Before You Start Requesting:
- Your platform should be established. That could mean 6 months. It could mean a couple of years. It could mean something else entirely. I request books as a blogger but these tips apply to any content creator platform where you are on Youtube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, or somewhere else entirely.
Here’s what I mean when I say “established”:You want to have content, some followers, and a regular posting schedule. You don’t have to post every day or constantly but you also should have a clear schedule and no big gaps between posts. I generally aim for at least three posts a week and of that at least two posts are reviews.
- In terms of posting regularly I’d also say don’t start requesting when you’re having a posting dry spell. Publishers really do check your blog and they might wonder why you want review copies when the last review you posted is a month old.
- Follower-wise: I think it’s quality more than quantity. Do you engage with your followers? Does your blog get comments to which you reply? Are you active on Twitter or other social media? All of these could count toward your following–not just email subscribers or blog views. If you are on multiple platforms, mention all of them when contacting publishers to make requests
- Established also means that your platform is done. Your layout is set, if you were adding widgets or thematic elements, they’re all in place. This does not mean self-hosting or coding on your own–you can certainly do either but all you really need is a site that is polished and settled.
Other things to consider:
- Create an About page (or a clear bio if you are on a different platform) about yourself and your platform. Who are you? What content are you planning to share?
- Contact information: Be sure to have a contact page on your site (or share your email in your profile on a different platform). Include a working email that you check regularly on this page.
- Review Policy: What kinds of materials do you review? What won’t you accept for review? Give publishers the information they need to decide if their book will be a good fit for you.
- Be Active on Social Media (ie sites other than your primary platform):Twitter: One of the easiest way to engage with readers. You don’t have to be all books, all the time but talking about current reads is a great idea. Plus you can automatically share each post when it publishes.
- Facebook: I never had success engaging blog readers on Facebook and dislike the site myself. If your blog has a page with a decent number of likes (and you do more there than just cross-post content) definitely mention it.
- Instagram: Because of its algorithmic post display, Instagram is really fickle. Having a regular presence there and engaging with the “Bookstagram” community can always help but know that it takes a lot of work and time to really grow on this site and hit the level of the professional content creators.
- TikTok: Because Tiktok revolves around sharing short-form videos be aware that this is one of the most consuming platforms to engage with. It’s a newer site compared to the others but also rewards new content.
- Goodreads: You either love goodreads or hate it. If you are a regular presence on their (especially if you have followers) it’s worth mentioning.
- Gather Your Information: Link to your Profiles: This information doesn’t have to be in every email you send, but try to have it visible on your blog. This can be buttons on the top of your blog header, links on a contact page, a sidebar item, or a linktree card.
- Tabulate the Numbers: When you are trying to share your reach/impressions you can look at daily views/stats but also be sure to count your followers across your platforms. They all count!
- Bloggers receive ARCs because they reach people so it should be clear that you work with and connect with other bloggers and readers. This could mean a few things including leaving and replying to comments, participating in group features (guest posts, giveaways, Top Ten Tuesday, blog tags, etc.).
- Blog Stats: While you don’t have to be old hat at blogging to start requesting, you should have some average stats that you can share including monthly blog views.
How to Request:
There are several ways to get ARCs from publishers.
- Network: Build relationships with publicists on Twitter and email your reviews to publishers as they post (most will have a generic publicity email you can find with some digging). It’s also super easy to tag publisher accounts when publicizing your content–they may not reply but they will see it.
- Respond to Pitch Emails: Some publicists might also email you about specific titles. If you’re interested, go for it. If you aren’t able to work with them this time, you can also explain that and the publicist might circle back in the future.
- Submit Requests: You can also email specific requests for titles. If you go that route, keep in mind that publishers operate in the future so you need to request titles early. For instance, if you are interested in a title that publishes in January, you’d want to try to request in October or November.
- Ask About Mailing Lists: After you have connected with a publisher, you can ask if they have any kind of blogger mailing list you can request to join. What that means, basically, is you will be emailed each season about ARCs you might want to request.
- Netgalley: I’m relatively new to the digital ARC game but as publishers shift more and more to digital-only ARCs, it’s never too late to get started. The same rules apply when setting up a profile as I mentioned above–be sure to share relevant information and links. If you aren’t approved for titles right away you can also watch for titles that are “Read Now” to request and review to build up your presence.
- Edelweiss: Edelweiss is more industry specific and geared toward library staff, educators, and booksellers. If you are any of these things, be sure to mention it. While the site interface is unwieldy, publishers will share their entire catalogs here so even if your requests aren’t approved you can still scan for upcoming titles.
