What’s Up?

ImageI decided I needed to take a moment, show my blog some attention, and catch up after what was a hectic start of the year.

First off – Sport of Kings was released by Liquid Silver on January 1st.

Second – Volume Four of Memoirs of a Gigolo will be out on February 1st.

A few readers have asked me if there is something else on the horizon. First – thank you. I’d probably be doing this if you weren’t buying my books, but that you keep coming back for more tells me I’m doing something right.

A very very brief glimpse inside of what’s coming up. I have a romance coming out sometime later this spring through TWRP. I have a couple mainstream romances (which are pretty spicy but not erotica) I’m trying to get agented. I have something completely different which I’m working on that will appeal to readers who like mainstream contemporary fantasy. A YA dystopian in which I indulge my love of ancient cultures, mythologies and religions. Finally, after Memoirs I’ll be launching a new serial.

That’s it for the moment. Now I’m back to work for the next couple of days in advance of the launch of Volume Four of Memoirs of a Gigolo.

FREE This Weekend – Volume Two of Memoirs of a Gigolo

I have to say I wasn’t sure at first if I would put Volume Two of Memoirs of a Gigolo on promo. But in the end I decided that it’s still early days for the serial and the promo does the job at bringing new readers into the fold.

So for one time only, I’m offering it up for free. That isn’t to say I won’t put it up again for free, but I can say that I’m just not certain when (or even if) that will happen. But for now and at this moment, it is available for free on Amazon.

There is no risk with free, but there is much to gain. I love Oliver, Olga, Elon, and possibly even Renatta (still not sure if she will have a redemptive moment yet). I do hope to find more readers that enjoy what I write as much as I enjoy producing it. For me, writing Memoirs is a labour of love. I hope that comes through.

Pole Dancer Name Wanted – Suggestions Welcome!

I had dinner with a good friend this week. As he does, he asked me how the writing was going. I told him about my sales, the promo I’m doing this weekend, the series I’m working on, my YA dystopian, my decision to published the Juniper Grace series I’ve been working on since college… Oh… and about all the crazy stalkers I’ve attracted on Facebook. So many guys that just want to make a girl suit out of me. So many of them!!!

He’s friends with me on Facebook. He’s noticed that I have some… devoted… fans. Do I find it as disturbing as he does when I have men wanting to know what color panties I wear? Yes – possibly more. He’s not sure about that. Then there was something about me writing erotica being the equivalent to blood in the water for the sharks. The question then is, what am I doing about this? I unfriend these people immediately after taking a picture of their wall and jotting down whatever information I can about them.

He suggested we should come up with a safe word (I’m to ask him about our friend Johnny if he ever calls and I have a lunatic in my home) and perhaps invest in some pepper spray and a large dog. He made a good point last night. I probably shouldn’t be publishing erotica under my name. I need a stage name. Something I can use if the writing doesn’t work out and I really do need to turn to exotic dancing to make a living. I do not mention that I did try pole dancing (thank you Dr. Lulu for talking me into that hour I’ll never get back) and I failed. I nearly concussed myself. As it turns out, pole dancing is not nearly as easy as it looks and the spinning upside down part is only for the initiated and very limber.

It’s not that he’s uptight or has a problem with what I’ve been spending the bulk of my time writing lately, it’s that it might be bad for me professionally and for the living and breathing part of me. I like being alive. I also spend my time in a very conservative place. I don’t think the people associate with directly would have an issue with what I write, but the institution as a whole might. The chances that anyone would put together that I’m that Livia Ellis and this Livia Ellis are probably so far from probable that it will happen.

But that’s not my only reason for wanting a pen name for my erotica. When else in my life am I going to have an opportunity to invent a name for myself out of whole cloth? I have no plans to take up pole dancing or become a drag queen so I will never require a crazy stage name. This is my chance. This is the moment I can unabashedly call myself Crystall de la Faal.

