Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Don’t even bother going to jail. Just go home.
Getting respected bloggers to review your debut novel is hard, like getting a hot chick’s number at the club hard. No one knows who you are so why should they care even if your book is the greatest thing ever (in your eyes at least)? First you have to make sure they’re willing to read your specific genre (good luck pitching that existentialist novel about Buddhist monks racing Mopeds down the mountain in Nepal in order to better understand grade and slope), next you have to hope that they don’t have a large backlong that’s as tall as Everest or as long as the Kunshan Grand Bridge, and lastly, you have to provide a personalized query letter that will both capture their attention and make them consider your novel for a review (hint: don’t start off with “Read my damn book now!”). In short, the odds are usually against you (imagine Team USA winning the World Cup) because review bloggers get queried all the time so you really have to make your voice stand out.
I’ve been querying bloggers for the past several weeks in an attempt to get the word out about my novel. Most days I’m simply left waiting, wondering if my email was received, read and discarded or simply sent to the spam folder because of the lack of a response. No one tells you when you start writing what an arduous process the entire thing can be (like training for a marathon only to find out that it’s not like jogging that trail behind your house). In addition to completing your novel, there is a lot of work you have to do after you’ve typed in that final word to your manuscript. If you query 100 bloggers, a good number of responses to expect would be 10 (based on what I’ve read and seen) so consider a 10% return rate as more than adequate for all your efforts. Hey, this is a waiting game and if you’re not established to begin with (seriously, who are you? Like really?), you shouldn’t expect everyone to come fawning over your work. You have to go out there and do it on your own. Build up a reputation, engage with other authors, readers, post on message boards, blogs, etc. Put in the necessary effort not just to make your book heard, but so that your voice is out there as well because if your objective is to write more novels in the future, you want to resonate with the appropriate crowd sprinkled across the internet (avoid message boards associated with corporate fanboys, they’re nothing but trouble).
With that said, I’ve had the luck of receiving two positive reviews for ‘My Disjointed Life’ so far. They can be found here or here. Also of course, both can be found at the bottom of my book page on Amazon.
Keep querying (and make honest, sincere efforts to reach out to every potential reviewer, don’t email them something garish like “fo shizzle” or “yo dawg”) and the replies–and hopefully the reviews–will eventually come. With enough persistence, should you decide to write that second novel, the next time around won’t seem like such a steep hill to climb.