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Monday, June 17, 2013

Networking Etiquette: How (not) to ask for a guest spot

I don't post too many writing/publishing/marketing articles on this blog anymore. There are enough people today giving free advice, but yesterday pushed me over the edge. I've got to say something about networking and self-promotion.

A week doesn't go by that I don't get emails from strangers asking for a spot on my blog, links, promo, and one poor confused soul who wanted me to publish his book.

Really? Publish your book? He even spoke (illustriously) about himself in the third person. Now I understand why agents reject badly written queries. I can't imagine getting hundreds of queries like this one.

For me, the worst offenders are people who keep asking for guest spots, even after I refuse. It boggles my mind how many people assume that I should be happy to host them--total strangers who don't comment on my blog, know what my blog is about, or even write me a proper email introducing themselves.

Lately, the last few emails have been verging on belligerent, insisting that I need them., I don't. If you can't offer me a post that's useful or entertaining to my readers, I don't need you. If someone sounds insincere in a private email, how are they going to come across to my readers in a blog post? You guys are my first concern. I owe you a good post in return for your time.

This isn't a promo circus. I don't host anyone unless I'm assured quality work. This is where the networking part comes in. I know who can deliver the goods because I've been in this playground for a while.

Likewise when I write a guest post for someone else. I never pimp. Never. Those of you who've been with me for a while and have followed me to guest posts know that I always offer something of value, whether it's an insider's look at cover design, or insights into some facet of writing or publishing. 

Even when I do something self-serving like an interview, they're not your run-of-the-mill interviews. I always add entertainment value to them so you don't stab your eyes out with a fork. Good eyesight is a gift, after all.

When I ask for a guest spot or review I always:
 1. Research the site I'm interested in so that I can at least look well-informed.
 2. Offer something of value in return, usually information, entertainment or potential new followers to their blogs.

If you ask for a favor, be it a cover reveal, guest spot, interview, or review, do your homework. Read that person's blog to see if you're a good fit. Write a good query letter--especially if you don't know that blogger. Introduce yourself like a civilized person and be sure there are links to your blog/web site in your email signature. 

Case in point. I got an email from someone who claimed to have written a lot of content for other blogs, yet he neither provided proof or even a link to his own web site. Why should I believe him, right?

I shouldn't be so ranty on a Monday, but last week was a conveyor belt of ill-mannered emails. So this is more of a PSA for anyone thinking of asking for favors from strangers. Be nice. Ask politely. And write an excellent post.


Last week wasn't a total wash. I did get one very nice email from a popular book reviewer. Not only did she review Mistress of the Stone--(I asked her not to post it until after the print release in July)--but she wrote me a personal note telling me how awesome it was. 

How great is that?! I don't know what her review says about the book, but I was awfully touched that she took the time to write me a note. That went above and beyond.


I know some of you have popular blogs. Do you get a lot of requests for guest spots or cover reveals? How do you handle the people you don't know? 

Friends are easy. It's the people who just show up at my doorstep that make me scratch my head.

How do you ask for a guest spot/review from someone you don't know?


The Name the Goat contest is still going on for another week. Enter as many times or as many names as you'd like. I've been bowled over by the suggestions. This is going to be harder than I expected. Greg will make the final decision next week.


Angela Brown said...

Let's see, the only blogs I've been on where it was a total stranger situation was when I had a blog tour organize it. Otherwise, I try to ask politely of people I'm familiar with or put it out on my blog that I'd like to guest post and go with those that respond, people I know and I know I can form content fit for their site.

As a point in fact, when Gwen and I did our blog tour last year, we made sure to visit each blog before writing up posts so we could form content fit for their readers. It took time, but it made it better to provide something that particular blog's readers could enjoy.

And no, I don't think sending some braggy e-mail to a stranger is a good idea for asking for guest posts.

SMH -_-

Mike Keyton said...

A Zannini Rant. Perfect start to the week. Perfect :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

I don't get a lot of emails from strangers. Maybe a few a year. I must be a meanie because I don't even respond or engage with them at all. Maybe that's why I don't get many requests... LOL

Now bloggy friends or people I know... as long as the book isn't erotica or 50 Shades type stuff, I will never turn anyone away. :)

Hey, congrats on the Mistress of Stone review!!

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: It is a lot of work. A lot! I'm sure that's why so many strangers show up.

And I'm not opposed to posts from "not-friends-yet" people, but they gotta throw me a bone first. At least visit the blog and leave a few comments so I know they're not trolls.

Maria Zannini said...

Now Michael Keyton, how often do I rant? LOL. I should be allowed at least one rant a year.

This is it.

Don't push my buttons or I'll sic the goats on you. :o)

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: I don't know why I get so much mail from people I don't know. Maybe they know me from somewhere else--but if they don't remind me they might as well be strangers.

Oh well.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Yay! I'm not the only one who rants. :)

I would think if you were to guest on someone else's blog, you'd want that person to KNOW you or your work! Otherwise, why bother?

Anne Gallagher said...

At least yours come from a real person. I get the ones from companies saying that their service will get me 50,000 followers. All I have to do is let them post on my blog. Hah! As if.

And hey, rant away. We all deserve one.

Diane Carlisle said...

I don't get many requests, but the few I've gotten were through my contact form on my blog. I have a small blurb on how to contact me with information, but I also ask that each requester read some blog posts and check out my tags to understand more about my blog first.