Some of my personal favorites which have already been suggested to me today:
Miss Spelling
Miss Understood
Anita Cocktail
Helen Heels
Anita Mann
Luce Change
Amanda Taunt

PLEASE send me any suggestions you might have. At the moment I’m loving Anita Mann.

Fifty Shades of Telling it Like it Is – Meet the Reviewers Part Deux

I’m back with the reviewers for Part Deux of the interview. What do they have to say about self-publishing and the problem of sockpuppetry? Read on to find out.

  • Question #7 – The ease at which writers can self-publish has created a flood of books available for either free or for next to nothing. The filter through which manuscripts passed (i.e. publishers and agents) is no long there. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Cat Alley

  • From a writers stand point it is a good thing… from a readers it means more is available and a lot at much cheaper price. But what I am also finding is a lot of editing errors. If we continue this way then the writer has to find good editors. I understand that no one can be a perfect editor, but that is why you have readers before you publish your book. It is a reflecting of you as a writer, take more pride in your work.

DelSheree Gladden

  • I think the good outweighs the bad. Yes, you get the occasional book that is atrocious, but for the most part, you get such a wide variety of stories and voices. I enjoy being able to read good stories and not being told what constitutes a good story by publishers. Sometimes they get it wrong.


  • From a writer’s point of view, the ease of self publishing is good, however, the author needs to take extra care about typos and editing because it can make or bread their book if a reader has to constantly deal with typos. A few don’t matter, but a lot can jar the story. Editing becomes critical, because you want to make sure character names don’t become mixed up, or situations in the storylines get confused.
  • Livia Ellis
  • Question #8 – It seems as if reviews are one of the only ways to separate the unreadable detritus from the true gems. Do you think because of this too much emphasis has been placed on the importance of reviews?

Cat Alley

  • Not at all. I think they are very important, but not as important as your beta readers and your editors. Reviewers only help sell it after.

DelSheree Gladden

  • I think reviews are a great tool in deciding whether or not to take a chance on a new book, but most readers still go with their gut on a book regardless of reviews. Maybe if they see all ones and twos they’ll pass it by, but for the most part, either the book will pique a readers interest enough to buy, or it won’t. Reviews give a reader confidence to purchase a book they’re interested in more than tell them which book to buy in my opinion.


  • I agree with Cat that a beta readers and editors are critical. The only thing a reviewer is going to do is give an opinion of the book, which can help some people decide to read a book or not.
  • Livia Ellis
  • Question #9 – Can you judge a book by it’s cover?

Cat Alley

  • The cover is what always attracts people at the beginning. For me that is the first attraction, then i read the back and if it sounds interesting I get it. It is a lot like meeting a new person. You instantly judge if you want to meet them by there looks, then you introduce and make small talk, if a spark is there you learn more about them.

DelSheree Gladden

  • A great cover definitely helps, but it is by no means a guarantee of quality. Two of the most eye catching covers I’ve seen this year turned out to be the two books I gave the lowest ratings to.


  • Ususally the cover is the first thing to catch a reader’s eye, then the blurb about the book. The blurb will actually be the selling point once the reader picks up/looks at the book after seeing the cover.
  • Livia Ellis
  • Question #10 – There have been a lot of reports in the media recently about bogus “sockpuppet” reviews. Does this activity diminish your status as reviewers or make what you do that much more important?

Cat Alley

  • umm.. I don’t watch the news or really listen to it so I have no clue what a “sockpuppet” reviewer is, but it doesn’t sound good.

DelSheree Gladden

  • I think the quality of the sock puppet reviews show through and don’t convince readers as much as the person posting them hopes they will. When someone is posting dozens and dozens of reviews because they’re being paid for them, not because they actually read the books … well, it’s hard to be that creative and write quality, meaningful reviews. They all start to look the same and readers pick up on that.


  • I think that bogus ‘sockpuppet’ reviews hurt legit reviewers as a reader may not trust them in the future. I also feel that this ultimely hurts the authors, as it may give readers the impression that this is the only way they can get someone to read their book.

