Monday, December 23, 2013

Refrains of Reviews

By Laura Jennings

Laura Jennings

The whole process of submitting books for reviews reminds me of querying.  You pitch your book, and these people will accept or reject it.  Luckily, most of these guys are not nearly as picky as literary agents.  Good reviews are key to getting book sales.  And really, there’s only two rules in approaching a book reviewer.

1. Be polite.  

I can’t stress this enough.  Most of the people on the ebook or indie scene are just everyday folks who happen to like books.  They have lives, and they have time constraints just like everyone else.  Don’t make assumptions of any kind, and that includes sending them stuff unasked.  You ask permission to send them something; don’t just attach your ebook and hurl the email at them saying “Let me know when the review is out!” It’s up to you to make the book sound interesting,
which is where your pitch lines and summaries come in handy.  You can include links to the book and its reviews, but considering the average attention of an Internet user, there’s no guarantee anyone’s going to click on that link.  Keep your emails short.  Treat it like a casual but way shorter and  friendlier query letter, and you’ll probably get a good response.  If you get rejected, DO NOT be pissy about it.  Move on to the next one, and maybe even at least send an email thanking the reviewer for their time.  You never know when you might write something that is to their preference, or that you may have been rejected because these people have a 6 month’s supply of books to read.  And may have accepted your book for review 6 months down the line, but you decided to be a jerk, so …

2. Do your research.  

At the very least, you need to know the name of the person you’re emailing, and their genre interests. I did run into a lot of people who said quite plainly “NO EBOOKS.”  I’d've been
wasting my time trying to cajole them into Highsong.  I also don’t want to send my sci-fi book about dolphins to a chick-lit reader.  It just wouldn’t click. Most book review blogs have a tab that outlines their preferences of how to approach them.  I found I didn’t really need to tailor my letter that much when requesting a review.  Title, word count, publication date, a pitch line, and a link to my book trailer were about it.  (Which is another difference from querying a literary agent; everyone says “Include something personal about the agent!”, which can get kind of tiresome.)   Most of the time, if you flub your attempt, you won’t get a reply.  One of the first requests I sent off (number sixteen, but I don’t count it because I messed up) stated clearly that she only accepted .mobi file types.  I discovered this about three seconds after I’d hit “Send” on an email that said I’d be happy to send her a .pdf.  After figuring that out, I changed the line in my request to “a .pdf or any file you prefer.”  Catering to the crowd never hurt anyone.

Laura Jennings an author and illustrator of YA fantasy, living on the outskirts of the North Austin, TX area. She’s also an avid video gamer and has a lot of background in good-old tabletop RPG, when she’s not editing manuscripts for myself or part of my writing group at the Austin SCBWI.  Laura is the author of Highsong and Risen. Visit her blog at

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