperback), how they review, etc.
DON’T demand a positive review on Amazon or a blog.
DO enclose any additional material a blogger might appreciate. This includes images of your book cover, author photos, links to your website, and more.
DON’T pitch your novel in the comments of a blog.  Write a detailed and personalized email.
DO research blogs and participate on blogs!  Visit, follow bloggers on Twitter, comment on their posts, and interact with them. Nothing makes a pitch more attractive to a blogger than an engaged author who genuinely likes blogs and views them as more than a marketing tool.
Just like writing and editing a novel, and preparing it for the masses, pitching to a blogger takes time and skill, but a little work can have a big payoff.
Biography: As a bookseller of over ten years, Brianna Ahearn can’t get enough of books. She blogs semi-regularly at about YA and children’s lit.  Using her M.S. in Communications, she writes a monthly column on authors and the internet at


Ellie said...

Reading this as a blogger, this is a great post and lots of useful tips in there that I would appreciate in an approach :)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hi, Brianna. Thanks so much for being our guest today on Murderby4. You know, the term book blogger seems to have recently gained some ground, and it's great to not only get the word out about the wonderful service you provide (helping the world find great books to read!), but also the best way to approach a query for a review. Hope you'll come back soon, and have a wonderful Easter holiday. ;o)

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Good post--excellent reminders.

Ron Adams said...

Great advice, Brianna, a lot of which I'll be using myself. Thanks for your input and please don't be a stranger!

Bri Ahearn said...

@pwb, Thanks! I must say reading several bad pitches in my email lately fueled this.

@Aaron Paul Lazar, Thanks for the opportunity! Book bloggers are more of a "thing" than ever. I'm so happy to be one.

@Terry, Glad you liked it, thanks for the comment!

@Ron, I won't be a stranger! Happy pitching!

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Donna J. Shepherd said...

Thanks for the post. I get a lot of emails that say, "Dear blogger, I love your blog." I have several blogs. Which one? Excellent advice, Bri!