This has been useful, because the two who have emailed me were very familiar with my content and offered great articles. For that reason, I post link backs to their sites and add their covers and/or photos at the end of their guest post. I also provide links to their articles on my contact form for future guest posters to see how I would promote their work as well.

When people check out your guest articles and formats, they'll hopefully attempt to follow the same etiquette.

I'm with you. There's no room for rude self-promoters. I like to promote an entire community, not just another rude person.

Ellie Garratt said...

I get similar emails all the time, asking to write content for or guest on my blog. Yet they NEVER provide links to their book, website, work etc. Hello?! It's wasting my time and theirs.

Sarah Ahiers said...

requests come and go for me. Sometimes i'll have a few in a short time, and sometimes i'll have none for awhile. I have no idea why

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I try not to rant too much. Mike Keyton won't let me. ;-)

Maria Zannini said...

Anne: I don't get too many of the spam bots any more. At least they're easier to ignore.

I don't want to be rude, but sometimes my buttons get pushed.

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: I have a set of guidelines on my Back to Basic blog, but this one is a personal blog.

Maybe they like the comment stream. If so, they need to join in rather than lurk. For me, there's no better way to promote yourself than to comment often and widely among diverse blogs.

Maria Zannini said...

Ellie: Exactly. If you're legit, you're going to provide some proof of your quality--even if it's just a link to your blog so I can see your writing style.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: They must do time-sharing with the spammers.

Darke Conteur said...

Meh...I'm not that popular.

I have had a few people ask me to read and comment on their work. I politely say no; that I'm too busy (which I am), but I wonder if those are spammed out.

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: You're popular to me. :)

I do favors for friends all the time, but friendship comes with a responsibility and an obligation.

Friends respect each other's time and are always glad to reciprocate when they can.

You can't say the same for the drive-bys looking for a quick promo stop.

Carole Remy said...

Rants are fun! Thanks Maria!

I have a specific guest feature on my blog called "Encouraging Words from ________". So far, they've all been by invitation. BTW, consider yourself invited, Maria, any time! Once you're on, you'll be tweeted every few days forever.

Except for blog tours, I think I've only ever asked three good friends to post something, and they've been happy to. All the posts, my blog and guests, are substantive and not primarily advertising. To me, that's key to longevity and stickiness.

Hugs for you and the still-nameless goats, (Panela and Oaxaca!)


Jackie Burris said...

Maria it has been 4 years since starting my blog and in recent months have been asked to allow promo for everything from sunshades to some obscure place somewhere that cannot remember. My blog is personal and about books, not Timbuktu or Katmandu or whatever wild hair someone would like to promo.

Unlike you and many others though I am not gracious enough to respond in the negative to such emails, just delete them as soon as read them because they obviously do not pay attention to the fact I offer no advertising space on my blog, do not do guest posts unless they are to promote an author's work who is part of a book tour that I participate in or a private author who has contacted me in one form or another to help promo their work.

You are very correct with these simple comments Friends respect each other's time and are always glad to reciprocate when they can.

You can't say the same for the drive-bys looking for a quick promo stop.

LD Masterson said...

Hey Mary Zalulu, I think you need me to post on your blog. Really add some pizazz. You're a city dweller with cats, right?

Maria Zannini said...

Carole: Aw, thanks for the invite!

You hit on something that's important too. The reason you want a post that's informational/entertaining/enlightening is for stickiness sake. I can't count how many times people come to my blog not just for my articles but for the other guest articles that have appeared.

They show up on Google searches--and that brings them here. A good keyword-rich post is gold.

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: I think I am getting less and less gracious every day. LOL.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: Very funny---not.

Cate Masters said...

Ha, Linda's too funny. And it sounds a bit familiar... was that you emailing me, Linda? lol

Gwen Gardner said...

When Angela and I did our tour, we just put it out on our blog that we were looking for hosts. So at least one of us knew the host. But I have been approached by complete strangers who want to post. I let a college student (a complete stranger) post on my Run Gwen, Run! blog about cancer and fitness - she never thanked me.

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: I wouldn't put it past Linda. She's just that kind of girl.

Maria Zannini said...

Gwen: Oh, now that's just bad manners to ask for a spot and not even say thank you. Had it been me, that post might have found itself accidentally deleted.

Me, vindictive? :)

Dru said...

If I get a request from an unknown author, I check out their website to see if their book is a fit for me. If it's a book I would read, then I'll give them a chance.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

I had a chuckle when I began reading your post, Maria. Then as I continued to read I found you have certainly been inundated.

I've never asked anyone could I be a guest on their blog.

I've been approached to be a guest though, on other blogs. If I like the blog/books they write I occasionally accept.

I was approached by someone published with the same e press publisher as I am. She wanted to be a guest on my blog. I thought, well why not. It was a nightmare. This particular person didn't even know how to comment on my blog, or any other blog for that matter Urgh. And that was the beginning of something I'll never repeat. lol.

Hit delete. Time is valuable.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: Me too. It would be nice if he gave me all this information upfront. As bloggers, we have responsibilities.

Maria Zannini said...

Suzanne: I try to give leeway to those just starting out and nudge them with an email to comment and interact with people who left comments for them. Sometimes they're just that green.

But once I had someone very blog-savvy and she just ignored the people who left her comments. She'll never be welcomed again.

Mark K said...


Rant all you like, I'll not judge you for that, in fact, I like it when you get a bit sassy with folks - show 'em who the boss is, after all it is your blog, your standards and your reputation.

looking forward to finding out the names for those adorable goats :)