Guest Post | How to Write a Publicity Query Email That Won’t Get You Blacklisted by Bloggers – Melanie R. Meadors

Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy and science fiction stories where heroes don’t always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion.

Her work has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and she was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest. Melanie is also a freelance author publicist and publicity/marketing coordinator for both Ragnarok Publications and Mechanical Muse. She blogs regularly for GeekMom and The Once and Future Podcast. Her short story “A Whole-Hearted Halfling” is in the anthology Champions of Aetaltis, available April 12, 2016. You can find out more about her on Facebook and Twitter. 

About the Book

More than three hundred years have passed since the fall of the Atlan Alliance, and the people of Aetaltis have finally brought order to their fractured world. Fledgling nations have grown into powerful kingdoms, thriving merchant states have re-established old trade routes, and the priests of the Enaros have rebuilt their great temples.

But in this time of hope, the shadow of an ancient evil has emerged from the darkness to threaten the world once again.

Discover a new world of adventure in this collection of pulse-pounding stories written by some of the greatest fantasy authors alive. From the vine enshrouded ruins of a lost jungle temple to the seedy back alleys of the villainous city of Port Vale, experience the thrill of heroic fantasy with these gripping tales of action and adventure.

How to Write a Publicity Query Email That Won’t Get You Blacklisted by Bloggers

by Melanie R. Meadors

 

There are about a million ways you can draft a letter asking a blog or website if they would be willing to have you or an author you represent on their venue to help publicize a project, or to have them review a book, or whatever else you are querying them for. However, as many bloggers will tell you, there are about a million ways you shouldn’t write one, too. As an author publicist, doing both freelance publicity for authors themselves and doing publicity for small publishing companies, I send out a lot of letters/emails every month to blogs asking for reviews, guest articles, and interviews. It’s my job. I’m a professional. Or, at least, I play one on TV. When I saw a couple bloggers posting samples of some of the letters they got (names removed to protect the not-so-innocent), I was appalled. How could these authors expect to have a blog offer them a guest spot if there was no mention of the author’s name in the message. Or the title of their book? How could they expect a blogger to do a kindness for them when they outright insulted the blogger in their message? Even so-called publicists are guilty of some of the most atrocious things in their letters (and this is where I will say buyer beware! In this age of social media, there are people who say, “Hey, I could make some extra money being a copy editor/publicist/book formatter!” and they have little to no training or experience. DO NOT just hire anyone to do these things. Make sure there are plenty of references and experience listed, because you are giving them money you’ve worked hard for. Don’t let someone who has no idea what they are doing have it and then make you look bad because your name is associated with them. Do your due diligence). I have seen query letters from “publicists” that use the wrong author name, the wrong book name, completely mixed up information, faulty cut-and-paste operations, etc. And believe me, in my years in this work, I’ve screwed things up. Mistakes have been made. But not because I am completely ignorant of procedures or because I’m totally careless.

You, as an author, are a professional. This is a business you are involved in. Therefore, you need to conduct yourself in a manner that is professional. I’m not saying you have to be stiff, that you have to have no personality or that you can’t have fun. Quite the contrary! But if you want to succeed in this business, there are things you need to do, and being able to write a proper email asking a blog or website if they would be willing to review your book and/or have you on as a guest is one of them (and these same pointers can be used to ask if you can take part in convention programming, or if to invite authors to your blog, or anything that is business related). Many of the bloggers I query for my authors are my friends after a few years. My messages to them about business matters are STILL business letters.

So, without further ado, here are my pointers for a successful query to a blogger/reviewer:

  1. Dear John: Address the blogger by name. You can usually find their name on their website somewhere. And make sure you call them the RIGHT name (cough, I’ve actually screwed this up once in the past couple months, and was rightfully called out on it). This lets the blogger know that you actually put some effort into getting to know their blog, that you didn’t just get their email address from some list.
  1. Be sure to look at the blog’s guidelines for both reviewing and/or articles. Some do not want self-published books. Others only want certain genres or subgenres. Those are their rules. Don’t try to convince them to take a book that is outside their criteria. Those rules are in places as much for your benefit as theirs. Do you really want to put your science fiction novel on a romance blog, no matter how many hits they get? The audience will not be impressed, and you’ll have completely wasted your time. You also run the risk of getting bad reviews for misrepresenting your book. If a genre is not a good fit, it’s not a good fit. Don’t try force yourself in.
  1. Mention the blog’s name in the body of the email, and say why you want to be on their blog in particular. This lets the blog know you’re familiar with them and that you know what they are about.
  1. In the body of your message, always remember the 5 Ws and 1 H.

