The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Sending review copies of books to bloggers

Yesterday, a publicist in another department here suggested I write a post about requesting review copies of books, but directed specifically at bloggers.  After all, book publicists are wondering: with all the blogs out there, how do we figure out to which bloggers we should be sending (free) review copies of books?  Meanwhile, bloggers are wondering: why don’t we ever hear back from publicists when we request books to review?  A thorny problem, this.

Here are some general tips for requesting review copies:

Media requesting review copies of books / trying to contact authors

Why haven’t I received my review copies yet?

Why haven’t I received my review copies yet? Part II

And here’s some additional information that might be particularly helpful for bloggers.  (Readers — please feel free to comment / ask questions).  I will modify the post to reflect feedback.

***

All publishing houses want to get as much publicity for their books as possible.  Traditionally, this has been done by providing free advance copies of books (review copies) to journalists.  However, none of us have an unlimited supply of review copies that we can dole out gratis.  Therefore, we need to be selective about the books we provide bloggers (the very same way we need to be selective about the books we provide print and broadcast journalists).

Among our considerations:

Publication date: For obvious reasons, the best time to promote a book is when we first publish it and shortly after.  We’re much less generous with review copies once the book has been out for a couple months.

Type of book: Publishers of certain art and photography books simply can’t afford to send out lots of copies of very heavy, very expensive books very far.  There may be art available from these books, however, so if you’re serious about reviewing this type of book, it’s worth checking to see what materials are available.

Blog traffic: Depending on the book and the department, a publicist might send out a review copy to any blogger who requests one.  Or, s/he might only provide review copies to bloggers who get a certain number of hits / incoming links.  (Either way, many book publicists do check sites like Alexa and Technorati to get some empirical information about blogs.  Of course, you should feel free to provide us with any additional information about your blog that you’d like us to know.)

Type of coverageAs with print outlets, “book coverage” on blogs runs the gamut from a mention to a full-fledged review / author interview.  Again, depending on the book and department, publicists may reserve review copies for bloggers who plan more extensive coverage of a book.  However, while we’re all obviously seeking more ink for our books, most of us also realize that it’s simply not feasible for bloggers to generate that amount of content (not to mention that many bloggers don’t run reviews or interview authors).  At the end of the day, many book publicists appreciate any and all mentions of our books and authors.  We appreciate it even more when bloggers link to either an online bookseller and / or to the author’s website; when linking a book to an online bookseller, please make sure to link to the latest edition of the book which will always be the paperback edition if there is one.

***

In related matters, last week Hey Lady posted about the issue of negative reviews, particularly whether bloggers are obligated to positively review books they receive from publishing houses and whether publishing houses can refuse to provide review copies to bloggers on the basis of their reviews.  The answer is that bloggers can write whatever they want … and that book publicists can choose to send books (or not send them) to whomever we please.  It is true that a series of negative reviews could sour a publicist on a blog, although positive yet poorly-written reviews could have pretty much the same effect.  As noted above, there are numerous considerations when sending review copies to bloggers.

***

Tomorrow I’ll post a brief  “form” that will give bloggers a sense of what basic information book publicists need to know.  Stay tuned.

April 29, 2009 - Posted by | review copies

26 Comments »

  1. Good information here. I’d also be interested to learn about other blog information sources – someone the other day mentioned that Alexa is inaccurate, and that few use it anymore. What else is out there?

    Comment by Condalmo | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  2. A lot of publishing folks still use Alexa (or at least the ones who have heard of it). If people think it’s inaccurate and have a better option, let us know.

    Comment by Yen | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hmmmm. Not all book blogs are created equally.

    I think it’s useful for a blogger to know and have on-hand their stats for unique users per day. Hits are misleading, frankly, but the number of unique users is more telling.

    Also, if a blogger sends me links to a couple of other reviews/book profiles they’ve done, I’m more likely to think they’re legit.

    Additionally, don’t forget that we publicists are always looking for new blogs and online review outlets for our books, so make sure that your blog has contact info readily available. If you’re a review blog, that contact info should be an actual street or PO box address. (Gwenda Bond’s blog is a great example of easy-to-find contact information). Don’t make us email you for your mailing address. If we’re busy, it’s one more thing on our to-do list.

    Comment by Colleen Lindsay | April 29, 2009 | Reply

    • Which, I suppose, would give me yet another reason to move my blog off of WordPress.com – the statistics reporting is rarely reliable.

