But here’s where it can get kind of tricky. Those reviewers are busy, and more likely to say “yes” if you approach them in the right way.
Here’s how to do that:
1. Start with the subject.
The subject line of your email should be “Review Request,” or “Book Review Request.” This clearly shows what your email will be about, and makes it less likely to wind up in the spam folder.
2. Address the reviewer by name.
No one likes to get an impersonal form letter. Don’t write “Dear Reviewer,” or “Hi there,” but rather “Dear Susan Jones.”
If you don’t know the reviewer’s last name, it’s fine to just use the first.
Remember, this is the first impression you’ll make upon the reviewer.
If, after some research, you can’t locate the the reviewer’s actual name, the next best thing is to use whatever nickname they publish under (i.e. EmptyMirror).
If you don’t know that, address them using their website’s name & position (i.e., Empty Mirror Editor, Cottonwood Journal reviewer).
Be sure to use a salutation – “Dear” is always respectful. “Hi” is all right, but can sometimes seem too informal when coming from someone you don’t know. Keep it a little more formal at first — you can always be more informal after the first email if it seems appropriate. (Take your cues from the reviewer’s reply.)
3. Get to the point.
Most reviewers receive many queries each week. They likely lead busy lives and don’t have a lot of time to expend on email.
Queries which are too long or have lots of irrelevant information are likely to get rejected, and may not even get a reply.(Even if you do everything right you might not get a reply – but that’s a topic we’ll get to later.)
4. If you have a website, by all means, include its address.
But don’t expect the reviewer to go there – or to any other website – to get the information they need. They likely don’t have the time or inclination to go there before making a decision.
So, tell them what they need to know right in the email, with the option to learn more on your, or the publisher’s website.
5. Anatomy of a book review query:
- Brief introduction. Why are you contacting them?
- A brief description of your book. For children’s books, specify the age range.
- The publisher, ISBN, & publication date. If a printed book, include the number of pages.
- Tell them which formats the book will be available in – i.e. ebook format (which ones?), paperback, hardcover. If they have a choice as to which format to receive, mention that, too.
- Your brief bio. Who are you? Have you published other books, or do you have other writing experience?
- Links to websites where the book is available for sale.
- Links to your website and the publisher’s website. Social media links are good, too.
- Briefly wrap it up. Thank them for their time.
- Your signature. Be professional, and sign “sincerely,” “best wishes,” “kind regards,” or something similar.
Some reviewers have other requirements. Be sure to read their guidlelines before sending your query.
All details in the following example are fictitious. When you write your own letter, be sure to only include details which are relevant to your own book and situation.
Dear Susan Jones,
My name is Tom Smith, and my novel, Skiing in Interzone has just been published by Raku Snowboot Press. Given your site’s focus upon the Beat Generation, and your recent review of a William Burroughs biography, I thought it might be of interest to you.
Skiing in Interzone tells the imagined tale of D. Hill Raycer, who while recovering from a broken leg, meets William S. Burroughs in a cozy Idaho ski lodge bar one cold December night. The story of their friendship, and their adventures on the mountain and beyond will appeal to readers of literary fiction and of the Beat writers – and to anyone who loves outdoor sports.
Raku Snowboot Press (www.rakusnowboot.com)
ISBN: 098-12345678 (paperback)
ISBN: 098-12345879 (for Kindle)
Publication date: April 1, 2013
My work has been published in Frosted Marmot Literary Magazine, Culpable Review, and Beatnik Cantaloupe; I also write a music column for my local newspaper, The Smithville Times. I’m a lifelong skier, and have had a longtime fascination with William S. Burroughs and his novels.
My website is www.skiingininterzone.com. You can also find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/skiingininterzone.
The book is currently for sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
If you’d like to receive a copy for possible review, I’d be glad to send you a paperback, or an e-book (your choice of .pdf, .epub, or .mobi).
Thank you for your time! I look forward to hearing from you.
Now that you’ve sent the email, now what?Well, nothing, really. Just wait. The reviewer may reply, or not.
Many reviewers are so inundated with queries that they only reply to queries for books they want to review. That’s OK. Some will reply, some won’t. When they do, thank them for their interest. If they would like to receive the book, send it to them promptly.
What if they accept a copy of the book and don’t review it, or you don’t like the review?
Again, nothing. Receipt of the book just means they will consider reading and reviewing it; odds are that they will, but they’re under no obligation to do so. (Read our tips on getting reviews for more info on this.)
It’s perfectly acceptable to email the reviewer to confirm that the book was received. But don’t pester them about the status of the review. Just hang tight and keep an eye out for their review.
If you don’t like the review, don’t contest it. Really. (Unless you want to torpedo your career as an author and your book’s chances for success.) Here’s why.
Do you have more tips on writing review queries?
What are your thoughts on this? Please share them – and your tips – below.