Help me help you
Yesterday, two people who asked for copies of books failed to include mailing addresses in their original requests. In other words, they wanted me to send them books, but I had to chase down their addresses?
For those times when book publicists do not, in fact, desire to jump through hoops to send out free books, here are some suggestions for bloggers and journalists to make the review copy request process more efficient. (Those of you in book publicity — feel free to forward these tips to all and sundry.)
Requesting a Review Copy of a Book / an Author Interview
— An electronic signature containing your snail mail and email addresses as well as a link to your organization or website. You may know a publicist well (and may know they have your contact information, but you never know when they may need to forward your message to someone else who may not know you from Adam).
— Your first and last names. Unless you want to be addressed as “Dude / Dudette,” signing “J. Doe” doesn’t help much. Many writers prefer their esignatures match their professional names — which in some cases may be something along the lines of “J. Doe” — but in that case, make sure to sign off with a first name so you can at least be addressed in some fashion.
— Explain why you are requesting a review copy of a book or an interview with an author.
— Include your deadline (or mention that you don’t have one).
— Provide some information about your media outlet or show and some circulation information. This can be empirical, e.g., “circulation of 72,000” or “30,000 hits a month” or it can be subjective, e.g., “most popular hunting and fishing blog in Montana.” Make a compelling case for yourself. (To make it easy for yourself — set this information as Autotext and simply insert it into each request. If you’d like to provide further details that you think are pertinent but don’t want them to bog down your message, link to the “About” page on a website.)
Here’s a tip regarding author interviews: when I receive interview requests for backlist, i.e., not current, authors, I respond to the journalist thanking them for their interest and letting them know that I will forward their request to the author. This is the key: I do not forward the request. I am blind copying the author on my response. (I guess that makes me less than truthful if you’re prone to splitting hairs, but I can live with myself.) Doing this enables me to kill two birds with one stone — responding to the journalist and getting in touch with the author — which I need to do because time is scarce and I’m concentrating on current and upcoming titles.
This means that I’m not compensating for any shortcomings in the request: the author sees any and all typos and misspellings of the book and / or author name. It also means that if you don’t include a subject line, the author won’t see one. And lastly, the author won’t see details that are not provided. In other words, if you send in a one-line interview request with scant information about your media outlet, that’s all the author sees; while I will “fill in the blanks” for current or upcoming authors, I don’t have time to Google and / or trawl through our database for that information for every request for every author with whom I’ve ever worked.
In publicity, we often get email messages asking for the name of an author’s book publicist. Instead of simply asking for a publicist’s name, ask for the name *and* include the full request — you’re going to have to provide all the details eventually; get your ducks in a row from the beginning and speed up that process.
For (loads) more information about this topic, check my posts about the science of requesting review copies. (Yes — it’s a science, right up there with particle physics and microbiology.)
Book publicists: what else do you like to see in review copy / interview requests? Bloggers and journalists: What do you always make sure to include in your requests?