I’ve seen some expensive book blogger-focused online “courses” floating around social media. I’m finishing up my 8th year of book blogging. I’ve learned so much over the years from fellow book bloggers, trusted publicists, and my own trial and error. I feel this kind of information should be freely shared among the book blogging community. That said, if you find this post useful and want to buy me a coffee, I won’t refuse the treat! 😉 So today I thought I’d talk about requesting a physical ARC (Advance Reader Copy) from a publisher, based on my own process.
Why This Book?
The first step in requesting physical ARCs from publishers is to think about why you’re requesting a particular book. Sum it up in one or two sentences max. You’ll put this in your request template, which I’ll talk about below. You want publicists to quickly get a sense of why you and your readers are are a good fit for the title you’re requesting.
If you’re an #ownvoices reviewer requesting a title relevant to that identity, and your followers trust you because of that, mention that (if you’re comfortable doing so). If you’ve positively reviewed the author’s previous titles, mention that and link to your reviews. If you have some sort of tie relevant to the book you’re requesting (be it a book club, your career, professional organization, support group, other social group, etc.), and you’ll be sharing your thoughts with others, mention that, too.
#OwnVoices Titles: If you want to request an #ownvoices title but do not share that identity, take a moment to pause and reflect on whether or not you should request that book. (See the #ReadersForEquality hashtag on Twitter for more discourse on this.) I don’t think there’s a catch-all answer here. It really depends on the book. For example, I want cis allies to request and spread the word about 101-type titles written by trans and nonbinary authors! But we also want to make sure we’re not taking up space that comes more easily to us, and consider whether or not it’s better to refrain. If you do end up requesting the book, consider dropping the name/link/contact info of an #ownvoices reviewer so the publicist has one more good source for creating buzz. (After the publicist has responded that a book is coming your way is great timing for this, but you can include it in your initial email as well.) If you end up receiving an ARC, try your best to get it in the hands of an #ownvoices reviewer/reader when you’re done with it!
Gather Your Stats
You don’t need super huge numbers! Honestly, my stats are pretty humble. A quality reach seems to be more important. Publishers want to know that readers are going to see and care about what you have to say about the book. (This goes back to letting them know that your followers are also a good match for the book, not just you.)
Blog View Counts or Followers: I don’t feel like I have a good sense of how many followers my blog has, since readers use a variety of sites to stay connected with their favorite book bloggers. So I’ve never tried to include that. If you have that info, go for it! But I use the average number of page views per month instead, which I grab from either Google Analytics or the Jetpack plugin for WordPress.
Social Media: Choose a couple of social media sites where you talk about books the most, and include your current number of followers. I think Twitter and Instagram are probably the biggies. Facebook as well, if you have a public page over there.
Every so often, you’ll want to update your template with the most current stats. (I usually update them every time I send a new request).
Create a Request Template
Publicists are busy, and you want them to see the information they need as easily as possible. Put stats and your mailing address on their own lines. Make links to your website/social media clickable.
Here’s the template I start with. The first paragraph varies quite a bit depending on the book I’m requesting. The main thing is to not allow it to get too long-winded (I struggle with that). Feel free to borrow and adapt as much or as little of this for your own use:
Hello, this is Monika from Lovely Bookshelf (www.lovelybookshelf.com). I’m writing to request a review copy of your upcoming release, [TITLE] by [Author]. I am a [descriptive word, maybe #ownvoices identity or genre] reviewer with a special interest in [either the genre, author, or topic of the book]. I love to highlight books like this on my site and on social media so that my followers can find books they enjoy reading. [TITLE] sounds like a great fit.
Some info about my blog’s reach:
Average # page views each month
Twitter: # followers
Instagram: # followers
My review would be posted on my blog, Amazon, Goodreads, StoryGraph, and featured on my social media accounts.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my request. Just in case, here is my shipping address:
[First and Last Name, Mailing Address]
Thanks so much for your consideration,
Find the Publicity Contact
Personally, this is where I find Edelweiss to be a huge help. I can bring up the title I’m interested in, click for details, click on “Marketing Plans,” and get further information. If it says “blog outreach,” or “social media campaign,” or something similar, that’s a great sign for us book bloggers!
Using the title above as an example, the upper right corner tells me it’s being published by St. Martin’s Press. So I do a quick Google search for “St. Martin’s Press publicity,” head over to their contact page, and grab that email address for review copy requests:
Imprints and Subsidiaries: Imprints and subsidiaries can get confusing, and I used to fret over where exactly I needed to direct my email, afraid I’d get it wrong. Edelweiss to the rescue here, too. You can trust what you see in the upper right corner of the book’s details. For example, this book is published by Pantheon, which is an imprint of Knopf Doubleday Group, which is a subsidiary of Random House. (I think I got that right.)
But it doesn’t matter if I understand the hierarchy. I can trust that Pantheon is who I need to contact. So I Google “Pantheon publicity,” see a “Contact Us” Knopf Doubleday link as the first result, follow that link, and the correct publicity address for Pantheon-specific titles is right there on the page:
Sending Your Email
Copy your template into the body of your email. Fill in/edit all the parts that need to be personalized – and triple-check it!
For the subject line, I usually write “Review copy request: [TITLE] by [Author]” in my subject line. That way, if the email is going to a general publicity email address, whoever receives it has the info they need to forward it to the right person, without having to sift through the body of my email.
I fill out the To: field last so that I don’t accidentally send the template before I’m done editing it. Put in the appropriate publicity email address, and you’re ready to send!
Sometimes the publicist will respond to let you know they’re putting the book in the mail, or that you’re on the list to receive one when they’re available. Sometimes you never hear back at all, and the book shows up on your doorstep one day. And yes, sometimes you’re turned down, and this can be for a variety of reasons. They may have a limited number of galleys. They might not be providing print galleys at all and send you a NetGalley widget instead. And sadly, they might also be prioritizing the kind of “influencers” they’ve always prioritized (again, see the #ReadersForEquality hashtag on Twitter).
If the publicist replies, even if they turn me down, I always reply with a thank you. After reviewing the book, I either email them back with a link to my review once it’s posted, or more often, I just tag the publisher on social media. But only if the review is positive—no need to let them know about meh or negative reviews unless they follow up with you and ask (I’ve never had this happen). Publicists know that not every book they mail out will be a good fit, even if you expected it to be.