Who: Your author name, or who you are writing on behalf of.

What: Your book title, or the project you are representing, as well as a short line about what genre.

Where: The publisher, and also the author’s website.

When: The release date.

Why: Why are you querying this blog in particular.

How: How can the blog help you? Do you want a review? A guest post or interview? All of the above? Tell them what you want.

  1. Sign your message. Some people don’t. You must.
  1. Author bio and book summary: After your signature, paste the official cover copy of your book and the bio of the author. This helps the blogger see if they are really interested or not.
  1. Always include your website address (and yes, you’d better have one). The blogger will want to check you out, see your previous work, see what kind of following you have, etc. On your website, they should easily be able to find links to your accounts on Facebook and Twitter, etc, and so just by including this link, they will have a lot of their questions answered.
  1. Offer them content that will draw readers to their blog. Bloggers are not your bitches. They aren’t working for you. They have a blog because they want people to read them. The harsh reality is that book spotlights get skimmed or skipped. No one cares. Anything that is easy for you, the author, is usually the least effective. Bloggers want content. They want an author’s unique view of things, they want to offer their readers something to entertain and inform them. They want something that will be shared on social media. And really, that’s what YOU want, too. You are doing a publicity tour so that you can actually reach readers. Not just so you can check off a box that says “stuck crap up on the internet.” Spotlights don’t reach readers in a memorable way. Posts that make them laugh, let them hear your voice, and show them who you are hit readers in a positive way that will make them click on the link to your work so they can learn more. That type of content is good for bloggers and is good for you. Tell them what type of post you are interested in, and if possible, even offer them a topic.
  1. Use a professional yet friendly voice. Be you in your letter, but keep it professional. This will ensure that all information is conveyed correctly, and will also ensure the blogger that you have a voice that will both appeal to readers and be able to get information across. This letter may well be a blogger’s first exposure to you as an author. Show them that you can actually write.
  1. DON’T BE A DICK. For those of you who have taken my workshops, you’ll know I inevitably end all of my publicity lessons with Wheaton’s Law. When all else fails, even if you do none of the above, just follow this one simple rule. Treat people like human beings, represent yourself honestly, and don’t convey yourself as some celebrity no matter HOW big you are. Show in your letter (usually by following the guidelines above) that the blogger is important to you, that you recognize that YOU are the one asking for a favor, and treat them well. If you screw something up, not being a dick is the best way to overcome any fall out from your mistakes.

I hope this list has been helpful to authors and aspiring publicists alike, and I also hope it will be helpful to bloggers who have to receive some of these letters. There is a lot to learn in the world of publishing, but most of the time just some thought and common courtesy can go a long way. And who knows? Maybe an article you write (accepted by a blogger because you had an awesome query letter) will go viral and make you an author rock star! If you piss off a blogger before they even see your work, however, you’d never know.

5 Responses

  • Another killer: query letters that are just blustery explosions of clueless egomania. The most preposterous (and non-self aware) query I ever got was from a self-pubber who mentioned that he had contacted no less than Ann Leckie’s agent, confidenlty boasting that his book was superior to Ancillary Justice. He then went on to express shock and bewilderment that said agent reacted angrily to hearing his client insulted!

    Reply
    • Oh, goodness, yes. When querying, people need to let go of their egos. Your letter is to convey information, not to write the book review FOR the reviewer.

      Reply
  • Excellent post! Super helpful, especially to those of us that may lack experience in sending out that type of communication. Well done!

    Reply
    • Amber–I’m so glad you found the article helpful. Best of luck to you!

      Reply
  1. Pixel Scroll 4/13/16 The Dark Nightfall Returns | File 770  April 13, 2016

    […] however, Melanie R. Meadors’ advice to prospective guest bloggers makes a lot of sense — “How to Write a Publicity Query Email That Won’t get You Blacklisted by Bloggers” at Bookworm […]

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