It seems easy to just email a blurb about your book to any reviewer with a blog, but there’s an unspoken etiquette that surrounds the “Send” button at the bottom of your email.
Picking the Right Reviewer
Free book reviewers get swamped with hundreds of requests a week, and one way to filter out requests is by genre. Most reviewers post a review policy outlining what they accept and what they don’t accept. If your book doesn’t fall within the “what they accept” category, it’s better to submit your book to a reviewer who does. There’s a lot more good that comes out of submitting to a book reviewer in your genre, like having your review recommended on their website versus only on Amazon.
Sending the Request
After you’ve found a book reviewer that fits your book’s genre, look at their review policy to see how they want you to submit the request. Instead of saying things like, “This is the best book ever!!!” say things that will help the reviewer learn about your book without having to click on the Amazon link. Already, when a reviewer finds that you can’t follow simple directions, it makes reviewers believe that you’re not a professional. If the review policy states that they don’t take attachments, don’t send them an email with your e-book. On the flip side, don’t send more than what the reviewer asks for. If the reviewer requests hard copies of your book and not e-books, don’t send an e-book; ask the reviewer for their address.
Checking Your Ego
Reviewers don’t like getting more than one email that says, “Have you read my book?” They also don’t like pretentious authors pushing accolades and quotes by famous authors into their faces. “Did I mention my book won the Best Indie Book on Twitter Award?” doesn’t tell a reviewer anything about your book. Also, some reviewers are kind enough to provide constructive feedback on your book that maybe you should heed. Grammatical mistakes, weak spots in the plot, sudden twists that aren’t believable, and complete genre change in the book are things picked up by all readers–and things the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads will reflect. Send a completed copy to the reviewers, but keep your ears open for the criticism.
Remembering the 2 P’s
There are 2 P’s that reviewers ask for without asking for it: patience and professionalism. Reading books takes time, especially if the book is submitted in a format that the reviewer doesn’t read often. For instance, it takes me months to read a single e-book, but I can read traditional paperbacks within two weeks. Some reviewers prefer a certain format so that authors can receive a prompt review. In any case, you should prepare to wait anywhere from two weeks to four months to get a book review. Since most free reviewers are emailed hundreds of requests each week, be prepared to be on the waiting list for a while.
Professionalism also goes a long way, especially when it comes to review requests (both from the author and the reviewer). If a reviewer says that they can’t review your book because it falls outside of their genre preference, it’s good to maintain your bridges. You can even ask the reviewer if they know of other reviewers or people who would be willing to read and review your book. Also, some authors have gotten snippy over sending paperbacks versus e-books, mostly because the cost and energy of mailing a paperback or the fact that e-books are eco-friendly paperless options. It’s not a good idea to provide comments that can be viewed as unprofessional (this includes rhetorical questions and snide remarks). Not only do you burn a valuable bridge, but you also risk creating an enemy with some leverage. As an indie author, you can’t afford to do that. It can make or break your image, and re-building it takes thrice the work to undo the damage.
Another part of professionalism comes from your writing. If your request reads like you didn’t click the “Spell Check” button and your book isn’t under a publisher, the reviewer will think that you didn’t have an editor and you’re probably not a great writer. Review your grammar in both your book and your book review requests.
While You’re Waiting
Once you’ve picked a reviewer in your genre, sent a professional and informative request in their preferred format, you’ll need to wait. Sometimes, general responses can take up to months if the reviewer is swamped with other requests. In the meantime, you can build a repertoire with the reviewer through their social media networks. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter, comment on their posts on their blogs or websites, post their link on your Facebook, and become their fan on Goodreads. It helps reviewers–who are probably authors themselves–see a person who is serious and professional about promoting their book.