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13 June 2011 @ 11:19 pm
How To Trick A Blogger Into Thinking You Believe They're A Person  
Every book blog is written by a person.

Yeah, that sounds like it should be a given, but it's not. We put our words and our opinions out here on the internet and let 'em float around cyberspace. We're sort of a faceless bunch. I mean, even if we put up pictures of ourselves, there's no guarantee that's what we actually look like. Maybe it's a photoshopped picture of my friend! Maybe it's a photoshopped picture of my daughter. Who knows?

The thing is, though, book blogs are pretty much powered by a fierce love of books combined with a distinct voice or personality. No two book blogs are alike because no two people are alike. A book I write a froth-mouthed, stabby review for might be loved by someone else and therefore earn a glowing review on that site.

"Well, that was a lovely but pointless ramble, Anna, because not only did we know all that, but you gave us nothing to actually think about," you say. Yes, well, I'm getting warmed up.

There's been a bit of noise around the blogosphere lately about publishers, publicists, and authors developing a relationship with bloggers. (In this context I'm talking about a prefessional relationship.) Ok, there's always a bit of noise about that, but recently Digital Book World put out an excellent article on some of the do's and don'ts about dealing with book bloggers. I give a hearty amen to every one of the points on their list, especially the part about dealing with bloggers as individuals rather than just mass e-mailing every blog you can find.

I love to read, and I would love nothing more than to just have books to deal with all day every day. The thing is, though, along with that whole being a person thing comes a real life, and mine is busy and full of interruptions and distractions. Genre Reviews is a little blog, but I still get lots of e-mails about various books and ARCs. I've learned not to take them all or I will go mad(der). I try to be picky about the books I promise to take on (and even then, sometimes I wind up overloaded). You know what makes a huge difference in catching my interest? If you guessed 'treating me like a person,' congratulations! You've been paying attention to this post.

In all seriousness, though, when someone e-mailing me about a book uses my name (and spells it correctly) and gives me some sort of reason as to why they're approaching me specifically, I'm already much more engaged and interested in the book than if I get a mass e-mail that begins with "Dear Reviewer..." Is it shallow? Yeah, probably, but it's also human, of which I am one.

An example? Ok. About a month ago, I got an e-mail from an author who'd published through a small e-press. The e-mail starts off with a greeting and my name, and then in the space of about one hundred words tells me about the book, gives a very specific reason as to why they wanted their book reviewed here. And I was charmed by a note that admitted the middle of YA month was perhaps not the best time to submit this particular book, but they hoped I might be able to use it as a palate cleanser after May was over. And you know what? I'm in the middle of that book right now.

So why did this e-mail work? Well, it wasn't because it tried to stroke my ego and tell me I'm the prettiest and bestest at everything. Believe me, I'm not in book blogging to boost my self-confidence. It's just that this level of personalization tells me the e-mail was sent by someone familiar enough with my blog to be able to judge whether or not the book is a good fit here. As opposed to, say, the parenting manual offered to me a couple of weeks ago. (No, really.)

So what's my point? Well, I guess it boils down to one of the points the Digital Bookworld post made, which I think is where a lot of publicists and authors make their biggest mistake:

Approach Bloggers One at a Time
Every time I say that, people either roll their eyes in disbelief or try to sell me on the benefits of mail merge. Here’s the honest truth: you are better off reaching out to 50 bloggers one at a time than 500 via mail merge. You’ll actually get better results. Is it time consuming and labor intensive? You bet. Is it worth it? Yes!

Yes.
 
 
 
janicujanicu on June 14th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
Yes, nothing ticks me off more than to get a request when someone has clearly NOT read my review policy. If you can't be bothered to do that, why should I be bothered to even reply? And it's pretty clear (I think) what I review. So.. why am I getting a request for a self-help book/non-fiction/picture book? And you know, I say I don't review self-published. Yet people still try and use other terms to hide the fact that it is essentially self-published. Trying to TRICK me to review your book isn't really the best way to begin.
Calico Reactioncalico_reaction on June 15th, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
I had one girl comment and say she couldn't find my review policy and was just commenting at whatever entry she was commenting on and then blathered about the book. Rather than answer, I just pointed her to the review policy (which, on LJ, is on the user info page). She never responded. :)
Anna_ocelott_ on June 15th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
Every once in a while, I just stare at the e-mail and think "The site name is Genre Reviews. Genre Reviews. On what planet does your parenting manual fit into that?"
Calico Reactioncalico_reaction on June 15th, 2011 02:24 am (UTC)
In all seriousness, though, when someone e-mailing me about a book uses my name (and spells it correctly) and gives me some sort of reason as to why they're approaching me specifically, I'm already much more engaged and interested in the book than if I get a mass e-mail that begins with "Dear Reviewer..." Is it shallow? Yeah, probably, but it's also human, of which I am one.

Not shallow at all. It really, really irks me when it's clear the requestor isn't familiar with my blog, and if my misspell my name? Nothing annoys me more (especially since my name is one of THOSE names, you know?).

So no, that's not shallow!
Anna_ocelott_ on June 15th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah, I can see your names being one of those ones nobody ever gets right. But then, peoples' abilties to misspell is astounding. I actually get a lot of mail addressed to Anne or Annie. Drives me up the wall.
Calico Reactioncalico_reaction on June 16th, 2011 02:22 am (UTC)
No kidding. There was a time when I had to initial the spelling of my name for a program for a choral concert, and someone decided, before it went to press, that I didn't know how to spell my own first name and fixed it to Sarah. :-/

crotchetyoldfancrotchetyoldfan on June 15th, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
book blogs
Hmmm. I'm guessing that you recently received an email requesting your participation in a survey designed to help certain individuals put together a (for profit) system for putting publishers together with book bloggers...?

Requests are like ms in the slush pile. The first thing that turns me off gets them tossed; generic greetings, posers pretending to 'love my blog', misspelled names, posers pretending that my review will benefit ME the most, etc., etc. In. The. Can.

The flattery doesn't work for me either. Professionalism does.
Anna_ocelott_ on June 15th, 2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
Re: book blogs
No, I haven't gotten any e-mail like that. If such a survey exists, I haven't heard of it.

I actually haven't seen a lot in the way of direct flattery. Nobody's ever tried to convince me I make the world go round. Someone familiar enough with my blog to be able to tell me how their book would fit in with the kinds of things I review, though, could be considered a sort of flattery depending on who's interpreting it, so I wanted to point out that's not the aspect that appeals to me. It's not a "oooh, they read me!" reaction, it's a "hey, someone put time into this and made my job a little easier."
janicujanicu on June 15th, 2011 06:29 pm (UTC)
Do you also sometimes get books out of the blue that have nothing to do with your blog, and you have no idea where they came from? Like the other day someone shipped me a mini sticker book from Amazon. I called Amazon and they said I didn't buy it but some company bought it for me. Sooo weird. A mini sticker book? To this day, I still have nooo idea who sent it or why.
Vinnie Teslavinnie_tesla on June 17th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
It was a very strange sensation reading this--like when you're in a public place and you see someone vaguely familiar who it takes you a moment to recognize as your image in a mirror.

Thank you very much for making an example of me! I'm looking forward to your review.