Oh, man. This one’s been a long time coming. I first started researching this topic myself a few months ago, when I started my bookstagram account on Instagram and saw a bunch of teenagers with 25k followers getting sent ARCs on the reg. WTH?! Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I decided I wanted to make my social profile stronger so that publishers could see I was committed to reading their books and writing punctual, honest, and insightful reviews. So here is what has been working for me…
1 ) BE PROFESSIONAL
That means use this picture:
not that picture:
Show them that you’re friendly but also adult. Now isn’t the time for “#1 Party Animal!” pics. I’m glad you’re a fun person—and maybe publishers are, too— but I think they’re looking for professionalism first and foremost.
Also, use the same picture across all your accounts: Instagram, Amazon, Goodreads, Net Galley, Edelweiss, Twitter, Facebook, EVERYWHERE. This helps you look consistent and organized.
2) STRUT YOUR STUFF
Talk about your reach. How many followers does your blog have? How many comments do you get per post? How many friends and/or followers do you have on Goodreads? How many followers on Twitter or Facebook? (Now make it sound fancier by calling them your “audience.” Like, “I have an audience of 1,000+ on Goodreads.”) How many views do you get on Amazon? You get the picture. Lay out your stats.
3) BUT HIGHLIGHT YOUR REALLY GOOD STUFF
Here’s the thing. Maybe some of us are lucky enough to have an impressive reach across all social media platforms, but I’m guessing most of us don’t. I’ll be honest and say that I definitely don’t. After three years, my blog still has less than 1,500 followers. 😬 I don’t even have a Twitter account or Facebook page. And I just started my Instagram account, so it’s still growing.
But find something you’ve done that you’re proud of, and use it! My biggest accomplishment as a reviewer is being a Top 50 Reviewer on Amazon. I’ve worked hard over many, many years to earn that badge, and because my reviews have earned almost 15,000 helpful votes, they are usually pushed to the top of product listings. More Amazon customers see them, so my potential reach there is pretty high. Of course not ALL of my reviews are popular—not even close! I’ve written hundreds of reviews over the years and most get a paltry one, two, or ZERO votes. But it doesn’t matter!! I think publishers just want to see what you can do and how people respond to you (at least some of the time).
So when I write my profile blurb, I include all my stats, but I start with my strongest stats first. I lead with Amazon, including a link to one or two of my more popular reviews, so that publishers can see for themselves what I’m capable of. Then I talk briefly about my blog, and end with my activity on Instagram and Goodreads.
Of course, everyone’s profile is going to look a little different. The point is to talk about your stats honestly, but in a way that is most flattering to your situation.
4) INCLUDE YOUR READING PREFERENCES
Do you like young adult and fantasy? Or literary fiction and memoirs? Write a sentence or two on what you actually like to read, so publishers understand they aren’t wasting an ARC on you.
5) MOST IMPORTANT, ACTUALLY READ THE BOOKS AND WRITE THE REVIEWS!
This is the most important step! You may get approved for a first wave of ARCs (congratulations!), but if you mess up by not reading the books, not writing reviews, or writing garbage two-sentence reviews that don’t say anything, you’re probably not going to get approved for many more ARCs after that.
Show publishers that you mean business, that you take your role as a volunteer book reviewer seriously. I always keep my Net Galley percentage well above 80%. I read every single book I get approved for—whether I like it or not. And I always write a thoughtful and carefully-crafted review. I also try reeeeeally hard to get my reviews written before the publication date, but I have to be honest and say that sometimes I’m late, even up to a month, eek. (If you’ve ever requested too many books that, whoops, are published on the same date, you know my pain on this one…)
Another thing I like to do if I’m working directly with a publisher, is to practice good communication. I know they’ll see my review if they check a book’s Goodreads, Amazon, or Net Galley page, but if someone has emailed me directly, I always respond with a follow-up email that includes links to my completed review and reiterates how grateful I am that they sent or approved me for the book. Politeness pays off!
7) KNOW WHEN TO TAKE A BREAK
I know everybody says this, so it’s become cliche. But seriously, if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, stop. Maybe not forever, but take a break, take a breath. Sure, every now and then you’re going to feel rushed to get that last review in, but, for the most part, volunteering to write book reviews should be fun. When I begin to feel burnt out, that’s a signal that I need to slow it down for a bit. And once I do give myself a break, I find I’m ready to bounce back into reviewing with renewed energy.
So there you have it! Those are my tips for improving your social media profile. Is this helpful? Old news? Did I miss anything? Tell me your thoughts!