Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Girls Don’t Cry: Requesting ARCs

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Inspired by Book Buzzers, Book Girls Don’t Cry is a weekly feature where we each discuss/vent/advise on the chosen weekly bookish topic. Don’t miss Jenni on Mondays, and Amy on Saturdays:
 

Publishers are not so scary!



So you have a book blog? And you’d like to get those awesome books for review that you’ve been eyeing in wrap-up posts? I was completely alone, going in blind, when I started requesting from publishers, and while most of it was me going about it by what I felt was right and nothing else, I did learn a thing or two that I think it may help some bloggers reach out to publishers–they really are all awesome to deal with. What’s the worse that can happen? I’ll tell you actually: They won’t reply. Is that really so bad?

When can you contact publishers? I know everyone says to wait until a certain amount of time has passed, or until you have a certain number of followers, but you know what? I received my first print ARC when my blog was exactly 1 month old, with a bit over 300 followers. Was it early to request? Yeah maybe. Was it too early? Well I got it didn’t I? By 2 months I was on with 3 different publishers. While I wouldn’t necessarily tell every one month old blog that it’s time to make contact, if you’ve integrated yourself in the community and your blog is getting good views, has signs of a good readership (via followers or comments) and publishers can tell you genuinely give your blog your all with good, constant content, they will consider your request.

What do you put in this request? SELL YOURSELF! This is more or less like a very brief job interview. Do you have anything worthy to brag about? Do it! Show off your follower counts on your blog and social networks, your email subscribers, your page views, your comment average; anything that says your review will be seen once you publish it. Furthermore, have you been reviewing long before your blog? Did you win any blogger awards (however inconsequential they may seem)? Are you on any top lists (Goodreads etc)? Anything that is even a little bit cool about your reviewing life, tell them! But first you should briefly introduce yourself by telling them who you are, what you like to read, what your blog posts consists of, how long you’ve been blogging, and I also always recommend leaving your address. However, try to keep the email a reasonable length. To help you along I scrounged up one of my old request emails so you can see an example of how I did mine (this is for guidance, not to copy word for word, especially that most publishers have gotten this one already ;). Also to note is this email is almost exactly what I have as my Netgalley and Edelweiss profiles as well.

You can easily find eARCS on Netgalley, as well as on Edelweiss. Edelweiss is also where you can find all the catalogs for upcoming books from every publisher to peruse and take note of books you would like to request.

You emailed, and now what? One of three things will happen. The first is actually fairly common when requesting specific ARCS: they will simply arrive at your door without heads up. For the first few months I just requested specific titles and I rarely got replies, they just mailed them out. The second thing that may happen is they will reply. Congrats! You’ve now got your direct contact with that publisher. So any ARC you’re interested in in the future, you email that person direct with your requests. This reply might also tell you how that specific publisher works for requesting. Some send regular newsletters with available review copies you can request, others will simply mail out random ARCs they’d like you to consider reviewing. In Canada, newsletters are the most common once you’re added to the reviewer list. The third thing that can happen after you email: nothing. You don’t get the book(s) requested, you don’t hear back. This has happened to me, and it’s nothing to be upset about–publishers don’t have time to reply to every single request they get from blogs that don’t quite meet  their criteria. When this happens, email again in 6-8 weeks. Eventually you will get more and more replies. And note that even though I did get on with a few publishers early on, it was only when I hit 1,000 followers that I really started getting more yesses, requests to join tours and cover reveals, etc.

Who do I email? Find the website of the publisher you want to email, and under their contact (easily found at the very bottom index of most sites) you will find either a general email or, even better, the email for their publicity department.

After getting an ARC it’s important to schedule its review. Sure it may be easy to keep track at first, but after a while you might get ARCs faster than you can read them, so I strongly suggest keeping a blog calendar to keep track of not only ARC review dates, but for tours and other bloggish things you committed to. I use iCal (screenshot) on Mac, but for PC you can use Google Calendar. I honestly don’t know how people manage their blog without a calendar. I would hyperventilate. O_O

When to review? The golden rule that is shared by the majority of publishers is they like to see your review within one month before, or 6 week after, the release date. How long after is less stressed–they still love reviews a year later–but a lot of publishers stress how they prefer seeing reviews not too far ahead–if it’s too long before, readers may forget about it by the time to book is released. Almost every time I get a print ARC I get a piece of paper or a note that will mention their preference in this matter. On Netgalley some have this noted in their publisher profiles under “Browse Publishers”. (Note that these timelines are for your blog, posting on Goodreads is different and may be done sooner since the review does not get buried like on a blog.)

