I was taking my dog for her usual afternoon walk and listening to a podcast that was all about how to find your first ten book reviews.
I already knew that reviews were important to a book’s success, but the podcast made me realise that reviews aren’t important — they’re vital!
The truth is, I had been burying my head in the sand in regards to finding book reviewers because:
1) it sounded hard
2) it sounded time consuming
3) I was in the process of editing and formatting my novel, so looking for reviewers seemed premature.
Boy howdy was I wrong.
As it turns out, points 1 and 2 are very true and point three is sitting over in the corner with climate change deniers.
Here’s the thing … because finding book reviewers is both hard and time consuming, you need to start early.
After listening to that podcast, I made finding book reviewers a top priority in my pre-launch plan. (Yes, I created a pre-launch plan. Yes, you need to do this too).
In this week’s blog, I’m sharing all the things I wished I’d known a year ago.
Finding Book Reviewers
In the beginning, I had no idea how to find reviewers, but my early research encouraged me to reach out to book bloggers, YouTube reviewers and bookstagramers (people who review books on Instagram).
I started out with Googling phrases like “Australian book bloggers”, “Crime fiction reviews” and “Best bookstagrammers” and I was delighted to see that many people had already curated websites listing the top/most relevant reviewers in my genre.
Now, buckle up kids, because this is when it gets time consuming.
Now it’s your job to check out the websites and accounts of all the reviewers who appeal to you: reviewers that read your genre, live in your country, are highly active (for example, don’t email someone who hasn’t posted a review in a year!) or have a large following.
Familiarise yourself with their content and be sure to read some of their latest reviews.
Read the Review Policy Page
Before you reach out to a book reviewer, you must read their review policy page. Every website and YouTube channel will have one. In terms of Instagram, you’ll have to get a ‘feel’ for the reviewer’s book taste from their former posts or see if they have an official website linked in their bio.
You must read the review policy in order to avoid looking like an ass.
Pitching your romance novel to a crime reviewer is going to make you look stupid and the reviewer will know that you’re unfamiliar with their website/account and that you were too lazy to do your research before contacting them.
It’s also important to check their policy page to see if the reviewer is open to requests.
A reviewer may have an active site but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re open to requests. Emailing a reviewer who is not open to requests is a waste of time, plus they’ll know you haven’t read their review page and your email will promptly be deleted.
Be Polite and Be Professional
Most book reviewers publish their reviews for free. Basically, they’re the guardian angels of writers.
For this reason, make sure that you take the time to write a warm and concise email that contains all the relevant information they need to know about your book or follow the specific guidelines provided on their review policy page. Many reviewers post these guidelines as a way to weed out the ‘spammy’ requests from newbie authors.
Some of the basic information you’ll want to include are:
- Elevator pitch (1 sentence)/brief synopsis (2-3 sentences)
- Publication date
- Length (word count or page count)
- When you’d like the review published
- Author bio
- Links to your social media pages, website, Goodreads and Amazon pages
Of course, you don’t have to write a brand new email for every book reviewer you send a request too.
Everyone knows that you’re using a template, but you must tailor that template to reflect that reviewer’s website and review policy page.
The information I dot pointed above can be prepared in advance, but make sure that your introductory paragraph/s are relevant to the reviewer you are emailing.
Introduce yourself and your novel at the start of the email. In the following paragraph, tell the reviewer why you think they’re the right reviewer for your book. Maybe they have recently reviewed a novel that is similar to yours or maybe they enjoy reading within the same genre your book is written in. This is why researching a reviewer is so important and why you must be familiar with the type of content they publish or post.
You’ll also want to state the type of format you are able/willing to send them. Will you send them a paperback or ebook? If sending an ebook, what type will you send, epub, PDF or mobi?
Press Release or Media Kit
Attaching a press release or media kit to your email will make you look professional and a little bit fancy. It shows that you give a shit.
A basic press release should include additional detail about your book including:
- The book cover image
- The official (full-length) blurb
- Previous reviews or endorsements
- Longer author bio
- Purchase links
- Contact information
A press release adds a level of professionalism to your request and the reviewer will appreciate the chance to read the book’s full-length blurb and to see the cover image.
Track Your Progress
Trust me guys, you’re gonna want to keep track of every reviewer you email because you’re going to be sending a lot of emails!
I recommended creating a spreadsheet that includes:
- The platforms/websites the reviewer will post their review on
- Preferred format
Keeping track of the reviewers you have contacted will help you avoid:
1) re-emailing a reviewer who has already said no
2) emailing a reviewer you’ve already queried but haven’t heard back from
3) trying to locate old correspondence because you need to double-check a small detail.
Once you start emailing reviewers, it’s important that you keep things in perspective.
For the first six-months leading up to the publication of ETHD, I emailed 165 book reviewers. That’s a lot of emails to keep track of. So, what was my success rate?
Of 165 reviewers, 33 said yes. That’s a 1:5 ratio.
I’m pretty happy with that number, but it took me six months to find and email 165 RELEVANT reviewers. This is not something you can do over a weekend.
I don’t need to unpack why reviews are so important, you know they’re important.
If you’re releasing a novel in the next six-twelve months, don’t skip this step.
Don’t put off finding reviewers.
You may think six-twelve months is too early to start email people, but many reviewers appreciate hearing from an author who is so organised; it shows that you are in control and that you are confident in your ability to produce and publish a novel by a certain date.
Finding reviewers may be hard and time consuming, but reading their reviews – at least for me – has been a total joy.
When you do the work, you reap the rewards. (You know … usually!)
Now, I’d love to hear from you. What has been your experience with finding and contacting book reviewers? Do you find the process intimidating, fun or a hassle? What have you learned from the process? Leave a comment below!
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