How Do You Receive Advanced Reading Copies of Books for Review? (Or…how do I get books for FREE?) ;)

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For new book reviewers, this can be a big draw…. a chance to receive books (Glorious books!) in the mail not only before they are released to the public (insert squueeee here) but also at no cost to you.

When I first discovered that publishing houses and authors would offer you their books to read in exchange for hopefully a review on your blog… that was so exciting. And for the record…

I totally blew it.

1aaaaaaaaaaaaa11By blew it I mean…. when offers started coming in for books I said Yes.  I said Yes to just about everything – books I may or may not be interested in, self published books because I wanted to help the author… and when the books arrived… I knew I had agreed to read them and now it felt like work.  A few of those books… I never did review and I still feel bad about that.

For the record – you do not want your love of reading and enjoying books to feel like work.

 

So – with that little trip down memory lane, let’s get back on track here and let me share with you a few tips to bringing books to you for review. :D

First and foremost, I am not an expert.  I am not the first person to write about this topic and I am more than likely not the best source for this topic.  I am mainly writing this post because I am often asked through email and through posts, how does a newer book blogger connect to the authors and publishers, and for those who are asking for the right reasons – to be able to read a book prior to publication and post reviews on these books, I am more than happy to offer what little knowledge I have gathered through the years. I hope something here is helpful.

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  • Before you start looking for publishing houses to start pounding down your blogs door… ESTABLISH your blog and its name.  How do you do that?  Do what your blog was set up to do… write reviews.  Write reviews on books you have read, write reviews on new books you have purchased, write reviews on books you check out from your library.  Basically write reviews. A publishing house usually likes to see several months of reviews happening.  They like to see what you are reviewing and how you review.  It’s your blog… do it proud.  *insert chest bump here*

 

  • Write a review policy.  That may seem premature.  Maybe it is – but I know once I started looking at the blogs that I admired, they all had one.  And you will find out it is a life saver at times to spell out exactly what your policy is.  Here is mine, tweaked and re-tweaked through the years but it is a necessity for those interested in you reviewing to know what you are able to do and what you are not. 

 

  • Have a way for people to email you that is not hidden.  A contact me area on your blog is essential.  If a publishing house likes what you are reviewing, they need to be able to connect with you.  Make it easy to find your “contact me” area.  Most people will not work for it.
    • As a side note here – I created a new email for all of my bookish/bloggish emails to go to.  I personally would recommend that.  It is nice to have one email to go to for all my blog conversations and book review requests.  It is also nice not to have the book emails mixed into my personal emails.

 

  • Post frequently.  It does not have to be every day, but 3 -5 times a week is a good standard to set.  If a blog sits idle, it is hard to increase readership. It is hard to establish good connections with publishing houses if you do not have a readership.  During your start up period this is a great time to work on your readership as well.  How?  Write interesting reviews and bookish topics.  AND – read other blogs AND comment.  Your interest in other blogs does bring readers to you – it is how I established this blog… I set a guideline of visiting and commenting on twenty blogs a day and I did it.  Most of those bloggers, visited me in return.  I believe it works.  Put yourself on social network sites – Facebook, Twitter…  it is hard to make your blog grow if you write a post and then sit back and wait for people to notice.  Keep up these practices – your blog will grow.

 

Now you may be thinking, “Wow Sheila… all I wanted to know is how to start receiving books for review in the mail and I get all this extra stuff to do!”  Well, that extra stuff is important and should help you to start building relationships in the publishing world to start receiving the books you wish to read and review.

 

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  • Ok…. so you have done all of the above.  You are excited…. in fact, you may have already had contact from an author or publisher and you about wet yourself.  Been there… I get it.  But remember what happened to me…. proceed with caution.

 

  • Remember you are a professional.  Maybe you didn’t think you were… you are just writing a fun blog about books… but once you are making contact with the publishing houses and authors- surprise…. you just upgraded to professional.  This basically means…. act it.  Do not approach a publishing house with your long list of book requests – ESPECIALLY when you are new.  Introduce yourself.  Link to your blog.  Tell them a little bit about what you review, how often you review and your readership.  You may be thinking, “Really Sheila?  Isn’t that a bit TMI?”  In which I look at you dead pan and say, “It is not.”  This is information many may ask from you anyway.  After introductions, request an advanced copy of a book (yes one).  If they send it…. READ IT.  REVIEW IT.  Then – email the person who sent it to you thanking them for the opportunity to read the book and link your review.  Relationship established… or at least the beginning of one. 

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  • Always ALWAYS be professional when inquiring about books for review.  At the Book Expo one year publishing houses told horror stories of how some bloggers have made requests for books – practically demanding books, or as I mentioned before, requesting long lists of reads and even to the point of becoming angry with the publishing house when their request was refused.  You would think common courtesy would be a no-brainer but as a book blogger; this sort of poor behavior gives us a bad name.  So – I say it out loud.  Introduce yourself – inquire nicely – if you are turned down – do what has been asked (establish blog more, have more reviews, work on readership…) and politely try again at a later date. 
  • Do not make promises you can not keep.  Sure things come up occasional that were unanticipated, however if you are telling an author or publishing house that you can review within a certain amount of time or on a certain date – you should do your best to do so.  This is an important piece of my review policy – with my busy schedule I no longer can give a time frame when I will be able to review a book.  As an established blogger, I suspect I have a bit more leeway because most of the publishing houses know me.  When I started blogging however, my policy said I would read and review within 6 weeks. 

