The idea for this interview grew out of two fronts – first the “anti-blog-reviewer” article at The Huffington Post online and the rebuttals by LisaLynne and Amy – and second the discussion over at Reviewer X’s blog about the author/reviewer matchmaking process in which several people who commented asked how to get in touch with publicists.
Courtney, a publicist with Penguin, was kind enough to answer some of our burning questions:
What genre of books do you represent?
I represent a lot of adult literary fiction, but also books written by politicians and historical books and biographies. Occasionally some “chick lit” too, so quite the variety!
How important are blog reviews to your overall publicity strategy?
I think blog reviews are definitely growing more and more important each day. It’s the kind of thing where you know if an author is googled, the more hits the better. I also just really appreciate what bloggers have to say. I find it always to be a fresh take on books, love the personalities that come through and what the people who comment have to say, and find as a consumer (if I’m looking for a non-work related book to read) I sometimes tend to get ideas from the web as opposed to the book review sections.
How do you choose which bloggers you ask for reviews? What qualities should the blogs where the review will appear have?
I try to follow a whole bunch of blogs to see what the popular and well written ones are. I read Maud Newton, Book Daddy, The Elegant Variation, Editorial Ass, About Last night, The Book Publicity Blog, Galleycat and a lot of others, and then usually end up reading a whole bunch more depending on what those blogs are linking to. I’ll usually send a book to a blog for the same reason I would read the blog – like I said, well written and well read, with a lot of personality and if I think the book would be a good fit for them and their site.
How do you feel about cold requests for review copies from bloggers? And how do bloggers find you?
I am open to cold requests from bloggers as long as it feels like they are not taking advantage of the free book and seem genuinely interested in it, even if it is a small blog – you never know who’s reading. I’m not sure how bloggers find me, other than my name being attached to press releases. I find myself doing outreach to blogs more often.
I also got some comments from other publicists I am in touch with that deal with the “cold request” question:
“We are definitely excited when bloggers reach out to us about a forthcoming book. We do check out the blog to see if it’s someone with serious intentions, someone who updates pretty frequently and if so, and we have extra copies, we’re happy to send them out.” – YA Publicist
“We have a database of reviewers, both traditional and online, and we keep a list of what types of books the reviewers like to receive and contact them when we have a book that might interest them. Someone who puts in a cold request will go into the database if we are able to send them a copy of the requested book, and we do try to follow up. If that reviewer sends us a link to their review, then they are more likely to be contacted about reviewing a book in the future.” – YA Publicist
So there you go – publicists confirm that blog reviewers are important and that it’s ok to ask for a review copy of a book. Any other publicists, authors, fellow bloggers want to chime in?