How do you/we get reviews?
Reviews are the lifeblood of publicity. One or two reviews are unlikely to make any difference to sales, but cumulatively they can add up, increasing your profile.
The basics of reviews; overall in the UK/US around one in a hundred titles published get reviewed. In national or general trade papers it is more like one in a thousand. Do not expect reviews in these unless you have already published, are well known, and have had such reviews before. In the more specialist papers with circulations above 100,000 the chances of a review are more like one in fifty. More limited circulation papers (1-10,000) whose readers are interested in your particular subject offer by far the best chance of reviews, particularly in the more non-commercial papers, with a chance more like one in ten (the same applies to the internet; the more tightly knit the community of bloggers or whoever that you are addressing, the better the results). In the truly specialist journals and magazines, with circulations of less than 1,000, the chances are higher, though the review itself can take months or years to appear. We naturally focus on the magazines/newspapers where we get most reviews. With some, our interests coincide closely, we work with them constantly, and they review most of the titles we publish in the relevant subject areas.
A single review will probably have no visible effect in terms of immediate sales. You can get a glowing review in The Sunday Times, The New Yorker, or Publishers Weekly, and it wont necessarily shift sales by more than a handful of copies. Push for quantities of reviews, and think of it as one of many strands in building up recognition. Its a waste of time sending to the New York Times Book Review (and if you try and are disappointed, cheer yourself up by reading The Death Of The New York Times Book Review http://www.booktrade.info/i.php/32836).
Online reviews in places like Amazon are more important than print reviews. 67% of book buyers in 2008 who were influenced by book reviews read them online, 32% did so in print. In 2011 that figure has been reported as over 90%. Readers tend to be influenced by other readers, rather than professional reviewers. Aim for the places where your readers are likely to be. Debut authors are far more likely to be reviewed on Amazon than in print, see Amazon v. newspapers.
Definitions; review copies can be sent in different formats. In the Middle Ages, and up to the 1990s, they were often "bound manuscripts". "Bound galleys" is when the print has been typeset but not proofread. "Early designed galleys" looks like the finished book on the inside but has no cover art. Galleys used to be a main tool for book promotion, but are now out of date. "ARC" is short for "advanced readers edition". This is close to the official version of the book, but the back cover maybe features marketing plan as well as blurbs. Up till the last couple of years these were the most commonly used marketing pieces. Nowadays publishers increasingly use finished copies, printed a few months before publication, or PDFs through email, with a trend starting to send direct to reviewers ereaders.
HOW MANY REVIEW COPIES WILL YOU SEND OUT?
We send thousands a year. We haven’t put a limit on review copies in the past, but with an increasing number of titles, with average sales per title falling, number of new books published worldwide doubling every year, shops stocking fewer titles, ebooks taking an increasing % of the market, "profesional" reviews becoming less important than reader reviews and feedback, online reviews now more important than print, and sometimes finding that were sending out a wholly disproportionate amount of review copies in relation to sales (has been known to exceed them), we need to cap the number of hard copies being sent out for review. This is now covered in The contract. We do not have a limit on PDFs, and sometime in 2013 will be switching primarily to ebook review copies (more below).
We send out the legally-necessary copies to copyright libraries. Distributors and wholesalers prefer AI sheets. We can not say how many others will go out till we get the responses from the circular emails in the month or so before publication. We are increasingly switching to send PDFs when they are acceptable, see below.
DO YOU SEND COPIES TO TRADE MAGAZINES?
These are for the book trade magazines such as The Bookseller, The Library Journal or Publishers Weekly which are publications aimed at the trade rather than the consumer. Advance copies need to be with them (stamped as "advance copies") at least four months before publication for them to be reviewed. We send them for titles on contract levels 1 and some on 2, depending on the subject. For lower levels, they are not likely to be commercial enough to be reviewed.
The chances of a review are not high - Publishers Weekly for instance review about 50 books an issue, out of the 5,000 being presented to the trade that week. They are looking for high quality information or literary titles, rarely reviewing anything in the "Self-help" or "New Age" area for instance, unless the author already has a very high profile. But it does mean that reviews there are correspondingly valuable to have. If you do not already have a publishing track record, or are a well-known name, a review is unlikely.
DO YOU SEND PRINTED COPIES OR PDFS?
The default will be a PDF, even if you add a request for a hard copy. We realize the offices of national press, TV stations etc.. tend to want their hard copies, and we do respond to that with printed books, if the media themselves are asking for it (rather than sending out on spec), but for all other contacts we will send a PDF and will offer them the option of a hard copy if they prefer.
Remember that though a review obtained by sending a printed copy might not result in a single extra sale, it will probably result in one less. Most review copies end up for sale as used books on eBay, Amazon and others.
The warehouse invoices us £5/$8 for sending out a single copy locally (twice or more for overseas), plus there’s the cost of the book. So we send a PDF of the book by email first, with a note saying "This PDF might be sufficient for your purposes, if you would still like a printed copy please press "reply"." Many magazine editors tell us they prefer getting a PDF, as they can forward it direct to a reviewer rather than have to wait for a printed copy and post it on. Others do not. The balance is always shifting in favor of the former. We work either way. When a reviewer wants a hard copy of the book rather than a PDF sent electronically we refer to it as "HC". It will be sent out from our warehouse and enclosures cannot be included.
Do feel free to send out PDFs as review copies yourself. If you are on a Mac, which uses the program "Preview" for viewing PDFs, the "final" version of the book has some layout text at the top of each page and some line markings for page edges etc. You will find a clean copy in the "MS no trims" box at the top of the Marketing Support page. We use this for sending to Amazon and other online sites. Its not usually up there though till a month or so before publication - it is prepared after the files are sent to the printer.
