The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

What book publicists need to know about reviewers

A couple weeks back, I wrote about What Journos Need to Know About Pubs, a follow up or sorts to Why Haven’t I Received My Review Copies Yet? and Why Haven’t I Received My Review Copies Yet? Part II.  One very helpful (or perhaps very irate) editor wanted to point out there are, however, a few things us book publicists can do on our end to make his — and other reviewers’ — lives easier.  Following are his observations.


Books with no contact info. I like playing the “guess the publicist” game as much as you like getting emails about books that aren’t yours.

Lack of response when requesting cover art. If we’re requesting covers, we’re running the book in the paper.

Getting new releases months after the release date, and when we put in a request months before. Makes me think you’ve milked all you can from the top-tier reviewers and are now willing to work with us.

Any imprint that uses the envelopes with the shredded newspaper as padding.  If they’ve been torn in shipping, they go into a garbage bag and wait until someone has time to take them outside and empty them.

Don’t put me on an email spam list that doesn’t have an opt out feature.

The easier you are to work with, the more of your books we review.  If we request a book, you have a decent chance of getting it reviewed.  No guarantee (unless we do promise), but better than if we didn’t ask.  There are 18,000 books a month being published, we review at best 300 – 400.


On Friday, @RonHogan of tweeted about this Flavorwire post about How to Alienate Bloggers and Boost Book Sales.  (Bloggers had another bone to pick with publicists, for the pitch for a book du jour — although, happily, Kristen O’Toole, the blogger who wrote the post, begins with a nice nod to book publicists.)  Make sure to check the comments section for the robust version of the post in which bloggers argue both for and against the efforts of publicists.


Journalists / bloggers: feel free to weigh in on what you like and don’t like about what book publicists do.  What can we do better?  What do we do that you find helpful?  Comment at will; I will update this post when I can.


April 13, 2009 - Posted by | review copies |


  1. Yen,

    Great (series of) post(s). One “so obvious no one mentions it” addendum: the reason why bloggers/online journos are less likely to get galleys/ARCs/timely books is because we don’t have their address. It’s sometimes that simple. It’s understandable that you don’t want to expose your front yard mailbox to hordes of unsolicited ARCs. I wouldn’t. But at the same time, if you’re not up front with your contact info we simply don’t have the time to always be chasing it down, even when the book’s obviously relevant to your beat or site. And we don’t have this problem with print organizations, their work addresses are always on file.

    My feeling is, the more information you share about yourself and your interests as a blogger/reporter the less likely you are to get unwanted books. We don’t like wasting time and money any more then you do.

    Comment by Justin | April 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. I run two book review blogs. So far, every publicist I’ve been in contact with has been very nice, my requested books usually arrive in a very timely manner, and all the books have came with specific publicist contact information.

    The only time I’ve had a problem was with one publisher where I made a request and never heard back from them. Perhaps my e-mail ended up in a spam filter or something. However, if that was their way of saying no, I really would have preferred it if they’d just said so. I wouldn’t get mad since it’s not like they owe me anything. 🙂

    Comment by Debbie | April 14, 2009 | Reply

  3. Well, here’s something that happened last week. I am extremely infuriated by one publisher who left me waiting at a restaurant for an interview subject who never arrived, and who refused to return my calls when the subject never showed up, claiming that “nobody had seen me,” when, in fact, I had arrived fifteen minutes before the interview and alerted the staff (who knows me) that I was waiting on somebody. The publicist claimed that the subject’s assistant had not seen me, but declined to give me the phone number for this assistant. The publicist had my cell phone but did not call me to attempt to locate me. Furthermore, when I tried calling the hotel that the publicist claimed the subject was staying it, the subject did not have a room there. There was no effort on the publicist’s part to reschedule the interview.

    I wasted hours of my time reading, researching, and preparing for this interview. (Yes, I ended up doing about four hours of research at the NYPL just because I became extremely curious.) These were hours I could have spent working on something else. And now I am highly disinclined to never set up an interview with this publisher again. I STILL haven’t received an apology.

    Comment by ed | April 14, 2009 | Reply

  4. I started including the web address where jacket art/author photos can be downloaded in my signature. I just felt so overloaded with e-mail (don’t we all?), and it was actually a bit of a process to send the artwork. I was told we had to save the art to our computer first, because if we attached from the artwork on the server, it could corrupt the file. At times I got so many requests for jacket art, it really turned in to a lot of time spent saving files to my computer, then e-mailing the attachment. (Which is why I kept asking for a downloads page).

    Re: e-mail lists. When I e-mail journalists a press release, I give a brief summary up front, ask them if they would prefer to not receive press materials this way to let me know, and then include the full press release below the signature. I try to be very targeted in the media I approach, so I’ve never actually had someone make that request (in fact, the responses I get usually tell me they prefer being contacted by e-mail). But if I had, the database I was most recently using, Publicity Assistant, has that as an option.

    Comment by Kama Timbrell | April 14, 2009 | Reply

  5. […] like these pieces. They clear the air. Get it all out and let’s get things organized. Some good rules here (from CreativePenn Twitter feed) I would only add: don’t contact me unless it’s on gold […]

    Pingback by Bookninja » Blog Archive » What publicists should know about book reviewers | April 16, 2009 | Reply

  6. […] to my colleague Lisa S. for pointing me to the “What book publicists need to know about reviewers” piece on The Book Publicity Blog.  So far so good.  However, it did get me thinking about […]

    Pingback by Illinois Press Book Blog » Publicists vs. reviewers? | April 16, 2009 | Reply

  7. Oh, that shredded newspaper padding! When will imprints stop using these? I work at a literary agency and every time one of those envelopes lands on my desk my heart sinks.

    Comment by KJ | April 20, 2009 | Reply

  8. links. send me links. to the author bio, photo, press release, blurbs, excerpts. i don’t really want to read your email pitch (and i probably won’t), but i might want to use the resources you provide to see for myself if i’m interested. music publicists are 1000% better at this than book publicists: one click, i can download an MP3 or vivist the myspace to see whether i’m interested in the band or not. book publicists make it so much harder. also, book publicists need to make their contact information easier to find. most bands have an email address on their web page or myspace for booking/publicity. if i want to do something on your book but i don’t know how to contact you, i’m probably just going to write about a band that was easy to reach instead.

    Comment by kerry | April 23, 2009 | Reply

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