Approaching Publishers and Getting Review Books
“How many publishers are sending you ARCs? Is it something you request, or did they just find you on the magic of the interwebs and start sendin' away?” - Maggie
In going through my list of discussion questions, this one was at the very top. I'd been avoiding it because at the time it was asked I had just done a post about publishers and ARCs, but I always like to do them again once I've gained more experience under my belt and had some time passes by. Since school began in late August I haven't been sending out as many review requests, unless I'm really really dying to get my hands on a book, but of course I'm still receiving books in the mail, unsolicited. At this point, I probably get an average of 2 or 3 books in the mail each week. I don't want to focus so much on ARCs with this post, because the majority of the books I get are finished copies, but the process is generally the same.
How many publishers are sending me books?
Honestly, I have no idea. There are only a few publishers that regularly send me books because I'm on their mailing list or I request from them frequently. I'd say I regularly get unsolicited books in the mail from 3 or 4 publishers; I send out requests to maybe 4 on a regular basis. I only ask for what I really really want and I limit my requests when I get overburdened with stacks of books to review.
How do I contact a publisher?
Creating a rapport with a publisher is hard work. It usually takes at least 6 months of blogging accompanied by 300+ followers before anyone will take you seriously. In my experience, the best way to get a publisher to notice you is to contact them yourself. Before I acquired my personal contacts, I set out regular emails to the general addresses that are listed on each publisher's site. I literally wrote one, incredibly detailed email that summed up who I was, what I did, and what I was looking for. I know, most bloggers will tell you that sending out a general email to all the publishers is horrible form, but in my experience it works.
My general email looks something like this:
Hello and thank you for your time,
Who are you? - Introduce yourself and your blog
Stats – How many followers do you have? Page views? Unique visitors? How long have you been blogging?
What are you looking for? - Do you want a catalog of review copies? Do you want to be on their mailing list? Why are you writing to them?
What about your blog makes you a good fit for them?
What kind of books do you review?
Only YA? Middle Grade? Adult?
What genres do you like?
Give them an idea of what books should be sent to you.
Paragraph Three: How often do you post?
How many posts do you average a week?
What kind of posts are you interested in doing? - Guest posts, interviews, book teasers, new releases, etc.
If they don't have review copies available, should they still contact you for blog tours?
Where else do you post reviews?
Are you on Goodreads? - Link them to your review list so they can see how many books you've reviewed on that site alone. A lot of publishers want to see your previous work and by linking them to your reviews on Goodreads they can more easily navigate your writing.
Do you post on Amazon? Barnes and Noble? Would you be willing to if they asked?
What kind of social media sites are you on?
Twitter – If you're not you should be. How many followers do you have?
Facebook – Does your blog have a facebook page? If so, link to it. How many “likes” does it have?
Anything else you're on?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you,
1234 Bookish Lane
Storybrook, CA 56789
Anna @ Literary Exploration
I know, that's really long right? That email goes against most everything people tell you to do. “Keep emails short and to the point” But. That email has all of the necessary information that publishers need to assess you and your blog, and decide whether or not you'd be a good fit for them. It's general, but it's informative. And when you look at each paragraph, it is short and to the point. Here are my stats. Here is what I like to read. Here are tons of links that show you I'm active on the internet.
This general email has been the most successful tool for me in getting publishers to notice me. I've gotten more out of sending this one email than sending dozens of single ARC requests. This generalized email lets publishers know that you want to work with them for a long time. Sending ARC requests is great, but it doesn't guarantee that publishers will send you books later on, only what you ask for.
How do publishers find me?
I always love when I get emails from publishers letting me know about upcoming titles and other goodies like that. I've actually had a few contact me about receiving books for review and what I would or would not be interested. I always just ask to be added to the mailing list to receive books regularly because that's easier for me.
But how do they find us? No idea. Probably the magic of the interwebs! Twitter? Remember when you wrote that review for Unnamed Book and tweeted it to the publisher? Well, they probably clicked on it. Then they checked our your blog. Then they went, “Oh hey, this girl is filled with wit and sarcasm and writes fantastic reviews! We should have her review more books for us!” I think social media has been a big way to get ourselves out there and noticed. Publishers are more active on sites like Twitter than most bloggers are. HarperCollins has @EpicReads @HarperTeen @PitchDarkBooks @HarperChildrens and so many more! Plus, when we utilize our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and title our posts in a way that will get us the most traffic, we're easier to find.
Also, giveaways have something to do with it as well. Awhile back I entered to win some books through LibraryThing. I got my books, and then a month later I got more. Now I regularly get books from a certain publisher without ever having done anything other than enter a giveaway. I am assuming (I don't know) that publishers collect data at one point or another when they're updating or managing a mailing list. So somehow, I was added to that list.
Remember, books aren't free!
Don't start sending out requests to be added to mailing lists unless you're a serious blogger and you're willing to put in the hard work. If you can't commit to reviewing the books you'll receive then don't bother. I know it looks really awesome when bloggers receive stacks of books for review each week, but take some time to think about it. How many reviews do you post a week? Three? So three reviews posted each week, for four weeks means twelve reviews a month. You can effectively review twelve books in one month. If you send out six requests to be added to a mailing list and you receive six books a week, that means you'll have twice as many books to read. And what if you get twelve books in one week? They add up! It can be stressful when you have a pile of books that needs to be reviewed by the end of them!
I just got to the point where I've cleared out almost all of my requested review books and it's so nice. I can finally sift through the unsolicited ones and decide which I'll read first. I can finally read my own books again! I have shelves of unread books that are just sitting there because I'm focusing on review books. So take requesting and accepting seriously.
And remember, the information in this post merely represents my own thoughts and experiences. Anything I may say about publishers and their methods is simply speculation.