As newspapers have slashed book sections, we’ve been really lucky that blogs have allowed lots and lots of people to talk about books. At the same time, publishing houses can be tricky for bloggers to navigate (given that we ourselves sometimes find other houses — and sometimes our own — tricky to navigate).
Here are some suggestions for book bloggers looking to obtain review copies of books from publishing houses (and if you are a book publicist, author or literary agent, feel free to pass on this information if you find it helpful):
- Know your imprints. Contemporary publishing houses are behemoths made up of a number of different imprints (departments). If you are regularly reviewing and requesting books, it is important you learn who is who. In most cases, there is no one contact person (or email address) for Penguin or Random House or Simon & Schuster — you’ll need to distinguish between the different imprints and know who to contact. Also, remember that all Children’s / YA imprints are separate from adult imprints. Here are some links to lists of imprints and email addresses at some of the largest publishing houses:
Simon & Schuster (List of divisions and imprints — no emails listed)
- Include a buy link for the book and, if applicable, to the author’s website. Most book publicists don’t care too much whether the buy link is to a publishing house or to an e-commerce site like Amazon or Indiebound, but we do want to see a link.
- Feature the most recent edition of the book. Check the publication date of a book and the cover (and buy link) for the most recent edition of the book. It can be discouraging when we see a review a year after a book has been published … with no mention of the paperback. Keep in mind, too, that many readers prefer to purchase the cheaper paperback edition of a book, so this information is valuable for them, too.
- Feature your country’s edition of the book. Assuming most of your readers are located in the country in which you live (which is often but not always the case), feature the cover of and buy link to the book in the store in that country. So, for example, if your readers are primarily in the US, make it easier for them and feature the American edition of the book; if you readers are primarily in the UK, feature the British edition.
- Be mindful of the book’s on-sale date. In an ideal world, all reviews would be published on or around (within a week or so of) the book’s publication date. Although readers can preorder books, they often will not unless the author is well-known and the book is highly anticipated, so most early reviews don’t generate too many sales. We realize we cannot dictate when someone can run a review, however, but if the review does early, we do appreciate your making a note of this. (Also, keep in mind that just because you receive a finished book from us, it doesn’t mean it is available in stores — we receive finished books six weeks ahead of time and we send these books to journalists, bloggers and others who need to receive books ahead of time.)
- Request current / upcoming titles. In publishing, we’re focused primarily on current and upcoming titles. This means we often don’t have the budget to provide (complimentary) review copies of books that have come out years (or even months) previously. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever provide them — and you can always ask — but it does mean that you will need a pretty good reason for needing / wanting those older books.
Book publicists: what would you add? Bloggers: questions / comments?