First of all, how I do things is a work in progress that has changed as I learn from my experiences. When I began blogging, I knew I wanted to mostly promote debut upper middle grade and YA authors because I love books. And that has always remained my main focus. I’ve picked authors who write in my favorite genres, which are fantasy, dypsopian, paranormal, sci-fi, and some thrillers/mysteries. I’ve occasionally branched out to promote authors who write contemporary and historical fiction and have been glad when I’ve done this. It’s always a great idea to expand your horizons and read something in a completely different genre.
My first year, I only knew I’d be Casey’s blog partner a month or two before I started, so I didn’t have much time to plan. I’d already been reading some book review blogs and found many of my authors through the debut author list compiled by The Story Siren for her debut author challenge. This is a great blog you can find HERE. Hobbitsies is now running this challenge because Kristi is having a baby and you can find this great site HERE.
Once I had a list of authors, I found their e-mail addresses through their blog and e-mailed them requesting an interview. As I got more established, I started including my stats on comments to my interviews and links to popular ones where I got a lot of comments. I really recommend this as the popularity of your author interviews grows because it will help you to get ARCs for giveaways.
I also asked authors whose blogs I follow who had books being released to be interviewed. Elana Johnson, Beth Revis, P.J. Hoover, Terry Johnson, and Janice Hardy were all generous in saying yes. I also got some author requests that I accepted. I mostly only posted on Mondays that year.
About half-way through the year, I realized my stats were growing from 30-35 comments to 50-80 comments and that I could probably get more ARCs for my interviews if I scheduled my interviews six months or farther in advance. So, I used a group debut blog to find most of my authors. That year it was The Apocalypsies. For this year, I’ve used The Lucky 13’s, which you can find HERE. I also scheduled interviews based on books I heard of that I’m excited about, author requests, and bloggers I know who have books coming out. I got busier, so I started blogging on Wednesdays and some Fridays since the beginning of 2012.
For next year, I have a few things scheduled from books I’ve heard about through Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Bookshelf and bloggers I know who have books coming out. But I’m looking for an active debut blog group to start setting my schedule. If anyone knows of one, please leave me the link in your comments. I’ll start setting my interviews in July for next January-June and by next February or March, I’ll have the rest of the year planned out for Mondays. I leave Wednesdays open for things that come up and requests for interviews.
It’s important to get a sense of what you and your readers like and pick books accordingly. For whatever reason, self-published books do not do as well on our blog, especially by unknown authors. So I steer any self-published authors who aren’t followers to the Tuesday tips, which is a better fit for the blog and our readers. Now that I’m busier, I am more particular about what I’m willing to promote.
There’s a lot of work just keeping things logistically moving. I have to follow up frequently to be sure the author hasn’t forgotten to get me an ARC or their interview answers.
Last year I decided I also wanted to try to get ARCs of books by popular authors that I knew wouldn’t have time for an interview. I’ve gotten some publicist contacts through friends and always take down the contact info if a publicist includes it with the ARC or if it’s on the actual ARC. I keep a master list of publicist contacts for future reference. And I’ve also requested ARCs through Shelf Awareness for Pros, a industry newsletter. You can subscribe to it HERE.
But once I started getting ARCs, the publicists started sending me a lot of unsolicited ARCs, like boxes of them. They’re all good books and I really wish I could read and promote them all. But I can’t with working full-time, having a family, and trying to write. I really don’t want to blog more than twice a week plus the two Tuesday tips I’m now usually posting each month.
I’ve used some of these ARCs for our 3000 follower giveaway and donated the rest to our adoption support group Chinese New Year party and one of my daughter’s middle grade language arts teachers for her class library. But because I didn’t promote all these extra books, I am getting less physical ARCs of the really popular books that I request. I’m okay with this because my reading list is HUGE and I can get most of the really popular ones as e-ARCs through NetGalley or Edelweiss or the books through the library.
BOOK GIVEAWAY HOPS
I’m doing on average this year one book hop a month through I AM A READER NOT A WRITER, another great book review blog you can find HERE. http://www.iamareader.com This is a really good way to promote popular books I can’t get physical ARCs for and to add new followers. They’re my most popular posts and I’m hoping to continue doing 10-12 each year. The trick on getting a good response is to offer a big selection (I usually offer 12) of popular newer released books for your giveaways.
I really only want to promote the authors and books I spotlight with giveaways because I know they will get such a better response. Even popular book review blogs get few comments unless there is a giveaway.
