All right lissen up, you food writers who are not bloggers. I’m about to tell you how having my a blog got the new edition of Will Write for Food reviewed on Epicurious.com, a massively popular website, then tweeted to around 50,000 people.
No, it didn’t go like this: I wrote a new book, the publisher sent it to Epicurious as part of its regular mailing, and someone at Epicurious decided to review it. Life would be easier that way, but also duller.
Let’s back up a little so I can tell you how it happened and how this affects you (always the critical part of any story).
First, I started this blog. Then I joined a Google Group called BayArea Food Bloggers, which sends an email around with messages (if you’re local and want to subscribe, see this). Fast forward to July, when an email from a local blogger appeared on the listserv and began this way:
- “Epicurious at the Ferry Building July 20th, Stop by and say hi to editor Tanya Steel!
- Hi Everyone, Christina here from Farm and a Frying Pan. For my day job, I am the PR Manager at Epicurious, and next week kicks off our summer Farmers Market Tour with our first stop at the Ferry Building Farmers market on the 20th…”
A chance to meet the editor-in-chief of Epicurious! I was all over that, even though I didn’t have a food blog and I wasn’t going to interview her about produce and healthy eating. But I had a writing blog, so I had a place to publish our interview. After the interview I asked for Tanya Steel’s card, something that takes nerve but I did it anyway.
Knowing she would never see the post unless I told her about it, I sent an email to Steel, providing the link. (Do you always do this, if you have a blog?) Days later, a response said, simply: “Thanks so much. Great to meet you.” Just remember that she is exceedingly busy and, because she’s a Brit, exceedingly good mannered.
In my email reply to her, I mentioned that I asked my publisher to send her a copy of my new book. I figured it couldn’t hurt, since Epicurious probably receives dozens of new books every week. I didn’t want mine to be lost in the shuffle.
And a few days later, this positive review appeared on Epicurious’s daily Epi-Log. It began with a link to my website and then said my book “should be mandatory reading for everyone who aspires to be a food writer.” After that came an Epicurious tweet to around 50,000 followers, with a link to the review. That’s gold, baby!
Now, why am I telling you all this, and what does it mean for you? A few things:
1. If you are a traditional print author with a new book, you need a blog to take part in opportunities like this.
2. If you are not on Twitter, get with it. Right now. You never know who will pass on your tweets to their readers, potentially building your base of followers.
3. My launch has been so much more successful than the first edition, five years ago, because of my blog and the opportunities it provides for exposure. You never know who’s reading you and who will pass you on to their blog and website readers either. Eater.com, The Food Section, and Publishers Weekly’s Cooking the Books, for example, have picked up recent posts. I got on Martha Stewart Radio last Monday because the person who contacted me said she “heard it was out.” Since I made the announcement on my blog and on Twitter, that’s how she found out. To top it off, the home page of Martha Stewart Radio is selling my book. And blogger Stephanie Stiavetti has already done a giveaway on Wasabimon.
So that’s my testament to using social media for a book launch. If you have any other tips, would love to hear them.