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How to Get Free Books to Review on Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 14th of February 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

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:

Picture 10.png

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.

Making contact

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!

Keeping Track

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.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. What an excellent post, this is something I will introduce onto my website, Thank you, Eleanor

  2. I considered doing this on my blog, but I just don’t know if I have the time.

    Perhaps if I limit it to 1 review per month…

    Thanks though, I didn’t really realize how eager publishers were to get us to review their published books.

    I guess this could apply to any relatively cheap product, too.

  3. This is actually very interesting, thanks for this post.

    But since I am not US based the cost of shipping would probably require an audience in the thousands instead of the low fifty’s.

  4. This is the thing which I have not applied seriously. But I think if they are offering limited review to limited people than there is high chances of making money.

    If everyone have that kind of book than why should anyone go to buy them … isn’t ?

  5. It’s true about no site being too small; I get <100 people each day and yesterday I got an e-mail from a publisher offering a copy of a book. I honestly thought it was some sort of spam until I did a little research. What a delight!

  6. Great article! I’m looking to do something similar with Blu-rays, particularly animation related blu-ray releases.

  7. A few more things:

    1. Always send them links to the reviews you put up afterwards – even if it’s negative.

    2. Do they want to offer competition copies? Are they happy to offer an excerpt for publication?

    3. Think long and hard before deciding to use a rating system (stars, marks out of ten, percentage) and define what each rating means.

    4. If you’re using Amazon Affiliates (or similar) including a link to where the book can be bought. I prefer to include a note making it explicitly clear to readers that I earn commission from the sale.

    5. Call them up every now and then just to find out what they’ve got coming up. See if you can get pre-publication copies.

  8. See, this is another advantage to be a blogger: Free books!

    Thanks, Nick! Will consider reviewing some books when I get reading time.

  9. Excellent article. I was just wondering what you did with the book after the review. Do you ever offer them as a prize?

  10. Great tips. I was wondering if publishers have ever asked about the size of your blog before sending? I wouldn’t be surprised if they were fairly clueless about traffic metrics and all but I’m sure they’re catching on.

    @TH has an encouraging comment since my site receives a little less than a 100 visits per day as well even though it’s only a month old. (Damn it why did I buy Outliers!)

  11. Thanks for the tip! I do article & book reviews on my website all the time – and maintain a page called “Intercultural Relationship Resources” but I typically use the local library or just buy the books I’m looking to review. I never thought to see if I could get review copies from the publisher.

  12. Interesting that my RSS feed for this post gives a Google advertising mentioning the following:

    “If you hold a copyright in a book or other writing you might be affected by the Google Book Settlement”


    I guess that not all books are equally free.

  13. Doing book reviews is a great way to build your traffic, but it doesn’t stop there, you can do reviews on just about everything that sells on the web. Your post does remind people that its a good idea to ask webmasters if they would like their product reviewed. I have found that in most instances site owners are more than likely to jump at the chance for your review and there’s a good chance of receiving there product for free.

  14. “If you intend to keep writing reviews in the future, it would also be in your best interest to write a good review.”

    You lose credibility if you do that, you can save yourself by only requesting or accepting books you believe will be good beforehand. Also, remember, it’s just a book. You can get books for free at the library.

  15. If you can find library books that are relatively current and relevant, just start writing good reviews of them.

    Eventually publishers and authors will start contacting you. We’ve never contacted a publisher directly ourselves and we don’t have a high traffic site, but we have more review copies then we can keep up with right now.

  16. I should do more book reviews, but I don’t feel like I have the time. I do, however, have some time for movies. I wonder if the same or a similar process applies to DVDs? Anyone know?

  17. It’s always easy when you have a blog like this one with high PR high traffic, and very intellectual readers, who interact with your blog and share with you their thoughts.

  18. This is great information. I am thinking about doing reviews but haven’t really decided what I want to review. I am going to have to look to see what books are in my niche and possibly become an amazon affiliate. Thank you for the information.

  19. What a great idea! This is yet another way to provide valuable information to my blog readers. I usually post a synopsis of a book I read that is relevant to my blog (www.joncolier.com), but getting a release of a new book is even better.

    Thanks for the idea!

  20. I have done a few book reviews on my site and they do help to bring in some traffic. If the publishers are unable to give me a hardcopy since I stay outside USA (Singapore) they would send a PDF version.

  21. @jim I believe you missed this part of the article, and I quote:

    “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.”

    He just means to write an intelligent review. Not a sloppy, typo-ridden piece of fluff.

  22. Thanks Everyone for the comments. Keith’s points are all good ones.

    @Jim Notice that I say there is a difference between a “good review” and a “positive review”. What I meant by good review is taking the time to thoroughly review the book even if ultimately your review is negative.

    Also, I touch on the library point: “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.”

    It’s not for every site and does require some work, but it can be a good addition if you have the time.

  23. Great information. Never thought about doing this but it’s definitely on my radar now. Sounds like this could work really well for a small niche site.

  24. I really enjoyed this post! I can’t wait to try it too. What is the last book you read?

  25. An idea that had never occurred to me! Thanks for the info. One question: when you do this, do you utilize other sites to drive traffic to your reviews? For example, do you throw out an excerpt or link to your review blog entry on Amazon.com or similar?

  26. Thanks for sharing your experience in detail. It is helpful.

    With a bit of due diligence, bloggers may also approach ebook publishers and offer the same review in return of a copy of the ebook.

    I’ve done this — as a self-publisher — myself. But out of people who respond, only about 40 percent who actually wrote the review. Guess people don’t want to miss an opportunity but never have the time to read, let alone write the review.

