Friday, February 6, 2015

All About Book Blogging #1: How to Request Free Books for Review

Started a book blog? Awesome! Congrats and welcome, we are happy to have you!

Now, you're probably wondering when you can start requesting complimentary review copies? How to approach the publishers? How many followers / page views/ posts should you have before you even start thinking about asking for review copies? What other ways are there of getting free books?

Over the course of the next two weeks I, the publicity rockstars, and the most famous book bloggers will be answering all these questions for you!
First, let me just say that there's no one perfect way of going about it. No golden rule-book for blogging and getting review copies for free (or rather in exchange for honest reviews). I'm not, in any way, an expert, either. The following are just tips and suggestions that come from my personal experience and 5 years of blogging. I have reached out to the publicist rockstars, PR consultants of awesome, and some of the most experience blogging pros in our community and asked them questions to give you all an even better idea of what book blogging is all about and how to bite it!

Today we will be discussing requesting review copies from the publisher! I have invited publicists from major US publishing houses to weigh in on the discussion and share "their side of the story", along with some very helpful tips! I have one publicist interview for you today, more will follow in the next couple of days, so stay tuned!

What's next?

2/7 - Publicist Interview with Kelsey Dickson from Simon and Schuster
2/8 - Publicist Interview with Elizabeth Mason from Bloomsbury Children's
2/9 - Publicist Interview with Rachel Lodi from Penguin Young Readers
2/10 - Publicist Interview with Sadie Trombetta from Random House Children's
2/11 - All About Book Blogging #2: How To Get Free Books via Blog Tours and Review Programs
2/12 - Blogging PRO Interview: Giselle from Xpresso Reads
2/13 - Blogging PRO Interview: Jenny from Supernatural Snark
2/14 - Blogging PRO Interview: Ashley from Nose Graze
2/15 - Blogging PRO Interview: Michelle from Book Briefs
2/16 - Blogging PRO Interview: Stephanie from Cuddlebuggery
2/17 - All About Book Blogging #3: My Blogging Story 

Before You Request:

I guess the first important thing to keep in mind is that, both stats and content matters. It's all about good balance.

Blogging is a lot of fun and getting free books sounds awesome, but you need to remember it's also a lot of hard work. It only makes sense if you're serious about what you're doing and you truly love reading, otherwise it's just another chore. As with anything in this world, you first need to prove yourself reliable and trustworthy. And that's where stats and experience come into play.

I strongly suggest that before you approach publishers about review copies, make sure that:
  • You have been blogging consistently for at least 4-6 months
  • You have written at least 20 book reviews in that time period
  • You have SOME pageviews every day - there's no golden number, but ideally a minimum of 100 page views per day would be good (it helps if you do some networking, comment on other blogs, share your posts on social media, etc).
  • You're on social media - Twitter, Facebook and Bloglovin being the absolute musts (white it is not required and you can probably get by without, social media are great promotional tools).
Keep in mind that:
  • Being a member of Goodreads and cross-posting your reviews there and on Amazon is not required, but it helps for sure.
  • Politeness and professionalism in handling yourself, your blog and your review requests to publishers goes a long way and will get you farther than you think (Asking for review copies on Twitter/Facebook, being pushy and acting entitled to a review copy are probably some of the best ways to burn bridges).
  • Page views are one thing and comments on non-giveaway posts (especially reviews) are another. The latter matter much more.
  • Quality over quantity. 1 review is worth more than 10 memes. 
What to include in your request:
  • A few words of introduction. Keep it short and concise. Introduce yourself and your blog.
  • The reason for reaching out. List the books you'd like to request for review and explain why you're interested in these particular titles.
  • Blog statistics. Blog followers, page views, email subscribers, how long you've been blogging, etc. 
  • Samples of previous reviews. I send 5 most recent ones, but anywhere from 1-5 is good. 
  • Your mailing address. Just to save everyone the time of going back and forth and asking about it!
Dear Sir or Madam (if you know the name of the publicist, use it instead). 

My name is Evie and I'm the blogger behind Bookish ( I'm writing to request an advanced reader copy of (book title and author here). I have read the synopsis of (the above title) and I would love a chance to review it on my blog. (If you have read and loved the author's previous works, mention it. If you have a more specific reason for requesting this specific book, mention it. If you're working on a blog event and this particular title goes along with its theme, mention it, too.)

Thank you so much for your consideration. Below is some information about my blog, as well as few examples of my recent reviews.

Bookish ( is my personal blog where I review books (mostly Young Adult, but not only), host author appearances (interviews, guest posts), host bookish events (MEN in YA spotlighting male YA authors, Contemporary Fiction Month featuring contemporary YA books, TBR Pile Reading Challenge), host giveaways and share my excitement for new and upcoming releases.