Once you post your review it’s important to let them know. If it’s a print ARC you should always email a link to your review. If no one replied to your request, email it to the same email you originally sent the request to. This goes for both a positive and negative review. I even email if I was not able to finish the book so that they know I won’t be reviewing it. And an FYI- I have sent many negative reviews to publishers and I have never been “cut off” from their books, so don’t worry about that. If it’s a Netgalley or Edelweiss ARC, there are places to leave your review direct on the sites. And TWEET! No matter if you got the book for review or not, if it is positive, tag the publisher in your tweet, even the author. (If you tweet several times a day, only tag them once–we don’t want to spam them). Most of the time they will retweet your review, and if you have had no luck getting in touch with that publisher, what better way for them to notice your blog?


This was my own approach to contacting and dealing with publishers and it’s done me well. All you have to do is stay professional, be confident, and blog with integrity! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions that I haven’t covered here! πŸ™‚


What was your experience with publishers?
 Do you have more advice to give to new bloggers?

Also, don’t forget to leave suggestions for future topics you’d like to see! πŸ™‚

You know you love me!
Xoxo, Book Girl!
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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Latest posts by Giselle (see all)

66 Responses to “Book Girls Don’t Cry: Requesting ARCs”

  1. Jude Henderson

    This was such a great post! I remember requesting at first, receiving no reply and then getting the book at my door. I would feel totally lost, being all ‘errr thanks? should I e-mail and say thanks?’

    I used to be dead afraid of publisher, it can be intimidating ^^

    Again, excellent post :D!

    • Giselle

      Oh me too I was confused but still super excited. I never emailed to say thanks but I did tag them in my tweet on my book haul. Now I always tag them in a picture of my new mailbox arrivals on twitter to say thank you and because I’m addicted to Instagram >.<

    • Tash

      Giselle you summed up everything perfectly on how to request Arcs. I had no clue what to do when I first started out requesting physical Arcs but I pretty much followed something similar.
      Also I want to say don’t be afraid to ask to be put on their lists if they have one after you start building a relationship with the publicist. They are usually, are willing to do so .

  2. Michelle @ In Libris Veritas

    This is an awesome post…can you believe I’ve been doing this for almost three years and I’ve sent exactly one email like this. I got the book, but the whole idea terrifies me beyond all reason lol. I always feel like I’m wasting someone’s time, even though clearly everyone else is doing it. Soon! (Maybe)

    • Giselle

      3 years? Wowza that’s awesome! I think you’d definitely get in with many publishers just for having been around for so long. Nothing shows you’re dedicated to your blog more than that! πŸ™‚

  3. Michelle

    Very cool of you to share!! I’ve been blogging for a year but havent done a lot of requests like that. It’s nice to see someone giving advice for if I want to in the future!

  4. Dragana Mitrovic

    My blog is relatively new (6 months old) and I still didn’t request any review copies from publishers. I don’t have many followers and I assume they will not be interested. But you make it sound so easy. I don’t know I still feel shy, but if I gather courage to do it, thanks for telling me how to do it right. πŸ™‚

    • Giselle

      Followers are not everything. Show them your average page views, if you get any comments put your average, your twitter followers, anything that can show your blog has a few visitors πŸ™‚ 6 months is a pretty common time to start sending those requests.

