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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Your questions answered!

Following on from yesterday's honesty post. (By the way, thanks for the many supportive comments that you all left. I really never expected that post to get so much attention. I feel a little embarrassed by it all.) 

Anyway, I'm going to answer the questions that people asked me to find out at the conference. Sharing and community, people! This is what it is all about.

What do publishers expect from bloggers? Would they rather see a negative review, or no review at all if that review was going to be negative?

The publishers said they do not mind if you try a book outside your comfort zone and don't enjoy it. A well-written fair review is what they hope for. We need to move away from this dialogue of positive and negative reviews and start thinking of reviews in terms of being fair and balanced. If you don't enjoy a book, you need to give clear and concise reasons and don't just say "this book is absolute rubbish". But say, "I found the point where Jacob and Bella kiss not in fitting with the rest of the novel. Up until this point it is unequivocal that Bella and Edward are infatuated. For me this detracted from the overall flow of the story." (Okay that was a lame example but you get the idea).

I'd like to know when it is acceptable to request a book from them. How far in advance should you request a book? Can you ever request books after they've been published?



Yes, you may request books that are already in print. In terms of how far in advance, I think it depends on your relationship with each specific publisher. One publisher told me "not to be afraid to ask if I have a specific title that I'd like to review". The earliest book that I asked for was Montacute House by Lucy Jago. I requested it in January and it isn't out until May. I wanted to review it as part of my promotion of UK debut authors. Receiving a book that early is unusual but it guarantees a review from me near to or on release day. Anyway, Bloomsbury sent it to me so I guess 5 months early can be ok sometimes.
 
I just popped back to the conference to pick up if anyone else had an idea about this and the lovely Cindy was told by her contact that the sooner you can ask for a book the better. The publisher puts you on a list and will send it when it comes in.  That sounds very organised!
 
What do they look for in a book blog? How many hits do they like to see each month? Do they care about comment numbers? Google ranking? Do they even look at factors like that, or just send books to anyone that enquires?
 
This very much depends on the publisher. The one thing that was unanimous was that they want good quality reviews. That matters more than follower numbers or number of hits etc. They do indeed look at hits, comments and followers but there is no one number that means you are guaranteed to have a review copy request granted. Also, the other important thing was frequency of posting. The more you post the better in the publishers' eyes.
 
How do they look for book blogs? Do they look for book blogs or just rely on bloggers contacting them?



They use Twitter, search engines and recommendations from their established bloggers. They don't rely on bloggers contacting them but they don't mind if you do as long as you are professional.
I myself have been put on publishers' databases of bloggers through connecting with publicists through Twitter. If you look me up @the_bookette, you'll see that I have listed Publishers. You can click through that list and follow the ones that work you. (Many of them are UK but it will give you a starting point).
 
So these are the things you said you wanted to know.
I might do another post later this week about the other topics discussed.

And watch out on Saturday because I intend to start a discussion about that all important thing: reviewing!

19 comments:

The Book Bug said...

Brilliant post. This would have been so helpful when I was a newbie. I always wondered whether it would pretentious to ask for review books that are already in print. Whether they would think I'm just in it for free books. Now I'm going to ask random house for a review copy of If I stay. Can't wait for your post on reviewing. Also congrats on 300 followers, it would take me years to get to that! :)

farmlanebooks said...

Thank you for getting so many answers for me. I feel uncomfortable about asking for books that are in print, so I think I'll still avoid that one.

I am surprised that they care about frequency of posting. Some of the best lit blogs post very infrequently, but have very detailed reviews. I think I need to find a publisher and get the detailed truth behind these general answers over a drink or two! Thanks again!

Christina/Book Addict said...

Ohh! You answered many questions that I have often thought about. Thanks for the informative post, Becky! I look forward to the next one!

Lauren said...

This was really useful. I've actually never requested a book, because although other bloggers tell me it can be done, and although every publicist I've had contact with is really nice, I just can't get past this fear that the person reading the email will be thinking 'Oh my god, as *if* we are going to send *you* a copy!' I'm still not sure I could do it yet, but maybe one day.

I really love the fact that publishers care more about a review being well written and fair than it being 'positive'. So thanks for sharing that.

Also, big congrats on hitting 300 followers. I know you're not someone who is all about how many followers you've got, but I still think it reflects how interesting, friendly and all-round awesome your blog is. You go girl.

Cindy said...

Thanks for mentioning me in this post. That is only from one of my contacts and its a Canadian one so I don't know how much they they get asked about book reviews or book requests.

Nina said...

