I often judge a book before I even lay eyes on its cover.
During the last four years of reading review requests at Novel Escapes, particularly after accepting self-published novels (as well as those who tried to sneak in before we nudged that door open) I noticed a few things, particularly…
Time and effort in a book review pitch almost always translates into a well written and polished novel.
Here are some suggestions on how to create a fabulous review pitch based on what has flown into the Novel Escapes inbox over the years.
- Put your title, name, and ‘review request’ or similar in the subject line.
- Write all the pertinent information within your email, including your name, a blurb about you, your book title and synopsis, and anything else you think is appropriate.
- Keep it short and sweet.
- Be professional, yet personal.
- Portray your novel’s tone and style within the email.
- Personalize the email like you would a job cover letter. Tailor it to each blogger you pitch.
- Include a salutation: A blanket “hello” with no names, earns you 1 point. No salutation, 0 points and using our names? Priceless. Using my name, or one of our bloggers or even “Novel Escapes ladies” tells me you’ve researched our site. You know we’re a team of reviewers. Would you go to an interview without researching the company? You would? Okay, then. Off you go. Good luck.
- Include a link to your novel on Amazon. This saves me time, which I will heart you for. And don’t think I won’t search your book on Amazon and/or Goodreads if you don’t add the link. I seriously vet every self-published novel that finds its way to our inbox, reading the first chapter of each one to ensure high quality.
- Be patient if you do not receive an immediate response. For many of us, book blogging is done in our spare time around jobs and family commitments.
- Even if you receive a negative review, an email saying thank you for your time and the thoughtful review or some such comment is nice, but not mandatory. Or comment on the review itself. We love this.
- Number one book blogger pet peeve: Pitching your book on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads. This is a serious faux pas. Take the time and pitch properly. For me, personally, if you’re lazy in this regard I might wonder what else you’re being lazy about.
- Refrain from emailing your entire novel without acceptance. It gunks up my inbox and makes me grouchy.
- Ditto with photos. A PR sheet is fine (and should include your cover anyway.)
- Avoid faulty links.
- Refrain from asking to review more than one novel in an email. This taunts my organizational skills (this may just be me.)
- Don’t sound like Bridget Jones when your novel is serious, and vice versa.
- Do not expect an immediate reply – or any reply if we are declining your pitch here at Novel Escapes. Do your research and read the review policy. Check it frequently if you are delaying your review request. They do change from time to time.
- Control your irritation if we won’t review your novel. Don’t reply and argue why we should. (Novel Escapes True Story)
- Stomp down and crush any thoughts of responding negatively to a negative review. Google Emily Griffin and negative review as an example. Better yet, just don’t even think about it.
- Avoid requesting us to review a genre we have no interest in or explicitly state we will not review. This happens more frequently than you would think.
- Shove the desire to send multiple emails if you don’t hear back from us within a few days off a cliff.
- Do *NOT* state I can just use “this” review if we “don’t have time.” (Novel Escapes True Story)
- Don’t expect a review to happen immediately. We are typically booked at least a couple of months in advance.
- Avoid mass emails with one sentence and a link to Amazon.
- Avoid mass emails. Period.
I don’t often decline novels solely based on a pitch – although I have, particularly those falling in the last two don’ts mentioned. Put some effort into it. First impressions run deep, and you want to grab attention and start off on the right foot. Don’t you?
So I finally broke down and got an e-reader. Well, actually, it was a gift, but I wanted one. Really. It was a necessary ‘evil’ for all the e-book review requests we’ve been getting over at Novel Escapes so we finally decided we were going to go the e-reader route. Now that I’ve read a few, here’s my take on the paperless experience.
- I was shocked to discover that the pages actually look like book pages so I actually feel like I’m reading a book.
