Monday, June 4, 2012

Hot Tip #297: Review Requests

Promo is tough.

You don't want to sound like a big dork...


But you do want folks to hear positive news about your book. Try this instead....

"Penelope gave Soaring Hearts a 5-star review! She said 'It rocked my world...A+!'"

It is ALWAYS more effective to have someone else recommend your book other than yourself. (Or your mother). Authors need reviews. They are a great promotional tool--we can use snippets for our websites, and tweet/facebook glowing quotes. Readers see good reviews and head to purchase links.

Some of us have big pubs with marketing departments, and they send out ARCs to review sites and we get lots of exposure. And some of us who are pubbed with small presses, or those of us who are self-pubbed, need to find our own reviewers.

This brings me to the review request email. If you are searching for blogger/reviewers to check out your story, you need to make sure you are writing a professional review query. Here are some hot tips from Penelope on......

How To Write A Review Request!

1. Write a professional, polite, typo-free email. Don't start the email saying "This is the greatest book since The Holy Bible, you want to read it....believe me!"

2. PERSONALIZE the letter. There is nothing more off-putting than seeing this heading...

DEAR BOOK BLOGGER.....blah blah blah.

Find out the blogger's name and interests.....

Dear Penelope,
I was perusing your blog and I found out you love wacky books. Well, I just wrote a wacky book and I was wondering if you might be interested in reviewing it....etc.

This is much better. It is personally addressed to me, and it shows that the author did some research before contacting me.

3. What info should you include? Book title, publisher, genre, length, available formats. Some folks like ebooks, so if your book is only available in print, it might be a problem.

4. Make sure to include some info about yourself. Don't forget to include a SIG LINE with your publications/dates, URL for website and blog. Some authors also include a Twitter address, which I like because it's a quick, easy way to get in touch with someone. Don't make me Google you to find out your information. Include it in the email. (Also, your sig line should not be 492 lines long. We don't need to know every book you've ever published since you were 14 years old).

5. Book blurbs should not be longer than 150 words. When I see blurbs at Goodreads or in review requests that are 400 words or longer, I skip them. Those are reading like a synopsis, not a blurb. Blurbs should be quick and capture someone's attention. You do not need to give away the entire plot. They also need to be well-written and free of grammatical errors and typos. If your book blurb looks bad, there is little-to-no-chance that I will read your book. MAKE SURE THE BLURB IS PERFECT!

Here's my book blurb for SWEET MAGIK...

Oskar Klaus' job is killing him. Not even his favorite hobbies (extreme snowboarding and browsing old bookstores) are enough to snap him out of his funk. It's not easy living in the shadow of four successful older brothers and a father named Santa. Little does he know that a kiss on New Year's Eve is about to turn his life upside-down.

Kiana Grant's Manhattan life is a world away from her childhood in Oahu. She traded sunsets and surfing for a respectable career in library science, but Oskar Klaus is a temptation that's hard to resist. Before she knows it, she's in the midst of an outrageous adventure in the North Pole, dealing with mischievous elves, wicked demons, and a devastating attraction to Santa's youngest son.

There's just one problem...a bitter elf hell-bent on revenge threatens the future of everyone in the North Pole, even Santa himself...

*1st paragraph is about the hero
*2nd paragraph is about the heroine
*3rd paragraph is a quick description of the conflict, with a hook!

6. Excerpts should be no longer than 300 words. (Sometimes they are, but in a review request, you need to keep it brief). That is just long enough for me to get a sense of your voice, if you can write, if the story is appealing. Choose wisely. Something from the beginning of the manuscript, so you don't give away any key plot points later on in the book. Same thing about typos, perfect grammar. This will sell you or not. Make it count.

7. Are you offering a free copy? Be specific about what you are offering the reviewer, and what you expect in return. I also like to see purchase links, because I buy the books if I'm interested.

8. The requests that capture my attention are the ones that are personalized and professional. Instead of a DEAR BLOGGER letter, someone who starts out with....Dear Penelope, I have a dachshund, too! I have been reading and enjoying your blog.....etc. After that, it's the folks who have a professional note, with an intriguing blurb and well-written excerpt who will grab my interest.

9. Immediate Turn-Offs.....Folks who have not done their research. I even have clear headings about stuff I love to read, and stuff I don't read. If a YA writer sends me a request, she/he has clearly not looked very closely at my website.

