How to pitch your book for review to a book blogger

I’ve been wanting to write a brief guide on how to pitch your book for review to a book blogger for a while. It seems to be one of those things that a lot of people can’t quite figure out, or get intimidated by, or just sort of blindly hope for the best with. And, really, it’s not rocket science. Pitching your book for review involves a little more than ‘please will you review my book’, but it really does involve a lot less than you think. Here’s my top tips in no particular order.

  • Know who you’re talking to and what they tend to review. There’s no point in emailing a person who blogs about children’s literature if your book is adult crime. It’s a waste of everybody’s time. Be strategic in your efforts.
  • Related, tell me why you’ve come to me. Personalise that standard email a little bit and tell me why you think your book and me will click.
  • Be polite and nice. Niceness on the internet is a good thing. We should all work towards it a little bit more.
  • If the blogger has guidelines for submission, work to them. In all likelihood they’re not getting paid, so respect their wishes. Don’t repeat email if you don’t get a response.
  • Respect time frames. Books don’t get reviewed immediately and maybe never. Sending a copy for review does not guarantee a review.
  • Be prepared for a negative review. Simply thank the reviewer for their time and move on. Don’t burn your bridges in a small community. Don’t make the blogger blacklist you.
  • Be realistic. This is a hard business, and nine times out of ten, you won’t get a response. If you do get a response that says no, thank them for their time and move on (sensing a theme here?)
  • Be passionate, honest, and know your market. YA is not just about vampires (and hasn’t been for about three hundred years). Picture books are not an easy option. Tell me about the heart of your book. Tell me why that matters in today’s publishing world.
  • Don’t pay somebody to do the dirty work for you! I can’t stress this one enough. There are a thousand websites out there that will give you lists and contact details for bloggers. This is usually public information and can be found via a quick Google. Don’t pay. Seriously, don’t pay for public domain info. It’s awful and a blanket email tells me you’ve done no research about who you’re talking to.
  • Do, however, pay for reputable services done by reputable people. There are people out there who can advise you on marketing or promotion. This is a complex thing, and there’s no shame in paying for services. Do however check their credentials, ask to see a sample of their work, or speak to former clients…
  • Don’t be afraid. I want to write about good books. I want to share books that have something important and relevant to say about the world. I want to hear from voices marginalised from that discussion. If I think I can help you out, or give your book a review, then I will.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

I think about things, probably much more than I should, and sometimes the expressing of things is difficult. That’s life, I suppose, that tongue-knot that comes when you least expect it. But it’s how you deal with it, that’s what matters. It’s how you learn to speak, to write to express yourself even through all the boundaries you place in your way.

And that’s why I love blogging. I love the freedom of it, the way the space can be constructed as however you wish. I love the way that by engaging in it, you’re engaging in,  well, everything. You’re throwing out little hooks into society and every now and then you’re meeting somebody who just blows your mind. An anchor. Somebody to hitch your colours to, somebody who speaks about the things you believe . Somebody who says what you want to say, what you want to be said.

Books have done a lot for me. They’ve given me power and words for the darkest darknesses. In a way that’s why I write – I want to share that power with others. I want to pay it forward. I believe in the transformative power of literacy. I believe in books.

And I believe in people. One of the greatest joys of doing this blog has been finding my anchors. People such as Ali from Fantastic Reads, Zoe from Playing By The Book, Melanie from Library Mice and Anne-Marie from Child-Led Chaos. People such as Yvonne from Babbleabout, Megan and Claire from Women Write About Comics, Saranga from New Reader’s Start Here and Carmen Haselup. There’s  more, of course there’s more, but I’m moments from typing in all of the lyrics to ‘The Circle of Life’ so I’m going to stop it there.

The thing about this community (am I calling it a community? I think I am. That’s kind of splendid) is that there’s so much here.So much skill, knowledge and passion. So many genuinely fascinating people doing genuinely fascinating things, pushing, prodding and examining children’s literature be that examining the representations of female animal characters in children’s literature, running edible book festivals, reviewing forgotten classics and giving voice to the great unsung stories that deserve to be sung about that little bit louder.

And I think that’s a bit amazing and should be a little bit recognised. Hence this.