Livia Ellis

  • Final Question – Have you ever started to read a book with the intention of reviewing it, and it was so bad you just abandoned it before you wrote it up?

Cat Alley

  • I have always finished it if I have been asked to review it published, might not have been a great review but I have a very hard time just abandoning a book… I always hope that it will get better. The few books I have come across so far that has been very hard to finish have been beta books where I could sit down with the author and discuss reasons why it was hard to read, see if it is something that can be fixed or not. But I have had one beta book I could not finish. I am sure it had nothing to do about the book itself, just was not my cup of tea and I could not relate at all to the characters.

DelSheree Gladden

  • I have a weird compulsion to finish a book no matter how bad it is. There is only one book I started reading in my entire life and did not finish. That was back in high school and it still bugs me. However, I have really wanted to quit reading books. With books I review, I try very hard to find at least a few positive comments, but I do say as nicely as possible what the book’s failings were.

Samantha Truesdale

  • I always finish a book and review it if I have told the author I would do so. In the couple of cases that I didn’t particularly care for the book, I try to leave a constructive review. There is only one book I can think of that I absolutely could not bring myself to finish, and that was the second I’m the Shades of Grey series. Thank you so much for doing this! It has been fun!


  • I always finish a book I get for review. I may not like the book, but try to give some positive remark if possible. If I end up reading an author with two books I don’t like, I just don’t get their books to read. It’s not fair to the author. I have actually not finished a couple of print books because I just could not deal with errors or storyline, but they were not something I was going to be reviewing.

Livia Ellis

  • Final Final Question… anything you’d like to add?


  • This has been fun and I look forward to the blog. Thanks for the questions and getting to meet other reviewers.

Samantha Truesdale

  • Thank you so much for doing this! It has been fun!

DelSheree Gladden

  • Thanks for the fun questions! Can’t wait to see the blog next week!

Cat Alley

  • I want to thank you for taking the time to ask me what I think in general of my process. I can’t wait to see your blog!!

Erotica’s Lost Literary Roots – I Know It When I See It.

Back in 1964 regarding possible obscenity in the film The Lovers, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote in his opinion:

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that. [Emphasis added.]
—Justice Potter Stewart, concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964), regarding possible obscenity in The Lovers.
I’ve spent better part of a week trying to come up with a way to define where the line between literary erotic and Porn is. Is it the quantity and the quality of the sex? Is it the use of sex within the context of the story? Is it as simple as the fact literary erotic is plot driven and not just descriptions of sex held together in a sort of jello mold of context? I kept going back to what Justice Stewart wrote – I know it when I see it (or read it in this case).
Does it matter that there is a clearly defined difference between the two? I think it does. At least to people like me who are trying to get back to the origins of erotica in their work. The wall I am consistently thrown against is the same: I publish my books under Literature and I’m slammed for having too much sex in my books – I publish my books under Erotica and I’m slammed for the sex not being raunchy enough in my books. There is no single good category for me to classify my books.
My latest release Memoirs of a Gigolo Volume Two has ended up in Books › Gay & Lesbian › Literature & Fiction › Erotica (to be exact). I have a few nits to pick with this. There is a scene of gay sex in the story that is pivotal to understanding the relationship between two of my main characters. But the story as a whole is not a gay erotica. It certainly doesn’t belong in the same category as some of the books it’s lumped in with. The only category that Volume Two really seems to belong in is straight Erotica. But again, I’m getting hit for filing Volume Two in there.
As one reviewer who left a still respectable rating wrote (I’m paraphrasing because I can’t be arsed to look up the review again) “I just don’t get it – there is only one het and a lesbian scene. What’s the point?” The reviewer did make note of the fact my writing was better than most of what was available. I do appreciate that.
From my perspective, there needs to be another category that books like mine can be sorted into. Two subheadings under Erotica. One for Literature one for Porn. Take the confusion out of it. So I’m going to start a petition. Ask Amazon to add two subcategories. One for Literature. One for Porn. Make it clear and easy for everyone to understand what it is I write and what a lot of other people write on both sides of the fence.
What is the solution? I know porn when I see it and I know literary erotica when I see it. I think most people doing the writing know what they’re producing. When I want porn, I go for porn. When I want erotica, I got for erotica. Just to be clear, I’m not bashing porn. It has it’s place in the universe and I respect its right to exist. I am also not implying there is such a thing as good and bad sex (that is wholly in the mind of the person involved). There are subcategories for romance. There should be subcategories for erotica.
Unfortunately I have this tendency to get on my high horse and ride it until my ass cheeks chafe.  But I’d rather try to do something rather than just bitching and moaning for the sake of nothing. So I started a petition. I’m going to get enough people who agree with me and ask them to sign it. Then I’m going to send it to the machine that is Amazon. They’ll probably ignore it, but at least I will have done something. Here is my petition: There is a difference between erotica and porn. Please sign it if you agree with me.