  5. Jasprit

    This is such a useful post Giselle. I was completely lost when I wanted to start contacting publishers and if it wasn’t for a blogging friend I would have no clue. I also keep a list of release dates, so I know when books have to be read by, I try to review on or around release date, but sometimes this isn’t possible, so usually my reviews go up a few days/weeks later. I like how you mentioned that you should keep trying with publishers. At first I didn’t know what to do when I didn’t get responses back, but I kept working on my blog and eventually did get quite a few responses back. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Giselle, it was really useful! πŸ™‚

  6. Richa Parande

    This post was really helpful, Giselle! My blog is about 7 months old but I haven’t sent any review requests yet. Mostly because I live in Singapore and international shipping is expensive, so I probably need a much larger following for publishers to send me review copies. But I will start sending them out soon, and hopefully I’ll get some πŸ™‚

  7. Sam

    Great post, Giselle! I had no idea what to do at first (some of the emails I sent are pretty cringe-worthy!), but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d thought it would be. Publishers in the UK use the same sort of approach (e.g. with newsletters with ARCs available for request), though I think it’s much easier to get contacts on this side of the pond. There are fewer of us for a start. πŸ™‚

  8. Toni Lesatz

    Great post! My book review blog is approximately 4 months old. I wasn’t sure how to contact publishers, or even which publishers to contact. I started following different authors on social media and contacted them directly. I received a lot of ARCs that way – so many that I’m already swamped with reviews. Since then, I’ve met a lot of other book bloggers and learned about Netgalley and Edelweiss — dangerous for a book junkie! lol.

    Also, new bloggers should know about the Little Blogger, Big Ambitions program over at Cuddlebuggery Experienced book bloggers have gotten together and donated ARCs for the younger blogs. You simply register if you meet the criteria and enter to win ARCs from the available list. I received one that way too.

    • Toni Lesatz

      Sorry.. forgot the period after Cuddlebuggery. I stayed up too late reading last night. Not enough coffee yet. Not sure there is enough coffee in the world, actually. πŸ˜€

    • Giselle

      I saw the new Cuddlebuggery feature I think it’s a great idea and awesome for new bloggers who might not get very many otherwise. I want to go through my shelf to donate some I have some I won’t even ever read (mostly unsolicited copies etc)

  9. Amy

    You and Jenni have such great posts on this subject. I started writing mine up and it’s not nearly as helpful lol! I didn’t have a whole lot of input. I also make the point about not being afraid to reach out since the worst that can happen is they say no or don’t reply. I mention a few sites like ARC cycling and YA book exchange in mine too. And really, I don’t know what I would do without my calendars/planners. I have one in my purse, one by my computer and I use my phone one too. I wouldn’t be able to function without them. I also put a sticky note up on my computer desk of all the books coming out by date (like the next 10 or so on my list) that I have to read and cross them off as I go.

  10. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Holy post batman! I think a lot of people are getting some good advice this week and I’m loving it. I totally agree with you that it’s important to sell yourself and not only with stats but with WHO YOU ARE. Anywho, very thorough darling!

  11. Brittany @ The Book Addicts Guide

    Thanks so much for this post, Giselle! I don’t request a lot of ARCs, half out of fear, half because I am backed up on reviews as it is, but this post is so helpful! (And holy cow, my stats are nowhere near yours when you were starting out haha)
    I’m slowly getting the hang of it, but I’m trying not to request TOO many right now since I need to catch up on my own stuff before I start asking for more πŸ™‚ I DID get a copy of Siege & Storm that I had requested from Mac Kids and I was over the moon! That was the first (and only) book I’ve received from a request – And I didn’t get a heads up that it was coming at all so that was a lovely surprise!
    Thanks for sharing this post – It’s always so helpful!!!

  12. Lauren

    This is great advice! I have pretty good relationships with publishers, but I often forget to follow up and email them links to our reviews, or to let them know if I DNF a book, so this is a great reminder to be more conscientious about that. Thanks for sharing, wonderful discussion post!

  13. Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    I really appreciate this post. I have only requested a handful of times, thanks mostly to Netgalley, Edelweiss, and my slow reading (lol) but there is a specific book or two I really would like to try to request and I needed some tips. Thank you!

  14. Alexa Y.

    This post is very, very helpful indeed! Thank you so much for sharing with all of us. I think, most of the time, a lot of us get very confused or conscious about how to approach publishers about the books we want. This post is very clear cut and practical and I love it. Thank you for being so willing to share your advice and experience!

