7 Tips For Your Pitch – How to Get Your Book Reviewed

7 Tips For Your Pitch

This post was inspired by a friend of mine who asked me to come up with some tips for her self-published author friend to garner some attention. By the time I was finished sending her my thoughts, I had a pretty extensive list of tips. So, I’ve decided to share them with you!  Be sure to read the comments section for reader-submitted tips! There are some great ones in there! 

Every book reviewer knows that we get some terrible pitches (usually from self-published authors). Oftentimes, words aren’t capitalized and the pitch is just a poorly cut-and-pasted version of the Amazon synopsis. Lately, I’ve taken to responding to bad pitches with all of the reasons I won’t read their book. My general rule of thumb is to delete anything that is not personalized, looks canned, includes the ebook, or is a press release. It doesn’t matter how good a book might be – the ones that contain the qualities I just mentioned go straight into the trash and, more than likely, are filtered there for the rest of email-ternity.

In an effort to save us book reviewers some time and frustration, as well as help authors yield better results from their pitches, I’ve compiled the following list of tips for your pitch. Although I can’t claim to speak for the reviewing community as a whole, I have come across all of these complaints on more than one occasion, so I’m confident that by following these tips, authors can boost their chances of success. Of course, I make no guarantees.

Top 7 Tips For Your Pitch

  1. Do send a personalized email. Names can be found on the “About” or “Contributors” page. This is also a great way to find something you both have in common and can be used in the pitch.
  2. Do read the review policy. If they aren’t currently accepting books, don’t send the pitch because it will be automatically deleted. If you truly think it’s 100% a good fit, then mention that you know they aren’t currently accepting books but that this one is a good fit because A, B, and C and apologize for the inconvenience.
  3. Do browse the reviews to make sure your book is a good fit. If it is, mention some reviews in the pitch that demonstrate this and to show that you actually took the time to check out the site.
  4. Don’t include the book with the email. Assume makes an ass out of u and me.
  5. Don’t cut and paste the Amazon synopsis.
  6. Do remember that you’re ultimately asking someone for their time. If you want someone to take the time to read and review the book (which takes hours), take 5 minutes to check out the site and personalize the email.
  7. Do offer up a guest post or interview as an alternative. It’s a great way to get exposure and is minimal effort on the blogger’s part.

Bad:

Dear Mr. Book Wheel,

I love your site and I recently released this book that I think you’ll really like based on your reviews. The book is attached and below is the synopsis from Amazon.

Good:

Dear Allison,

I see that you’re a big Law & Order fan and review a lot of political thrillers, such as Brad Meltzer (great photo with him, by the way!). I know that you’re not currently accepting any books for review, but I think my book is a great fit because it’s a political thriller like the ones you’ve positively reviewed in the past (such as The Fifth Assassin and The Assassin’s Mark). I would love to offer you a copy of my book to review or perhaps a guest post about (insert relevant topic). If you’re interested, please let me know and I’ll happily send it along. If not, please keep me in mind for future reviews. I look forward to hearing from you.

Reviewers: What’s the worst pitch you’ve received?

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

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Comments

  1. says

    I know this article is over a year old but I have just encountered it and the subject seems relatively timeless, and the blog not dead, so I thought I would give it a different perspective.

    Many years ago, before the internet was even invented, I had a dozen books published by some well-respected London publishers. Hardback review copies were posted out to various editors with no preliminary enquiry, no covering letter, no mention of the reviewer’s latest article or favourite cat, nothing about his old granny in Toronto or his mother’s latest operation, just a compliments slip saying ‘Review Copy’.

    The inference was clear and simple: here is a free book for you and we would be pleased if you would review it in your publication; or you can give it to your neighbour. It is a bit hard to understand why any more than this should be needed. ‘Attached is a review copy of ABC, the story of XYZ. Here is a link to the website’.

    How long does it take to flick through the first few pages of an ebook, sufficient to decide whether to read it or not? Why should the author or publisher be expected to follow you, like your site, or even read anything in it other than the Review Policy? He is offering a book reviewer a book for review, that’s all.

    I discussed the slush pile with my publisher once, asking if she bothered to read anything in it. “We read everything,” she said. “You never know what you might miss.”

    View Comment
    • says

      You raise great points and if I did this as a job full-time, I would take the time to read every book. As it is, flicking through the first few pages of every single review request just isn’t feasible from a time standpoint, mostly because attachments tend to come as unformatted PDFs (making the file more or less unreadable on an ereader). Things are certainly different than they were years ago, but blogging about books as a hobby and not a career also didn’t exist then, so it’s a new world.

