How to Find the Right People to Review Your Book

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. 

Book reviews are vital to a book's success
Finding book reviewers is time consuming, but you can’t skip this step!

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. 

Familiarise yourself with a book reviewer before contacting
Read the review policy page before you email a book reviewer.

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 professional when contacting book reviewers
Be polite and professional when contacting book reviewers.

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)
  • Genre
  • Audience
  • 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? 

Including a press release makes you look professional and a little bit fancy.
Including a press release makes you look professional and a little bit fancy.

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. 

Keep track of every book reviewer you contact.
Keep track of every book reviewer you contact.

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:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Website
  • The platforms/websites the reviewer will post their review on 
  • Preferred format
  • Accepted/rejected

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.

Finding book reviewers easily
My success ratio for finding book reviewers was 1:5

Success Rate

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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Interview with Fantasy Author Shayla Morgansen

Interview with Fantasy Author

Shayla Morgansen

I first met Shayla a year ago while attending the WRN Conference on the Gold Coast. Quickly after meeting, we discovered a shared interest in Fantasy fiction and self-publishing. Standing beside the catering table with glasses of orange juice in hand, Shayla told me about her Elm Stone Saga, her decision to self-publish and the research she is doing as a PhD candidate.

Shayla Author Photo



Shayla is generous, sweet and incredibly hard working. The latest novel in the Elm Stone Saga will be released this June. In celebration of the launch of Haunted (coming out on Saturday, 15 June 2019)  I decided to bring Shayla onto the blog for a wee chat. If you’re fantasy fan, considering self-publishing or a PhD candidate wondering how to balance research and creative writing, this is the interview for you.


Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 3.51.18 pm
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Now, over to the interview.

  1. Can you tell us a little about your series The Elm Stone Saga?

Sure. It’s a six-part Young Adult contemporary fantasy series following a modern Irish witch called Aristea as she navigates life as an apprentice to a centuries-old magical council. She’s a bit offbeat and she quickly connects with one of the youngest councillors, Renatus, who’s kind of the black sheep of the council. They find out they share a really tragic past, and though their journeys are darkened by secrets, losses and failures that make each character really struggle, their growing loyalty to each other is very sweet. Romance isn’t a central feature of this series; I like to explore other forms of love, since those are just as intense, important and sometimes reckless, and are much more prevalent in our lives. I think Renatus and Aristea fulfil the quotas for devotion, trust, risk and interdependence that many of us are seeking in a compelling romance anyway.

The series is about to release its fourth part and started in 2014. It’s mostly in first person POV through Aristea, but she’s a young and naïve perspective, so every third chapter steps back into the third person view of one of the adult councillor characters. I think it rounds out the book and gives it a unique feel, while also giving me – and the reader – a regular break from Aristea.

  1. What is your favourite thing about writing Fantasy? Has it always been your preferred genre to read?

I think so. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia at my school library when I was a kid, but also loved horse books. All of the horse books. These days with both books and TV shows, I warn people trying to recommend me stuff that if it doesn’t have spaceships, magical powers, police work or at the very least, horses, not to bother me with it, because I won’t look at it.

My favourite thing about writing fantasy is the imagination. Getting lost in my own daydreams and weaving my way back through words. Plus, I would really like to have magical powers. I love magic! But I also really like rules. As in, whether it’s science fiction or police procedural or a really tight magic system, cause and effect should always be clear, and I enjoy creating tight stories within those genres because they’re what I most like to read and watch.

  1. Why did you decide to self-publish your novels?

It wasn’t my first choice, but five years later, it’s what I’m planning for my next series. I submitted to traditional publishing but didn’t know what I didn’t know, and found the rejections very frustrating. Through a twist of what I like to believe was Fate, my husband met a friend of a friend at a party who had recently started a small press and was seeking fantasy writers with manuscripts. Sabrina at Ouroborus Books gave me a start in the industry that, having now done my Masters in Editing & Publishing, I realise I wasn’t going to get otherwise. I was young, female, Australian, with no publishing history or formal qualifications in writing, no social media presence, and producing very large fantasy novels in only one long series. I understand now that I was not a good bet for a publishing house. Next time I approach them, I won’t be a little girl. I’ll have two postgraduate degrees in Publishing, two series to my name, established social media with a loyal organic following, and a whole lot of experience I didn’t have before. It’s not off the cards.

  1. What advice do you have to other writers considering this option?

My advice to others is to be prepared to play the long game. Overnight successes are either a farce or at the very least, outliers, and it’s foolish to throw your heart behind the belief that you’ll be ‘that one’. Most of the overnight success stories you hear about authors make those same authors laugh – they know that they’ve got four failed novels behind them that the media neglected to mention, or that they’ve been submitting and reworking and resubmitting versions of this debut novel for years. Persistent hard work is still the most solid and effective path to success.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing routine/process? For example, do you prefer to work in the morning or at night? Do you write every day? Are you an outliner or a discovery writer?

Ooh, I haven’t heard those terms before. I guess I’m a discovery writer? I plot out main checkpoints to work toward and then let it unfold organically. Sometimes characters I introduce to deliver one line, or one scene, grow to take centre stage (Renatus was meant to be a very very minor character, but with each draft he became more prominent until we’re essentially reading his story, told through Aristea) and sometimes I don’t know what’s going to happen in a scene until I get to it. I like to write in the evenings but I write better when I’m on a roll from the previous night. I look forward to blocks of several days in a row where I know I can get some momentum – no appointments, no deadlines, no people coming to visit – and write all day and into the night without being made to stop. I do the same with my academic writing.

  1. You’re currently completing a PhD, can you tell us about your research project?

It’s in Publishing Studies, crossing over into Creative Writing Pedagogy and Fanfiction Studies. Essentially it’s exploring the ways that writing fanfiction helps develop the skills of young writers. The teaching of writing in fun and authentic contexts is something I’m very passionate about – I was a Year 2 teacher for seven years – and the fanfiction community is a place I learned a lot about writing through experimentation and peer feedback. I had never intended to go as far as a doctorate but after finishing my Masters, this amazing way of blending all my passions together struck me in that way only great flashes of inspiration do.

  1. How do you balance academic research with your personal creative projects?

As best I can! I don’t think I do a very good job of balancing but I suppose I still manage to get everything done to a level that satisfies me. I guess that counts? For me, balance is achieved through intensive bouts of creative time alternated with intense blocks of study. When I was in high school I used to only write on school holidays, and that habit carried through my undergraduate degree and into my career as a teacher. I struggle to switch between creative brain and analytical brain, so instead, I make whole weeks academic-only time and then set aside a block of fun writing time at the end of it like a carrot. Then between semesters, I just write every day for weeks on end.



Sometimes we escape the past. 
Other times we are left haunted.

With the world watching after the tragic events in Prague, the White Elm is on damage control. A councillor lost. An apprentice scarred. Ancient alliances shaken. Power seems determined to find its level.

Amidst this escalating chaos, Aristea and Renatus struggle to reconcile their failures and the toxic secrets fostering new tensions between them. Aristea tests the boundaries of their friendship – and her position as a council apprentice – in her fixation with saving him and the others she loves. The mistakes of the past continue to unravel but for the Dark Keeper and his apprentice, who they were and who they want to be weighs heavily when each choice might be a step down the wrong path…


Purchase Haunted:

Follow Shayla on Social Media:

Facebook: /elmstonesaga

Instagram: @shaylawritesmagic

Twitter: @shaylawrites