How to Cultivate a Winning Author/Blogger Relationship
[box type="note"]Hi friends! Stacey here with my buddy and fellow PubCrawler Stephanie! Today we have two awesome guests, Bay Area bloggers Christy and Nancy from Tales of the Ravenous Reader, who’ve been kind enough to answer some questions for both authors and bloggers. They discuss how they choose which books to read, how to get a blogger’s attention, things that authors should do—and avoid—at book signings, and much more! [/box]
Stacey: We’d love to start by hearing a little more about your blogging routine. How do you decide which books to read? How many books do you read a week? Do you try to review a variety of genres?
Nancy: It all depends on blog tour obligations and when post commitments are due. In regards to the books I read, it's a combination of author commitments and whatever books that I feel that I can handle at the moment. Since I have a long commute and love audiobooks, I tend to listen to 4 books a week and may read 1-3 books, depending on how my schedule is. Right now I'm listening to way more compared to physical reads. When I began blogging, I would only read novels in the paranormal and fantasy genre but over the years my reading purview has vastly expanded. The only one that I am not too comfortable with is Sci-Fi.
Christy: I write every minute I have time, when I'm not reading, of course. I keep posts drafted in case we need to fill in a date. I'm the self-designated post scheduler. I maintain a list of blog ideas on my phone and write them whenever I have time. Admittedly, I judge books by their cover or by authors I know. For upcoming author events, I try to read at least one book before attending. I read about the same amount as Nancy for the same reason - long commute! Nancy and I are a good balance because I LOVE sci-fi and tend to shy away from high or epic fantasies. I'm really digging YA non-fiction this year and wish there was more of it.
Stephanie: What makes a great blogger in your opinion?
Nancy: Honor, dedication, diplomacy, and, most of all, kindness.
Christy: I second all of that and add consistency and branding. Every blogger has something special they bring to the blogging world and should showcase that!
Stacey: What are the hardest parts of the job?
Nancy: Working full time and other commitments keep me rather busy, so not being able to read all the books that I would like to read plus, being able to find the time to properly sit down and post can be a great challenge for me. Balancing reading and blogging is a challenge.
Christy: Staying unique and balancing different types of posts. During the big publishing time of year, it's hard to write anything but reviews, author interviews, and other promotional types of posts. We want to help authors get the word out about their work and talk about all the great books that are coming out. The original content ideas are piling up on my phone right now.
Stephanie: How active are you in the blogging community, and how important do you think those relationships between bloggers should be?
Nancy: Since I have been blogging for over 8 years, my patterns of activity have changed and I must admit the last six months have been the most active I have been in years. Yet, I still keep in contact with many bloggers that I have met over the years either during conventions, conferences, or signings. They are some of the most important relationships that I have
Christy: I am newer to the book blogging community but not to blogging (who else has a Livejournal hiding from 2002?) so I am still forming relationships. Relationships with other bloggers is key to the success of a blog because they're your best champions! The blogger community is tight nit and full of wonderful people who want to support each other. I love participating in Twitter blogger chats and blog events because they bring bloggers (and authors!) together.
Stephanie: Does the personality of the author matter when you choose to review books, or are you just there for the story?
Nancy: If it is a story I really want to read, then the author's personality does not matter to me.
Christy: I agree, if it's a story I want to read, then I am going to read it. However, when an author engages in interviews, Twitter conversations, or other types of social media, it makes promoting a book that much easier. We like to include related tweets and interview snippets into our reviews and event recaps to add variety to the post. We also like to repost author posts on social media for that "viral" effect.
Stacey: What things should authors avoid when interacting with bloggers?
Nancy: Do not engage in negative behavior. I have been around long enough to have seen some pretty bad things but one of the worse is bad review responses. I personally don’t tag authors in my reviews and can never understand why anyone would tag an author when the review is negative. Responding usually makes everyone out to be the villain.
Christy: Totally agree. There are some bloggers or people who post reviews and do not know social media etiquette. Let that be their bad, not yours. Even a private message from you or your publicist can be made public and taken out of context.
Stephanie: That is great advice. What do you wish authors would do more of when it comes to bloggers?
Nancy: Authors should engage with all level of bloggers frequently to help promote their novels. We are here because we love books and love to read, so why not have us help you. It is a journey that we are more than happy to join you on. There are also great blog tour companies (such as Rockstar Book Tours and Irish Banana Book Tours, both of which we participate in) that will help you host great blog tours, free of charge.
Christy: I had the opportunity to moderate the Boldly Bookish Tour, featuring Tiffany Schmidt, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, and Tara Altebrando, and it was one of the funnest experiences of my life. I wish more authors would work with bloggers to moderate/interview at events, or even allow short interviews a few minutes before or after the event.
Stacey: For new authors, what are your hot tips for catching your attention?
Nancy: Pre-order incentives are a great way to catch my attention. Also, engaging with an audience about your novel on social media. Jennifer Niven did a great job of showing her journey as she went on book tours and conferences and such. It made me feel as if I was in on everything with her and gave me something to talk to her about when I met her. Also, try to get some swag into subscription book boxes (we love the Bookworm Box, curated by author Colleen Hoover, because it benefits non-profits).
Christy: Those pre-order bonuses are HOT right now! New authors shouldn't be afraid to reach out to bloggers with a professional email that includes social media contact and book information. Nancy and I pick many new authors who are not on the "hype train" to review solely because they sent great introduction emails. Also, this is such a small thing, but even a "like" on Twitter or Instagram gets our hearts fluttering.
Stephanie: It seems as if you two attend almost every book signing you can, which is amazing! So, we would love to know, what types of things you love seeing at events?
Christy and Nancy: We do attend a lot of events, for authors we know and even those we don't. We have the best indie bookstores in the country that bring us great authors and for that we are lucky.
Things we like to see at events include:
A five minute author introduction. Could be by a bookseller, the teen advisory board (if applicable), another author, or a blogger.
Conversation about your novel (with someone else or by yourself is fine, too), which may include a small reading of no more than a few pages. You can get an idea about what people are questioning or interested in by what they ask on social media.
Audience Q&A. On top of questions about the book, people will usually ask about your writing process, what you're currently working on, and what you've read recently.
Visual aids, like a PowerPoint presentation or a book trailer, give us a little more insight into your novel and your writing process. We love the presentation Stacey showed with her launch for Outrun the Moon. That presentation gave us inspiration for a book tour video that we did.
Signings, of course! We love swag and giveaways and think everyone does, too, though these are not required.
For large events, a moderator may be necessity. It helps to have someone who can keep the event on track and not let it go on for too long. Since most events happen during the week, and the audience is geared towards a younger crowd, parents and working folks appreciate that. A posed photo at the beginning with all the authors at the event is greatly appreciated.
Stacey: Conversely, is there anything you don’t really enjoy when it comes to seeing authors or a signing or while on a panel?
Christy and Nancy: NO LONG READINGS!! People tend to check out, no matter how great your voice is.
Have fun at the event! Introduce yourself to us if you're in the store early or if you're at another author's event. We are all there for you and understand how nerve wrecking it is to be in the spotlight.
Christy and Nancy of Tales of the Ravenous Reader.
Thanks again for joining us, Christy and Nancy! All of these were fantastic answers. Those of you reading this, if you’re not already following Nancy (@ravenousreadr) and Christy (@diamondxgirl) on social media, we highly recommend changing that.