The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Media requesting review copies of books / trying to contact authors

In the past few days, a couple reviewers have written to comment / complain about the process of requesting review copies.  Since this is an issue that causes some amount of grief for both reviewers and publicists, I thought I’d whip up a few pointers that can serve as a “How To” for reviewers and publicists can forward this information to anyone who might ask.  Feel free to direct people to this post and / or you can bookmark it.  Use the permalink which sends you directly to this post and not to The Book Publicity Blog in general: https://yodiwan.wordpress.com/2008/08/12/requesting-review-copies-of-books/).

Note: The following post applies to journalists, not necessarily to readers / the general public.  Also, pretty much the same rules apply to contacting an author for interviews / appearances and requesting review copies of books.

Review Copy / Author Contact FAQs

Why don’t I hear back from publicists?
We do respond; we just don’t respond all the time for the exact same reason reviewers don’t always respond when we ask whether or not a book is being reviewed: we get too many requests.

More specifically, many — I would say most, among the requests I field — are sent to the wrong imprint. Once upon a time I used to respond to every single request, but I get upwards of two dozen a day and I simply don’t have time to get back to everyone.  So I respond to the requests for the books on which I’m working and I simply forward on the rest.  In other words, the best way to get a response is to reach the right person.  (Publicists reading this post — consider shooting off quick responses to review copy requests: “On its way” or “Sure, will send.”)

Read on for information about how reach the right person.

What is an “imprint” and why is it so important?
Large houses like Random House, Penguin and others are divided into imprints — departments, really — that function autonomously.  (At RH, the imprints famously bid against each other when buying books, so this gives you an idea of just how separately the imprints work.)  Locate the imprint for the book you are requesting by checking the catalog, the publishing house’s website or an online bookseller’s site.  Keep in mind — if you are looking in the catalog — that several imprints often share one catalog.  (Don’t ask — I don’t understand this either.)  It doesn’t mean the publicists work together (or even know each other).

Also, keep in mind that many publishing houses have eponymous imprints.  So Random House the company has one imprint (among many) called Random House (or “Little Random” as those of us in the industry call it), Penguin Group the company has one imprint called Penguin Books and another imprint called The Penguin Press (with two different editorial and publicity staffs, mind you) and Simon & Schuster the company has an imprint (again, among several) called … Simon & Schuster.  If you aren’t already spinning, some imprints have subimprints — the Crown group, for example (itself a part of Random House) is made up of Clarkson Potter, Crown Business, Three Rivers and other imprints I don’t currently remember.  Yes.  This is wildly confusing.  (And I’m not being facetious.)

The best source I’ve found for navigating all the imprints is Sarah Weinman’s Publisher Imprint Report Card on her blog, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.  This multi-part series will take a little while to read through, but it really helps you figure out all the imprints.  Weinman tackles the largest, i.e., the most confusing, publishing houses: Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins, The Penguin Group and Random House.

Once you have located the book’s imprint …

Should I request a book by email?  Fax?  Phone?
Email your request unless you have been instructed to fax it.  Most reviewers have stopped calling in requests — I used to get upwards of 30 review copy requests by phone daily as an assistant (yes, I counted after one particularly trying day), although this has now trickled down to maybe one every two weeks — which is good because it’s terribly inefficient having to listen to a voicemail for a fourth time to retrieve a name and full address.

Also, for a variety of reasons, calls are inevitably routed to the wrong departments and it’s much harder to forward a voicemail than an email.

So where can I find publishing house email addresses?
Google, but I’m listing the media contact pages of the biggest houses here.  In some cases, email addresses are listed on these pages; in others you may need to navigate a little (or a lot) further to find them.  Hey, I didn’t design these sites.

Hachette Book Group: Publishing Groups for a list of imprints or Media & Publicity

HarperCollins: Company Profile for a list of imprints or Publicity Review Copy for the publicity fax number

Macmillan: Contact for a list of imprints and contact information

The Penguin Group: About Us for a list of imprints and Media Inquiries for email addresses

Random House: Media & Publicity or Contact Us

Simon & Schuster: Divisions and Imprints for a list of imprints or Media Resources

What information should I include in my request?
Include the full title, author’s name, the publication date and either the imprint or ISBN (the 13-digit number on the back of the book starting with 978).  This information can be found in the catalog, on the publishing house’s website or on the site of an online bookseller.  The more information is provided, the more quickly a request can be passed on if it gets sent to the wrong person.

