Today we’re going to be discussing something that I’ve seen a fair amount as a fairly experienced writer/blogger: requesting book reviews. So we’re talking about when you have a book and you’re reaching out to bloggers, asking if they’ll review it for you. I’ve been on both sides of this exchange, and there are some steps I’ve seen missed (or missed myself) that I’ve found are a key part of the review requesting process. So today I’m going to walk you through the five steps of requesting a book review.
1. Know Your Target Reviewer
First of all, make sure that the reviewers on your list make sense. If you’re releasing a Christian book, you’ll likely want Christian reviewers. If you’re releasing a middle grade novel, you’ll want to make sure that the reviewers on your list read middle grade.
While this applies to most of the reviewers on your list, you may want to have a couple of outliers who don’t normally read your genre or age group or whatever the case may be. These bloggers will be harder to “sell” on your book, so be sure you have a compelling reason to put them on the list. Maybe they don’t normally read middle grade, but your book is about mythology from a Christian worldview and you know they’re really interested in both of those topics. (If this is you, please contact me. That sounds amazing.) Or maybe sci-fi isn’t normally their genre, but you know they’ll resonate with the pro-life themes in your book. These reasons are no promise that the reviewer will say yes (there’s no promise even with reviewers who seem like they’d be a perfect fit), but they’ll give you a decent chance and they’ll get your book to a somewhat wider audience.
This is also where you’ll find out what you and your target reviewer have in common. What connection points can you mention to show 1) that you’ve done your research and 2) that you value their input specifically? For example, you might find that you’re both in your young twenties, or you both love Spider-Man, or you both drink tea. Do try to keep these things relevant to the book you’re getting reviewed—if you’re releasing a superhero novel, your shared love of Spider-Man might be relevant; if you’re releasing a fantasy novel, you might instead want to focus on your shared love of Tolkien—but these bits of connection will show that you chose this reviewer on purpose and you’re looking at them as a fellow author, reader, and person rather than solely a blogger that can review your book.
Sometimes, a mutual friend can be a good connection point! If you learned about this reviewer from another author who spoke highly of them, feel free to mention that. It will make the reviewer feel good, it will give them a bit of context to place you into, and the reviewer will likely trust you a little more if they can connect you to someone they already trust.
2. Introduce Yourself
You’ve done your research, you have your list of reviewers to contact, and now you’re ready to send out emails. Start out by saying hello and sharing a little bit about yourself! Who you are, why you’re contacting them, and perhaps a relevant link to your site. This is also where you’ll pull out those shared points of interest and/or mutual connections. You don’t want to go too long with your intro, but you want to use it to connect with the reviewer and get them interested in you and your book.
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3. Introduce Your Book
Now that you’ve introduced yourself and connected with the interviewer, you want to introduce your book and get the reviewer invested in that. Give them a title, a brief blurb (this can be a back-cover copy or something more like an elevator pitch), and anything else you think they’ll want to know about your book. If it’s similar to something else they like, draw that similarity. If there’s content you think they ought to be aware of (either as a selling point or a warning), mention that. If there’s something that particularly makes your book stand out, that makes it perfect for this reviewer, mention it.
Again, don’t get too wordy, but try to put in whatever information will be relevant to this reviewer so they’ll be more willing to invest their time in your book. (And yes, I am saying you’ll want to tailor each email to its own individual recipient. You can rely on a core template with all of the general information, but put in the time and care to fill out around that base for each reviewer.)
4. Include Any Crucial Details (deadline, etc.)
Besides information on what your book is about, don’t forget to include information on what you’ll need from the reviewer. What is the time-frame in which you’re looking to get reviews up? Do you have physical review copies or only digital? Where do you want them to post reviews (their blog, Amazon, Goodreads)?
5. Thank them for their time
As a final point of etiquette, be sure to thank your target reviewer for their time! Whether they agree to review or not (or if they don’t have time for a review but offer some other help), thank them for the time they’ve invested in your request and/or your book.
Bonus: Make Notes for Next Time
If they seem interested but don’t have the time right now, maybe make a note to reach out to them for your next book. If you find they’re not into your genre, make note of that. If they’re just really busy, maybe consider asking them for a spotlight next time rather than a full book review. Try to keep track of what authors you want to work with, and respect their time and preferences so that your partnership—whether now or in the future—will be fruitful for both of you and you can build up a relationship. Who knows; maybe down the road you’ll be exchanging reviews on the regular!
Have you reached out to reviewers before? Which step of this process is the hardest for you? Which do you enjoy the most?