The following post on getting free books for review on your blog is by Nick from the cooking blog Macheesmo.
Regardless of the subject of your blog, it is probably the case that there are hundreds or even thousands of actual books written on that same subject. If done correctly, reviewing these books can be a great resource for your readers and also offer you a simple way to expand your library and possibly make a few extra bucks if you have an Amazon Affiliate account.
Of course, books can be expensive so it doesn’t make sense to buy all the books you want to review – especially if you are doing one a week. The library may be a good solution but they might not have newly released books which are the exact books you will want to review.
Publishers want to give you a copy of the book
This is one of the easiest ways for publishers to get the word out about a new book. For each released book, a good number are printed for “review copies.” This means that they are sent for free to reviewers, like you. In exchange, you introduce your audience to the book.
No site too small
I started doing reviews of cookbooks on Macheesmo when I was getting only about fifty visits a day. Publishers were still happy to send me review copies. Access to even a small audience for the price of shipping and handling is worth it for most publishers.
Finding Publisher Information
Once you have a book that you would like to review, the easiest way to find the publisher information is to search on Amazon for the book. Once you are on the book’s page, you can scroll down to find:
These are the product details for Darren’s book, Problogger. Make a note of the Publisher, and also the ISBN-10 number.
Google the publisher to locate their website. They will most likely have a section on their website, sometimes under the contact or FAQ section where they will mention how they want to be contacted for review copy requests.
Publishers will be very specific on how they would like to be contacted. Don’t try to trick them. Just use whatever method they ask for and they will most likely respond. While sometimes they will list a phone number or email address, the most common contact method, by far, is fax.
More specifically, they request a fax on “company letterhead.” I would say 80% of publishers will request this before sending out a review copy.
Have no fear. This request is easy to meet. Simply type up your website name and address information in a header and footer and right a concise letter that includes: The name of the book you are requesting, the ISBN-10 code for the book, a little bit about your website, and maybe why you think your readers would enjoy the book you are requesting.
Fax it away and you are all set. Typically, the publisher will contact you in a few days if they are interested.
Because I am super nice, I’ve included examples for both a letterhead and a fax cover sheet below:
Writing the Review
It should go without saying that when you get the copy you requested, you must actually write the review. If you intend to keep writing reviews in the future, it would also be in your best interest to write a good review.
Note that I didn’t say positive review. I said a good review. You should not feel inclined to write positive things about the book just because you received a free copy. If you write a fair, honest, and professional review, most publishers will respect your opinion.
Also, it is worth the time it takes to send the publisher a note via email after you hit publish. If you wrote a thorough review, they might offer to send you other books on the spot!
Start a spreadsheet and keep track of all the publishers you have contacted and which ones responded positively. If there are one or two publishers who have not sent you review copies in the past, then it may not be worth the effort to ask for newer books.
Most likely, you will establish a relationship with a few different publishers and eventually they will start contacting you asking if you would like to review a new book.
Book reviews can be a real benefit on a blog, but they do require some time. As with anything, if you are going to do it, I would recommend spending the time to do it correctly. Your readers, and publishers, are not stupid.
Spend the time to request books that you really think your audience would enjoy, and then spend even more time writing quality reviews of those books, and you will be able to provide a real service.