- Libro.fm: If you listen to audiobooks, check out Libro.fm’s Audio Listening Copy program. They have options for librarians and content creators. You can also subscribe in a model similar to audible but you’ll be supporting Libro and indie bookstores instead of Amazon. You’ll have to create an account to apply but you will not have to provide any payment information or sign up for any subscriptions.
Writing to Publicists:
I know a lot of people consider blogging a hobby, but when you are writing to a publicist you are writing in a professional capacity. Make sure you emails are polite and professional with proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. If you are writing directly to a person, address them directly (Dear Ms. Smith . . .).
When I’m writing to a publicist, here’s what I usually include:
- I introduce myself and my blog (“Hi, My name is Emma and I run a book blog called Miss Print, etc”).
- Blog URL (Make sure this link works!)
- Reviews: I link to at least three positive reviews of books from the publisher.
- Stats: Total Views, Average Monthly Views, Average Monthly Visitors, Total Followers
- Sign off with any other relevant information: This can include how old your blog is, the kind of books you prefer to feature, etc.
- I created an email signature with links to all of my relevant profiles for easy access and so I don’t have to include them in every email I send.
After that, the publisher will either reply or they won’t. It totally varies. Publicists do a ton of work and receive a massive amount of emails. If you don’t hear back you can always follow up but don’t be aggressive. Checking that an email was received after a week without a reply is fair. Following up again after that is not. Time to try again with another request.
In terms of reaching out to publishers, the best bet is definitely searching around. A lot of other bloggers have even more comprehensive posts than this one (read on for links). Publishers also often have info on their websites. Or, like I said, if you work with a publisher for a review or blog tour, email them to see too. Publicists want people to read these book and talk about them.
After You Request:
Be sure to follow through! After you request a book, don’t flake on reviewing it! Read it, write your review, and send it to the publicist/submit it to Netgalley. Ideally the week before and after release are the sweet spots but you have to decide what makes sense for your platform too. Even if you don’t like a book, you can write to the publicist and explain what didn’t work for you but thank them for the time. You can also make plans to pass the ARC on to someone who will enjoy the title more.
Some publishers are very selective about who they send materials to and who they add to their lists. If you get rejected (or get no response), don’t sweat it. That just means you get to try again later. Remember, a rejection is never a reflection of the quality of your blog. And even if you don’t make it onto the elusive “list” you can try emailing for specific titles.
Be realistic. I know there are books that everyone wants to read. Publishers know that too. They don’t have to send everyone ARCs of the big name titles and, honestly, they won’t. Sometimes with enough interaction you’ll make it to that list. Sometimes you won’t.
Lastly, I know a lot of review disclaimers state that ARCs are given “in exchange for an honest review” and I am going to tell you that language is not accurate. ARCs are given for review consideration. If you are emailing directly for a specific title, then there is some expectation that you will review it. However if you are asking to look at several titles, it’s safe to say that you are requesting them for review consideration which is an important distinction because it means you are not guaranteeing a review (positive or otherwise). Regardless of the language, be sure to disclose that you did receive the ARC from the publisher so that your platform is in compliance with FTC guidelines for influencers and content creators.
That said, of course, it’s nicer to review every title you request. If you cannot do that it’s nice to try and pass the book on.
Remember: Once you review a title (especially one you requested) it’s good form to email the publicity team the text of your review, a permalink to it, and the date it will post on your blog!
- I used to get a lot of physical arcs from Amazon Vine when I was part of their program from 2008 to 2022. Amazon reviewers are invited to join based on a combination of reviewer rank, reviews posted, and helpful votes. (For reference: I was invited into the program in 2008 when my blog was about a year and a half old. I had roughly 120 blog reviews at that point–all of which were cross-posted to Amazon. Currently I have more than 1100 reviews on my blog.) If you want to try to get invited to Amazon Vine, my main advice is to cross-post all of your reviews there and try to post book reviews on release day or during release week as they are more likely to get helpful votes at that time.
- Remember: You are not owed ARCs or automatically entitled to them as a blogger. If you end up reaching out to publishers and don’t get an ARC you were desperate for there are always libraries, friends, or ARC tours to consider if you want to read a book early.
- Do not ever sell your ARCs. It’s illegal and it damages sales for books that had ARCs as a marketing tool.
- ARCs ~ The Lowdown (from A Perfection Called Books)
- The Irish Banana’s ARC Essentials posts
- A Blogger’s Guide to Navigating Edelweiss (from One Way or an Author)
Last updated June 2022