Fifty Shades of Fallout – After the Promotion

Memoirs of a Gigolo was available on Amazon for free for five days. Never again will I do a five day promotion. I must have been out of my mind. Or woefully inexperienced with the process. Never again. I have learned my lesson via trial by fire. Two days, perhaps even three, would have been enough. Five was too many.

Here are the hard numbers and a few facts:

  1. 1972 copies of Memoirs were downloaded across the various amazon sites. I was so close to 2000. I very nearly did another promo push, but just didn’t have the heart to ask for support one final time.
  2. Memoirs reached #7 on the top 100 free erotic downloads list.
  3. Since the promotion ended a week ago, I’ve sold 79 copies priced at $.99.
  4. 18 five star reviews have been written on the various amazon sites. Readers seem to get what I was trying to do with Memoirs.
  5. 1 four star review was written on amazon.
  6. I’ve been contacted by four agents – two are highly respected, two I’ve never heard of. I’d love an agent. I think I might go down this road.
  7. No less than two publishers that rejected Memoirs asked me if I’d be interested in placing Memoirs with them. I haven’t responded. I’m not sure if I turn on the hyper-bitch, accept, or just politely send them a form letter that reads something like… While I am unable to comment personally on every query, please know I did give your work my full consideration.  Thanks for thinking of me. I wish you nothing but the best in your publishing career…. OH the temptation!!!! I wouldn’t do it. I want to work with these people at some point in the future. But it would be so delicious to dish it out for once.
  8. 214 guests attended my virtual release party on Face Book.
  9. I tried to figure out how to market on Twitter – and then failed. I can’t figure out Twitter.
  10. I very nearly posted a picture of my BFF’s husband, the scary freaking Marine who is currently in Afghanistan, on my Facebook Page and told everyone he’s my boyfriend. I write erotica – as one of my friends told me it’s like blood in the water for the sharks. I’ve attracted a couple of weirdos. They’ve been banished from my Facebook Page.

Memoirs of a Gigolo Volume Two will be available on November 1st.  I’m absolutely terrified that it won’t live up to expectations. Sophomore syndrome or something like that. I’ve already started sending out the invitations to my virtual release party. I’m lining up blog slots. I have a few interviews set up. I’m watching and learning from my writer friends. The learning curve arches like a rainbow. Something is happening. I can feel it.

50 Shades Free – Five Promotional Days on Amazon

Memoirs of a Gigolo has been available for free on Amazon for the past three days. I’ve hit a high ranking of #7 on free erotic books and have given away 1474 downloads. I still have two days left to go on the promotion – the sky is still the limit. I’m putting the numbers up simply because this is the question my writer friends ask me the most often; what are my numbers? I honestly don’t know what to say at this point. I’m stunned by the response. So how did this happen and did I do the right thing giving so many books away? What could I have done better? What did I learn?