  27. Nice Tip!

    I wonder if the reviewer really reads the book from cover to cover.hehe

  28. At Champagne Living we are involved in Book Tours as well. Not only are you given books to review, but at times you can interview the author, etc. Just do a search for “book tours” and contact the companies. Not only do authors do LIVE visits in bookstores, but now they’ll do them on your BLOG!

  29. wow…i have never think about this idea….

    Besides added more valuable and resourceful post into our blog, blog review can help us to create a brand as a not only blogger but book reviewer.

    This will definitely increase our credibility as a blogger and our follower will definitely impress with us.

    Thank you for the tips…

  30. Interesting article, I shall try this out with some Internet Marketing books I think.

    Too bad I didn’t try it with you book. :P

  31. awesome. i’ve wondered how to do this. about to turn on my fax machine…

  32. Well, that’s all I do on my blog is review books. At this moment I have 25 review copies waiting for me to read. In the past year, I’ve probably received triple that. At this point, books just show up on my doorstep and I’m not even sure how I got them! I should note, it’s not about just getting a free book. I could do that at the library. It’s about providing helpful information at the time people are looking for it (like new releases).

    While, I have seen some websites requests faxes, I have never done so. Most requests are by email or direct contact with the author. At this point, most requests are the other way around. I receive several requests a day and I’ve gotten to the point where I turn down 90% of those. Most book bloggers have a relationships with publishers, publicists, and authors. Also, most books now go on a virtual blog tour. Once you establish that first contact, the rest comes easy.

    I also have a disclaimer posted on my website that not all reviews will be positive. Free book does not equal positive review. But the review will be well written and worthy of the time that I spent reading the book.

  33. Nick,
    Great article about book reviews. I proceeded over to your blog and checked out some of your book reviews. They are very well done, but I have one question… Why don’t you use a rating system? Two thumbs up, 4 out of 5 stars? I’m curious if that was by choice or just haven’t thought of that. I was curious if it had to do with hurting publishers and authors feelings? On my website, we review beer and we use a rating scale of 0 to 5 pints of beer. You get free cookbooks to review, we try to get free beers to review.
    DaVe from FupDuckTV.com

  34. If you consistently review books, and are a book blog (or not), you should also have a section on your website under advertising or about or contact (or all three) directing authors and publishers how you read and review books.

    Example: http://www.loveromancepassion.com/advertising/

    Be sure to include review policies, wait time, how to contact, quoting policies, etc.

  35. Thanks Darren. It had never occurred to me, and I spend a fortune on books as well!
    Thanks also Keith for adding what you did.

  36. Thanks for the great tip for Book Reviews. After reading your post I immediately found the publisher for an upcoming book in 2009. I contacted them, made my request and got an immediate response.

    They are sending me the book I requested to review and recommended another one for me to review as well.

    Now I’ve got two new books in my field of interest coming to me plus great content for my blog. Thanks!

  37. Great advice. I’ve written a few reviews either on books I already own or I borrow from the library. This tends to mean that I’m reviewing older books. Thanks for a great tip on getting current books for review.

  38. Those are some nice tips, it’s always good to review books although nowadays e-book reviews are mostly common!

  39. Great idea! I will have to explore this further on my blog! :) Seems like it would be a good fit for my blog…. :)

    Thanks for the idea!

    Talking Books Librarian

  40. Wow – I too had never knew this opportunity was available. I contacted 3 publishers in my niche today to request review copies. However, none preferred fax. I was offered 2 web forms and an email address.

  41. @ Talking

    Certainly this one is for you and I am sure you will be able to get maximum from this.

    I am also thinking about this and want to have in my new blog. Extra money is always welcome :)

  42. I’ve been getting a rush of book offers lately! It’s been great. The only problem is keeping up and keeping interested in the books.

    I’d suggest keeping notes of what’s interesting in a separate place than the book itself as you read (don’t mark up the book). This way you can refer back and when you are done you can offer the book to your readers in the form of a contest. Now the book can also help build your audience and possibly build links back to your site.

    Another bonus is if your review gets indexed by the search engines. Then if someone is looking up the book they may stumble onto your site to see what you have to say. The more visitors the better!

  43. Nick,

    Thanks for the great idea. Honestly when I helped run a game review site when I was in college I would do this all of the time for video games. I hadn’t thought to do this for books books but it’s a great way to expand content on sites and definitely something I’ll be looking into in the future!

  44. This morning I was making a list of books I wanted to review for my website. So this post couldn’t be more perfect.
    Thanks for the exact info.

    Cosmic? or something….

  45. I wonder if I can get one of Darren’s books this way! ;)

  46. Hmmm… I have written quite a few book reviews, but I always get my “free copy” from the public library. Easiest way to get plenty of free books!

  47. Thanks! This is a great idea. 2 of my most popular posts have been lists with mini reviews of the best books in my industry (software development). So requesting review copies and doing more “official” reviews in a great extension of that. Thanks again for the great idea. This never occurred to me.

  48. I have gotten several books from publishers as well. It really is a great system for everyone involved. For the last review I did – http://geekpolitics.com/review-of-the-revolution-a-manifesto-by-ron-paul/ – the publisher also gave me 5 copies for a giveaway. What a great deal, I get a free book (that I really enjoyed) they get a good review, and 5 of my readers also won a free book. This also increased participation, traffic, and subscribers to the site.

  49. The effort sound like more work then its worth compared to just buying the books and writing reviews on my own.

  50. This is wonderful! I follow your every post. This is great news to me. I used to do a lot of review in the past. Is there someone I can contact so that I can get back on the track to do reviews?? Thanks for your help.

    Eddie Gear

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