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How to Ask for Help Without Having a Panic Attack

April 5th, 2012 No comments

J Bennett Discovers that Book Review Bloggers are Incredibly Nice

                                                                                                                                                    

Asking for help ranks on my pleasurable scale somewhere between sticking my hand in a wood chipper and attending a baby shower.

The main reason is obvious. Asking for help makes you vulnerable. Someone could say ‘no’. To a shy person, the word ‘no’ never sounds like “no, sorry, I’m just busy. It has nothing to do with you.” Rather, ‘no’ sounds like “Ech, the fact that you even have mass offends me. Also your breath is horrible.”

Then there’s also the guilt factor. Asking for help means that you are trying to take something from somebody, whether it’s their time, their expertise, their money or their energy. You are imposing – little, inconsequential you who’s having a bad hair day, is secretly wearing mis-matched socks and is generally in no way worthy of receiving said requested help.

Even your mismatched socks are rooting against you

Did I mention my dryer eats my socks like it needs them as fuel to survive?

Anyway, you can see how a panic attack is a completely legitimate response to having to ask for help – at least for shy people.

The problem is, asking for help is kind of necessary. It means speaking to people other than your childhood teddy bear Mr. Buttons. But, while fluffy and adorable, Mr. Buttons can’t invest money in your business (he can invest his love though), drive you to the airport, lend you his car for a couple of days, critique your manuscript or show you how to finally set up your Facebook page.

Mr. Buttons is a shrewd bear of business

For that, you’ll need to ask for help.

I’ve recently had to ask for help a lot. It’s been an education. After I published my novel, Falling – Girl with Broken Wings, I realized that I had to do this whole marketing thing. Detailed marketing research indicated that marketing goes beyond finally telling your parents and roommate that, “oh, hey, I’ve been working on this novel thing for the past two years, and it’s done, so please buy 1,000 copies.”

I needed to get people to read and talk about my book. People other than my mother (oh wait, she hasn’t read it yet).

So, I put together a list of book bloggers. It was a very nice list. I added a colorful header and lots of different columns to record the dates I sent out a review request, if I got a response, when I sent in the files, when the review would post, etc… It was very pretty. I stared at it a lot and occasionally changed the color of the header.

Did I mention it was pretty?

Who’s a pretty little chart? Whhhhoooo’s a pretty wetty wittle chart?

The problem was sending out the request. Asking for help.

You see, book bloggers get lots of books. Piles of books. Mountains of books. Enough books to build a house of books along with a detached book garage and book guest house and maybe even a book swimming pool filled with books.

This is what a book blogger’s pool would look like if it was filled with water instead of books

So where did I, a measly first-time self-published author, get off asking these people to review my book? I guess the real questions is: How do you ask for help without taking a detour down Panic Attack Central? I’ve found that breathing is a good start. Feel free to use the assistance of a brown paper bag if necessary.

Possibly your new best friend

In all honesty, asking for help is best done with sincerity, politeness and a touch of humor. It’s like diving into a cold pool. That first leap is the hardest thing in the world to do, and the landing may be uncomfortable, but you’ll acclimate quickly.

Be prepared for rejection, or, more commonly, complete silence on the other end. Logic says that if you put good vibes out with your request and don’t overreach, people will respond positively. I know this sounds somewhat simplistic, but, in most cases, the worst you can receive is a no.

Most people aren’t mean. They don’t want to see you fail and laugh while you flounder.  If they do, then don’t feel afraid of them. Feel sorry.

Perspective is important. Also, it can’t hurt to keep Mr. Buttons within arm’s reach, you know, just in case you need a dose of adorableness to keep you strong.

 

As for the result of my book review campaign, I found out that book review bloggers are incredibly nice. Of course they are. They love books. That practically ensures that they’re good people.

I eventually put together a list of 60 book bloggers who read paranormal and who accepted self-published ebooks (or at least didn’t outright refuse them). After sending carefully tailored emails to each, I received positive responses from about 15. That’s a whopping 25% response rate.

In one month, just from this list of 60 book review bloggers, I’ve gotten four reviews, written five guests posts, and participated in three giveaways. Okay, so it’s not a knock out marketing launch, but it’s not bad for spending a couple hours of spare time each week.