It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I signed up for the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program. If I’ve learned nothing else from the Marketing Maven, I’ve learned to diversify and not to limit my exposure. There is a lot of debate raging amongst indie authors about the machine that is Amazon and buying into their marketing scheme. After a fair amount of weighing the pro’s and con’s, I opted in to KDP Select. For the uninitiated, a quick primer on KDP Select. First, a caveat; if you sign up for KDP Select, read the fine print. You might be giving up more than you want to.

  • When you sign up to KDP Select you agree to three months of exclusivity. What does this mean? You can only sell your ebook on Amazon. That takes Smashwords, Lulu, All Romance Ebooks,  and a few others off the table. You are limited to Amazon as a platform to sell your books.
  • In exchange for giving away your power to sell on a variety of platforms, you receive five free promotional days. Basically, you are given the option to promote your book for free for five days. Once again, just so we’re all on the same page, you give Amazon 90 days and they let you give your book away for five of those days.

I know… I thought the same thing. Why would I want to give my book away? I’m not asking much. $.99 – even in this economy, not a fortune. I’ll admit I was doing okay – not great, but okay – before the promo days began. I sold on Smashwords, Lulu, and All Romance along with Amazon. I actually had the most sales on Smashwords. So why did I in effect hobble myself, but signing up for KDP Select?

Numbers. The larger the base of readership I can build in anticipation of the release of Memoirs of a Gigolo Volume Two, then the better chance I have of generating the kind of momentum that pushes a book into becoming a trend. I may not make any money selling Volume One, but I’m getting something so much more valuable – a fan base that will be looking forward to Volume Two. I’m active on Facebook, I’m reasonably savvy when it comes to social media and networking, and (yes) I blog. I enjoy blogging, but the simple truth is, my blog is one giant advertisement for my writing. I’m also anticipating building an audience as I release each volume of Memoirs of a Gigolo.

I want to put Memoirs of a Gigolo into the hands of people that might enjoy it with the hope that at some point in the future, they’ll want to read everything I write. In essence, fans. There are a few writers that I read based on their name alone. I want that kind of following and I’m willing to work for it. By work, I mean work. Eighteen hour days for the past three days. A little more preplanning probably would have spared my nerves. So what would I have done differently and what will I do the next time around? A few things.

  • Memoirs is written in twelve parts. Each part is scheduled to be released on the first of every month for twelve months. If I hadn’t had the October 1, 2012 release day for Volume One set in my mind as a jumping off point, I might have gone into my promo days with more positive reviews (i.e. those of four or five stars).
  • I would have begun advertising earlier. I started promoting the day my free days began.
  • With more reviews, I could have approached some of the bloggers and websites that feature free and bargain Kindle books.
  • I wouldn’t have scheduled all five of my promo days in one block. I would have staggered them three then two.
  • I also would have leaned on some of my writer/blogger friends to promote me.
  • I would have paid for some follow up advertising.

Do I qualify this as a success? Absolutely!! My book is already in the hands of nearly 1500 people. If I carry some of them along to November 1st and the release of Volume Two, then I’ve succeeded. Do I plan on doing this same sort of promotion for Volume Two in November? I think you can count on it.

Giving It Away

 Memoirs of a Gigolo Volume One is up for free on Amazon this weekend. When I published on Amazon I was given the option of enrolling in the KDP Select program. At first I hesitated. I asked around. Received both positive and negative reports. The consensus seems to be, either you love it, or you hate it. I figured at this point, this whole self-publishing thing was an experiment. I might as well go all in.

I’m the first to admit I’m in the dark when it comes to marketing my self-published book. I have no idea what I’m doing. Up to this point, I’ve done a lot of for-hire work and have had the dubious pleasure of being able to hand over my work and be done with it after the writing was finished. It was no longer my problem after I did my part. Granted, my paychecks reflected the fact I was just an anonymous person behind a keyboard never to receive any acknowledgement, but it was certainly an easy enough way to make some shoe money.

I’ve talked to a few experts, but I’m throwing darts. Trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t is a study in hedging my bets and hoping for the best. So I’m quite literally giving it away. Let’s see what happens.