    • Giselle

      Thanks, love! I only wish I had found something like this when I started so I figured I’d share the wealth, whatever it may be worth πŸ˜‰

  15. Sirtsu

    I mark my reviews/tours/cover reveals/interviews etc in my calendar and I think that’s a great advice by you. The reason I only request on Netgalley and via participating in blog tours etc is that I live in Europe and not, unfortunately, in the UK so it’s expensive to send paperbacks + I don’t love to read that many ebooks (though I have so many of them.. -.-) and my blog doesn’t have that many followers, let’s be honest. Also, I’m on my second year in Uni and go to work and if I were supposed to review for publishers more often than not, I’d just burn myself through. I love your advice though and I appreciate you sharing your experience:)

    • Giselle

      I do know some pubs are in the UK you could contact Hachette UK they have newsletters they mail out to their bloggers every month with available ARCs and some are really good ones. I wouldn’t put all the stress on followers either especially since GFC is being weird lately. Show them your page views or average comments (I know you get a good # of them) and it shows your blog IS being read. I think that’s even more important than a follower # which can sometimes mean nothing at all.

  16. Athena Anthes

    Great post πŸ™‚ I’ve been blogging for 2-3 months now and I’ve asked for some ARC’s through NetGalley and Edelweiss, which sometimes I get and sometimes I don’t. I haven’t yet contacted publishers directly, because I don’t have that much followers yet, but keeping your tips in mind I might try it!

  17. Nuzaifa @ Say It With Books

    Thank you so much for this post,Giselle! πŸ™‚
    It’s a little over 5 months since I began blogging and to be honest I’m STILL afraid of rejection so I haven’t tried requesting physical ARCs from publishers. I use NetGalley occasionally and have been accepted sometimes(I try not to use NetGalley too much ’cause I can’t really keep up!). And there have been a few authors with whom I have worked with/interacted with on Twitter who have approached me with ARCs.

    I will not be requesting ARCs anytime soon but when I do I know I’ll be able to do so without freaking out thanks to your post! πŸ˜€

    • Giselle

      Netgalley is great especially for new bloggers. But I woudln,T be afraid to approach pubs once you feel you’re ready. I’ve never had a bad reaction from them. They won’t even email denials you’ll simply not hear back so that’s not so bad.

  18. Kate @ Ex Libris

    This is fantastic! I liked your email and I have to admit that I probably don’t sell myself enough, so that’s good advice. I’ve been blogging for almost 2 years now and I do have some direct contacts, but I still find that certain publishers are really hard to “break” into. Those direct relationships are so, so important.

    • Giselle

      Some are especially in the US I hear. I think the Canadian ones a a bit easier bc we’re just less bloggers than in the US but some did take me until I was over 1000 followers before I got in with them.

  19. Molli Moran

    This is me, hugging you Giselle! I love how informative this post is. I remember being terrified to approach publishers, but I got my first ARC when my blog was about 3 months old, and I had about 250 followers. Spencer Hill Press was, and has been AMAZING to me, and to other bloggers, so I always will have a soft spot for them.

    You’re right – the worst a publisher can do is say no. If you craft a GOOD letter (yours is so awesome, and I love how much you personalized it) and act with decorum and are grateful to the publishers for those ARCs, they’ll realize you aren’t just in it for free books and they will work with you. Thanks so so much for putting this out there – I am sure it will help a lot of bloggers!

    • Giselle

      Spencer Hill Press was the one who sent me my very first YA ARC (my very very first was an adult by St Martin’s Press) so yes they rock! I haven’t had much luck liking their books though O.O

      Thanks, muffin! If you sound confident they will be confident in you and your blog! πŸ˜‰

  20. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    Oh boy, I shouldn’t have read this. I am doing things so wrong! Ha-ha!
    Well, I didn’t know I was supposed to email publishers a link to my reviews, oops. I also don’t worry too much about reading EVERY book that I get. If I requested it yes, I will try but if I see reviews where I just don’t think I will like the book at all then I won’t waste my time. Especially for those books that just show up at my house. And a schedule? Ha, except for blog tours I’m more of a what-do-I-feel-like-reading-now kind of girl.
    Thanks for the tips! Definitely need to change how I do a couple of things, especially emailing publishers review links. That’s seems like a biggie πŸ™‚ I was also wanna give iCal atry since you always rave about it. Love these posts!

