Ask a Mermaid: How to Get Your Book Reviewed

 

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Dear Mermaids,

Sure, I’ve written a novel, but now I’m stuck trying to figure out how to write a review request that will stand out without crossing the line into being obnoxious. Help, what do I do?

Splashily Yours,

Starfish Magee

Great question, Starfish! Reviews can be one of the more powerful way to get your book noticed. To find out the way to make it happen, we went swimming with Joyce Lamb from USA Today’s Happy Ever After, Carole from The Romance Reviews and Talina Perkins, who reviews for Night Owl Reviews and her own blog, Bookin It Reviews.

It only took a couple of Waterworld Mermaid mojitos before this trio spilled the beans.

 

 

Joyce:

That is a very good question, because SO many romance authors are super obnoxious. Just kidding!
Here’s the secret (for me, anyway): Be nice. Be interesting. Be concise.
The main thing I want to know is what’s interesting about your book. There are lots of books about vampires, Navy SEALs and dukes out there, so what makes yours different? (Though I don’t need a whole synopsis about it — just the highlights, please.)
Also, be sure to find out the name of the person you’re pitching to. Just as an agent or editor would be put off by a “to whom it may concern” greeting, so am I. That just tells me you didn’t bother to do your homework. And seeing as how I’m inundated with requests, it’s easy to decide to toss out the ones that aren’t even addressed to me.
Also, please don’t take it personally if I don’t choose to review your book. It’s not you, I swear! My desk is buried under piles and piles of books, which is kinda funny, because overseeing Happy Ever After isn’t my actual job at USA Today.
So, there you go: Be nice. Be interesting. Be concise.

 

 

 

Carole:

Congratulations on publishing your novel! You must be so excited, and you’re going in the right direction by seeking out reviews to give your book more exposure.

However, with the hundreds of books being published each week, review sites are also receiving hundreds of review requests in the same time frame, so your question is valid. How does your review request stand out?

My magic formula is this: Write a simple, polite email requesting a review. More importantly, check out the review sites’ requirements. Each review site would usually have their own list of what they want to see in a review request. Some review sites don’t want you to email; they have a form for you to fill out the details of the book you’re requesting a review for. As an example, you can find The Romance Reviews’ requirements here.

It would be best to give the review sites what they want, exactly how they want it. Why? Because yours will be one of hundreds of requests, and if you follow the instructions, your request will be processed much faster. You also want to make yourself memorable in a positive way to the review coordinator by being the one who made her life easier by following instructions. You will be saving her some much needed time that she can use to do other stuff.

Since TRR opened, I’ve received thousands of review requests and the best are those that followed our requirements, and they usually go something like this:

Dear Carole,

I’d like to request a review for my book. Details as follows:

Title : Book A
Author : Author B
Publisher : Publisher C
Publication Date (month and year) : June 2012
Word count : 20,000 words
Genre : Romantic suspense
Format of Review copy (ebook or print book) : ebook
Summary : Book Cover Summary of Book A

Thank you very much for your time. If you need anything else, please let me know.

Author B

Good luck with your review requests! If you have any more questions on review requests and related stuff, do let me know. I’ll be glad to help.
Thanks for asking — and good luck, Starfish!

Talina:

You have a very valid question and one that I’d love to help you with.

When writing a review request it’s hard to nail down exactly what turns a reviewer on to a certain book. However, you can surely work your magic to present your book in the best possible manner that will reach out and grab attention no matter what.

Here’s a list of what I find really helpful and interesting when considering a review:

  • Make sure the reviewer reads your genre first.
  • Address the reviewer in a personal manner and state your purpose for contacting them. I’ve received countless Hey’s followed by nothing more than a blurb and a link. That just doesn’t speak of someone really interested in my personal opinion of their book.
  • Demonstrate professionalism (sad to say I’ve received some very bad jokes and tasteless “you know you like it hot, right sweet mama” in a few requests albeit worded slightly different each time… I kid you not) hook the reviewer by letting them know about your book instead of sending them on a search and discovery mission (include when the book will be/was released, indie or traditionally published, page/word count & book blurb) cover art is my downfall so including the cover art in the email as an attachment or inside the email itself never hurts.
  • Also let them know the time frame in which you’re looking to have the book reviewed in. Normally the turnaround time frame is no longer than 30 days. Let the reviewer know what review formats you have available to choose from.
  • A few facts about yourself such as are you a debut or seasoned author or are you an USA Today’s Bestseller writing under a new pen name? (this happens to be how I met J.L. Saint aka Jennifer Saint aka Jennifer St. Giles.) Though it doesn’t matter to me, many reviewers will not read a debut author. Always cover your bases so there are no surprises later on.

And if you want extra exposure let them know you’re willing to guest spot for their readers. Maybe throw in a nice book or swag giveaway while you wait for the reviewer to read your book.
There you go! I hope I was able to help answer your question on how to write a review request.

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Thanks ladies for spilling your secrets! Don’t worry, we’ll pick up the bar tab. 🙂

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