5 Tips for Approaching Reviewers
I’m an Amazon.com Hall of Fame/Vine reviewer with over 1, 230 reviews to my name with over 28,000 helpful votes. Some of my reviews appear in print publications, and I was once on staff at a print magazine as a paid reviewer.
In short, I’ve been doing this a long time…and I’m rather good at it.
So here’s some tips for you authors and publicists who want to get a book, deck or product reviewed, from someone who actually knows.
First, keep in mind that most reviewers are volunteers. We do it because we enjoy providing a service to fellow consumers…or we’re just passionate about evaluating products. Usually both.
Some of us are also published authors, working on our own writing projects—often on top of being parents, homeschoolers and domestic gods/goddesses.
Meaning: we’re busy. In fact, I get multiple review requests on a daily basis and 80% I politely decline.
Here are some tips that will help you NOT waste our time or tick us off and, if you’re lucky, secure a review from us (especially if we’re a coveted Amazon Top Reviewer).
One: Don’t bait and switch. Recently, a publicist pitched a print book and meditation CD from an author, directing me to the product links on Amazon. The book and CD actually sounded quite good, so I replied with my physical address to send the products. She emailed back that she’d send me a eBook file and a mp3 via email.
Wait: You didn’t say anything about an eBook or a mp3 file. You directed me to a link describing a print book and a CD…not an eBook or audio download.
I told her this, she agreed that it was misrepresented…and snail mailed me the print book and CD. She’s lucky I didn’t tell her “don’t bother”. Fortunately, the products look quite helpful and nicely produced, so the product “sold” itself to me despite the poor publicity effort.
Takeaway: Don’t try to lure reviewers into “biting” by pitching a print book, CD, physical deck or other “in hand” product…then, when they agree, offer digital versions. Feel free to say that the reviewer has the option of requesting the eBook, viewing the digital deck or downloading the mp3 instead…but don’t bait and switch.
Two: Don’t pitch via a blanket Tweet that says “Hello, I'm looking for someone to review my book. You can read about it on my website at ______. Thanks!” Yes, this is an actual Tweet I received recently. When I checked the writer’s feed, he had just pitched a dozen or so others…all within minutes. Do. Not. Do. This. Not only is it unprofessional (and I can’t believe I even have to mention it), but it will NOT garner a reputable reviewer’s notice. Be a professional. Pitch via email just like you’d pitch an agent or editor. Don’t be lazy.
Three: Don’t address your email “Dear Top Reviewer”. Would you query an agent “Dear Agent”? Use the reviewer’s name…and spell it right.
Four: Research the reviewer’s interests. Don’t pitch occult titles to a Christian reviewer. Don’t pitch erotica to a children’s book reviewer. Don’t pitch a sports book to a cookbook/food reviewer. You get the picture. Investigate the last dozen or two products reviewed on Amazon or the reviewer’s blog to find out preferred genres—or, better yet, read the reviewer’s bio. It will likely tell you exactly the kind of books and products he/she reviews.
Five: Don’t send an attachment of your book in your introductory email. Most reviewers are sensible and won’t open attachments from people they don’t know.
Here’s a hot-off-the-press example of a perfect email pitch from an author to a reviewer (me)...reprinted by permission:
So there you have it, boys and girls. A perfect author pitch to a reviewer. Read and learn.
Dear Ms. Boyer, (She addresses me by my name)
I found your name on the list of Amazon Top Reviewers and thought, given your interests in tarot and divination, you might be interested in a novel I’ve written. (She's done her homework and knows exactly the type of books I review and write)
It is Intaglio: The Snake and the Coins, a romance involving players in both the Modern Art scene and the graffiti subculture with links to past life experiences.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009Z5ULFA (She gives me a succinct and fascinating hook. Bonus points for providing a direct link to her book on Amazon.com)
If you think you might be interested in reading my book and posting an honest review of it on Amazon, either positive or negative, I would be glad to send you a complimentary copy. I’m happy to send you a pdf copy for Kindle, or, if you’d prefer, a paperback if you reply with your postal mailing address. (She gives me a choice as to what format I prefer for my review copy. Bonus: She says she appreciates an honest review--positive or negative. I love it when an author is so confident about her work!)
There is no obligation, of course. (Another bonus. This is code for "I won't bug the hell out of you after I send you the review copy, begging for you to post your review.")
Very useful post Janet. It looks as though I have been doing it right so far but it is good to have that confirmed.
Posted by: DwyerKerry | 11/12/2012 at 02:55 AM
YAY Kerry! (And thank you). :o)
Posted by: Janet Boyer | 11/12/2012 at 03:07 AM
Thanks for this. I also have been doing it right so far, but I don't have a lot of experience and it's good to be reminded of what constitutes best practice.
Posted by: Lois Browne | 08/19/2013 at 03:24 AM
Thanks heaps for stopping by, Lois! :o) What kind of books do you write?
Posted by: Janet Boyer | 08/19/2013 at 12:24 PM
How long should the book blurb be? There seems to be some disagreement among reviewers on this point.
Posted by: Kathy Steinemann | 09/09/2013 at 09:12 AM
Hi Kathy! Well, if you mean a blurb to pitch a reviewer--it doesn't have to be long at all. Just a few sentences stating the genre and a brief description (think "back of the book" copy). :o)
Posted by: Janet Boyer | 09/09/2013 at 09:49 PM
This is very helpful. Thank you for including a real example of a great pitch. The points you make are much more concrete when seen in action.
Posted by: JoBissell | 10/15/2013 at 01:40 PM
Glad you found it helpful, Jo! Appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment. :o)
Posted by: Janet Boyer | 10/15/2013 at 11:50 PM