A Book Blogger's Tips for Building Relationships with Publishers and Authors

If you publish a book review blog, one of the biggest obstacles you face is getting access to books you can review. Perhaps you started blogging – as I did – by reviewing books you already owned and now you want to expand the scope of your reviews to include forthcoming books or a wider variety of genres.

 

How do you establish relationships with authors and publishers so you can receive review copies? When I started my own book blog in 1997, I spent a lot of time researching and going to public readings at bookstores and libraries. I talked to writers and publishers at local book fairs. Gradually, I built a reputation and authors and publishers began to automatically add me to their press lists.

 

Nowadays, there are many more ways to reach out to authors and publishers. Before you start requesting review copies, you should have several reviews already posted to your blog as examples of your writing. You should be promoting your reviews on social media in order to start building a following. It’s tough to get review copies of books from major publishers if you only get one or two hits per month on your blog.

 

Once you have some clips and followers, here are ways to start building relationships.

 

Author Relationships

 

1. Make a list of writers whose work interests you.

2. Follow those authors on Twitter or Facebook for news about forthcoming books.

3. If an author announces a new book coming out, find an email address or contact form on the author’s website and send a short request for a review copy. The introduction/request should include

  • Information about your book blog
  • A short note about why the book interests you
  • Links to one or two reviews you’ve written as examples
  • An official request for a review copy of the book

4. After you write the review, send the author a link to the review, along with a note of thanks for the review copy.

5. Ask the author to include you on their press list, if they have one.

6. Bonus – Suggest an interview or Q&A with the author for your book blog.

 

Publisher Relationships

 

1. Make a list of presses that publish books of interest to you.

2. Follow these publishers on Twitter or Facebook for news.

3. Find the section of the publisher’s website that lists contact information for reviewers requesting review copies.

4. Contact the publisher and ask to be put on a press list for information about forthcoming books and review copy availabilities. In your request, include

  • Information about your book blog
  • Links to two or three reviews you’ve written as examples (esp. if you’ve previously reviewed a book by the same publisher)
  • Request for a review copy of a specific book or to be put on the press list

5. After publishing a review, send the publisher a link to it.

6. Bonus – Suggest an interview or Q&A with the author for your blog.

 

Almost always, authors and publishers will publicize reviews of their books on social media and their websites, which will gain your blog even more followers.

 

A word of warning: It is considered bad practice to request a review copy and never review it! Word will spread among small publishers and authors if you become known for requesting review copies simply so you can sell them at your local used book store.

Bernadette Geyer provides writing, copy editing, and translation services for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and writers. She also leads online workshops on a variety of topics for small businesses and writers. Geyer likes being a small fish in a big pond, and enjoys helping others move to bigger ponds themselves. Subscribe to her monthly news from the big pond if you’re interested in professional growth.

 

Geyer’s No Time Guide series of online guides for small businesses offers simple, jargon-free guides to small business owners and nonprofits who want to grow, but don’t have a lot of time.

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Comment by RYCJ on January 6, 2017 at 12:24pm

Yes...@Bernadette, that's actually really interesting, because I started out being offered free copies, which evolved into reviewing with Amazon's Vine program, but ultimately felt there was too much of conflict of interests to respect those reviews... or rather be truly helpful to authors, and readers. All said, your post is on point.

Comment by Bernadette Geyer on January 6, 2017 at 12:04am

@RYCJ - That sounds like you found your ideal niche. I used to buy most of my books when I started out, before I established myself enough to start getting review copies. I still purchased many books on my own because I wanted to support the authors and publishers I read.

Comment by RYCJ on January 3, 2017 at 3:37pm

I agree with the above, even if my review process is one of the most unique...and successful, must I add. 

I purchase the books I read and review, and write the review on a personable level to let the author, publisher and or book promoter know I thoroughly digested the content. Of course too, I primarily read MEMOIRS and am selective. 

Doing this not only works for my physical and mental well-being...and beefs up my library collection to boot, but it also keeps my inbox filled with requests. While many authors want to collect as many reviews as possible, many authors also want to be read...really read...and appreciated.

Comment by Bernadette Geyer on December 29, 2016 at 1:16am

@Patricia - I don't do book reviews anymore due to my work schedule. I do teach a workshop through WOW! Women on Writing that helps those who want to become freelance book reviewers, based on my 15 years of experience running a book blog/website.

@Dhana -- If you are interested in learning more about reviewing for blogs and magazines, you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter to find out when I'll be leading the next workshop for book reviewers.

Here's the link for my newsletter -- http://eepurl.com/brLu6T

Comment by Patricia Robertson on December 24, 2016 at 11:31am

So, do you do book reviews???

Comment by Dhana Musil on December 22, 2016 at 10:53am
Interesting. Thanks so much for posting. I generally only read book reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, but I am going to start reaching out to more review bogs and places.

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