      Comment by Condalmo | April 29, 2009 | Reply

    • I would be extremely reluctant to post mailing information on my blog which is public. As a female who has been stalked once, it is not something I am willing to do…however, I *do* provide an email address and am happy to email publicists my snail mail information.

      Comment by Wendy | April 29, 2009 | Reply

      • Most reviewers post PO boxes. It really does make a difference. I’ve waited as long as five days for a blogger to respond with a physical mailing address. By then, I may have run out of review copies.

        Comment by Colleen Lindsay | April 30, 2009

    • I do not accept unsolicited books and I like to be pitched first. For this reason, I do not have my mailing address on my blog but always provide it if I’ve agreed to take a review book.

      Comment by Natasha @ Maw Books | April 29, 2009 | Reply

    • I agree with Wendy and Natasha here. I don’t want a ton of books I have no interest in and you shouldn’t want to waste your money sending books to people that they don’t want. Second, I am not posting my mailing address for every solicitor and predator to see. Like Wendy, I have been stalked before. I certainly am not going to simply give up my address and welcome one into my life. If sending out ARCs is too “time-consuming” for you, then maybe you should figure out something else to do.

      Comment by Rebecca | April 29, 2009 | Reply

      • What Colleen is pointing out — and I agree with her — is that when a publicist is dealing with hundreds of media outlets a day, we’re going to welcome anything that makes our jobs easier (like easy-to-find snail mail addresses). Who wouldn’t want a short cut?

        On the other hand, as has been pointed out, some bloggers deliberately refrain from posting addresses — as yours truly does, in fact — because we *don’t* want to receive unsolicited review copies of books.

        So there isn’t necessarily a disconnect here. What this all boils down to is there are two different “styles.” Bloggers who post a lot of reviews (Colleen does specify “review blogs”) and who want to see a lot of books should probably consider clearly posting snail mail addresses to facilitate the process of sending those books. But bloggers who prefer to find books on their own need not post addresses since they don’t want to receive unsolicited books anyway.

        I would add that a blogger who emails in a request for a book should ALWAYS include an address in that message (if there’s any doubt as to whether we have it or not) — that enables us to stick the book in the mail immediately. If we have to exchange email messages to get the address, that just introduces the opportunity for something to not get done.

        Comment by Yen | April 29, 2009

  4. Great post with good information. I think as publicists we have to look at several factors, including Google Page Rank, Technorati and Alexa as well as overall activity on the site (number of unique visitors, frequency of new posts, etc.). But as noted, the number of books we have available to send also influences the process.

    Anything bloggers can do to provide information about their site stats – and review policies (timeframe for reviews, preferred genres, etc. – is very helpful and should ensure that pitches are on target. In fact I wrote a post, Book Bloggers: Why Your Contact Information Matters: http://amarketingexpert.com/ameblog/?p=702. Of course whether the blogger has the time to take on more reviews is another matter entirely – just because we pitch you doesn’t mean there is any guarantee of a review.

    As far as the reviews go, we seek honest and professional reviews. If we’ve done our homework (as we should – that’s part of the job) we have a feel for the general tone/quality of the blog and we can decide whether that blog fits our criteria. Meanwhile, bloggers will decide based on our books/authors if what we have interests them.

    Comment by Paula Krapf | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  5. Paula has very good points. I also look at comments. Post after post with 0 comments would be a concern, but with a new blog, I would probably overlook that (six months down the line might be a different story though). I’ve also taken to subscribing via the two RSS Readers I use (Bloglines & Google), which will tell you how many public subscribers there are. Also, if a blogger is on Twitter, I’ll check to see how many followers he/she has.

    For bloggers, any information you provide that explains to a publicist why you are a valuable influencer is helpful. But most importantly, when making a request, please include your mailing address, and a link to your blog. The fewer steps the publicist has to do to evaluate your blog, and get the book in the mail to you, the more likely it is to get done.

    Comment by Kama Timbrell | April 29, 2009 | Reply

    • Using Google Reader as your only source of how many subscribers a blog has is very unreliable. The number it shows is only the number using Google Reader has their RSS reader of choice. For example, Google Reader only shows that I have 107 subscribers, when I really have 400. A big difference. I really appreciated the article that Paula wrote earlier. I know many bloggers, including myself, have much of this information on our contact pages. It’s always great to be reminded again.