In addition to posting my reviews on my blog, I also post them on Goodreads (link to profile) and Amazon (link to profile).

I currently have 4527 GFC followers on the blog, 5057 Bloglovin' followers, 7900 followers on Twitter (@SeoEvie), and on average I get about 1200-1500 page views per day.

Here are some examples of my recent reviews:




Again, thank you for your consideration! I am looking forward to hearing back from you!


How to find publicity emails?

If you have a specific book you'd like to request, or maybe you've read a book and would like to arrange an author interview, you need to find out who published the book (the publisher and the imprint) and then contact the right person (publicity contact). Bloggers who have been around for some time probably have specific publicity contacts, but these are not emails we are allowed to share with anyone. Not because we are stock up snobs and don't want to help out fellow book bloggers, but because it's a matter of privacy and trust, and something that is seriously frowned upon.

This means, you will have to work your own way into this world. First step would be locating publicity emails on the publisher's website. Every publisher's website is different, but the publicity contacts usually hide somewhere in the "Contact" section, or simply "Publicity/ Inquiries".

For instance, take a look at Random House:

On the main page, when you scroll all the way down to the bottom, you'll see "CONTACT" section. You need to click on it. Then you'll see Publicity Information, where listed are all publicity emails for all imprints.

To make it easier, I have compiled Publicity Pages for some of the major publishers:

Random House
Simon & Schuster
Harper Collins
Penguin Books
     * Penguing Young Readers has a Tumblr with specific review copies requesting guidelines
Bloomsbury USA
Algonquin Young Readers
Medallion Press
Egmont USA

What the publishers say:
To give you a better idea about how requesting review copies / ARCs works, I have reached out to some of the publicists I have the enormous pleasure of working with and they were kind enough to answer a couple of questions for us. (Thank you again for taking the time out of your busy schedules!). During the next couple of days, I will be sharing these interviews with you.
Today, I have an interview with one of the publicists from a major US Publishing House. The publicist has asked me to not disclose her identity, so for the purpose of this interview, we'll just call her "Publicist". Here's some insider knowledge for you:

1) What do you look at when considering an ARC or finished review copy request from a blogger? For instance, how long should a person be blogging before approaching you about receiving a review copy? How many followers/ page views should they have?

Publicist: I generally look favorably on bloggers who have been posting regularly (at least once a week) for a year. Over 300 followers merits my consideration. Over 1,000 demands it.

2) How much does the content matter? If a blogger posts mainly memes, would you still work with them?

Publicist: It matters significantly. I tend to stay away from Tumblrs for this reason. I prefer to send review copies to bloggers whose bread and butter are, in fact, book reviews.

3) How much does the look of a blog matter? 

Publicist: Not as much as the follower count. It matters more when considering blogs for blog tours as I would not want to send an author to a blog that looks very amateurish.

4) What should the blogger include in their review copy request? (Blog statistics, social media links, samples of previous reviews, mailing address?) 

Publicist: All of those things would be great.

5) What would you say is the ideal time frame for posting a review? Is there such a thing as too early before the publication date, or too late? 

Publicist: There is such a thing as too early (aka 3 months or more before the release date). We prefer bloggers to post within the 2 months surrounding pub day.

6) Should a blogger email you (or another person in charge of the marketing campaign) with the link to their review once they've completed and posted it?

Publicist: Yes, it’s a nice gesture.

7) What would you say is an unacceptable (or frowned upon) behavior from a blogger? (Tweeting negative reviews and tagging the author/publisher, asking for review copies on Twitter or Facebook, etc) 

Publicist: I think tagging the author/publisher on a negative review is throwing unnecessary shade and should be avoided. Asking for review copies via twitter/facebook seems to indicate that we don’t have a professional relationship—so I’d recommend bloggers take the time to track down an email address and write a formal request. Otherwise, I’d tell bloggers to just not get pushy with their requests and to remember they are just that: requests. Also: be reasonable with the number of books you request at one time. Finally, realize that publishers have less need to send review copies for our really popular titles.

8) Is there a general publicity contact for review copy inquiries that you could share with us?

Publicist: As I’d prefer these answers to be anonymous, no, I do not.

9) Is there anything else you'd like to add? Anything we, bloggers, should be mindful of?

Publicist: Nothing beyond our appreciation for the work bloggers do in fostering a community of joyful and excited readers.

Did you find any of this helpful? Do you have any questions? Be sure to leave me some feedback and I will definitely address all your questions, requests and concerns!

And do stop by tomorrow to meet Kelsey from Simon & Schuster and find out how she answered my questions about working with book bloggers and requesting books!

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