Following on from yesterday's honesty post. (By the way, thanks for the many supportive comments that you all left. I really never expected that post to get so much attention. I feel a little embarrassed by it all.)
Anyway, I'm going to answer the questions that people asked me to find out at the conference. Sharing and community, people! This is what it is all about.
What do publishers expect from bloggers? Would they rather see a negative review, or no review at all if that review was going to be negative?
The publishers said they do not mind if you try a book outside your comfort zone and don't enjoy it. A well-written fair review is what they hope for. We need to move away from this dialogue of positive and negative reviews and start thinking of reviews in terms of being fair and balanced. If you don't enjoy a book, you need to give clear and concise reasons and don't just say "this book is absolute rubbish". But say, "I found the point where Jacob and Bella kiss not in fitting with the rest of the novel. Up until this point it is unequivocal that Bella and Edward are infatuated. For me this detracted from the overall flow of the story." (Okay that was a lame example but you get the idea).
I'd like to know when it is acceptable to request a book from them. How far in advance should you request a book? Can you ever request books after they've been published?
Yes, you may request books that are already in print. In terms of how far in advance, I think it depends on your relationship with each specific publisher. One publisher told me "not to be afraid to ask if I have a specific title that I'd like to review". The earliest book that I asked for was Montacute House by Lucy Jago. I requested it in January and it isn't out until May. I wanted to review it as part of my promotion of UK debut authors. Receiving a book that early is unusual but it guarantees a review from me near to or on release day. Anyway, Bloomsbury sent it to me so I guess 5 months early can be ok sometimes.
I just popped back to the conference to pick up if anyone else had an idea about this and the lovely Cindy was told by her contact that the sooner you can ask for a book the better. The publisher puts you on a list and will send it when it comes in. That sounds very organised!
What do they look for in a book blog? How many hits do they like to see each month? Do they care about comment numbers? Google ranking? Do they even look at factors like that, or just send books to anyone that enquires?
This very much depends on the publisher. The one thing that was unanimous was that they want good quality reviews. That matters more than follower numbers or number of hits etc. They do indeed look at hits, comments and followers but there is no one number that means you are guaranteed to have a review copy request granted. Also, the other important thing was frequency of posting. The more you post the better in the publishers' eyes.
How do they look for book blogs? Do they look for book blogs or just rely on bloggers contacting them?
They use Twitter, search engines and recommendations from their established bloggers. They don't rely on bloggers contacting them but they don't mind if you do as long as you are professional.
I myself have been put on publishers' databases of bloggers through connecting with publicists through Twitter. If you look me up @the_bookette, you'll see that I have listed Publishers. You can click through that list and follow the ones that work you. (Many of them are UK but it will give you a starting point).
So these are the things you said you wanted to know.
I might do another post later this week about the other topics discussed.
And watch out on Saturday because I intend to start a discussion about that all important thing: reviewing!