~ by Nicole Melanson
I’m often asked how I choose interviewees for WordMothers. Basically I follow a rule of thirds. Roughly 1/3 of the writers I feature come recommended by previous subjects; 1/3 are writers I pursue either because I’m personally interested in their work or because my goal as an editor is to curate with diversity in mind; and 1/3 are writers who pitch me.
When pitched, I like to say yes whenever possible as my blog is all about showcasing and supporting a wide range of female authors, but I do decline on a regular basis. So how do you tip the odds in favor of an acceptance?
- Know the blog
I get asked all the time to write book reviews. I don’t do book reviews; I do interviews. Sometimes I shout out a thank-you gift book by showing off the cover and giving my general reaction to the blurb and a sample passage, but that’s as formal as it gets — largely because I have 5 small children with busy school / sport / social lives and therefore 90% of my reading happens during the holidays. Monique at Write Note Reviews says she’s even been pitched to evaluate suitcases! So…always familiarize yourself with a blog and make sure it suits your needs before you ask to be included.
- Know thyself
You might be known as “the writer” in your community, but there’s nothing unique about that on a site dedicated to writing. However, if you say you’re “a politically passionate first-generation Australian penning lesbian romances set against rural landscapes in a dystopian future” that gives me a much better sense of your work and where to place you. I might decide you’d offer a really interesting perspective during a Romance Week, or I might realize I’ve been running a lot of children’s author interviews lately and think you’d make a refreshing contrast.
- Directions, please
Further to the above, save me the detective work and tell me the name of your book/s. Direct me to your website. Give me your Twitter handle or a link to your Facebook page. Everyone in your native country or individual genre might know you, but presume I don’t. I’m only one person and I have biases in what I read for both academic purposes and pleasure, so unless you’re insanely famous, it’s entirely possible I’ve never heard of you.
- Have a presence
There’s no escaping it: you need to have a home somewhere on social media. You might be the kind of person who runs the SM equivalent of a 5-star hotel with a casino and 24-hour nightclub attached, or you might prefer the simplicity of a little lean-to on a deserted island. The point is, you have to have some kind of address where I can send people for a virtual cup of coffee to get to know you better after they finish reading your interview.
- Be a presence
If you want to get noticed by a blogger, be noticeable. A friendly hello makes a great start. “Like” and share posts, RT where applicable, leave comments… Make an active contribution to sites that appeal to you.
I’m always amazed when people rave about how great a blog is and why it’s the perfect fit for their work, but…sorry, no follow. Yes, I realize you can’t become a member of every single club that hosts you, or personally acknowledge every person that contributes so much as a comma to your manuscript, but if you genuinely believe that something deserves a wider audience, why wouldn’t you put your hand up to be part of that audience, too? Blogs are all about community so stand up and be counted!
Sometimes I say no because you’re the fifth person with a blind, blonde, paranormal, lawyer protagonist pitching me that week. Sometimes it’s because I can’t figure out if you’ve ever actually published anything. Sometimes it’s because you’ve called me Melanie instead of Nicole and sent me an enormous, unlabelled media file that I don’t dare open. If you’ve been even remotely courteous in your query, I’ll explain why I’m opting not to feature you at this time. That’s usually the last I ever hear from someone, but the people who write back and thank me for my time and consideration anyway make me want to find a way to feature them later — and often I do!
- Follow through
A simple thank you goes a long way. I’ve published features that seem to have disappeared into the ether for all the feedback I’ve gotten from the author. On the flip side, I’ve developed relationships with some incredible writers and I go out of my way to continue promoting them however I can. I don’t expect a Christmas card, but bump into me around the traps from time to time (Twitter’s great for that!), keep me abreast of your work, show support for other authors, and I’ll be more than happy to keep spreading the word on your behalf.
In summary, want to be on a blog? Be patient, be consistent, be present, be persistent…all of those things. But most importantly, be polite — it really does pay off!
Thank you for reading, and happy pitching! 🙂
— Nicole Melanson
WordMothers is currently welcoming pitches for author interviews in 2016. Please get in touch via the Contact page.