      On a side note, I have been hounded and berated for not reviewing a book that I said I would “consider”, so I think the expectations of reviewers have also changed. It’s no longer acceptable to say “I will check out this book” without following it up with a stellar review, and a less than stellar review comes with its own set of consequences.

      In short, the world of blogging has opening up a whole new dynamic and it will take some time to settle into way of being that everyone is comfortable it. From my own experiences, my conversations with bloggers, and other articles I have read about the issue, this it what works for now.

      View Comment
  2. says

    Lovely post on something I should be doing, but rarely take the time to do: request a review. I’ve always just hoped that when someone downloads or wins one of my books that they’ll want to review it. The percentages of downloading versus actual reading and reviewing are extremely low, though, so I might just take your wonderful advice.

    On the other end of the scope, I get requests to BUY and REVIEW strangers’ books constantly, mostly via Twitter and FB DMs. The most maddening part about that is that when I click to learn a little about the stranger, I often find that they didn’t even take the time to follow me. Even when I ask book sites that clearly advertise that they promote books to promote my book, the first thing I do is like and follow all their pages; it just seems like good manners.

    Thank you again for the awesome advice. I will definitely have to start reaching out to actual book reviewers.

    Cheers!

    View Comment
    • The Book Wheel says

      That’s terrible! When I receive requests from people like that, I mark it as spam. It’s really frustrating when I get a request from an account that has no followers but is following 200 people, because it’s so obviously a spam account.

      I wish you the best of luck with getting reviews for your book!

      View Comment
  3. Nordie @ Writing about books says

    I’ve had a review request where the author asked for a freebie, and gave me a link where I could *buy* the book – AT FULL PRICE!

    I’ve had other submissions where they’ve sent me links to amazon shops I cant download from (I’m UK, so dont send me links to US amazon as they dont work). Replied saying “no, cant download so wont”….week later got an email from the same author, *replying to the email where I said “I’m UK”* sending me a link to the US site, asking for a review…..

    Poorly formatted pitches where clearly a cut and paste job, where fonts are all over the place, links are broken or non existent etc etc.

    Poor content, where I’ve had a load of review quotes, but no idea what the book is about, where to find it, no click through to *any* website so I can find out the information the pitch has failed to tell me….

    View Comment
    • The Book Wheel says

      I can’t believe that! I hate when people assume you’ll buy their book. It’s pretty much a given that I won’t do it. Thanks for sharing!

      View Comment
  4. says

    Not sure about the worst, but I have gotten a number of form requests over the years. I wish I could tell you how bad it was, but they went into the virtual circular file a bit too quickly to let you know.

    View Comment
  5. Jennine G. says

    Very very good! I have pitches sent to me asking for a review on Living a Writing Life, which is the URL, but it is not the name of the blog. That title appears nowhere on the blog, which means they are writing from looking at the URL and probably didn’t even go to the blog. Assume, as you said above.

    The very good pitches I’ve had follow pretty much what you’ve stated above. I could tell those people actually read through my information and some of my stuff. I automatically paid closer attention.

    View Comment
  6. Hannah @ Broc's Bookcase says

    I’ve been on both sides of this.
    As a blogger I hate it when an email feels mass-produced, it always makes me feel kind of special when the email is personal, makes me feel like someone is actually reading and liking my blog and is always a happy time.
    However, I am a PA to a self-published author and have just been organising her blog tour and trying to find people to take part. I started off by going on to peoples blogs, having a look around, sending them a personal email and also leaving them a comment/like on their blog. Doing it this way took my FOREVER and I only got like 20 requests sent out in a whole morning. Today I sent out a group email. I still checked all the blogs to see if they actually like the genre of book I have. The email didn’t include names but had a polite and cheery message requesting sign ups. I felt kind of guilty, but then looking at the fact that I got 100 emails sent out within a few hours compared to the 20 the day before I lost a little of my guilt thinking that I probably did the right thing.
    This morning when I checked my inbox a quarter of the people had responded. The day before I had had one response from my personal email requests. For me in this situation it’s kind of a no brainer and I think that as long as the request is sent in a friendly way, that maybe names aren’t always required. The personal touch is nice, but sometimes for the person sending out the requests it is not the most important thing.
    Great topic discussion :)

    View Comment
    • The Book Wheel says

      That’s interesting that you had a higher % of responses on the non-personalized email. I’m assuming you spelled everything correctly and that made all the difference 😉

      View Comment
  7. Lucybird says

    The name things really annoys me because it’s in my blog name. I don’t mind Lucybird instead of Lucy. I hate being called ‘blogger’ though, it has mass e-mail written all over it.

    Also even though my e-mail address and comment form are both on my review policy page people still don’t seem to take the time to read the policy and I get tons of requests for books which I have explicitly said are the type I don’t read.