Also, if you’re requesting an interview, tell us some details we can pass on to an author — what is the story about?  When is your deadline?  How long do you need with the author?  If you’re requesting an event / speaking engagement, about how many people do you expect?  Who would sell books?  A paragraph’s worth of information can make the difference between yes and no.  (No PDFs with requests on letterhead, though — attachments can be hard for us to open so you can imagine what authors go through.  I will freely admit that I have deleted attachments sent by media people when forwarding their messages — the latest just about five seconds ago — simply because I don’t have the room in my Mailbox to send a 5 MB attachment.)

You mean you can’t send us a book if we give you just the title and author?
We can, but particularly if your request goes to the wrong imprint / department, we have to check to see which imprint publishes the book and to whom the request should be sent.  When we’re dealing with dozens of requests a day, any delay at all jeopardizes your request.

Each imprint has a unique ISBN “prefix” so we can tell by ISBN alone which department publishes a book (which is why I suggest including an imprint name or an ISBN).  Within departments, books are assigned to publicists by month, so it helps for us to have a publication date.

If I send a request to a general email address (and assuming I reach the correct imprint) how do I know if I’ve reached the right publicist?
The person checking the general email address will pass on your request to the correct publicist.  Many publicists do respond to requests for their own books (if they are not completely swamped).

Does anyone really check these general email addresses?
I can’t speak for everyone, but at my publishing house, yes.

Am I guaranteed to receive a book I request?
No.  Review copies are given out at the discretion of the publicist / publishing house, but most houses are generous with most books they are actively promoting (in the months leading up to the publication of a book and in the month or two after publication).

How long does it take to receive a review copy of a book?
It will vary from department to department as well as on the publication date of the book you’re requesting.  Most publicists try to send out review copies on a regular basis (yes, I’m deliberately refraining from defining “regular” here) and current books will be sent out more quickly than older ones.  If you’re requesting a book far in advance of its publication date, you may receive a galley if one is available, or you may not receive the title until finished books are available.

If your request is urgent — including if you’re writing for a long-lead publication whose deadline is, say, six months before the issue date — make sure to let us know.

I’m confused about Children’s / Young Adult books — whom do I contact to request those titles?
Always contact the Children’s / Young Adult department of a publishing house regardless of the imprint.  So a Viking Children’s book request should be sent to the Children’s publicity department, for example, not the Viking publicity department.

I’m doing a story about a book that has not yet been published and I can’t find much information about it.  Whom do I contact?
If you can find a contact for the Corporate Communications department, they should be able to help you out; otherwise you may just have to guess.  If you can’t find any information about the book on Amazon, the publicist won’t be able to either, so include as much information as you can find in your request.  For example, if you read a tip somewhere, include the link.

I’m trying to reach an author published by more than one house.  Which house do I contact?
Always try the publicist at the house that published the author’s most recent title.  (If you are looking for a specific book, however, contact the house that published that book.)

I read about a book in the London Times, but the publisher is saying they don’t publish the book.  I’m confused.
Because of various rights issues, we (American publishers) only work with books published in the U.S.  Also, the same book can be published by one house here and another in the U.K. (or Canada or Australia).  So first check the publishing house website (or Amazon site) for the country in which you are located — if the book is not listed, you will need to find the country in which it is published and contact that publishing house.

Why won’t a publicist give me an author’s contact information?
For privacy reasons, we don’t release an author’s personal email / phone / address (although you are welcome to look up this information on your own online).  We will, however, pass on messages.  Again, the more information a message contains, the better your chance of a positive outcome.

Why don’t publishing houses simply list publicists on their websites?
Logistics.  Large houses employ 100+ publicists across dozens of departments who are working on thousands of books over three seasons each year.  It’s simply not feasible to post — and maintain — this list.  Authors, however, often list publicists on their sites.

What else can I do to ensure I get the books I request?

DO

— Make friends with publicists.  A great way get a response (whether or not your request is going to the right person) is to know someone.  This may not be as difficult as it sounds, particularly for reviewers covering certain types of books — there are only a handful of imprints / houses publishing graphic novels, for example, or mysteries, or Christian fiction.  Still, I realize this is easier said than done, so here are some more tips.

— Use a specific subject line.  The line that most quickly gets my attention is: [media venue] requests [title] by [author] (or [venue] requests interview / speaking engagement with [author]).  If you are requesting several books at once, you can include the season in the subject line.

— Include an email signature with your full name, mailing address and website / link to your clips.  If a publicist has to stop to ask for your information, you’ve just given them a reason to delay fulfilling your request.  Even if you don’t know if your request is reaching the correct person, you can always ask for the request to be forwarded and when it is, that person will appreciate having as much information as possible.

— Include information about your station / site / publication if you think we may not be familiar with it.  Information about circulation / ratings / hits is always helpful, as is information about accolades (official or not) — “Named best outdoors blog in the Northwest by XYZ,” for example.