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  • As I mentioned – it is easy to get in over your head and as book lovers it is not hard to act like a kid in a candy store and want and want and want.  Start slow…. receive a few books, review them… repeat.  As you do this – you may be surprised how the publishing houses start to find you.  Remember – you never know who is looking at your blog…. maybe they found it by searching for a particular book title…. so keep it professional.  I dont mean don’t have fun… of course have fun…. just remember if you want to grow the blog – your reviews need to be something that publishing houses want their books on. 

 

Here are a few suggestions of places other than the publishing houses to possibly pick up a review or two:

 

TLC Book Tours – A great group to work with that connects to book reviews to books to review on specific dates

 

Netgalley – books to download to your phone or e reader.

 

Blogging For Books – the more established you become – the more book choices will be offered. 

 

Library Thing – you can request books and they go into a drawing to see who receives the copies, a lot like Good Reads Giveaways

 

Booklook Bloggers – a lot like blogging for books.

 

BookBrowse.com – sign up and receive a monthly list of available books

 

Audio Jukebox – for those who like to listen to and review audio

 

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Receiving great reads and reviewing them can be a lot of fun.  I really enjoy it and I have been doing this since 2009.  I still am not as organized as some with their contacts list and knowing which books I want to pursue months in advance.  Some day… I hope to get there :D

 

Fellow book reviewers – please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments – I am sure there are vital steps I should have mentioned and neglected to :)  Newer bloggers, if I didn’t answer something – please inquire about it in the comments and I will answer it then. :)

About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Want To Be Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on May 11, 2014, in Book Stuff and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. Story of your hearts

    Thanks for the post!!! It has given me some ideas for my book blog!

  2. This is such a great post! I too blew it for a while … excitement seems to get the better of most of us!

  3. I love this post! My daughter Kristin of Kritters Ramblings taught me a lot of what you wrote about. I could read this post once a year to remind me of the things you talked about. I may need to revise my policy page. Thanks for all the great info.

  4. Oh wow! Sheila one of the best posts I have seen around on this topic. I am going to bookmark it for myself. Such great advice. I don’t get actual books in the hand as living in New Zealand cuts that out in the main. However I do use NetGalley and enjoy that, but only request the books that I know I will be able to read and will enjoy. As a relatively new blogger I always appreciate the words of wisdom from the Pro’s. I need though to check out my policy page very soon. Yes good idea to go over these things every 6mths or so and update.

  5. Thanks! This blog has some really helpful advice!

  6. Great post Sheila, and that ‘don’t say yes to everything’ is so important to learn. I know I did the same as you, too many books. It takes a while to work out exactly how much you can take on, so going slowly at the start is best. (To refer to your last reply there, yes, it’s good you wrote it :) )

  7. I did the same….I accepted to review any books offered to me. Now I’m pickier cause I really don’t have the time and I want to read books I think i’ll like. Thanks for writing this! :)

  8. Really helpful; thanks!

  9. Thanks for sharing this information Sheila.

  10. Reblogged this on Anna's reading list and commented:
    Great advice for book review blogging

  11. Great advice for book bloggers especially those newer to the game. Good point about not going overboard as it can all get a bit much if you are not careful!

  12. Such a fantastic post: awesome! Those are some great sites you’ve posted, and I especially like some of those points you’ve made. Keep reading fun. Kudos.

  13. Good blob – I think I will just keep reading the books I choose as I have a lot of beauty stuff to post about and travel so struggle to keep up anyway!!

  14. Oops I meat blog not blob!

  15. Thanks for posting this! I’m a new book blogger and this helped out a lot :)

  16. I only have 40 followers, does that matter when it comes to reviewing a book?

    • Some publishing houses will ask you how many views your site receives a month. I have seen a couple that will ask you how many people follow your blog but for the most part it is views. Build your “viewership” by using the suggestions I gave above – write great interactive posts, visit other blogs and leave excellent comments and by present on social media. :D

  17. Great information to those of us just starting out! Thanks for taking the time to share this with everyone.

  18. loved reading about this,, very helpful,, i m gonna try all ur suggestions…

  19. great post. Taking part in virtual book tours is definitely a good way of getting books. you mention one, there’s also the awesome http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/ for histfic lovers. There are great titles for all genres if you like books set in France, if you don’t mind my self promotion here – we have great books by some famous authors: http://francebooktours.com/be-a-tour-host/. Also a neat thing is to find your niche and then ask publishers of that niche. For instance, I read more and more books related to France, so I contacted Gallic Press, they publish French authors translated into English, and they sent me right away 2 awesome upcoming books to review!

  20. Really helpful advice. I’m a new bookish blooger and found this very useful

  21. I just wanted to say that there’s a lot of helpful information in this post. I’m so happy I stumbled across it because I was asking myself a lot of these questions and was having a hard getting direct answers to most of them. I just started blogging about a month ago and although I feel like I’m not ready anyway to start accepting/requesting advanced reading copies, this will help me for in the future when I’ve established myself more as a blogger. So, this is a really good post and so helpful, thanks!

  22. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this out! I started blogging a little over a year ago, but fell out of the routine of posting after several months. I would read a book, and quickly write a post to publish. However, life got in the way and I had to pick and choose my priorities. Throughout my hiatus I have been researching and reading many blogs to learn more about reviewing books. I have decided to give blogging another shot, because I do love to read. Something a bit better than reading is being given the opportunity to spread one’s opinion on the book your reading.

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