    I agree with Ellie as well, long e-mails pretty much go straight into the bin, unless there’s something right at the beginning which makes me want to know more. Some authors write great big long biographies at the beginning. Just a line will do saying you’re self-published, or have had a book published before, for example, if there’s something else which might fit it’s probably better to leave it until the end (unless it’s non-fiction in which case II would probably want to know that they have some sort of authority on the subject.)

    View Comment
  8. Ellie says

    I wish pitchers would keep first emails short and concise. I really don’t have time to read an essay on the book and it kind of makes me feel that their writing won’t be very well edited either. If I say yes, then’s the time to send a press release if they have one.

    View Comment
  9. says

    It’s so nice to see someone else write this out! I love authors and am both shocked and grateful that I can get free books to read, but I’m also pretty appalled by some of the e-mails I get. While an author sending me a book is doing me a favor, I’m also doing them a favor by spending my time reading their book instead of someone else’s so it seems like taking the time to write a polite and thoughtful e-mail should just be common sense.

    View Comment
    • The Book Wheel says

      Common sense is lost on some people. And for some reason, I seem to be on a “let’s be blunt about things” kick, so this may not be the end 😉

      View Comment
    • The Book Wheel says

      When my friend asked about it, I wrote her the tips and then remembered the pitch I got that had 500 email addresses in it and realized that EVERYONE needs to know!

      View Comment
  10. Words for Worms says

    THIS! All of this. I hate getting completely impersonal email blasts. I also hate being called “sir.” When someone takes the time to write a personalized pitch that shows they read, oh, anything on my site, I’m MUCH more inclined to consider it or even point them in the direction of a blogger who is a better fit for their genre. What bugs me even more than the emails is when they get sneaky and try to throw a review request in the comments section. Not cool, guys and gals.

    View Comment
  11. Closed the Cover says

    The worst I’ve ever received was for a paranormal erotica! ANYONE that knows me or knows my site knows that I absolutely do not, under any circumstances, ever read paranormal, supernatural or erotic content. It’s clear as day in the review policy AND it’s on the actual book submission page. I’m thinking about adding it to the actual contact form and making people checkmark the appropriate genre.

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  12. Wesley says

    How can we make this required reading? So I don’t have any great love for Jane Austen, and have mentioned this on my blog. Got an email from an author saying “It’s like Jane Austen for a new generation!”. Yeah, not interested. Thanks for taking 10 minutes to read the blog and figure out that nothing about this book fits me or the blog.

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    • Closed the Cover says

      Hahaha! I remember reading your site before I pitched my first tour book to you and I saw that Jane Austen comment. It made me laugh. I like her but I don’t have a great love like so many others do.

      View Comment
  13. Chrisbookarama says

    I’m pitched books I would never, ever read all the time. I’m rarely addressed by name. Most are mass emails, which are so impersonal. I always remember the publishers, authors, and publicists who try and have a real conversation with me and show that they’ve read my blog. So, like, maybe 4 people.

    View Comment
  14. TNBBC says

    How about this one:

    “Hello Grace

    I am trying to get a review of my self published debut novel Princess
    Diana’s Ghost. It’s a satire about royalty, republicism and child genius. Hope
    you can find the time to take a look at it.”

    Firstly, my name is not Grace. Secondly, that is the whole entirety of the pitch. If he had looked at my review policy, he could see I don’t review anything to do with royalty. AND, there were no links or additional information about the book, so even if I was a bit curious, he was going to make me do ALL the work to find out more about it. So yeah, I don’t think so.

    I even emailed him back with tips on how to make a better pitch, explaining why I immediately decided to turn it down and how he could gain a better success rate of consideration, and he ended up responding “You’re obviously a domineering, unpleasant woman.” This is why Self Pubbed authors (a) have such a hard time getting anyone to read them and (b) have the horrible stigma they do.

    View Comment
    • The Book Wheel says

      Nice. I mean, if you don’t know someone’s name at least says “Dear TNBBC,” The last one I emailed back sent me a response thanking me and blaming it on her assistant, which we all know is an invisible scapegoat. As for the book, not that I was planning to read it but I will DEFINITELY not read it after his comment.

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  15. Shannon @ River City Reading says

    Stares in anger after just opening a pitch for a self-published (in my review policy, don’t review), YA (in my review policy, don’t review), paranormal romance (in my review policy, don’t review) book, which was not personally addressed to me. BUT, they did read my reviews and *think* it fits my blog! I’ll be over here crying.

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  16. Jennifer Smeth says

    Twitter pitches annoy me and a lot of authors have started doing them. I just got a pitch through LinkedIn — the author wanted to know my review policy etc — go to my site! The “best” pitch was the mass email I got added to by an author. Don’t subscribe me to your mailing list!

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