Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Becoming a Book Blogger / Why I Don't Approach Publishers Myself

I’ve been a book blogger for three years, so I would say I have a lot of experience and I’m very lucky when it comes to publishers and review copies.

When I started blogging I just reviewed the books I enjoyed reading, the first few were Paige Toon’s and Jane Costello’s books. These were all books my mum gave to mum and then after a while I started being them, because I adored reading them so much. Somehow I just ended up writing down my thoughts and I published them on my blog. I had a blog before, so I already had blogger and knew how to use it. I had a blog name yes, but everything else was a mixture of designs, pictures, fonts and colours. Once I had a routine and more contacts I also changed the design of my blog and made it more personal, that helped when it came to having opportunities for review copies.

In the beginning I didn’t receive any ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies /Review Copies) at all. As I said, I just reviewed the books I already had, I started sharing my reviews on Twitter, tagged the authors and slowly got into the book blogging world. I suddenly met lots of other book bloggers and by talking to them and seeing their blog I was able to learn and improve. That’s also where I heard of NetGalley. NetGalley is a great platform for book bloggers. You can request book and the publishers can accept it and you have the book on your kindle. In return you just write a review. NetGalley was really difficult for me in the beginning. They like people with a high review percentage (when you start you don’t have that) and they look at your location. Living in Switzerland got me a lot of declined requests and I was not the only one. We never really understood that rule, because we all review in English, I don’t review in German, I don’t even read German books and I have an English C2 diploma (mother tongue level). Well, anyway... I started to have the same problem with publishers, who didn’t want to send me a book, because I live in Switzerland.

I had to learn that as a newbie blogger it’s not easy. Of course seeing all the others receiving their books didn’t make it easier. I accepted that pretty quickly and just reviewed my books and occasionally ARCs (some publishers were nice). The more I read and the more I reviewed, the more I got recognized by publishers and authors. Twitter really helps here. Share your reviews, tag the author, tag the publisher and they might read it. That got me a lot of great connections. Once the publishers know you, they want to send you more books. So it’s all about being patient, doing what you love and promoting your reviews. What also helps are book tours and other bookish posts like author interviews or guest posts. Being active on Twitter can get you giveaway wins and just browsing through posts you might see publishers asking for book bloggers to review, that’s actually the only way I ever contacted publishers.
I have never emailed one and just asked for books to review. Now that I have my connections, I’m in email contact with them of course, but that’s it. A lot of publishers keep a list of book bloggers, so you either receive books from genres you like regularly or you get emails with the newest books out. Then you can answer and request a few. I have to admit, it’s still difficult with certain publishers, it’s as if they have never recognized me. I tag authors and publisher, but never get a reaction and then comes the “location” excuse again. I’m actually sick and tired of it.

I have never really emailed publishers myself, because I always have a lot of books to read, my TBR is endless, growing every day and then I get emails from publishers and authors with requests. Sometimes I say yes, sometimes I say no. I still buy the books of my favourite authors and I’m really happy with my reading routine, so here is why I say no to certain requests and I’m also not said about certain publishers not sending me any books.

I have worked with a lot of publishers, editors and authors in the past three years and I have to say some have a really special way to deal with bloggers. I don’t like it when being part of a blog tour becomes kind of a competition of who answers a questions in a “fun/creative” way and who answers first. I have a full time job; I’m not glued to my email 24/7 so I miss a lot of opportunities. Last minute things are not really my thing as well. Or when you’re part of a blog tour and it ends up not being one or the publisher kind of forgets about you. Most of the time it’s a great experience working with publishers and authors and I’m grateful everyday.

I think it’s also important to say that you shouldn’t put yourself under pressure. It’s not about reading as many books as you can, still enjoy your hobbies and everyday life. It’s too stressful taking on too many books, managing everything next to a job and then ending up reading the whole night, because you have to put the review up the next day for a blog tour. Also and I know that’s a hard one: Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers/blogs. Yes, they might get more opportunities, maybe not, they might receive a book by your favourite author and you don’t, but that’s normal. Be happy with the things you receive and achieve and also interact with other book bloggers, because I would say we are a pretty AWESOME community. We help each other out, we are always there for each other and I have gained a lot of wonderful friends through it.