Refrains of Reviews

I promised I’d talk about requesting reviews from folks.  Really, the whole process reminds me of querying.  You pitch your book, and these people will accept or reject it.  Luckily, most of these guys are not nearly as picky as literary agents.  Good reviews are key to getting book sales.  And really, there’s only two rules in approaching a book reviewer.

1. Be polite.  I can’t stress this enough.  Most of the people on the ebook or indie scene are just everyday folks who happen to like books.  They have lives, and they have time constraints just like everyone else.  Don’t make assumptions of any kind, and that includes sending them stuff unasked.  You ask permission to send them something; don’t just attach your ebook and hurl the email at them saying “Let me know when the review is out!” It’s up to you to make the book sound interesting, which is where your pitch lines and summaries come in handy.  You can include links to the book and its reviews, but considering the average attention of an Internet user, there’s no guarantee anyone’s going to click on that link.  Keep your emails short.  Treat it like a casual but way shorter and  friendlier query letter, and you’ll probably get a good response.  If you get rejected, DO NOT be pissy about it.  Move on to the next one, and maybe even at least send an email thanking the reviewer for their time.  You never know when you might write something that is to their preference, or that you may have been rejected because these people have a 6 month’s supply of books to read.  And may have accepted your book for review 6 months down the line, but you decided to be a jerk, so …

2. Do your research.  At the very least, you need to know the name of the person you’re emailing, and their genre interests.  I did run into a lot of people who said quite plainly “NO EBOOKS.”  I’d’ve been wasting my time trying to cajole them into Highsong.  I also don’t want to send my sci-fi book about dolphins to a chick-lit reader.  It just wouldn’t click. Most book review blogs have a tab that outlines their preferences of how to approach them.  I found I didn’t really need to tailor my letter that much when requesting a review.  Title, word count, publication date, a pitch line, and a link to my book trailer were about it.  (Which is another difference from querying a literary agent; everyone says “Include something personal about the agent!”, which can get kind of tiresome.)   Most of the time, if you flub your attempt, you won’t get a reply.  One of the first requests I sent off (number sixteen, but I don’t count it because I messed up) stated clearly that she only accepted .mobi file types.  I discovered this about three seconds after I’d hit “Send” on an email that said I’d be happy to send her a .pdf.  After figuring that out, I changed the line in my request to “a .pdf or any file you prefer.”  Catering to the crowd never hurt anyone.

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About coyoteclockwork

I am 29 and living on the outskirts of the North Austin, TX area. I'm an illustrator and a writer of YA fantasy. I'm also an avid video gamer and have a lot of background in good-old tabletop RPG, when I'm not editing manuscripts for myself or part of my writing group at the Austin SCBWI.
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3 Responses to Refrains of Reviews

  1. Jon Mac says:

    Hi there! This is a good advice 🙂

    I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you regarding a review of your book (you left a request on my blog.) Ha ha, I was very surprised that somebody would make a review request from me! I did buy your book and like it so far (heh, I always have a soft spot for dolphins and killer whales.) I barely have time to read anything, though. I still have to do another review that I had planned before I got your book. But hopefully at some point I will get to it, although reviewing isn’t my main thing.

    I definitely understand what it’s like trying to get honest reviews. I’m going through that same process now. You’ve got a good book and a good blog, so keep up the good work 🙂

  2. Hi, I just found your site through a friend who’s always pointing me to interesting writing sites. I love the way you’ve chronicled your journey as a writer here. I have a database going of free articles by writers on book marketing. I was wondering if you’d let me repost (with attribution, of course) this article about finding reviewers. I think it’s something that many authors should read. Feel free to contact me at Kimm@castelane.com if you’re interested.

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