Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Girls Don't Cry: Requesting ARCs

Inspired by Book Buzzers, Book Girls Don't Cry is a weekly feature where we each discuss/vent/advise on the chosen weekly bookish topic. Don't miss Jenni on Mondays, and Amy on Saturdays:

Publishers are not so scary!

So you have a book blog? And you'd like to get those awesome books for review that you've been eyeing in wrap-up posts? I was completely alone, going in blind, when I started requesting from publishers, and while most of it was me going about it by what I felt was right and nothing else, I did learn a thing or two that I think it may help some bloggers reach out to publishers--they really are all awesome to deal with. What's the worse that can happen? I'll tell you actually: They won't reply. Is that really so bad?

When can you contact publishers? I know everyone says to wait until a certain amount of time has passed, or until you have a certain number of followers, but you know what? I received my first print ARC when my blog was exactly 1 month old, with a bit over 300 followers. Was it early to request? Yeah maybe. Was it too early? Well I got it didn't I? By 2 months I was on with 3 different publishers. While I wouldn't necessarily tell every one month old blog that it's time to make contact, if you've integrated yourself in the community and your blog is getting good views, has signs of a good readership (via followers or comments) and publishers can tell you genuinely give your blog your all with good, constant content, they will consider your request.

What do you put in this request? SELL YOURSELF! This is more or less like a very brief job interview. Do you have anything worthy to brag about? Do it! Show off your follower counts on your blog and social networks, your email subscribers, your page views, your comment average; anything that says your review will be seen once you publish it. Furthermore, have you been reviewing long before your blog? Did you win any blogger awards (however inconsequential they may seem)? Are you on any top lists (Goodreads etc)? Anything that is even a little bit cool about your reviewing life, tell them! But first you should briefly introduce yourself by telling them who you are, what you like to read, what your blog posts consists of, how long you've been blogging, and I also always recommend leaving your address. However, try to keep the email a reasonable length. To help you along I scrounged up one of my old request emails so you can see an example of how I did mine (this is for guidance, not to copy word for word, especially that most publishers have gotten this one already ;). Also to note is this email is almost exactly what I have as my Netgalley and Edelweiss profiles as well.

You can easily find eARCS on Netgalley, as well as on Edelweiss. Edelweiss is also where you can find all the catalogs for upcoming books from every publisher to peruse and take note of books you would like to request.

You emailed, and now what? One of three things will happen. The first is actually fairly common when requesting specific ARCS: they will simply arrive at your door without heads up. For the first few months I just requested specific titles and I rarely got replies, they just mailed them out. The second thing that may happen is they will reply. Congrats! You've now got your direct contact with that publisher. So any ARC you're interested in in the future, you email that person direct with your requests. This reply might also tell you how that specific publisher works for requesting. Some send regular newsletters with available review copies you can request, others will simply mail out random ARCs they'd like you to consider reviewing. In Canada, newsletters are the most common once you're added to the reviewer list. The third thing that can happen after you email: nothing. You don't get the book(s) requested, you don't hear back. This has happened to me, and it's nothing to be upset about--publishers don't have time to reply to every single request they get from blogs that don't quite meet  their criteria. When this happens, email again in 6-8 weeks. Eventually you will get more and more replies. And note that even though I did get on with a few publishers early on, it was only when I hit 1,000 followers that I really started getting more yesses, requests to join tours and cover reveals, etc.

Who do I email? Find the website of the publisher you want to email, and under their contact (easily found at the very bottom index of most sites) you will find either a general email or, even better, the email for their publicity department.

After getting an ARC it's important to schedule its review. Sure it may be easy to keep track at first, but after a while you might get ARCs faster than you can read them, so I strongly suggest keeping a blog calendar to keep track of not only ARC review dates, but for tours and other bloggish things you committed to. I use iCal (screenshot) on Mac, but for PC you can use Google Calendar. I honestly don't know how people manage their blog without a calendar. I would hyperventilate. O_O

When to review? The golden rule that is shared by the majority of publishers is they like to see your review within one month before, or 6 week after, the release date. How long after is less stressed--they still love reviews a year later--but a lot of publishers stress how they prefer seeing reviews not too far ahead--if it's too long before, readers may forget about it by the time to book is released. Almost every time I get a print ARC I get a piece of paper or a note that will mention their preference in this matter. On Netgalley some have this noted in their publisher profiles under "Browse Publishers". (Note that these timelines are for your blog, posting on Goodreads is different and may be done sooner since the review does not get buried like on a blog.)

Once you post your review it's important to let them know. If it's a print ARC you should always email a link to your review. If no one replied to your request, email it to the same email you originally sent the request to. This goes for both a positive and negative review. I even email if I was not able to finish the book so that they know I won't be reviewing it. And an FYI- I have sent many negative reviews to publishers and I have never been "cut off" from their books, so don't worry about that. If it's a Netgalley or Edelweiss ARC, there are places to leave your review direct on the sites. And TWEET! No matter if you got the book for review or not, if it is positive, tag the publisher in your tweet, even the author. (If you tweet several times a day, only tag them once--we don't want to spam them). Most of the time they will retweet your review, and if you have had no luck getting in touch with that publisher, what better way for them to notice your blog?

This was my own approach to contacting and dealing with publishers and it's done me well. All you have to do is stay professional, be confident, and blog with integrity! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions that I haven't covered here! :)

What was your experience with publishers?
 Do you have more advice to give to new bloggers?

Also, don't forget to leave suggestions for future topics you'd like to see! :)

You know you love me!
Xoxo, Book Girl!