Thanks Mr. Buttons

My point is that I’ve been amazed and delighted by how supportive and gracious the book review blogging community has been. Every book review blogger I’ve interfaced with has been extremely positive and nice. Even though many of them were extremely overwhelmed, they were still willing to take multiple hours out of their day to read my novel, write a review, put together a giveaway, or trust their readers in my hands when I sent in a guest post.

Book bloggers blog in full regalia

Sure, a majority of the people of my list never responded, but nobody tore off my arm and ate it in front of me.  So, I’d say the whole experience was both pleasant and encouraging.

No panic attacks necessary.

The lesson of this post is that the world is full of people who are willing to help others – who actually enjoy helping others. If you approach someone with respect, it’s amazing how often they will give you their time, effort and expertise while asking nothing in return.

Ask for help. Be sincere. Be respectful if you get a no. Be grateful when you get a yes. Utilize the help you receive and pay it forward.

I’d like to thank the book review bloggers who have given me their time and support. You gals are the best:

An Example Of A Book Review Request Pitch

March 1st, 2012 No comments

Below is the template I use to pitch my novel Falling – Girl With Broken Wings to book review bloggers. I’ve had about a 15% success rate so far using this pitch, which I think is pretty good.

Personally, I think the pitch is a little long, but I always struggle to write short pitches. Also, it’s important to stress that this is only a template. I carefully review each blog I want to target and pay particular attention to the submission guidelines to make sure the reviewer excepts my genre and is accepting submissions. I then tailor my template to their blog, sometimes commenting on recent posts or something they wrote about themselves in their “About Me” section.

Lastly, when pitching, I usually try to come up with a clever and enticing email subject line. In this case, however, I’m sending a book review request to a book reviewer, so I opted for upfront and clear in my subject line.

 ***

Email Subject Line: Review Request: Falling – Girl With Broken Wings

Email Body: Hi [F Name],

I am a fan of [blog name] and appreciate your unique and witty reviews. I know that you are probably inundated with review requests, but I’d like to offer my debut novel for the pile.

Falling – Girl With Broken Wings is a paranormal adventure that will appeal to older teens and adults. From your previous reviews, I know you are drawn to strong and flawed characters. My protagonist, Maya, fits this bill. She is an unapologetically quirky narrator who holds grudges, usually bombs the witty comeback, and is mostly sure she isn’t a monster—at least not a full one. You can read a short summary of the story at the end of this letter.

The novel is approximately 70,000 words in length and is available as an ebook at most online publishers, including Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and Smashwords for $2.99. If you do choose to review my novel, I can provide a thumbnail of the cover and an eBook file in whatever format you prefer.

Additionally, I would love to provide up to five copies of the book for a giveaway if you’d be willing to host. Lastly, I am offering a pretty significant free sample of the book on my website, www.GirlWithBrokenWings.com if you or your readers would be interested in getting a taste of the novel.

Thank you so much for your consideration and for your support of authors like myself,

J Bennett

JBennett@GirlWithBrokenWings.com

About FallingGirl With Broken Wings

Maya knew something was wrong.  The stranger’s glowing hands were a big tipoff.

 

When the stranger murders Maya’s boyfriend with a single touch, drags her to an abandoned storage unit, and injects her with a DNA-altering serum, Maya prays for a savior.

 

Instead, the college sophomore gets a double helping of knight-in-not-so-shining-armor when two young men claiming to be her half-brothers pull off a belated rescue. Now Maya is swiftly transforming into an “angel”, one of the scientifically-enhanced, energy-sucking creatures her brothers have spent their whole lives trying to destroy.

 

Maya’s senses sharpen, her body becomes strong and agile, and she develops the ability to visually see the emotions of those around her as colorful auras…beautiful auras…tempting auras.

 

One brother wants to save her. The other wants to kill her before she becomes too strong. Maya just wants to go home.

 

Struggling to control the murderous appetite that fuels her new abilities, Maya must find a way to accept her altered condition and learn to trust her brothers as she joins them in their battle against the secret network of powerful and destructive angels.

 

Oh, and she’d like a few words with the one who changed her. Words, then lots of stabbing.