If only I got a dime for everytime I was asked that question. While that may sound cliche, I remember a time when I used to wonder the same. I’ve been blogging for a little more than two years now, and while some publishers contacted me directly, I contacted a few myself.
Back to your question: How do you get all those books?
The short answer:
By mail, of course.
The long answer:
You need to work for it. You can’t expect publishers to send you material to review days, weeks, or even a few months after you’ve just begun reviewing. There are a few factors publishers look into when deciding whether you’re worth a ‘free book’.
Basically, you need to show the publisher, more specifically, the publicists, that you are worth an investment. Because let’s face it, that’s what you become once they send you an ARC — which is money in the form of an uncorrected non-salable book.
Do you have the stats to ask? Honestly, I would be ashamed to even write up an email if my stats were less than 4K a month. Your unique visitors, monthly/weekly pageviews, followers by RSS/Twitter or any other social media outlet all count.
When you’re emailing a publicist, don’t just ask off-the-bat for that title you’ve been wanting forever. There are a few essential parts that need to get in that email. Here’s what I would do:
Introduce yourself. Say who you are. Are you a YA blogger? YA/MG? Adult? Something more specific? Are reviews all you do? If you’ve been blogging for a substantial amount of time, include it. If you’re an author, a reviewer on a bigger site, etc., say it. Don’t just introduce yourself, make sure you mention your blog, too, both the name and the link.
You’re a number and you know it. Next, include your stats. Publicists love numbers. No, I don’t know that. But I do know that they’re more likely to fulfill your requests if you have the stats for it. The main purpose of your review is to divert attention to the book being reviewed. So include your monthly pageviews, your unique visitors, and maybe even your followers. Also consider mentioning where you promote your blog posts – Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and other outlets.
It’s still quality, not quantity. While this may seem contradictory to your numbers, you have to show the publishers that your reviews are actual reviews. No, they don’t have to be full-length novels. But they need to be substantial. They need to make an impact on a reader’s impulse to buy. You need to be serious about what you’re doing.
Ask and you shall receive. Maybe. Lastly, include your request. While it may seem nice to finish off with the question: can I send you a list of titles I would like to review on my blog?. It’s actually better and easier on the publicist if you include everything in one email. It’s hard enough for me to keep up with emails — I can’t imagine how it is for them! So make sure you include the titles you’re requesting. Don’t make it a lengthy list that will make you look greedy. Include the titles you want and make sure they haven’t already been released.
Annnnd we’re done! Close your email with thank you. While this may sound like a no-brainer, it’s alarming how many people forget to say the magic word. Include your name and address (again, don’t waste anymore of the publicists’ time, include your address so they don’t have to email you for it) and a link to your blog.
Now that you know how to contact publishers, you’re probably wondering who you should contact. Here’s a little list to get you started:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Trade_Publicity@hmhpub.com
Little, Brown: email@example.com
Random House: Who to contact by imprint
Simon & Schuster: Who to contact by imprint
Penguin: They have an easy form you can fill out
Disclaimer: This post is merely my opinion. The email addresses and methods provided above may or may not work.