Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ask Book Chic (7)

So this one question (which by the way, thank you BookMac for the first blogging/reviewing question!) has a LOOONG answer, and figured it deserved its own post. Usually, I like to do three questions for each edition but this one would have eclipsed all others, so they'll be in next week's edition. By the way, I'm running out of questions (only one edition left and then I'm out!), so please leave a comment with your questions or email me (bookchicclub-at-gmail-dot-com)!

Bookmac asks "How did you build strong contacts with the publicicts and authors that send you review copies?"

The short answer is just by asking them and being reliable, honest and consistent with reviews as well as being professional when contacting them.

For those wanting a long answer for how it worked for me, read on.

I started off on Myspace and had no idea about advance copies or even that bloggers could get free books. Book blogging was in its infancy (and it still sort of is), so there wasn't a whole lot to go on when I started. And I started with a bang, lol. One of the first authors I contacted was the Queen of YA Meg Cabot for an interview; like seriously, I had only been blogging for a few days when I asked. She offered up a copy of her then-upcoming book Jinx for review, and she's been very helpful with ARCs of her books. Since then, I've done three additional interviews with her, quite a few reviews of her books (pretty much everything from Jinx to present, aside from the Allie Finkle series, though I do read those), gotten lots of swag and other things for giveaway purposes, and essentially had a wonderful relationship with her. Meg is a very sweet person who loves bloggers and supports them. It's so great that, as someone who reads all her books and generally looks up to her as an inspiration, I am able to chat with her every so often online through emails.

I don't want to make it sound like I'm bragging because I'm not. What I want to get across with that story is to not be afraid to send out that email to your favorite author, no matter how big or small they are. Most of the time, you'll be pleasantly surprised and will find an email back from them within a few days (sometimes even within hours!). Keeping in touch with that author is helpful too, and not just when a book of theirs is coming out. But don't force anything; if the connection is there, it'll flourish naturally.

But almost all authors have EXTREMELY limited ARCs (and sometimes even final copies) of their books. So you gotta move on to the publishers. There are two ways for this to come about. The first is when emailing an author, ask for their publicist's email address or for the general review copy email address. Some publishers have a contact page but it can be hard to find sometimes, if it even exists. When you do email a publicist requesting a book, be sure to include your mailing address. That way, they know where to send a copy right away rather than having to wait for your response. I know it sounds rude to include it, but it's actually good. They'll need your address anyway at some point, so just give it to them in your initial request.

The second is the one that's out of your control, at least in a way, and that is for the publisher to come to you. That is pretty much how I got almost all of my contacts. Usually they will email you about a certain book they would like you to review and it all just goes from there.

Once they have your mailing address, you're in their system and will therefore be included in future book mailings of ARCs and final copies. When I went on the Penguin offices tour two months ago, each reviewer in their system usually has what sorts of things they like to review and so the books that are sent cater to your interests. Now, it doesn't ALWAYS work this way (I have gotten children's books quite a few times), but that's how it usually goes.

But obviously, just getting the books isn't enough. You're receiving them so that they can be reviewed on your blog, which is why you started a book blog in the first place (I hope): to share your thoughts on books. So, you read the book, and you write the review, and it goes up on your blog. Send the link to the publicist who sent the book to you, or to the general email address if no one actually responded to you (which can happen, believe me).

If the review though is extremely negative and you hated it, I would not send it. But if your review goes through the pros and cons of the book and is generally favorable, send it. If there's some redeeming quality in the book that you mention, send it, even if it's a 2 star review. Thank the publicist for sending a copy your way even though you may have ended up not loving it. Above all, be professional; I would imagine that a publicist would be happy to be getting an honest review, even if it's not completely positive. You still took the time to read the book and post your thoughts, which is what they sent it to you for.

From there, you'll just keep reviewing books and sending links to various publicists. As that goes on, strong connections will establish through your consistency, reliability, and professionalism and soon enough, you'll have bajillions of books to review. Yay!

I really hope that all made sense. It's a long, rambly post to sift through but I do hope I got my point across. This is JUST my opinion though. I am not the be-all-end-all of blogging (even though I sometimes wish I were) so do whatever feels comfortable for you and your blog. There are of course some universal points in what I wrote (like, be professional) but the nitty-gritty varies person to person. If other bloggers want to chime in, please do so. I love hearing these sorts of stories and behind-the-scenes stuff.

If anything was confusing, please leave a question in the comments and I'll either answer it in the comments or put it in an upcoming Ask Book Chic.


  1. Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

    Here's a question - why don't you have a rating system?

  2. I COMPLETELY agree with you. It's all about building a business relationship. For example, I have a lady at Penguin whom I've reviewed several books for. Through these several reviews, she's gotten to know that I'm a dedicated blogger and thorough, so therefore she tends to send me whatever I (politely and professionally) ask for. You just gotta prove yourself to these publicists, and then your way is paved. :)

    I loved this post! ;)

  3. This is particularly helpful to me as new blogger. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you James! I really appreciate you answering this!