I’ve written quite a bit about book reviews on this blog:
And another post that sparked an interesting discussion: Would you Give a Fellow Author a Negative Book Review?
I’ve even talked about how I get quite a few book review requests despite the fact that I’m not an “official” book reviewer. At this point, you’d think I’d be all book reviewed out, right? Well, just about every day somebody Googles: “How to write a book review letter,” and that query leads them to one of my aforementioned posts. So I thought I’d do another post with more detailed information about how to approach reviewers.
Some of my more seasoned author pals will probably know this information already, but please feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section with advice and tidbits that I didn’t mention here.
So here we go!
- This might seem like a no-brainer, but the first thing you want to do is Google “[fill in your genre] book reviewers.” For instance: “Romantic comedy book reviewers.” Or, “Book reviewers for horror novels.” This might take a bit of research on your part, but it’s an important step so that you don’t send someone who only reads science fiction your erotica novel.
- Once you have the list of bloggers, please, please, please read their review policy! If they clearly state that they are “closed to submissions at this time,” please heed this! And don’t query them anyway because that’s probably the fastest way to get your email deleted. Or their policy might be that they are only accepting review requests from authors they’ve worked with before, or from traditionally published authors. So whatever their review policy is, please follow instructions!
- After you have Googled reviewers in your genre and have whittled your list down to reviewers who are open to submissions, it’s time to start getting your letter ready. This doesn’t have to be some grandiose thing. Keep it professional, polite, and to the point. For example, don’t do this:
What happens when Die Hard meets Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead? You get Babysitting Ain’t for Chumps, where my kick ass main character, Swanky Johnson, battles mob bosses in New York City after getting stuck with her dead date’s daughter. Think you’ve seen it all? Well, prepared to be wowed by Swanky and her side kick, Peanut!
I see that you don’t accept adventure novels and that you are currently closed to book review requests, but I thought I’d send you a note anyway because I don’t want you to miss out on this (because once Hollywood buys the rights, you’ll be able to say that you were among the first book reviewers! (wink).
I have been in love with writing since I was seven years old, and I am so happy to share this journey with you!
Literature’s Next Big Star.
Please don’t do this!
Instead, do this:
- Address the book reviewer by name. If you search the blog and can’t find the name, then I think it’s fine to say “Dear [insert name of blog].” You can open with how you found the blog or get right into why you’re writing. Totally up to you. Just remember to keep it polite and simple.
- State your business quickly and get out of there: the genre of your book, the blurb, word count, and the formats you have available.
- Thank the book reviewer for his/her time and go about your day. Seriously, that’s it. Don’t wax poetic about what writing means to you. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
So the letter might look like this:
I’m writing because I see that you are currently open to reviewing speculative fiction books. Would you be interested in reviewing my novel, Ripley’s Ghost?
It’s ______________ words. Here’s a synopsis: [include the book blurb here].
If interested, I’d be happy to send you a copy of the book in the format of your choice: mobi, Epub, PDF, or hard copy.
Thank you so much for your time!
Sure, it’s not the sexiest letter on the planet, but it’ll get the job done! And if someone agrees to review your book and then suddenly dissapears into a dark hole, please don’t write them demanding to know why they haven’t reviewed your book. Just assume that they got busy, starting reading your book and it wasn’t their cup of tea, or was so engrossed in your book that they were reading while crossing the street and got hit by a bus (it could happen!).
And if you get a negative book review: do nothing. If it makes you feel better, put the reviewer on “the people you will snub when you’re rich list” and keep it moving. Don’t respond. Don’t write them telling them that they got your book all wrong and that they’re an idiot. Just pretend the review doesn’t exist and focus on getting more reviews–or writing your next masterpiece.
And if writing letters isn’t your thing, go social! You can post a query on some of the review groups on Goodreads (Goodreads even has some peer review groups that you can join–someone reviews your book and you agree to review theirs in return). If that’s your cup of tea, then go for it! I’ve even seen instances where reviewers will start a thread saying that they’re looking for new authors to review. I’ve also seen authors “@” book reviewers on Twitter with a link to their book. You can also join some of the Facebook author groups and post your info–it’s really up to you! Some other advice: be nice to people. People will probably be more willing to buy and review (good!) books by authors that they actually like.
What about others? What methods do you employ for getting reviews? And if you’re a book reviewer: what are some things that authors do that you wish they didn’t? I’d love to hear your thoughts!