Self Publishing ProTips: The Dos and Don’ts of Requesting Reviews

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Leigh Ann Kopans, Map to Self Publishing, Marketing and Branding, Publishing, Young Adult | 2 comments

Hey everyone! Self-publishing Muse Leigh Ann here!

As a self-publisher, you’ve decided that the only audience whose approval of your book matters is the readers. Not agents, not editors – readers.

If the reader is the most important judge of your book, then it follows that the book reviewers/bloggers with large audiences of readers are your new gods and goddesses.

Worship them.

No, I’m not kidding. Not one little bit.

Out of sheer benevolence (and possibly maybe one day ARCs of Big Deal Books) these people started using their precious personal time, without pay, to write thoughtful and helpful reviews of books. Those reviews were so good that other people started to read them, rely upon them, anticipate them, and follow their blogs. The more followers a reviewer has, the more authors want them to review their books.

That means that the book reviewers/bloggers you most want to be reading your book often have their pick of books – both traditionally and self-published – to read and review. That means that you will have to offer them more than “Hey! Free book! Now read it and say nice things about it!” to get them to agree to spend their time reading and reviewing your book (hopefully kindly.) This is ten times as true for self-published authors, who haven’t gone through the established and trusted quality control process of our colleagues in the Big Five houses.

***Do….***

…be polite and thorough. Lots of “please”s, “thank you”s, and “I’m wondering if you might be interested in”s are in order here. In addition, give the reviewer all the information she needs to know to make a decision – at the very least, your book’s title, release date, and relevant links to Goodreads and your author site.

…leave plenty of time. Many reviewers have their review schedules booked out months in advance, and, of course, life happens, too – an unfortunate non-fiction related nuisance that can delay book reviews. (*smile*) I started requesting reviews five full months ahead of my book’s release, and several reviewers expressed their appreciation that there was absolutely no time crunch.

…keep good records. Start a spreadsheet now of everyone you want to ask, when you contacted them, how, and what their response was. At least (add more fields according to your particular degree of neurosis.)

….follow the rules of requesting. On every review blog, there should be a tab that says something like “Review Policy.” Read it carefully and send along with your request anything that is specified in that section. Some blogs want to see the cover or an excerpt before they decide to review – a handful even want the author to answer a questionnaire about their book in the body of the request email. Follow those guidelines to the letter – if you can’t, or don’t want to, then don’t request from that blog. To go along with that….

….know your limitations. If you can only afford ten print ARCs, or the cost of sending them overseas is prohibitive, don’t make a request for a review for which you are unable to provide the book. I’ve noticed a decent-sized handful of book blogs are based in the Phillipines, for example – it costs about $16 to send a paperback book there. If you don’t want to pay that, and the reviewer only accepts paper copies, don’t email them at all.

….list your street cred. If you hired professional editors or a well-known cover designer, say so. If you have an agent who supports this endeavor, include that information. If you’ve already secured a blurb from an impressive author, don’t hesitate to include that information. Include any proof that your book is different from the self-published pack to convince the reviewer that this book is more worth her time than any others that may cross her inbox.

….remember that book reviewers/bloggers are your new gods and goddesses.

 

***Don’t…***

…ask for a review from a site that explicitly says “no self-pubbed titles.” Really. Don’t. You’re not special. Really.

…send a form email. At the very least, use the reviewer’s first name in the salutation (it’s usually found in the “About” tab of the blog.) If you’ve ever queried agents, this is kind of like that. Personalize that email as much as you can. If you’ve had Twitter convos with one of the reviewers, if you’ve been a long time follower, or if there’s a particular reason this blog seems like a good fit to you, don’t squander the opportunity to use that to your advantage.

….take this personally. Sometimes, a reviewer can’t fit you into her schedule, or your book just doesn’t interest her. She doesn’t hate you, or self-publishers, or your genre – she just doesn’t think she’s a good person to review your book. You’d want someone to be respectful of your decisions in that respect – show book reviewers/bloggers the same courtesy.

….forget that book reviewers/bloggers are your new gods and goddesses. Seriously.

 

Hope this helps, friends!

Leave any questions in the comments and I and/or my fellow Self-Published Muses will answer as soon as we can.

About Leigh Ann Kopans

As a rabbi at The Ohio State University surrounded by college students, Leigh Ann found her niche writing young adult science fiction and romance. Her debut novel, ONE, about a girl with half a superpower and the boy who makes her fly, will be published on June 11, 2013.

2 Comments

  1. Get it, girl! Great post!

  2. thanks for sharing! As both a writer and betareader/reviewer, I must agree that having sufficient time to read a book for a review is important for a quality review! (I like to take notes as I read, and if I’m speeding through a book to meet a deadline, I’m less likely to take good notes and mark favorite quotes)

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