The first year I bought most of the books for my giveaways. But after that, I have gotten 80%-90% ARCS or books for the author interviews I do. However, I gave away 113 books last year and will give away about that many this year as I’ve already given away 63. Postage is very expensive because my giveaways are mostly international and postage costs (and book costs because of this) are going up. Plus I buy the books for the giveaway hops. Last year and this year I probably will have spent around $350-over $400. (Shhh, please don’t tell my husband.)
It’ doesn’t have to be that expensive. With my company closing next year and getting laid off sometime next year, I am definitely looking to cut costs. Not giving away unsolicited ARCs, having authors send out more books for giveaways, and having international giveaways include Canada because of higher postage costs are ways I’m thinking of cutting back. I’m sure you could think of other ways to keep the cost down too. And some book review bloggers have ads and other ways to cut down the costs that we don't do.
This is a pretty time consuming way to blog. I feel like it’s a part-time job sometimes. But I like helping authors and promoting books. For the summer, I’m planning to try to blog once a week and take some weeks off.
In the future, I’m also not going to commit to reading as many of the books I spotlight. Like right now I have 20 books I could read and give away. This doesn’t include the books I’m waiting to come in at the library. Because I feel like I’m too much on a reading schedule, I’ll cut down some of my reading for the blog.
Even with the cost and how time consuming this is, it’s very rewarding. I’m excited when I get over 50 comments on a book giveaway, which is common, even for the middle grade books I share. And it’s great seeing the enthusiasm for books in the comments. I have many followers now that are readers and book review bloggers as well as writers. So I wouldn’t change what I blog about. But I do want to scale back a bit so I have time for my writing and life in general.
I also have a book giveaway. I’m doing it today because I don’t really have any extra spots till July to spotlight these books. My review will be very short because this post is already long.
First here's a blurb of REQUIEM from Goodreads:
But we are still here.
And there are more of us every day.
Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.
After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor.
I loved that this was told from both Lena’s and Hana’s point of view. We get to see what’s going on in the Wilds and in the city. And what it’s like to live as an invalid and as a cured. Both Lena and Hana have their struggles to survive and I loved that they both fought in their own ways to survive the world they were thrust into and the choices they made. And they both face problems in their romantic lives too, though it doesn’t overshadow the story. There’s no sitting around thinking and wallowing for either of them, something I really liked. There’s constant problems and increasing of stakes for both of them that get more serious as the story progresses.
I know some people weren’t satisfied with the ending. I won’t spoil it by saying what happens, but I will say that I was okay with it. This is a fantastic end to this series. I wish it could go on and am anxious to see what new series Lauren Oliver comes up with.
I also received a copy of DELIRIUM STORIES: HANA, ANABEL, AND RAVEN and here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
For the first time, Lauren Oliver's short stories about characters in the Delirium world appear in print.
Hana is told through the perspective of Lena's best friend, Hana Tate. Set during the tumultuous summer before Lena and Hana are supposed to be cured, this story is a poignant and revealing look at a moment when the girls' paths diverge and their futures are altered forever.
Lena's mother, Annabel, has always been a mystery--a ghost from Lena's past--until now. Her journey from teenage runaway to prisoner of the state is a taut, gripping narrative that expands the Delirium world and illuminates events--and Lena--through a new point of view.
And as the passionate, fierce leader of a rebel group in the Wilds, Raven plays an integral role in the resistance effort and comes into Lena's life at a crucial time. Crackling with intensity, Raven is a brilliant story told in the voice of one of the strongest and most tenacious characters in the Delirium world.
So I’m giving away both these books. Thanks to Harper Collins for providing them to me. There will be two winners. To enter, To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on May 31st. Have any questions on how I organize my interviews and book promotions? Anything you really like that you'd like to see more of? Leave a comment. I'd love to know. I’ll announce the winner on June 3rd.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome, but I’ll only pick one international winner at most due to postage costs.
Here’s what’s coming up:
On Monday, I’m excited to interview debut author Natalie Whipple about her book, TRANSPARENT. It’s about Fiona, invisible to the world and herself, in a futurist world, desperately trying to carve out a normal life and escape her dad. I really enjoyed reading about her story and that of her friends who have unique powers too.
Next Wednesday, I’m interviewing debut author Dorine White about her book, THE EMERALD RING. I really enjoyed learning about the powers of the emerald ring with Sara, a smart middle grader, and her friends. And I found the mythology based on Cleopatra to be unique.
I’ll be off on Monday, Memorial Day. Yay! We all need a rest.
On Wednesday that week, I’m participating in HB Bolten’s blog tour for her new book, THE SERPENT’S RING, a middle grade fantasy that will fans of Percy Jackson should like. There will be a giveaway too.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you on Monday!