- If I’m out somewhere and unexpectedly finish a book, I don’t have to worry whether I remembered to pack a second one ‘just in case’. I also have plenty to choose from in my own personal library or can buy something new from the bookstores at my fingertips. My love for trolling book stores will never cease, although I find myself more and more picking up the recommendations of many of the bookish types I follow online now, and it just flows that I would download a title before I forget it or have time to go out and buy it.
- Saving trees as well as room on my bookshelves for those books that really deserve the space and that I’ll actually read again.
- As someone who is at times excruciatingly sensitive to scented things, I don’t have to fear a book that might have a particular smell that sets me off which happens from time to time. Most people don’t notice, but I do. I believe it’s the ink and newspaper print is the worst offender. Its been years since I’ve read one and I love that I can go online to get the news anytime without subjecting myself to sinus issues. But I digress…. I suspect I don’t want to get to the bad…
- Sorting out how the hell to get netgalley.com books onto my ipad. (Naturally they posted a linky AFTER I spent hours trying to figure it out). Fortunately this applies for review copies only and won’t apply to the masses. Still, it was most aggravating and detrimental to the initial experience.
- I now have several book apps, specifically because of the incompatibility of Adobe and Apple (see my netgalley experience above) in addition to ibooks, Kindle and Kobo because, well, I guess I like to have it all. The downside to having so many apps for my books is that I don’t have one location for all of them and can’t stare at my collection and I have to remember what books are where or troll each app for them. Ok, I admit, I haven’t amassed a library just yet. I have plans though, great plans… And one day I’ll figure out how to get all the lovelies together again.
- I neglected to bring my ipad along when it was frigid and snowy one day, figuring I didn’t need it. Murphy’s Law dictated otherwise and there was a teenie bit of car trouble during which I would have had time to read. Now the pretty little machine sits permanently in my purse if it’s not in my lap, rain or shine, potential to read or not. Period.
- I can’t advertise the lovely books I read anymore to other patrons on the subway. This could also be filed under ‘good’ if such cover is one I’d rather not parade in public, which really is rare, but has occurred.
- I can no longer read in the bath. You have no idea how upset this makes me.
- My novels and reading time are now fused to the interwebs and distractions like email, Facebook and Twitter abound. ‘Nuff said.
- The Bookmarks! I LOVE them. It’s weird. They’re not fancy, or pretty or mark the page in any way, but they record my reading in a way I’d never even contemplated doing myself. It logs every single time I click the tiny bookmark and counts pages and sessions. I can see exactly what date I picked up a book and when I finished and how many pages I got through in each session. This is proving fascinating to me. And I really have no idea why – or if this novelty will soon wear off. But in the meantime, I love it and if that makes me weird, so be it. #bookgeek
- The Notes! As a reviewer (and writer) I can make notes on what I’m reading with each click of the bookmark (or notes, depending on the e-reader). Now this may gunk up my above noted reading ‘stats’ if it’s connected with the bookmark, but is ever so helpful to mark passages, make notes and have them compiled in one place for when I write my review. Sadly I’ve never really made notes for my reviews before. I should have, but with a decent memory and lazitis, if something really stuck out that I needed a reference to, I, *gasp*, dog-eared the page. But now I just type away my comments and look back at them when needed.
- The dictionary. I just hold my finger over a word for a second, press definition and just like that it appears. No need to Google it or dig out my door-stopper dictionary. ibook also has the option to link to Wikepedia. Awesome.
- Interactives. I have yet to explore this possibility due to a lack of time and a fear of adding yet another procrastination tool to my arsenal, but the fact that it exists gets it a fancy label. The possibility of interacting with other readers reading exactly what I am at the same time I am? And I can stay in my pj’s, not have to leave my house, won’t have to entertain on my turn or worry the book club discussion will veer off the topic of the book? It kind of boggles the mind really.
Overall Opinion: Two Thumbs (Way) Up.
Will I ever give up on paper books? Nope. I’ll be totally prepared for the zombie apocalypse with my favourite paperbacks. But in the meantime I’ll swing both ways for a while.