Hello, it’s actually me and not a guest blogger! I thought the least I could do was write something myself but I hope you’ve been enjoying the content over the last week of so. Now I’ve often seen bloggers mention that getting ARCs (advance review copies) is not easy in the UK or others saying they don’t feel big enough to attract publishers. Well I’ve only been blogging for 6 months and I already have a steady flow of books coming through my door so it is possible. I thought I’d share some not-so-secret-secrets with you.
NetGalley is dominated by American publishers but it’s a good place to get started and there are a few UK names in there (Angry Robot for instance). Many of the publishers do have a British branch as well so it can be a stepping stone for you to approach them for paper copies. For example, I’ve reviewed several books for Penguin USA but none for Penguin here but would feel comfortable asking for a review copy explaining that I’d reviewed for their American arm. You will need to be happy to read ebooks if you’re using NetGalley though and if you’re a Kindle owner not all publishers provide Kindle compatible copies. Unless you send direct to your Kindle, the books will be available in a DRM protected PDF that can be read in Adobe Digital Editions or compatible ereaders.
Another electronic option is to sign up to Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab where you can choose from a wide selection every month. However, S&S in the UK are very blogger friendly and you may want to get in touch with them to be added to their blogger directory.
Do you need to be a big name blogger? Not really no, just as long as you can demonstrate that you have some reach, post your reviews to a few different places and are serious about reviewing. As a general guideline, your blog should be established for 3 months but I did start out on NetGalley earlier. If you don’t update your blog on a regular basis expect to be turned down though. It’s advisable to add your social networking stats to your profile on NetGalley, especially if you have more followers elsewhere.
If you’ve done any networking at all, you’ll soon start getting requests from authors. Most of these will be plugging self-published ebooks but a few will be traditionally published authors that are just doing some extra legwork to get their work out there and read. You may feel bad for turning them away but if the books don’t appeal to you, you’re unlikely to give a glowing review. If you do want to accept them, make sure you give a realistic time-frame. I sometimes offer to post an extract instead of a review.
Think about which publishers you are already loyal to. If you’re not too sure, check out who publishes your favourite books and if they are under an imprint of the same publisher. When emailing a publicist requesting review copies, make sure your email isn’t too generic, mention that you’ve enjoyed certain books or you feel their catalogue appeals to you. Some bloggers advise that you should request a certain book but I prefer to give them a chance to send me something they want reviewing. As your reach grows you can probably become fussier but you’re much more likely to get a book they’re eager to advertise than one that’s already popular.
Keep an eye out on other blogs for publisher events such as the Transworld Book Group where they are purposefully targetting bloggers to provide reviews. Some publishers will offer review copies on Twitter on a first come first served basis so many sure you follow your favourites. A few publishers have specific publicity accounts, eg. @RandomPR and @simonschusterPR.
I know a lot of people that are in the Amazon Vine program. It is invite only and I’m not sure how often they send invites out but you will have to be ranked quite well in the Amazon top reviewers table. If you do get in though, there are a lot of books available each month. The thing is, publishers have to pay to be part of Vine and their books don’t always end up in the hands of people that will spread the word outside of Amazon. So it makes sense that the publishers are on the look out for alternatives, bloggers being high up on their list. So make sure you post to Amazon and Goodreads and anywhere else you can shout about a book and you are more likely to get a yes.
Of course, if you go down the route of accepting reviews, expect to be buried under books! You may have noticed some of my guest bloggers have written reviews for me. Well I just didn’t have time to read everything that was sent to me in the past few months so I had to outsource! Also be careful with NetGalley about over-requesting. I think everyone does it when they first start out, it’s like being a kid let loose in a candy shop. Having seen the stats, don’t be too worried if you can’t read and review everything you’re accepted for. Do your best but remember you’re not getting paid for this and it should stay fun!
And finally, make sure it’s clear on your blog where you live! Not down to street detail obviously, or even town, but country is important in the publishing world. Even if international barriers are being slowly chipped away by the internet.