DON’T
— Request every single book on the list every single season.  This is the best way to ensure you won’t receive any.  While we realize that many editors and reviewers legitimately have wide-ranging tastes spanning say, science to literary fiction, we can tell the difference between eclectic and greedy.

— Include attachments (including clips of your work) unless they have been requested.  Even small attachments take a long time to open when we are accessing email remotely.  Feel free to include links to your work, however.

— Use cutesy background designs in your email messages (spiral binding, winding ivy, etc.)  These designs are interpreted as attachments which means these messages also take longer to open / can get caught in spam filters.

— Send your request to multiple blind copied recipients.  You’ve just multiplied the amount of work we all have to do.

— Send your request to individuals without knowing who they are.  The other day “I Love Lucy” sent a request to a number of people including the president of the company, the publisher of one of the major imprints and a number of directors.  This is the equivalent of emailing Steve Jobs about a problem with your iPhone.

***

If you are a reviewer or publicist and have any comments / suggestions, please let me know (either by emailing me or by leaving a comment) and I will update this post to address your questions / suggestions.

August 12, 2008 - Posted by | Miscellaneous, review copies | ,

26 Comments »

  1. Yen,

    O.K., I’m one of the folks who raised this question in an email to you, and I’m not letting you off the hook. Go to the Random House link that you list. Where are the names of the publicists? Where are email addresses? Where can a reviewer click on the imprint to get to the right person. None of that is there, at least none findable after about 10 minutes of clicking around. I’ve been to this site before, and it does not enable a reviewer to do any of the lovely things you suggest. (Get the right imprint, get the right publicist, etc., etc.)

    So????

    Thanks for the post. I’d love to hear what others think. Publicists, reveal yourselves!

    Comment by Paul Raeburn | August 12, 2008 | Reply

    • I can well appreciate your frustration Paul. Our bookpleasures’ reviewers have likewise experienced this problem with Random House and other publishers. I have been able to steer them in the right direction through our Bookpleasures’ data base where I keep a record of the publicists who have contacted me either by sending me books via the mail or requesting reviews via the Internet. Unfortunately, very often these publicists are here today and gone tomorrow.

      Comment by Bookpleasures | May 12, 2009 | Reply

  2. Well, that may be an issue you want to take up with Random House. Check The Penguin Group link, which includes email addresses for all imprints right on that page. Or Macmillan’s link, which with one additional click on the imprint of your choice brings you to a Contact page with email and snail mail information. (But you will need to locate a book’s imprint first, before trying to contact that imprint.)

    As to why publicists’ names are not listed, read the FAQ.

    Comment by Yen | August 12, 2008 | Reply

  3. This is also a case where Gmail’s search capabilities come in serious handy. If I’m not sure who the publicist is on a particular title, I’ll search through by publisher or imprint and come up with a few candidates, then email the most likely one with the caveat that if they aren’t the right person, to please forward on my request to the appropriate publicist.

    The other reason it makes little sense to list specific publicists is the degree of turnover. Certainly some folks stay with the same house for years and years, but especially at the assistant and associate level, it’s more realistic to expect a new face with a new series entry, for example.

    Comment by Sarah | August 12, 2008 | Reply

  4. If you are requesting an evaluation copy from outside the U.S. Unique Review

    Comment by Unique Review | August 12, 2008 | Reply

  5. This is extremely useful information. Thank you very much.

    Comment by Terry Weyna | August 12, 2008 | Reply

  6. I’ll second Terry’s comment and say thanks for the very helpful post.

    Comment by Jeff C | August 13, 2008 | Reply

  7. This is a brilliant post that is spot-on accurate from a reviewer standpoint. Thanks so much for the extra tips!

    ~Julie

    Comment by Julie Prince | August 13, 2008 | Reply

  8. […] News » News News Requesting review copies of books2008-08-18 19:12:38The – that function autonomously. (At RH, the imprints — departments, really […]

    Pingback by Behavior advice · | August 18, 2008 | Reply

  9. […] News » News News Requesting review copies of books2008-08-18 23:13:44In means these messages also take longer to open / can get caught in spam […]

    Pingback by Marcos Witt-Alegria · | August 18, 2008 | Reply

  10. […] News » News News Requesting review copies of books2008-08-19 08:11:42The – that function autonomously. (At RH, the imprints — departments, really […]

    Pingback by Work Begins to Prepare N Reactor for Cocooning · | August 19, 2008 | Reply

  11. Let me begin by saying that i love your blog yodiwan.wordpress.com a lot
    now.. back to the post lol
    I cant say that im 100% with what you wrote… care to elaberate?