Thank you for this post. As you know I live in the Netherlands and many times I really love to read a book that isn't available here but just dont know if I could request it. This post really helps!!

Luisa at Chicklish said...

Thank you very much for asking these great questions and sharing the answers! I found this fascinating.

Sarah said...

Great post Becky - I'm sure loads of people (me included LOL) are going to find this information really helpful. I've always felt really nervous about requesting books for review but have been thrilled when publishers contacted me. Perhaps I'll have to pluck up the courage to make a request occasionally :o)

One question I'm not sure if anyone here might know the answer to - I received a book for review - not one I requested & not one that I would usually pick up either. I've tried really hard to read it but am struggling with it - it isn't that it's a bad book, it just isn't my kind of story. I'm not really sure what to do. I was thinking about doing a post explaining it's not my kind of book & offering it as a giveaway on the condition that the winner really wants to read the book & will post a review of it. Do you think that would be OK? Should I contact the publisher & ask if it is OK before I do it? Any suggestions are welcome LOL :o)

Kathrin said...

I have an award for you! :-) (And I understand what you're talking about, it's not always easy. This is a great feature to answer the questions for newer bloggers.)

Little Miss Becky :) said...

These last two post have been so great, so insightful and informative. I hope you don't mind if I comment on both in one shot!
I have heard of seasoned blogers being snubby to newbies like me (I'm three months in), but fortunately I haven't seen any of it. I am so grateful that their are those that are welcoming the new kids with open arms and answering questions, and I've tried to do the same when I see new faces pop up.

This post definitely answered some of my own questions! I've been testing the waters out there, requesting one or two just to see if I get a response, and I seem to be better at building relationships with authors than publishers, but honestly, I am just as happy reviewing books that I buy and check out from the library. One thing I would like to see, if anyone is willing to share with me, is maybe a sample of request letter to a publisher. Not to copy exactly, of course---but just to see how it's done. I tend to be afraid of seeming too friendly, so I go the other direction and may come across too stiff and serious.

And just my two cents on IMM, I understand why you'd want to cut down on it. As for me, I don't really see it as a competition or a brag-fest, but I love to participate just to see what is out there to add to my own wishlists! And honestly, I don't visit every single blog that participates, I just sort of skip around the list---and I also don't do it all in one day.

Anyhow, I've gone on long enough---I'm an avid follower of your blog and hope you keep up the great posts!!

choco ( In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Amazing, informative post!

You answered a lot of the things I was unsure about and it was just so clearly laid out. And I'm glad they don't mind if the review is negative as long as it has a point!

Katherine Roberts said...

Becky, from an author's point of view I'd say bloggers like you who review books with genuine enthusiasm are like gold dust. It is actually quite difficult to get new titles reviewed, so anyone doing it for "free" (well, a free copy anyway!) ought to be welcomed with open arms.

As for the new/old argument, books that have been in print a few months might well have been overlooked at publication in favour of a "lead title", which doesn't necessarily mean they are not interesting, just maybe not as commercial in the publisher's opinion. To my mind, these books need reviews more than any other kind, and I'm not just saying that because I'm an author. As a reader, I often only catch up with the most interesting books several years after they have been published - thankfully, books don't yet have sell-by dates!

So keep up the good work... the unicorn salutes you!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Very cool post darling! Awesome recaps :)

Lea (YA Book Queen) said...

Great informative post! :)

MarjoleinBookBlog said...

Hi!
I just gave you a blog award!!
you can pick it up at my blog:
http://marjoleinbookblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-first-blog-award-yay.html

Lenore said...

I was just discussing these topics with publishing peeps this week too. And they all said what they look for most is QUALITY in the reviews. Not gushing ones that are mostly made up of publisher summary and a one line "I loved it." Not gushing reviews that could describe almost any book out there. But fair reviews that let people get a more accurate picture of whether that book would connect with them or not.

Becky said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I'm glad you found this helpul

Sarah, I think it is only courteous that you ask your contact if they mind if you do a contest for the book. They will tell you it is fine but it will help you create a open dialogue and then they will have a better idea of the books you're interested in. Sorry it took me a while to answer this one. Busy week!

Lenore, it is great to hear from you discussions that you came to the same conclusion as me. I wrote what I would describe as a fair but not exactly brimming with enthusiasm review for a book today and when I emailed the publisher they loved it and tweeted it anyway. They need reviewers to be open, balanced and thoughtful.

boofsbookshelf.com said...

Great post, Becky, and really useful stuff here.

Boof (The Book Whisperer)

I Want To Read That said...

Thanks for sharing - this is all really interesting. Looks like you got some really useful info from the conference.