It is quite safe to send out PDFs for review, as far as possible piracy goes. Or as safe as can be. If someone is going to pirate your title there are easier ways of doing it. More in Copyright questions.
We can not send out a press release or similar with the hard copy. Hard copies go out from one of the distributor's warehouses, depending on which country the request is from, and there is no facility for requesting that a particular bit of paper gets inserted into the package. That is the same for virtually all publishers.
WHO DO YOU SEND REVIEW COPIES TO?
To anyone who requests one. We do not send them "blind". We send an email with details from the book page, including the cover and adding endorsements, to all the relevant magazines and media in that category in the month before publication, if they have subscribed, asking if they would like to see a review copy of the book. You can see if they are "subscribed" by looking at the contacts page.
We can not phone up magazine editors to check if they have received the book or if they are going to review it. Self-publishing type marketing books say you should, but in our experience most editors find that practice annoying, and we simply send out too many review copies to follow them up with phone calls. If they have asked to see the book, they will get it, and whether they review it or not is up to them.
How to get your book reviewed by avoiding book reviewers
HOW DO I ASK FOR A REVIEW COPY TO BE SENT?
When you ask someone if they want a review copy add the approach to Review copies on the Marketing & Publicity page. If they say yes, mark it as "requested", it appears on a list in the office for us to send out. When we send it (or send the request to the warehouse for it to go, which can then take a few days to leave the warehouse) we tick it as "arranged". "Completed" is ticked when see the review (or do it yourself, if you do). Similarly, that column is used for a "completed" signing session, or interview, or whatever, in the other Activities.
If they need a printed copy (probably the case with anything national rather than local or specialist), mark it as “HC” or “hard copy”.
There is not an option on the website to put up something like "I havent sent an email to this contact but I would like you to send a review copy". Simply because then we get authors putting up far too many, often unrealistic ones. If there are particular magazines/organizations/contacts you feel sure should be interested in your book but aren’t “subscribed” (see Emails), email them about your book. Keep it short and simple, basic information about the book, and the contact here you can mention for potential reviewers is firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many online magazines offering to print reviews for a payment. We do not make them. The review itself will be worthless, and the number of people who read it and will be influenced by it minimal.
CAN I SEND REVIEW COPIES TO INDIVIDUALS?
If there are key individuals whose approval of the book you think could make a difference to sales, it makes more sense to send them the manuscript earlier and ask if they can provide an endorsement. We can then use it on the book.
We do not send review copies to individuals who might put up a review on Amazon, or their blog. They are "readers", rather than "reviewers". We do not as a general rule send free copies to people who have kindly provided endorsements. It works much better if send one yourself, from your free copies, with a personal note.
Do feel free to send ebook versions free to anyone who you feel could help promote the book. Indeed, feel free to send your own copies out. Putting a handwritten note in can help.
WHEN DO REVIEW COPIES GO OUT?
PDFs can go out any time after they are ready (though there is not much point in having a review several months before publication, as readers will have forgotten about it by the time the book comes out).
We aim to have general review copies available for marketing the month before publication. National press, the big glossy magazines, major TV shows, generally need review copies two to three months before publication, and we get some advance copies in for our own use in time for that. If you have any specific requests for early review copies, email email@example.com.
Requests for printed review copies to go out are automatically collated in the office once a week, and when they are sent the "request" will be changed to "sent", with the date. It can take a couple of weeks for them to get to the recipient, or longer, depending on whether the copies are sent from the office, or whether from the warehouse (depending on destination, number, stock in the office), how long the warehouse takes to process our request, whether the warehouse is in the UK or US or Australia etc, whether the copy then has to cross another national border (eg US to Canada) etc...
The books go out in the month before and during publication, depending on how many there are to send. So reviews generally come too late for use before publication. But we put up extracts of reviews on the website, and use them for reprints and for later promotion. We do not put up the whole review, takes too long to type it up, gets tedious, and loses impact. If the marketing database shows a review as having been done, but it’s not up on the website, it’s because there wasn’t anything quotable. Sometimes reviewers just copy the blurb that’s on the book, and we do not add that. Sometimes (very occasionally, but there’s no accounting for prejudice) it’s a bad review. We do not make copies of full reviews and send them to authors. You can usually find it on the internet. If you come across a review of one of your books which is not on the website, you can add it directly to Reviews, and it will feed through to the website. We do not always receive them (though we probably get 95%+), and can’t subscribe to them all, and do not use a cuttings agency (we have tried, but there was little they came across that we did not know about). We do not put Amazon reviews up on the website, there are too many of them, and inevitably you end up being too selective for it to be meaningful.
Please be aware that if you request advance copies for marketing or sales in US and they reach our warehouse NBN more than two months before the original publication date, this new date will be brought forward and distributed to all trade databases including Amazon.com.
WHY HAVE THE REVIEW COPIES NOT GONE YET?
If a printed copy is wanted, we have to wait till the book is in stock. The date should be within a few days of the "delivered" date given in the relevant Purchase Order, which you can see at the bottom of the Editorial & Production page. Then we send the requests out in batches to the warehouse. The date given when a review copy is "sent" is the date we send the instruction to the warehouse. It can take the warehouse a week to deal with them, more in the period before Christmas, and then, depending on where they’re being sent to, which country is handling it, there’s a variable postage time.
If the book hasn’t been printed yet, but the page shows a review copy as having been “sent”, it will be a PDF that’s been sent.