10. Make sure you look at the blogger's website to see if she has any specific requirements for requests. Many bloggers have a link that gives you all of that information, such as how many months in advance you need to submit, if they post bad reviews, etc. DO YOUR RESEARCH!

So, that's my Hot Tip #297. Hot Tip #296 is Sequins Never Go Out Of Style, and Hot Tip #298 is Eat Walnuts Every Day -- They're Good For Your Heart.


Book bloggers/reviewers, any other hot tips for review requests? Let me know!



Kaetrin said...

I recommend getting the title of the book right in the request. I got one the other week where the author got the title wrong and that was just one of the typo/grammar errors in the request. I declined.

Penny Watson said...

Kaetrin....uh oh! Well, at least the author was right (hopefully). Oy!

Kaetrin said...

Well you'd think an author would know the title of her own book! 0_o

Penny Watson said...

I' ve told more than one author that the blurb on the Amazon book page was wrong....grammatical errors/typos. That is just plain old sad.

Brie said...

You know which ones I hate? The requests that end with : Review copies are available when replying to this email. Is that a robot doing the request for you?

I get that writing personalized emails when you have to write God knows how many request can be impossible, but at least tell me nice things about the book, make it sound personal that way. I've gotten requests that were obviously the same one just different Dear (insert blogger name), but that made the book sound so interesting that I didn't mind.

Penny Watson said...

Good point, Brie. Writing a good book blurb is incredibly important. It has to pop--you need to catch the reader's attention, not put him to sleep. Too many blurbs sound really generic and uninteresting. The ones that appeal to me have something different that make them stand out from the crowd.

Anonymous said...

A fine public service, this post. Sound advice all the way around. Thanks, Penny.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Sorry, Penny, this is totally off your post subject, but you have to see this link on about weenie dogs! You're going to love it! xxoo Nancy

Penny Watson said...

Hi Jaye! I like public service announcements. ;^)

Penny Watson said...

Hi Nancy! I've seen that adorable and wacky thing it!

Kati said...

I find it aggravating to be told "I love your blog SO much!" Really? Tell me one thing, any thing that you've read on my blog in the last year. Otherwise, quit pandering.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Kati! I like the ones that say..."I liked your recent post on doxies" or "I loved your review about so-and-so".....not just fake, suck-up gushing.

Julia Barrett said...

Penelope's class, Reviews 101. Good information!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Julia! I should open a Romance Review University...I could offer a Doctorate Of Bodice Ripper History. Yeah!

Unknown said...

Deer Pennolepe:

I was chekin out your blogg and would lik to kno if you want to red my book about a shapshifting berded unikorn.

Its relly hot. I can send it to you on a flopy disk if you want.




Unknown said...

And to clarify - oh yeah, I get those. Addressed to "Basia" - which I can't really complain about since it's a nickname, even though it says "Barbara" everywhere.

But if I talked about one funny book somewhere or if they have one odd book, they'll offer it in a horribly misspelled email in a format I couldn't get to work even if I called in the Geek Squad.

Not even for bearded unicorns would I accept one of those.

Unknown said...

In ma finest Scottish Brogue:

deer perny,

am wrintin a wee book on tha saxual excapdes o a highland man and hsi wuman an wunder if yed gie it the once oer..

Luer yar hair, yar a fine looking wumin yersel


Nicola O. said...

I agree with all of this!

I would add:

1) excerpts - I won't request/accept a review copy unless I can get some idea of what your writing looks like-- I want to see several paragraphs from the actual book (not promotional writing)

2) ebook vs. physical book - you can't please everyone unless you have both. Authors/pubs soliciting reviews should check the blog's review policies... bloggers should have a review policy!

Penny Watson said...

Barbara.....!!!!!! Oh dear. Oh deary dear dear. I wouldn't even do it for a bearded hunky lumberjack.

Penny Watson said... are a big tease! You know I would totally say yes. That accent is my Kryptonite!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Nicola! Totally agree about the excerpt thing. And I am always shocked when authors do not have a digital copy. I really don't read print anymore.

Lindsay said...

I was going to e-mail you a question about this exact subject. So sweet of you to read my mind ahead of time! Hehehe Question answered, as always!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Lindsay! I read your mind....excellent! Glad this helped.

Blodeuedd said...

Great advice :) I do get so many bad ones. Some with the wrong name in the title, now that is just bad. And yes those who do not really tell me anything, just basically saying. I want you to review the book and host me on your site for an interview blah, not a chance.

Be nice, do your research, and remember info