Blogging Tips: How to Request Review Copies from Authors

 
 

There are A LOT of posts out there about how to request ARCs from publishers, but I’ve yet to see a single one that covers the topic of requesting books from authors. And you know why that’s a problem?

Because not every author has a publisher.

I don’t have to be an author to understand that it’s hard to find reviewers. Many self-published authors can’t afford putting their books on sites like NetGalley or promoting their books with things like blog tours. So many authors put a lot of time and effort into searching for book blogs, reading through review policies, sending out personalized emails, all to get probably more negative responses than positive ones in the end.

But, as someone who loves reading and reviewing self-published books, I’ve got a whole list of books I’d love to read but cannot get review copies of from any publicity site. These authors might be out there contacting bloggers and trying really hard to get more reviews, and here I am wanting to give reviews, but am I just supposed to sit around wait for them to maybe possibly stumble upon my blog one day in the future and send me a review request? (To be honest that has actually happened to me twice, but think of how much sooner I could’ve gotten those books had I made the first move!)

It’s like this great big gap exists between reviewers who want self-pub books and the authors who write them. We have a symbiotic relationship, but that’s only if we actually find each other.

I was always afraid to contact authors if they weren’t explicitly offering because I never want anyone to feel obligated to give me review copies, but I finally decided that staring longingly at books I couldn’t afford wasn’t helping anyone. So I stuck my neck out there and gave it a shot, and you know what? It went well! I’ve also had a few authors tell me they’d love it if reviewers would contact them. So now I’ve got some tips that will hopefully benefit both reviewers and authors by putting more books into the hands of the reviewers who really want them :-)

 

 

Should You Request That Book?

Ask yourself these questions before sending that email.

– Does the author have a publisher? Because if they do, you should probably contact them instead. I know that many authors still give out copies themselves anyway, but to be honest, I’m winging this just as much as you, and I don’t know if it’s considered ok to request from authors who do in fact have publishers. Just to be on the safe side, I don’t, but anyone is welcome to weigh in on this in the comments.

– Are you willing to accept an ecopy? Because that’s what most self-published authors will have to offer.

– Do you truly want this book? This should apply to every review copy you request, but please, don’t request from an author unless you genuinely intend to read the book. And please don’t start sending emails out to every single author on your TBR. Choose wisely the ones you really absolutely want and will have time for.

– How many reviews does the book already have? There’s no magic number here, but the fewer the reviews, the more likely you are to get a copy since those are the books that need the promotion most. I wouldn’t expect to get a copy of a book that already has hundreds of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads each. You might, but, like I said, I don’t have the magic numbers, and every author is different. But I can tell you that all of the ones I’ve requested so far had less than 60 on Amazon.

– Are you prepared to be turned down? As with any request, there’s always that chance. But remember, the worst they can do is say no or simply not respond.

– Not a question, but one more good thing to do is check the author’s website. They may have information about a street team or a review team you can apply for, they may state somewhere that they do or do not give copies to reviewers, they may give the email for someone else to contact if you’re interested in review copies, etc. Checking for this before emailing can save you and the author time.

What to Include in Your Email

Requesting from an author really isn’t that different from requesting from a publisher or from review copy websites. I include basically the same things and keep everything professional and respectful.

– A brief intro with your name, your blog name, and a link to your blog.

– What book it is that you want and why (even something as simple as, “I love vampire books,” shows them that you’ve looked into their book and do have an interest).

– A brief description of the genres you review and where you post reviews to. (The same kinds of things you include in your NetGalley profile, if you have one.)

– Stats about your blog and social media followers, # of monthly unique visitors, # of monthly comments, or any other info you normally include

– What formats you accept.

– If you have a review policy, let them know so that they can check it out.

– I like to conclude by letting the author know that I completely understand if they choose not to give me a copy, and that either way I thank them for their consideration.

What Not to Do

This should go without saying, but do NOT harass authors. You probably get review requests from authors, right? Well, anything you wouldn’t want them to do to you, don’t do to them. Let’s call it the Golden Rule of Book Reviewing. Treat them with the same respect you would treat a publishing contact. You are not guaranteed a copy, and they have every right not to give you one for any reason. Some authors might not give any review copies at all, or they may give very few, or they may only give ARCs but no copies of backlisted books, or they may make their decision on a case-by-case basis, and all of those things are entirely within the authors’ rights. That means…

– Don’t pester them if you don’t hear from back from them. It probably means the answer is no.

– Don’t try to convince them if they turn down your request.

– Don’t be rude.

– Don’t take advantage of an author’s kindness.

Of course all the general review copy rules still apply too, like not sharing the books, not reading them just for pleasure without writing a review, etc.

And I think that about sums it up!

 
 

Talk to me!

If you're a reviewer, do you ever contact authors to ask about review copies?
If you're an author, how do you feel about reviewers contacting you about review copies?
If you're an author with a publisher, would you prefer reviewers to go through your publisher, or to contact you directly?

 

Like this post? Don't forget to follow me for more!
Bloglovin' | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Tumblr

 
 
 
 

Let's Be Friends

 
 

Your Thoughts

 

43 thoughts on “Blogging Tips: How to Request Review Copies from Authors

I'd love if you'd share your thoughts, too!

 

Reading your comments makes me a very happy blogger!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 
  1. Greg

    Nice post. I’ve had a few authors send me books but I’ve never actually asked an author for a review copy, oddly enough. But I think your tips are great. I think especially too with self pub authors, like you say- there are so many out there that get overlooked or would desperately love some reviews. It’s nice that we live in an age where people can get published (or do it themselves) w/o a publishing house, but getting readers is another thing. And it’s gotta be tough self- marketing and trying to find bloggers who are interested, when they’d probably rather be writing!

    Greg recently posted: Sunday Post #183

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s the thing, so many authors are out there contacting bloggers, but there are so many bloggers than the ones whose books we’re interested in may never actually find us. And then it’s a missed opportunity for the blogger and the author. And I can only imagine how hard it must be for self pub authors to get reviews and readers, especially new ones. Yeah, they probably would rather be writing!

  2. Ali

    Great post! I feel like it’s important that posts like these come out every once in a while for all the new bloggers!

  3. Lily B

    There have been some indi authors that I’ve been interested in, but I’ve never contacted authors before, so its a little intimidating I guess? Like give me your book so I can review it for free instead of buying it.. blah makes me feel weird. Ha, I guess that’s how I feel I sound?
    To top it off I feel like I never know which of the indi authors have books come out. It’s easier to ask for an upcoming book I guess over a book that’s already out? I guess

    1. Kristen Burns

      It is intimidating, and I felt the exact same way, and it didn’t help that I couldn’t find a single post about it on the internet when I wanted to give it a try! That’s why I decided to write one. With self pub authors though, a lot of them are still looking for reviewers even for their books that already out, so I don’t feel weird about asking for those. It’s definitely hard to find upcoming books for self pub!

      1. Lily B

        You are right, I haven’t seen a single post about something like this. I know some reviewers don’t like sharing their “secrets” so it’s awesome that you came forth and wrote a post about it :D maybe one day I won’t chicken out and write a request to the author

  4. Stephanie

    My books are always on Edelweiss. They just appear there by magic! I was able to get my publisher to set it so that when I request a book from my own publisher, it automatically is approved. I haven’t had much luck getting books from other publishers on there, though. But I’m not really a reviewer, so that’s fair! I just review every book I read in my “Best Books” post and leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

    Stephanie recently posted: Mystery Monday: Brandon Lawson

    1. Kristen Burns

      Haha magic sure is handy ;-) That’s awesome that you worked that out with your publisher to get those books. I’ve had terrible luck with Edelweiss, rejected for every book I’ve requested on there lol. I’ve gotten a few that were available for download to anyone, and that’s it.

  5. Lola

    What a great post! From my own experience and what I heard from other author often the percentage of review request that’s accepted is around the 10%, so you can imagine how many review request you have to send out to get a decent amount of reviewers.

    And even knowing that, as a reviewer I feel uncomfortable contacting authors directly, the few times I did so I didn’t get a reply, which isn’t very encouraging. Although I guess it’s the same for an author not getting a reply from reviewers. And as I never know when I can get to their book because of my mood reading ways I feel guilty requesting a review copy with no idea when I will get to it. While if they contact me they have hopefully read my policy and know I can’t say when I’ll get to that and the fact they still send a review request means to me they understand and are okay with that.

    I don’t know, I am just not likely to contact authors or even publishers directly. It makes me feel uncomfortable and I don’t know how to go about it. Maybe I should just give it a try more often. I am really glad you wrote this post as these tips are very helpful. Good point on including your stats and link to your review policy. That way they can still check it out and only accept if they are okay with that. I never thought to include that in an e-mail.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I know you’ve had negative experiences with this, and that sucks :-/ Maybe they really didn’t get your email or something. I’m not saying you should send them another, obviously, just that maybe it really was just something like that. I had that happen with an author once who was explicitly offering copies (which was why I tried contacting her a second time some weeks later).

      Yikes, 10%, that’s rough. But that’s why I think both reviewers and authors could benefit if reviewers start reaching out too. And yeah, I always include a link to my review policy so that they know exactly what to expect from me.

      I’ve contacted a few small indie pubs. I’ve mostly had good luck with that, but I think one or two never responded. But I know I don’t have a big enough blog to contact larger publishers. Thanks, glad you like my post :-)

  6. Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads

    I honestly never even thought about contacting authors directly. I know a lot of authors with publishers tend to get annoyed if people contact them about review copies since they don’t always have control over who does/doesn’t receive a review copy, but I can only imagine that it would be really helpful/exciting for self-published authors who spend a ton of time reaching out to bloggers and, like you said, probably get more declinations than acceptances. I should definitely start reaching out to some self-pubbed authors. Thanks for this post!

    Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads recently posted: 5 Memoirs by Black Authors

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, I figure authors with publishers might not want to be bothered with that or might not have any control, so I only contact authors directly when it’s a self pub book. But yes, exactly any author who’s been trying to find reviewers would probably be thrilled if one reached out to them! I know that some of them appreciate it at least :-) Glad you liked the post!

  7. Let's Get Beyond Tolerance

    I think it’s better for authors who have a publisher to have people contact the publisher instead of them. They don’t tend to have much say when it comes to review copies, etc. That’s what I’ve found at least. Anyway, thanks for this post. I don’t think I’ve seen anything that focused on asking authors for review copies. Definitely be polite when writing and don’t get mad if you don’t get a copy or don’t hear back – great tips that I def. reiterate.

    -Lauren

    Let's Get Beyond Tolerance recently posted: Looking for Book Reviewers!!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, I’ve seen some authors with publishers give copies, but to play it safe I just stick to directly contacting authors only if they’re self pub. Yeah, I’ve looked for posts like this and couldn’t find any, so thanks, I’m glad you like mine :-)

  8. Dina

    Kristen, this is a helpful post. Since my anxiety tends to spike whenever I try to communicate with authors, I normally don’t reach out for ARCs anymore. But, I definitely agree with you that being respectful and doing your research is a considerate combination when it comes to these things. Even with publishers, I think the same rules apply. Anyway, it takes a while to build up credibility as a book blogger, and so, expecting to get things from the first try is kind of unrealistic. I didn’t think of looking at how many people reviewed a book before. SMART!! I love your blog.

    Dina recently posted: March Readathons Overview

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks :-) I understand, it can be intimidating. And yes, I agree that being respectful and doing your research are always things you should do when contacting anyone about review copies, whether an author or publisher. Self pub authors aren’t usually as concerned about large numbers of blog followers though, they seem more interested in simply finding reviewers they can trust :-) Thank you!

  9. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    You are right K! I don’t think I ever read a post about requesting books from authors. I guess I never even thought about it because…
    1) I’m too shy to go and contact an author for an ARC. I tried it twice for sequels of books I had gotten from NetGalley and for which I had posted 5 stars reviews. I had already interacted with the author, the author had been thankful for my review and when I asked for the second ARC… nothing. So that kinda threw my off. :-) Like… I was thinking about asking for Hell Divers II and I would not gather the courage to do it LOL SMH
    2) I’ve become a very moody reader right now and not very focus on anything that would require me to reach out
    3) Between my freebies and ARCs I guess I always find I have enough to read.
    4) For some reason I always saw amazon freebies like the NetGalley for indie self-published authors but it’s like you say.. you’d have to wait for the author to make it a freebie.
    So this are all great tips for book reviewers that do want to contact authors for ARCs :) Maybe I’ll do it as well with Hell Divers ;-P

    Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium recently posted: Movie review: The Great Wall – 4.5 Cirque du Soleil stars

    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s intimidating, I totally get it. And that sucks that you were ignored when you contacted authors, I can see why that’d make you hesitant to try again :-/ Doesn’t Hell Divers have a publisher though? You should probably contact the publisher, not the author, for that particular book. You even have a contact within the publisher since you got a signed book, right? Although they might just put it NG since they put the first one there.

      I mean, I do have lots to read? But even with freebies, it’s usually only the first book, and then there might be five or more books in the series that cost $4.99 each, and I can’t afford to spend that much on a series or I won’t have enough books to read. So there are some books/series that either I’m able to get review copies, or I just won’t get to read them. It’s not a spite thing, it’s just a money thing. So that’s why I reach out to authors sometimes for books that I REALLY know I want to read.

      Thanks, glad you like my tips!

  10. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Great post, I know I don’t read as much from smaller self-pub authors and that makes me feel bad but a great post for both approaching authors and also being sensible when it comes to asking for a copy. I know I’ve never emailed an author directly but that’s partially because I have so many books to read already I probably shouldn’t find another way to add to the TBR pile. It is better than waiting for an author to find you, though (a few do with me and it’s always nice but you can’t always expect things to fall in your lap).

    Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity recently posted: Monthly Wrap Up // February 2017

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks :-) I wanted to make sure I didn’t sound like I was telling everyone to run around taking advantage of authors, so I’m glad the “being sensible” part came through. It has been nice the couple times an author contacted me to offer a book that I was already interested in, but exactly, you can’t expect every author to find you when the internet is such a big place!

  11. Michelle @ FaerieFits

    Great post! I’ve never actually requested a book from an author, though I have had a couple of authors reach out to me. Unfortunately, the first few who asked me to review their books ended up being AWFUL books, so I’ve kind of shied away from accepting unsolicited requests altogether. There have been a VERY few times that I’ve thought about reaching out to an author, but decided against it. You make it sound so easy! I’ll have to keep that in mind for the future :)

    Michelle @ FaerieFits recently posted: Caraval: Mixed Feelings & Overhyped?

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I’ve also had some awful books from authors, but then I’ve had awful books from NG and purchased books and all that, so I still accept books in my attempt to find the great ones that come along sometimes!

  12. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    Kristen!!!!!! I’m only getting to your blog now since LAST WEEK and I can’t believe that you did this post! The Blog Squad just did a post on requesting books but we totally didn’t cover this aspect AT ALL – you are so right!!!

    I actually prefer ecopies myself because I travel a lot and having all my books available is convenient. I wouldn’t have thought about a couple of the things that you’ve mentioned here but I think it’s definitely the way forward if you want to get a book!

    Bloggers/reviewers don’t think twice about requesting on EW or NG nor do we think twice about requesting specific books from the publishers! So why not go ahead and get books from self published authors as well!? As you say, they are out there trying their best to even get reviews.

    And at the end of the day? The worst thing you can get is a no. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol no worries. And what a perfect coincidence!

      I love having physical copies of books, but I agree that ecopies are easier and more convenient and what I usually choose even when given a choice for review copies. But some people don’t accept ecopies.

      Yeah, bloggers request from everywhere else, yet self pub authors, the ones who struggle the most to find reviewers, we don’t request from!

      Exactly!

  13. S. J. Pajonas

    This is such a great post!! I love it! Putting it on social media. And yeah, as an author, I remember when I was trying to get reviews for my book FACE TIME. I contacted 120 book blogger sites, all of them researched and abiding by their rules (took over a week to put together my list and another week to query them all), and only 8 wrote me back. Then of those 8, only 3 reviewed. Sigh. I actually stopped querying bloggers and I do pay for blog/review tours now, but I would be up for bloggers contacting me. Often, though, I get emails like “Please send me free books and I’ll review.” O_o. With no other information. I say no to those people. Sigh. It’s hard on both sides of the aisle if people don’t follow some simple, polite rules.

    S. J. Pajonas recently posted: Teaser Thursday – Typhoon Amanda

    1. Kristen Burns

      Only eight even replied??!!! Oh that’s terrible. I try to respond to every request I get, even if it’s just to say I’m sorry, but your book isn’t right for me. I’ve had a lot of authors thank me just for responding to them at all. I think many book bloggers don’t realize how hard it is for authors. (I mean, even I don’t know the full extent, but I try.) And I don’t blame you for saying no to people who ask for free books but don’t give any information. I’m glad to get some input from an author! I was kind of afraid my post might come off as presumptuous, assuming authors want to give us review copies or something, so I’m also glad to know it didn’t come off that way :-)

    1. Kristen Burns

      I always have a backlog of review copies, but I feel like I’m at a good number right now. It only gets stressful to me when I have too many books with looming deadlines. I like having a bit of a backlog so I know I’ll never run out of stuff to read :-D

  14. Pingback: Sunday Post & Giveaways Galore - 3/5/17 - Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  15. Olivia Roach

    This is such a good and detailed description on how to request review copies! I have no issues with doing so myself, but I love that some people who are just starting out can stumble across this post and know everything they need to know after reading this :D

    Olivia Roach recently posted: The Fifth Wave [Book Review]