Never, Ever Argue with a Book Reviewer! By Terri Schlichenmeyer

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It happened again today. Inside the pile of mail I hauled to my kitchen to sort, I received an unsolicited book from an author who hoped I’d review it for my 250-plus newspaper and magazine clients.

I always feel regretful when that happens. Had the author done her homework, she’d have known that I couldn’t possibly review her novel. So how could she – how can you – effectively get the attention of a reviewer, and get press for your book?

First and foremost, do your homework. A little Internet searching can tell you what you need to know about a reviewer’s needs and requirements for pitches and submissions. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for – ASK via email, please. Most reviewers don’t welcome calls from authors.

Also note that no reply generally means “no thanks.” It’s a hard truth, alas.

Next, hone your email pitches (the kind most reviewers prefer). Be concise but brief, and don’t send links. Think about it. Do you enjoy long emails that take forever to get to the point? And these days, who clicks on a link from somebody they don’t know?

It should go without saying that you should strive to be respectful, grammatically correct, and spell the reviewer’s name right in all communications. Never demand or instruct! We know our jobs, thank-you-very-much. Over the years, I’ve gotten pitches with no salutation, no punctuation, no decorum and, believe it or not, in my case, my first name often gets misspelled. When those things happen, I assume the author doesn’t care and so…neither do I.

Once you’ve gotten submission information, follow the instructions. If a reviewer asks for a hard copy, don’t send an e-book (or vice versa). If the reviewer is reluctant to offer you a physical address, be understanding. There are reasons for the requirements you’re given, and not following them may result in a waste of your valuable resources. Also bear this in mind: Don’t expect a reviewer to BUY your book!

Contrary to what you may have been told, there’s no need to send a ten-pound press packet with your book. In fact, many reviewers don’t even need a press packet. If that isn’t mentioned in their guidelines, ask. Again here, brevity is the key and a one-page summation is generally all you’ll need to send along. As for promotional tchotchkes, I don’t think they make a difference. Save your money.

Once you’ve sent your book out, give the reviewer some room. It’s tempting to hover – this is your baby, after all – but one “just checking” email should suffice; two, if you don’t get a reply within six weeks. I once got a 7am (!!) phone call from an author who said he was sending me a book. Then, he called me the next afternoon to see if I’d received it. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, badgering can backfire.

Never, ever argue with a reviewer. If she says she can’t use your book, there’s a reason. It could be a bad fit. The release date may be too long ago. He might’ve just reviewed something similar to your book. Some reviewers, myself included, don’t review self-published. Whatever reason you’re given (or not given) for a “No, sorry,” the answer is always “Thank you for your reply.” Being rude, argumentative, or nasty is not only unprofessional, but it’s a good way to be ignored when you finally hit the Big Time. Reviewers are like elephants: we never forget.

Above all, use common sense. You can get your book reviewed. Just be smart about the process.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 14,000 books.