Tomorrow, I'll be featuring a guest post as part of an author's blog tour. The way this author approached me made me decide to write about approaching potential hosts for blog-tour stops, because he did several things right. The following list reflects my preferences only, but I suspect many other bloggers may share at least some of these preferences.
If asking me to host a guest post:
1. Tell me who you are. This sounds simple, but I get a surprising amount of email from people who don't identify themselves. This is especially important if your email address does not include your full first and last name.
2. Tell me how you found my blog / why you're approaching me. This is especially important if we haven't connected before and you aren't a regular commenter on the blog.
3. Describe your request; also let me know your motivation for being a guest blogger. Maybe you just think it's fun to cross-post with others; I agree, and I've exchanged guest posts for no more complicated reason than that. But if you're trying to draw more readers to your blog, or if you're promoting something, most likely a book--that's fine; you don't have to hide it. It helps me understand where you're coming from, and I actually prefer when those goals are clear and up-front. I look for interesting content in a blog post, first and foremost, but I also expect to show your book cover or bio, or link to your site. If I can't tell what a person's motives are, I'm less inclined to accept a guest post.
4. Show me your material. If we have no prior connection (for example, if we haven't already been commenting on one another's blogs), I will look at your website and whatever samples of your writing I can find to figure out if you're a good fit for this blog. (For that reason, including a website link in your email is extremely helpful.) I blog about all kinds of books, with a bias toward YA. When it comes to writing advice, I prefer a laid-back, "maybe this will work for you" approach. Guest posts don't have to be cookie-cutter imitations of my own posts, but material that clashes with my philosophy or is too far outside my normal range of topics is probably not a good fit.
5. Send me what I need, on time. If I approach someone to be a guest, I'm prepared to do a little more digging and assembling of the materials I want to post (bio, book cover). But if a potential guest approaches me, I greatly appreciate it if that guest makes things easy for me by providing all the materials I ask for, in the format I ask for (e.g., jpeg of book cover, one-line bio).
In posting this, I'm not asking to become a big-time blog-tour stop. I might have to say no to a guest blogger (even one who follows all the above steps) just because I try to keep a certain balance in my content, and I don't always have the time, space, or energy to work out a guest post with someone. But the fact that my upcoming guest took the above approach led me to welcome him to the blog.