    • Giselle

      Haha well if you get them from NG or EW you don’t need to email, but if you get physical ARCs then yes they all want to know if/when you post your review. Usually I email the morning of and they sometimes even come and tweet about it.

      I love my schedule! I need structure in my life! haha. iCal is awesome I love it. It’s what I use for my tour business too and it’s never failed me. If you connect it to iCloud even if your computer crashes or if you’re away from home you can access your calendar saved on there! πŸ˜‰

  21. Micheline D

    Giselle, you continue to rock my mind, and let’s face it: my mind can’t get enough! I haven’t begun reaching out to publishers yet…I still feel so new, I only clued it a few days ago that I’ve been at it for 6 months already! I was focusing on getting my GFC followers up to 300 but your post really gave me ideas as to how to go about doing it(hopefully soon). The idea of searching out publisher contacts and everything seemed daunting to me but at least you lightened my load after reading this. We gotta start somewhere right?!

    Thanks again for the help, you know my blog probably wouldn’t exist without your expertise πŸ™‚

    *bows*

    Thanks Master!

    • Giselle

      Omg 6 months already? It went by so fast!! Yay! I was only a bit over 300 followers when I got my first print ARC so I would say you should go for it, especially that you’re already at 6 months which does give some push even if you don’t have thousands of followers. It shows your dedicated and not just blogging FOR arcs.

      <3

  22. Candace

    I rarely ever request books, if I do it’s because I know the author or it’s a series I’m addicted to already. But I get so many unsolicited books or books pitched to me by publicists that I mostly focus on reading those books. I think your letter is pretty perfect though. I tend to have a hard time keeping things short. I’ve never sent a letter like that, but when I send with specific requests it’s similar but with my stats from google analytics and then the list of books I want with the ISPN number.
    Great post!

  23. Heather Coulter

    Thanks for the great post. I have a similar standard email that I send out to make requests; after reading yours I did tweaked it slightly — adding daily views and a couple other things.

  24. Carmen B.

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight and example email! I’ve been happy with NetGalley in particular, I think it makes the requesting simple. I’d love to get print ARC though but I’ve been putting it off, mostly for one particular reason: I’m not sure where to ask. No, I’m not too dense to find the email address on the publisher’s website – I just don’t know which publishing branch to turn to. I’m a Swiss blogger and naturally the big publishers (or well, any English language publishers I know of) have no subdivisions/offices in my country. So I just don’t know whether I should request from the UK branch (geographically closer) or the US one (where I have about 80-90% of my readers). Any suggestions/help? Do I even stand a chance or do they only mail print ARCs to bloggers in their own country?

    • Giselle

      I do know “some” publishers have been known to ship overseas but I’m not sure who do. I do know that UK has publishers though and they do send to Canada so I imagine they can send to you as well–Hachette UK is one of them. However to my knowledge it’s not the geography that’s the problem, it’s rights. If they have rights in your country for specific books then they usually will be ok with shipping it and vice versa. What I would do is email the publishers in the US and ask. They’ll usually forward you to the right brand if they have one dealing with your country direct.

  25. Kelley (Another Novel Read)

    Okay, this is absolutely awesome. Thank you so much for putting this together! I’ve been thinking it’s time for me to start requesting my own ARCs (instead of always borrowing my sister’s), so this is exactly what I needed.

  26. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    This is a very helpful post, Giselle, especially for new bloggers, but even for some veterans. My approach was pretty similar to yours from the start. I try to make it short and professional, but also add a bit of myself instead of making it sound dry. I’m super happy with the way things are going, and when I DO run into a wall, it’s mostly because of where I live, not because of something blog-related.
    I love that you and Jenni are doing these posts, they can be very encouraging for some. πŸ™‚

  27. Christy @ Love of Books

    Great post, Giselle. It can be a bit intimidating when you’re first starting out. I’ve had new blogger ask me how to go about doing this. I think I’ll direct them to this post from now on.

