First impressions might not quite be everything, but they sure count for a lot.
You want to seem friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, professional, and engaging. That’s a lot to pull off!
But it’s also critical when you’re starting to build relationships and grow your author career. You want to immediately be seen as someone with a lot to offer—not as someone who just wants favors or, possibly worse, who doesn’t know what they want!
As a writer, there are many times you’ll have to “cold email” someone. You might be looking for guest posting opportunities, trying to get blurbs for your book, or seeking reviews from book bloggers.
In every case, you need to get your foot in the door with a busy person who’s probably loaded down with dozens of other messages to attend to—and you need to make a good first impression.
Writing a great outreach email is a little different from writing a query letter. With that, you’re introducing your book, whereas with an outreach email, you’re introducing yourself and your whole platform.
Both can end up supporting a single book as well as your full author platform, but the angle of approach is unique to each.
The basic rules of writing an effective email hold true when you’re writing an outreach email. But what do those look like when you’re, say, writing to a book blogger to ask for a review?
Let’s take a look at a sample to find out!
Sample Blogger Outreach Email
I loved your recent post on food and cooking themes in Moby Dick. Clam chowder is one of my favorites and your discussion on whether they would’ve been eating Manhattan or New England style made me hungry!
Of course, I may have been particularly interested because I like to incorporate food themes into my own writing. I just finished my first novel, Tasty Treats, and I like to think it does a good job of weaving together historical romance, classic recipes, and a dash of action.
I wanted to reach out to see if you might be interested in reviewing it! Tasty Treats combines two of your favorite genres, spies and historical romance, and throws some food into the mix, so I hoped you’d be interested in giving it a try.
Tasty Treats is going to be available for sale online and in select bookstores starting September 18.
I’d be delighted to send you a copy in ePub, Mobi, or PDF. Just let me know!
Thanks so much for considering!
Sam J. Writer
Here’s how this sample email breaks down into some important parts that you can use as a template for your own customized outreach emails.
We’ve gone over this before, but it’s worth repeating: Always personalize your letters.
Use the individual’s name in the opening. It’s just friendlier than a simple “Hi there” and shows that it’s not a mass email or spam.
Plus, studies have shown that people just plain respond better when communications have been customized to them. We all like feeling special!
Context and Background
This next section goes along with the personal opening. It’s not enough to simply know the name of the person you’re writing to. You have to show that you’ve done your homework and that you’re writing for a reason that will resonate with your reader.
You can do that by complimenting them on a recent post, offering a thoughtful critique of something, expanding on a point, or just noting that you like the topics they cover.
This doesn’t have to be long-winded or a college-level theoretical discussion of their use of adjectives. In fact, it shouldn’t be! It’s just a short, pleasant comment about what drew you to their blog, specifically.
After setting up the reason why you were drawn to this person and this blog out of so many others, you can introduce your book. That’s what drew you to the blog, after all—the blogger in question likes books similar to yours!
Include some basic information on title, genre, and themes that would be of interest to the blogger.
You can also include the jacket copy or tagline here to add a little more depth.
Now you can set up your “ask,” or call to action, or whatever you want to call it.
Basically, this is just where you state your request, whether that’s a book review, a guest post opportunity, etc.
Make it simple and clear, and don’t beat around the bush. Just state what you’re after.
Optionally, you can include details of your book’s publication or other important information. This might be your publication date, what formats you’ll have available, whether you’re offering an online course to go along with it, and so on.
Don’t demand that they review the book by that date. Just state it as a fact and move on. They’ll decide whether they want to review your book and whether to schedule a review around that time.
Note that you don’t necessarily need to state whether you’re being published by a traditional publisher or not. If the blogger you’re contacting has stated that they’re open to indie books, you don’t need to specify. If they’ve stated that they’re not open to indie books, only Big 5 titles, then you shouldn’t be contacting them about a review!
Now you flip the “ask” on its head and make an “offer”—what can you do to help out the person you’re writing to?
In the case of a book blogger, your offer is simple: a copy of the book.
In a followup email, after the blogger indicates they’re interested, you might also offer a giveaway to be hosted on the blog, an interview or guest post, or other bonus.
For now, though, keep it simple. Just offer the book.
If you know the blogger’s preferred format (from reading their review policy), offer that. Otherwise, offer a choice so that they can get the format they prefer.
Always end by thanking the person for their time and consideration. Not only is it polite, but it’s also been shown to get better responses than other closings!
What It Doesn’t Do
What this email doesn’t do is make assumptions.
If you’ve read the blogger’s review policy, then you know she doesn’t accept print books—so you didn’t offer that.
More importantly, you didn’t assume that she’d want to read your book—so you didn’t attach it.
Don’t clutter up the blogger’s inbox with unwanted files. If he or she wants to read your book, they’ll request it from you. Don’t attach your ePub or PDF willy-nilly; only send it to people who actually want to receive it.
Of course, this pattern has uses beyond just talking to book bloggers.
Working on a nonfiction book about yoga for cats? Use the same structure to reach out to yoga blogs and cat blogs.
Want to write a guest post for your favorite site to help establish yourself as an expert? This format works for that, too! You just have to swap out your ask and your offer for something more tailored to the situation.
I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and never stop being impressed by your thorough coverage of all things marsupial. I learn something new every time I stop by!
I have noticed, however, that you tend to focus on kangaroos and opossums. As a wombat fan, I’d like to see more of our favorite little diggers represented.
So I wanted to get in touch about possibly writing a guest post for The Marsupial Minute. I’ve been a wombat researcher for the past four years and just finished my latest book, Digging Time. I’d love to share some of what I’ve learned with your audience and to help promote your blog to my network, too.
Let me know your thoughts!
Thanks so much for considering,
Once again, you’re personalizing everything, showing your familiarity with the blog. You’ve established content and background, then clearly stated your reason for writing. You’ve introduced your book briefly as part of your credentials, and you’ve offered a guest post and the opportunity for some cross-promotion.
So let’s look at this again as a ready-to-use template:
I really enjoyed your recent post on [topic]. It caught my eye because [context and background].
My book, [Title], will be published on [date]. It’s a [genre] about [details] and I wanted to reach out to see if you’d be interested in reviewing it, since it’s right in line with your love of [genre] books with [theme of interest].
Here’s a bit about the book:
[Jacket description, pitch, or tagline]
I’d love to send you a copy if you’re interested! Let me know if you’d prefer an ePub, Mobi, or PDF. I can also send a print copy if you’d prefer.
Thanks so much for your consideration,
You can combine these elements into brief sentences or paragraphs, drop out points that don’t quite fit your needs, and otherwise reconfigure. But by making sure you hit the important elements here—especially the personal opening, ask, offer, and thanks—you’re making sure that your message conveys everything you need, in a friendly and helpful format.
By using this simple structure, you can quickly and clearly introduce yourself to just about anyone you might want to reach out to. You’re not waffling around the point, wasting everyone’s time, and you’re clearly establishing both what you’re seeking and what you can offer.
A good outreach email opens up a world of possibilities for building strong relationships and growing your audience.
For more on professional communications and outreach, check out these articles: