Reviews are an important part of marketing a book, but how do you get those reviews?
Before you start writing the requests, you must first create a contact list. The list should include both larger and smaller outlets, but each entry should be someone you think would have a connection with the book. You also want a variety of media—magazines, newspapers, journals, blogs, radio stations, podcasts, and anything else you can think of. The first draft of the contact list should include as many ideas as possible.
It’s easiest to create the contact list using Google Sheets or Excel; that way you can record the contact information and website links in case you need to look at them later. Remember that adding a lot of information at this stage will help you down the road. When you are adding entries to the list, you want to record things like the name of the outlet, a link to their website, their medium (like “blog” or “podcast”), a brief description, contact information, and any specific requirements they have for reviews (for example, sometimes an outlet will only want hard copies, or they may request that you send them multiple copies). Make note of any specific directions so you won’t forget—following directions shows you did your homework and will help you make a good impression.
After you have gathered your initial ideas, you can narrow the list down to places that are the best fit to review your book. This will help you shrink your list to a manageable number and make sure the outlets you’re contacting will be likely to take an interest in your book. Sending requests to relevant places is more important than sending them to as many outlets as possible: if your book doesn’t fit into the type of content a website reviews, then time spent researching and generating that request will be wasted.
Once you have made the contact list, you will want to create a template for your requests. The template should include information about the book, such as a summary or press release, the publication date, the author’s bio, and a couple of blurbs. You should also incorporate some space to personalize each request for its intended outlet—you want a few sentences about why you think they would be interested in reviewing your book. If they’ve reviewed similar content, or even some of the author’s previous work, you should mention that. Saying why you think they’d be interested tells them you put effort into your request, and this will hopefully make them more willing to review your book.
Your template should include (in this general order) a greeting, a sales hook, an introduction to the book, a book summary or elevator pitch, and a closing. The greeting should be addressed to a specific person if possible; for example, if you find that a journal has a reviews editor, you should address them. The sales hook is the first thing the reader will see, so it’s important to make it interesting. The introduction to the book should include the title, the author name, and a brief description of the book. The book summary should concisely convey the central themes in the book, and you should make sure to use some keywords from your marketing plan here. You also want to include why you think this outlet specifically would be interested in the book. Finally, the closing is the place to explicitly ask them for a review of your book. This is where you want to include personalized information about the outlet, and you should repeat the title of the book here too. Don’t forget to include the publication date and the formats in which the book will be available.
After sending out your requests, you should give your potential reviewers a few weeks to get back to you. Then, if you still haven’t heard back, don’t be afraid to follow up with them—people forget, and emails can get lost in the shuffle, so don’t assume that no answer automatically means they’re not interested in your book.