In the traditional publishing industry, advanced reviews can make or break a book before it is even released. Publishers and publicists pander to reviewers, from the New York Times to the small time rags, offering free copies in exchange for a review - with fingers crossed that it is positive enough to grace the dust-jacket (you know, that place where they spam you with reviews instead of actually telling you what the book is about).
It's very similar in the ebook trade, only on a much smaller scale. We forgo big business and the media industry and instead rely on those with a passion for reading. There is a wealth of bloggers out there who devour books and review them, many of whom specialize in independent self-published books and ebooks. It's a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' cycle - they are provided with free material and in exchange they will add it to their review pile, ultimately giving an honest review.
Emphasis on 'honest'.
Many of these blogs clearly state in their submission policies that they will NOT accept monetary compensation in exchange for positive reviews, which to me relays that they have been approached with such proposals in the past. I wonder if big business ever indulges in this practice....
It's a relationship built on honesty and dedication, and NOT on financial gain, which is quite impressive. Still not an easy task, mind you - there are so many bloggers to reach out to and even when you follow the rules you can't help but feel like you're spamming your book away. There's a fine line between submitting a book and flogging it - there's no reward in persistent emails, asking if they've read your book yet.
After about three hours of submitting to various blogs - which was only a drop in the bucket - I have had the following email responses;
- 5 automated replies confirming receipt of my request
- 4 automated replies stating that they are overwhelmed and cannot accept any more requests
- 1 real person reply stating that my book was received, accompanied by a link to www.indiesunlimited.com - a site for independent authors (a nice thoughtful touch!).
I found this list particularly helpful in determining who to contact and which bloggers prefer which genre. Check it out - I hope it helps!
In the meantime, keep at it bloggers! We need more like you! Your positive reviews give our books validation - a simple but valuable thing in the self-publishing trade! As long as you keep helping us get recognized, we will keep providing you with free copies to review! And I call on all authors to hope for positive reviews but take to your beatings (aka - unfavourable reviews) with dignity and minimal tears!