      Comment by Natasha @ Maw Books | April 29, 2009 | Reply

      • To clarify, I’m not suggesting that subscribing to Google Reader (or Bloglines) tells you the total number of people that subscribe to a blog. Obviously, there are other RSS readers (such as Yahoo), and some people still sign up for automated e-mails. It does however, give you an indication of the blog’s readership. Taking a look at one of the more popular RSS readers, such as Google, and another, such Bloglines or Yahoo, helps to fill in the picture.

        Comment by Kama Timbrell | April 30, 2009

  6. Thanks for a great article here. I recently posted some myth busters about getting review books or ARCs…would love your feedback. The post is here.

    Comment by Wendy | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  7. This has definitely been a hot topic lately. Trish at Hey Lady’s article is great, as is Wendy’s (re: comment #6). Thanks for the article.

    Comment by Rebecca | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  8. I love it when bloggers have an explicit review policy on their blog [“We accept a product from the manufacturer for free for the purposes of review, but we do not accept money to post. We do not guarantee that all products solicited will be reviewed…”]. It helps me because I know what the blogger wants and I know the process is clear for the blog readers. It’s best to be honest with readers about the reviews–I hate finding out that bloggers were given a “small fee” for reviewing a work. When “small fees” are involved that’s advertising, not publicity and bias becomes an issue. [and if comments on paid posts are anything to go by, blog readers have the same idea]

    I wonder about product review-only blogs because it looks like the blogger is just raking in free products (I also wonder if anyone reads them because I don’t find the idea particularly appealing). This seems to be more of a trend with parenting blogs which can go from stroller, to kid’s book, to eco-diapers from day to day. How do other publicists look at it?

    I also watch the comments. I’d rather send a book to a blogger with 50 dedicated readers and active comments–a real community–than someone who can boast 200 hits a day and doesn’t have a single comment.

    “Books” or “Book Review” tags/labels are also helpful if your blog isn’t all book reviews.

    Comment by Alice | April 29, 2009 | Reply

    • Alice: can you link to a few sites with the aforementioned review policy? I’d like to see the wording. Thanks –

      Comment by Condalmo | April 29, 2009 | Reply

      • The link that Paula left above in her comment links to a lot of different blogs with their review policies. Worth checking out.

        Comment by Natasha @ Maw Books | April 29, 2009

  9. […] review copies of books to bloggers, Part II Following up on my Sending review copies of books to bloggers post from yesterday, below is some information that book publicists find helpful to have about […]

    Pingback by Sending review copies of books to bloggers, Part II « The Book Publicity Blog | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  10. I would never post my address!!! That sounds totally crazy to me, people do that??? That goes against every internet safety tip I know.

    Comment by Amy @ My Friend Amy | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  11. This was a great post, and even more so the comments that resulted from it. I understand why publicists want to have an address accessible, though for various reasons I don’t have my mailing address posted on my blog.

    I’m just grateful that publicists do pay attention to blogs and what kind of traffic they receive and what kind of comments the blog gets. Because coming from someone who spends a lot of time on their blog and has a fair amount of subscribers and a lot of comments in almost every single post (20-30 comments on average for each post), sometimes it’s disheartening to see how little work other people put in their blog and still get a ridiculous amount of books.

    I’m hesitant to post this comment because I don’t want to sound bitter because I’m not at all (I’m happy with what I receive book-wise!), it’s just that I notice a difference between blogs and I like to know the ones who are sending the books out notice too.🙂

    Thanks for the clear, concise, and informative post, Yen!

    Comment by trish | May 4, 2009 | Reply

  12. Nice blog about book reviews.

    Comment by roykeane | May 5, 2009 | Reply

  13. […] Sending review copies of books to bloggers […]

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

  14. I have been reading nearly all of your posts since morning. For someone like me who is starting out as a book blogger, your blog i an excellent resource. Thumbs Up!

    Comment by Akshay Bakshi | May 7, 2011 | Reply

  15. […] Information and Good Practices Wherefore ARC Thou? How to Get ARCs – Step-by-Step Guide The Book Publicity Blog – this is an older blog so some of the info is outdated but it was written by a book […]

    Pingback by Book Blogger Resources: Publisher Contacts - Blogger Import Test | April 26, 2015 | Reply

  16. […] Information and Good Practices Wherefore ARC Thou? How to Get ARCs – Step-by-Step Guide The Book Publicity Blog – this is an older blog so some of the info is outdated but it was written by a book […]

    Pingback by Book Blogger Resources: Publisher Contacts - Cherie Reads | April 26, 2015 | Reply


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