    Comment by christian | August 24, 2008 | Reply

  12. […] I received my review copy yet? A little while back I put together a post with some tips for requesting review copies (and author interviews / events) from publishing houses.  I am hereby begging all readers to use / […]

    Pingback by Why haven’t I received my review copy yet? « The Book Publicity Blog | January 26, 2009 | Reply

  13. Thanks for your helpful tips. One comment I would like to make is that from time-to-time our reviewers request a review copy following a request made to us. Unfortunately, the publicist never bothers to follow up with an email or doesn’t even send the book. Why bother to ask us for a review if you don’t follow up. Incidentally, our site has posted over 3000 reviews and 500 author interviews since 2004. We are an international community of over 40 reviewers that come from all walks of life and that review all genres.

    Comment by Bookpleasures | January 26, 2009 | Reply

  14. An excellent explanation, thanks!

    Comment by Susan, the Book Chook | January 27, 2009 | Reply

  15. thank you so much for this post! I’m a freelance writer interested in getting started with book reviews and this info was very helpful. i’ll be bookmarking it!

    Comment by Erin McCool | May 4, 2009 | Reply

  16. […] Media requesting review copies of books / trying to contact authors […]

    Pingback by Sending review copies of books to bloggers, Part III « The Book Publicity Blog | May 14, 2009 | Reply

  17. Hello I’m wanting to write book reviews on my blog.
    I have a few Questions

    1. How many books is it appropriate to request from a publicist at one time? If I see two books that I feel my readers would be interested in, is it appropriate to request both book at once?

    2. What is the appropriate time period to wait before requesting another book from the same publishing house?

    3. After I receive a book how soon do I need to have my review completed?

    Thank you very much for your time I really appreciate any advise

    Comment by Misty Glades | May 28, 2009 | Reply

    • I’ve been wondering about this too Misty. Good questions.

      Comment by Dina | May 28, 2009 | Reply

    • Misty — here’s some information that might help:

      1. How many books is it appropriate to request from a publicist at one time? If I see two books that I feel my readers would be interested in, is it appropriate to request both book at once?

      Sure — feel free to request more than one book at a time. The process pretty much works on the honor system: we trust that bloggers will try to keep requests to those books they genuinely think they will write about (although we do realize that plans change). A blogger is not obligated to review every book s/he requests (nor are we obligated to provide complimentary review copies to everyone who asks) but yes, we do expect to see some coverage at some point about some book from a blogger who is receiving books from us.

      2. What is the appropriate time period to wait before requesting another book from the same publishing house?

      Whenever you’re ready to write another post, go ahead and request a book — no waiting period necessary.

      3. After I receive a book how soon do I need to have my review completed?

      There’s no deadline, but since we are trying to promote and sell books, the sooner coverage is posted the better!

      Comment by Yen | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  18. Thanks for the info. Great Post.🙂

    Comment by Dina | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  19. I was quite surprised to learn that bloggers are not required to review every book they request.

    Bookpleasures.com has a policy that if a reviewer requests a book, she or he is required to review it. However,if a blogger can’t review a book for some reason or another, he or she should offer it to another bookpleasures’ reviewer.

    There are exceptions to the rule when a book is terrible insofar as the structure is concerned, eg. too many spelling and grammatical errors, etc.

    This usually occurs when the book has not been properly edited. That is why we try to make it a point to remind requesters that before we will review a book, it should have been edited by a competent editor.

    Comment by Bookpleasures | May 29, 2009 | Reply

  20. […] information for imprints, I link to the Contact Us pages at several major publishing houses in this Media requesting review copies / trying to contact authors post.  You can also find more information about review copies (and why you may not be receiving […]

    Pingback by What is an imprint? « The Book Publicity Blog | July 14, 2009 | Reply

  21. […] make it easier to get your request to the right department from the start — check this post, Media requesting review copies of books.  And here’s lots more information about review copies in […]

    Pingback by If you’re requesting a book, please, provide an address « The Book Publicity Blog | October 6, 2009 | Reply

  22. […] Check out Deonne Kahler’s excellent article on “How to Craft an Irresistible Blog.”==========Find out which writers/works of fiction have been named finalists in this year’s Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.==========Having trouble obtaining review copies? Maybe you need to read these tips. […]

    Pingback by The Wednesday Web Browser: Better Blogging, Fiction Finalists, and Rules for Requesting Review Copies | ErikaDreifus.com | July 28, 2010 | Reply

  23. Hi there, I enjoy reading through your post. I wanted to write a
    little comment to support you.

    Comment by hier | May 25, 2013 | Reply


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