50 Shades of Marketing 101

What I know about marketing comes from watching Mad Men. I asked my BFF, The Marketing Maven, if there was something more to what she got a masters degree in, than tossing back the scotch, wearing fabulous vintage couture, and groping asses. Surprisingly, there is a lot more too it than chain smoking and having identity crises’. I asked The Marketing Maven five basic questions about marketing. Here’s what she had to say:

  • Livia the Clueless Writer:Who are you and why are you sitting in my living room dressed in a cowl and cape, drinking my booze?
  • The Marketing Maven:I am The Marketing Maven! Able to dazzle Madison Avenue in one clever catchphrase!
  • Livia the Clueless Writer:Seriously?
  • The Marketing Maven: Well, actually I’ve spent years branding commercial products and have a masters degree in marketing.
  • Livia the Clueless Writer: What’s the deal with the cowl and the cape?
  • The Marketing Maven: Branding.
  • Livia the Clueless Writer: Cool. So… Five questions about marketing in exchange for my booze?
  • The Marketing Maven: Shoot.
  • Livia the Clueless Writer: What’s the difference between marketing, advertizing and publicity?
  • The marketing Maven: Marketing is the strategy behind the advertising and publicity. The strategy is about how you want your product perceived and placed in the market- price, product itself, placement (where is it available for sale). Advertising is about how you show the consumer your strategy – who are you trying to reach, what do you want them to know and think about your product, price, etc. publicity or pr is about getting opinion leaders or celebrities to endorse, use or discuss your product. Marketing is the coordinating and overarching piece of it. What you are doing with reviews and interviews is a cross between publicity and advertising.
  • Livia the Clueless Writer: Do I need all three to sell a book?
  • The Marketing Maven: Yes. The key to selling anything is to have the end consumer familiar with your product. If they have never heard of you, they can’t buy your product. You need to know how to place your product, get people familiar with it and then get people to recommend it to their circle. To do that you need all 3 aspects working together.
  • Livia the Clueless Writer: Does advertising work?
  • The marketing Maven: Yes, advertising builds awareness and familiarity with your product. It gets your name known. It gets the trendsetters aware and possibly trying this something new. That is why we see advertising everywhere. Unfortunately my experience is not iBook marketing, so I’m not sure about the effectiveness in this industry. But generally, as you build awareness you build sales.
  • The marketing Maven: What we haven’t talked about is your strategy.
  • Livia the Clueless Writer: Uhhh…. Strategy? You mean like… What actually do you mean?
  • The Marketing Maven: Your strategy is all about who you want to reach and how you want to be perceived.
  • Livia the Clueless Writer: I’m guessing I need a strategy?
  • The marketing Maven: I’m going to go with… YES!
  • Livia the Clueless Writer: If I have a strategy can I turn Memoirs of a Gigolo into the next 50 Shades of Gray.
  • The Marketing Maven: 50 Shades of Grey is honestly a freak. It is extremely rare for a new entry in a category to take off like that. I think it had a number of things working in its favor. One, it had a core buyer built in, by starting as Twilight fan fiction. Two, it started as an ebook,so people could read it anymously as a guilty pleasure. Three, it spread by word of mouth. It allowed traditional romance readers to delve into erotica, while still in a traditional romance format. It became all about the recommendations. Fourth, it profited from its own success. Once it became an in the know”” item, and was selling well, the publicity ran itself. It was picked up in the news, then came the paperback and the truly monster sales. Over all the quality of the writing didn’t matter. It was all about being in on the secret and enjoying a guilty pleasure.
  • Livia the Clueless Writer: Will you answer some questions from other clueless writers?
  • The Marketing Maven: Will the booze keep flowing?
  • Livia the Clueless Writer: Do I secretly tell everyone that you never drink and that the booze is just our Mad Men joke?
  • The Marketing Maven: Why ruin the fun? Bring on the questions!

