Pitch a Perfect Book
I’ve seen the best and the worst. Book review requests are sometimes called “pitching,” just like when you give the plotline of your novel to an editor. There’s a right way and a wrong way to get a blogger to review your book, and I’ve had a lot of experience with both methods as a publicist and reviewer. Here’s how to do it right.
How to Say Hi
Over the past few months, I have received review requests that open like this:
Greetings to You
Nice to meet you, Summer
I’m going to go out on a limb here and offer this piece of advice: if you’re pitching your book to me (or any blogger or reviewer out there) be sure to include my name when you say hello, and for goodness sakes, stay away from using non-traditional forms of greeting. Dear Summer or Dear Ms. Lane adds personalization to your pitch. It tells me that you have taken a little time to learn about me before pitching your book. It also exudes professionalism.
I’m not making this up. When you pitch a book to me to review, I want to know that you have done so because you have explored my site, enjoyed it, and found my genius irresistible. Okay, so you can scratch the latter part – but you get my point. Don’t just start. I hate feeling like I’m merely another blogger on someone’s pitch list. My favorite reviewer requests are those that say something like this:
I read your blog all the time – it’s great! I was wondering if you’d like to review my book: So and So. It would be awesome to see it posted on your site.
Sure, it sounds like I’m trying to get you to stroke my ego, but in actuality what I’m trying to find out is if you have taken the time to get to know my blog, my content, and of course, me.
Let’s face it: when we were in elementary school we were taught how to summarize plotlines in English class, and it sometimes took us a while to get it right. Well, drag those old memories out of the attic and dust them off. When you pitch your book, the story is everything. Pitch it to me as if you were pitching it to an executive at Paramount Pictures. It shouldn’t be longer than ten sentences – it can be, but once you get past that mark, it starts to get boring – and it should be SNAPPY. I use this word a lot (I even used it in the title of my first published book) because it’s true. A great book pitch looks like this:
The world has changed. Evil had overtaken good. Blackness and injustice cast a dark shadow over the planet of Agora. But in the midst of these desperate moments, a hero rises from the most unusual of places. A true warrior, a great man, and a fierce leader. He will tear the planet apart with war…and put it together again in peace. His name is Gabriel, and he is the True King.
Seven sentences. Short, simple, and to the point. You should be able to take any story, from The Count of Monte Cristo to The Old Man and the Sea and fit it into a few sentences. That is talent. That is the craft of the pitch.
How to Give Your Book to a Reviewer
Don’t assume that just because I have a website I’m a millionaire. I can’t afford to buy every book on the market (unfortunately), and if you’re offering a book up for review, it should always be free. Always. And you should makes this very clear to the reviewer, so they aren’t left wondering if they are supposed to buy the book and then review it. You should also read over their Review Policy to make sure you’re submitting in the correct genre. Some sites only review ChickLit, while others only review YA. In other words, don’t end up submitting a romance novel to a children’s poetry review. That would be awkward.
Sending the Novel
PDF files are tough to read. It’s like reading a never-ending Word Document, and it’s a major strain on the eyes – especially if you have eye trouble like me. Either offer it as a Kindle/Nook copy or a physical copy. It’s the right thing to do, because it can be really hard to read a 600-page book on a computer screen. Unsure how to send your book electronically? Send it as a gift so your reviewer can download it.
I always appreciate it when the author emails me or comments on the blog to thank me for reviewing their book. Then I really know that they are truly interested in me and my opinion, as well as the readers of the blog. Don’t be like an author who, a couple of months ago, went back and forth with me about a review, and then failed to respond when I finally posted it. Not a word, not a thank you, not a peep. This is not stellar etiquette. Always say ‘thank you.’ Being an author is about marketing yourself, so it’s important that you develop a reputation as someone who is always on top of communication and manners.
Easy, peezy. Writing a pitch is basically about utilizing something that God gave us when he was mulling over our blueprints in heaven: common sense. Just go with what you feel is right, make sure it’s professional, and always say please and thank you.