  28. Kaina

    This post literally makes me want to give you a big hug. I have been wondering about many of the points talked about here for ages! Especially whether to alert publishers of reviews even if its a negative one. And I will admit I use to think, and still kind of do, that publishers were scary. They were these awesome people with the keys to paradise (books) and when I started my blog I couldn’t believe I could actually contact them and you know talk to them. The thing is alot of bloggers newbies and experienced alike dont know this so I find it insanely helpful when a fellow blogger decides to use their experienced and share their knowledge. Great post! πŸ˜€

  29. Kara_Malinczak

    You know what’s weird? My blog just hit the two year old mark, and I emailed a bunch of publishers over a week ago. Harper, RH, Hachette, Penguin, and Little Brown never replied. Should I just send specific arc requests, or what? Maybe I should try that next. I don’t expect much from Penguin or RH, but the rest? One would think they would work with me. So I’ll try again in 6-8 weeks with that. I did hear from ABRAMS, Candlewick, Tor, and Scholastic though. And they are wonderful. I was very excited and I can’t wait to receive my books. You and Jenni have helped me so much. I still find publishers intimidating, but maybe not as much now.

    • Giselle

      Yeah I’d email again. Sometimes the email just gets ignored for no other reason than they meant to get back to it and forgot. I think Little Brown is Hachette eh? That’s where I get my LB books.

  30. Eileen

    It’s official. IT’S OFFICIAL. You, Giselle, are a magical unicorn. Your awesomeness just blows my mind. Seriously.

    But seriously, I’m like the exact opposite of you lol I got my first ARC after I was blogging for eight months, but then again, you’re the magical unicorn! I think the main trick is to just keep trying because eventually publishers will start noticing you, and I guess it also depends on how you write your request too because sometimes a poorly written one could make or break if you get the book.

    Awesome post, Giselle! These are fantastic tips!

  31. Shooting Stars Mag

    I don’t know when I first started getting books for review…my blog didn’t start out with books (more music for the most part) so it took a bit in regards to that. It definitely takes time and perseverance. You just have to blog because you love it and when you feel like you have something to offer, put yourself out there. Things are a bit easier to do online after all so don’t be too nervous. Just be polite. πŸ™‚

  32. Amanda

    This is such an informative post – I really appreciated reading this! There definitely aren’t very many clear instructions in how to go about requesting ARCs. Maybe I haven’t looked in the right places, but it doesn’t matter because I don’t think many could be better expressed than this was. Seriously, thank you! I’ll take this to heart when I finally work up the courage to start interacting with publishers! πŸ™‚

  33. Melanie

    WOW! Such a great informative, helpful, thoughtful and most importantly, EPIC post. Being a new blogger, *waves hand* this is exactly what I needed. I contacted some publishers over the month and got most to reply back which is good and scary (because Aussie people are wayyyy nicer, hehe jokes :P)but I always seem to freak out when they reply as I’m not sure what they’re gonna say. But to my suprise they’re real friendly so YAY!

    You girls are real awesome to put together this ongoing meme, I really love these posts and keep it up! <3333

  34. Savannah Bookswithbite

    Lucky, I didn’t get my first arc till 6 months in. Pubs are much stricter in sending them out though. Newbie’s do have a hard time. My advice is to just keep blogging. Read books and blog. That’s why they started out on the first place. Soon enough, your patience and hard work will pay off.

  35. Trish Hannon

    First off, you had 300 hundred followers after 1 month, wow, that was great! I’m only a blog newbie so working on building my blog and finding my voice. I love netgalley but maybe this time next year, I’ll approach publishers and now I know what to include so thank you! Love the idea of books arriving in the post, so exciting!

  36. Sapir V

    How many followers are considered a decent amount? I’ve been blogging for about 4 months and I have 125 GFC followers and 40 Bloglovin followers. I get quite a lot of comments (average of 8 on every post).
    The thing is that I’m an international blogger..
    Do you think that pubs are likely to consider sending me actual ARCs?

  37. Sarah P.

    Thank you so much for this post. I just started blogging again after my almost 1 year long hiatus and I don’t how to go about requesting ARCs. Do you think it’s OK to start sending requests now that I’m back or should I wait until I have more recent posts? I am also located internationally so do you think that would affect my chances of approval?

    This is all so new to me and I get intimidated easily. Wish me luck. πŸ™‚