Every author wants book reviews – they help build buzz, inform potential readers and buyers about your book and when done well, give enough information about your book to intrigue without giving away all the pertinent details. Getting ready for the review process does take some pre-planning, as we’ve previously covered in 6 Things Your Website Should Tell Book Reviewers About You (and Your Book) http://amarketingexpert.com/6-things-your-website-should-tell-book-reviewers-about-you-and-your-book/ and 7 Simple Steps to Getting Your Book Reviewed http://blog.marketingtipsforauthors.com/2010/10/7-simple-steps-to-getting-your-book.html.
Once you’ve built a list of reviewers to go after, it’s time to start pitching. While this may not be as difficult as achieving world peace, it’s amazing how many authors make some big mistakes at this stage, in everything from poorly written subject lines to impersonal (unimpressive) pitches to not providing the appropriate book details.
Simplicity rules: Your email subject line should be brief, yet clear. “Review request: (Name of Book/genre)” is quite effective. You don’t have room to write a novel on the subject line and you want the recipient to be clear what your email is about. This is helpful particularly if your email lands in the recipient’s spam box – a good, concise subject header makes it clear that the email is legitimate. Then, onto the pitch itself.
It’s important to realize that thousands of books are published each year so competition for reviews is fierce. The average new book, if it’s not heavily promoted by one of the major New York publishing houses, is not likely to get much in the way of reviews from newspapers and magazines. That review space has been shrinking for years, anyway. Meanwhile, there has been considerable growth in book blogging and reviewing online; but even with that growth there are still far more books being published than bloggers available to review them. Understand that most reviewers do this as a labor of love and make little to no money. Their review blogs are not full-time endeavors, but something they work into their already busy lives. Learning how to make the best first impression possible when you send that pitch is vital.
Personalize: First of all, most bloggers identify themselves somewhere on their blogs – if they don’t sign their posts with their name, the “about me” section typically lists their name or nickname. Use it! When you use a blogger’s name one thing is instantly clear: you actually took the time to find out who you’re pitching. That’s a big plus. Introduce yourself (briefly), and then don’t just ask them to review your book, give them a reason – have they reviewed other books similar to yours? Do they specialize in reviewing books in your genre?
If you’re comfortable having a little fun with your pitch, by all means do so – I once saw a pitch for a frothy romance that asked potential reviewers if they’d like to sin with a duke. Very catchy and appropriate for the book! But – don’t force it – if that’s not your personality, then don’t worry about it. It’s far more important to explain who you are, what your book is about, WHY this reviewer should be interested in your book and provide links to your website so they can follow up, learn more about your book and decide whether they’d like to request a review copy. They will follow up by clicking through on links, so make sure your website has all the necessary information about you and your book.
If you did your homework during your research phase you may know some things about this blogger that might help you get a review request. For instance, if they love a particular author and your book is in a similar vein, that’s something you can put in your pitch.
Basics count: Make sure you include all the basic book information in the email:
ISBN (the 13 digit ISBN of your preferred format, hardcover or paperback)
Publication Date (month, year)
And include your website link. (This should also be included on your PR, which you will send out with copies of your book).
Timeframe for replies: You may or may not hear back right away. Each blogger has a different schedule – some people check email daily, others may only check weekly. Be patient. It’s fine to follow up in a couple of weeks if you really felt you matched up with a particular blog and didn’t hear back. It’s possible your original email ended up in a spam folder or was overlooked (the sheer volume of review requests that reviewers receive is pretty staggering). After that, if there’s still no word, let it go. Seek reviews from other bloggers. If you do receive a “No thank you,” move on, it’s not an invitation to try to arm-twist the reviewer into taking on your book.
Additional pitching options: Fiction and nonfiction authors may take a different approach when pitching. For fiction, it may make sense to seek bloggers who review books in your genre; but if your fictional book covers topics that you are an expert in, you may have some other options. For instance, if you heavily researched the history of a city or a historical figure you may find bloggers who are history buffs who might be open to reviewing your book. Sometimes it helps to brainstorm a list of topics from your book, fact or fiction, in order to generate ideas of what type of publications or bloggers or reviewers you should target.
With nonfiction, you’re an expert on the topic(s) at hand and should look for your peers in those areas when seeking reviewers. It’s much more competitive in this realm, but instead of deciding not to pitch someone who could be a competitor see if there are ways for you to help each other – and use that as part of your pitch. You never know what kind of partnership you can develop if you don’t ask. Darren Rowse at ProBlogger covers this really well on his blog, and his blog is worth following. Two useful articles include:
* How to Pitch Bloggers – Make it a Win/Win/Win Situation http://www.problogger.net/archives/2010/05/28/how-to-pitch-bloggers-make-it-a-winwinwin-situation/
* How to Pitch to Bloggers – 21 Tips http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/10/30/how-to-pitch-to-bloggers-21-tips/
* From Journalistics blog – What’s the Best Way to Pitch Bloggers? http://blog.journalistics.com/2009/whats_the_best_way_to_pitch_bloggers/
More pitching advice:
While your PR piece is something you can send out to alert the world to your book and also post to various sites online, it is also a vital document that should be included with every review copy you send out. As a result you’ll want to be sure your PR piece – which should be two pages MAXIMUM – has your contact information (phone and email), website url, book synopsis, brief author bio and the book information you used for your pitch (the listing that includes genre, ISBN, publication date, etc.) You are dealing with very busy people who are deluged with hundreds of books a year and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to write about your book – and what’s better than having a PR piece handy with everything they could possibly need – from the book description to the about the author section, website link, book information and so forth? They’ll love you for it!