The Marketing Maven will be around answering your questions for a day or two – or more depending on how many questions there are. Post them in the comments and she’ll try to help us clueless writers unravel the mystery of marketing. 

Next week I will continue my exploration into what makes the next big thing in writing. Dr. Lulu will be around to talk about the psychology behind the 50 Shades of Gray phenomenon.

How to Query a Book Review Blogger by Anne R. Allen

Dear Readers (can I write dear readers without sounding twee? I don’t think so, but anyhow…) –
Earlier this week I had a bit of a professional crisis wondering how the heck a little ant like me could make it to the top of the publishing heap when those who had made it were making a concerted effort to be jerks. My post about the skulduggery of R.J. Ellory reached more than a few people who were outraged, but also had been around enough to know that he is just one bad example in a world filled with people that truly to go out of their way to help others.
Anne R. Allen, author, blogger, speaker, and all around decent human being that would never write a spiteful review of anyone’s work, commented on my post, and added a link. The topic, one which I had been discussing at length with another writer that is struggling as much as I am, how to query a book review blogger. The very thing I’d been biting my lip and scrunching my nose trying to figure out. And voila – in the way that only these things can happen serendipitously, the answer was presented to me.
I have cut and paste Anne’s recommendations below. I do encourage you to have a look at the full post. We may have Anne around later, so please feel free to leave your thoughts, impressions, and questions.

How do you find interested book bloggers?

The best way is to check similar books in your genre—especially those that have been recently released. Do a search for those titles with the word “review” and read as many reviews as you can. Make a list of the reviewers you like and read the review policy.

Almost no blogger will take all types of books. Some only read traditionally-published paper books; others want only indie ebooks for Kindle. Some specialize in Nook. They almost always have specific genre requests, so read carefully, and always follow them. Even if the blogger agrees to do a review outside their genre, you won’t reach the right readers. People don’t go to a chick lit review site to discover the latest zombie gore-fest.

How do you approach them?

You should make initial contact with a query—the same way you approach other gatekeepers like literary agents and editors. This means you send a professional letter—not a Tweet or wall post on Facebook.

Here are some general rules for scoring a review:

  • Read the guidelines carefully.
  • Then, um, follow the guidelines carefully.
  • Never send an unsolicited book: query first.
  • Don’t query with books outside the prescribed genre. Personalize the query.
  • Keep queries short and intriguing.
  • Don’t take it personally if they turn you down. Reading takes a lot of time and most of them are swamped.
  • Understand the review is for the READER, not the writer, so negative reviews happen.
  • If you get a less than stellar review, mourn in private and move on. NEVER respond to a negative review.

Last November I interviewed popular childrens’ book blogger Danielle Smith of There’s a Book, and she gave some great advice on how to get your book reviewed by a blogger. She says the best way to approach a book blogger is to keep your query professional, but show some personality.

Reviewer Danielle Smith’s guidelines for authors:
  1.  Make sure you address the blogger by name
  2. Include a two to four sentence synopsis—no longer
  3. Keep personal information to a minimum. And don’t guilt-trip.
  4. Attach an image of the book cover
  5. Give the age range of the intended audience
  6. Include the page count (for print books)
  7. Provide the publication date and expected time frame of when you’d like to see the review posted for scheduling purposes.
  8. Don’t ask for a review outside the blogger’s genre
  9. Don’t query if you don’t have a website or a blog. (That screams “unprofessional” to a blogger.)

In other words, treat the book blogger like a professional and she will reciprocate.

If you want to know more about book bloggers and how to approach them, Danielle Smith is leading a panel at the Central Coast Writers’ Conference with several Book Bloggers, including Amy Riley of My Friend Amy, and Pam Van Hylckama Vleig aka Bookalicious Pam who is also an agent with San Francisco agency Larsen-Pomada.

And if you want to read some genuine, not-paid-for Amazon reviews, here are some hilarious ones for a set of Bic pens.

How about you, scriveners? Would you ever consider paying for reviews? Does this change your opinion of John Locke? Do you read book review blogs?