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:
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 coverage: As 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.