Most books that are published these days have some number of quotes of praise from various sources, usually other authors or major newspapers. If a reader is familiar with a genre, they’ll recognize many of the authors as being from the same genre. If not, it might leave a reader to wonder who these people are and why they are an authority qualified to review a book. It’s pretty well-known that “blurbs help attract readers to your books.” The question becomes, how do publishers choose who to contact for a blurb or review of a book? Here at Ooligan Press, The Keepers of Aris team recently got a glimpse into creating a contact list for a diverse YA fantasy novel.
The process actually begins a little earlier in the publication process, when we decide who is the ideal audience for our title. In this case, we are publishing a YA fantasy novel written by a Black woman, and our primary audience reflects that, as should the people we choose to reach out to. As we began to research and collect the names and contact information of authors we intended to reach out to for a blurb, we started with those we wanted to prioritize, Black and BIPOC fantasy authors. Bonus points if they wrote YA as well. We chose successful authors such as Tomi Adeyemi, Kalynn Bayron, and Rin Chupeco. Once we found as many as we could, we turned to other YA fantasy authors. We concluded this part of our research with a total of around seventy reputable authors as possible contacts.
The next step of building our contact list was to find major industry publications that Ooligan always reaches out to for a review. We got these contacts from Ooligan’s master contact list, so all that was needed was to ensure the information was up-to-date. Some of these sources include Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Shelf Awareness. We consistently reach out to them because they are major sources of book reviews that many are familiar with, and we are capable of successfully reaching them. Another internal source for contacts was the contact list of the previous fantasy novel we published, Court of Venom. Given the two titles are within the same genre, if for different age groups, the number of contacts that would be ideal for our newer title is significant enough to make the previous list an effective source. These contacts consist of digital magazines, blogs, and book reviewers that focus on fantasy titles. Currently, the team is expanding on these contacts by researching new ones.
Of course, it must be noted that Ooligan Press’s contact list practice is not like most publishing companies. The contact list for each title is created largely from scratch and personalized per the primary audience. We are also a small press, so authors or online personalities that have reached a certain level of fame are simply out of our reach. It’s important to keep our expectations realistic while working to reach as many people as possible. This is a glimpse into how publishers choose who is on a title’s contact list and ends up with their blurb on the cover.