Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Guest Post With Jordan Smith

We have a special treat today, folks! Remember my post on writing book reviews last week? You can click HERE to refresh yourself.

At any rate, here is the follow-up. Author Jordan Smith has graciously consented to give us some tips on getting reviews. Enjoy!

(Links to Jordan's book are mentioned in this post. Take a moment to check out Finding the Core of Your Story.)

How to Get Your Book Reviewed

One of the absolute best ways to get the word out about your book is to get it reviewed. But at first glance, reviews seem unattainable because of either high costs or lack of interest. ($425 for a Kirkus review? Seriously?!)

Well, I have some good news for you. With a little bit of research and a good pitch, you can find plenty of reviewers for your book. There are plenty of bloggers out there who love to do book reviews. Its just a matter of finding them and approaching them in a compelling way. Heres how to make it work for you.

Hone Your Pitch

If you cant pitch it, nobody will want to read it, so make sure you know what to say. Dont worry, though, because you get to e-mail your pitch to reviewers. None of this scary in-person stuff!

Ive covered pitching a story in depth in my book Finding the Core of Your Story, so Ill direct your attention to its pages for the nuts and bolts of writing a solid pitch. I highly recommend that you click the link for the free sample, which will give you a crash course in what I think is the most essential skill for someone whos looking to market a book.

For our purposes here, were going to look specifically at how to make your pitch look good in an e-mail. Its important to remember that this is a process of constant improvement. I have a document of every single pitch e-mail Ive written, and every time I send one, I think of some way to improve it. Youll probably find the same is true for you. With that said, heres my current template:


Im the author of [your book title] and Im looking for bloggers who would like a free review copy. Heres a little bit about the book:

[Your pitchKeep it simple and short. Two or three sentences is plenty.]

The book has already received positive reviews, such as this one:

[Review quote. If you dont have a review yet, leave this part out, but as soon as you have a good quote, use it.]

You can find out more about the book here: [Your website]

Id love to send you a free review copy. Just let me know where to send it and Ill mail one right away.

Thanks for your consideration. Im looking forward to hearing from you.

[Your signature]

The goal here is to be brief, polite, and professional. Youre trying to get people interested, so dont be annoying. Tell them about your book, but dont gush. Check your spelling. Exude the feeling of a professional author.

Where to Find Reviewers

Okay, we have a pitch e-mail ready! Now we start prospecting for reviewers. Luckily, this is a simple process, thanks to a wealth of internet directories.

For starters, check out Step-By-Step Self-Publishings book reviewer list. This list can be overwhelming at first, but its well worth the effort to scroll through. But to effectively use this list and others, youre going to need to know your genre. And by that I mean your genre in its most basic form. I know a lot of us like to say we write things like epic fantasy or dark science fiction but none of those really work here. Boil it down to fantasy, science fiction, western, romance, etc.

Hopefully, you have a web browser with a search function, because the best way to tame this list is to do a search on the page for your genre. Pretty much every reviewer on the list has given their preferred genres, so just look for the ones that want what youve got. When you find one, click the link (I like to open a bunch in tabs), then get ready to explore.

There are three things youre looking for on a bloggers site:

First, you want to scroll through their reviews and see what theyre reading. Do you write similar books? This might be a good fit.

Next, look around for some indicator of the bloggers following. On a Blogger site, many people have a widget in the sidebar showing this stat. Or if you see a link to a Twitter or Facebook page, check that out. Youre going to send a lot of requests to a lot of bloggers, so you might want to prioritize and contact the bigger ones first.

And then finally, find the review policy and follow it carefully. Most serious reviewers have this listed in the top navigation. Youll see things here like how they want to be contacted, whether or not theyre open for review copies right now, if they accept independent books, and if they prefer e-books.

Found a winner? Great! Save it and find another. My process is to make a list of potential contacts, then do all the e-mails at once. When Im ready to do a batch of review copies, I decide how many I can afford to send, then contact that many bloggers, starting with the ones highest in priority. If I hear back negatively from someone, I contact the next one on my list, and so on until all my review copies are spoken for.

Need more reviewers? Try the lists at The Indie View, Book Blogger Directory, and Indie Book Reviewer. There are many, many more out there, but those should be enough to get you started.

And thats pretty much it! Youll find that as you contact reviewers, you will start to establish a rhythm. Make contacting reviewers a routine in promoting your book. Even if you can only afford to send out one review copy per week, its worth it. Word of mouth is powerful. Take advantage of it.

Thank you, Jordan, for this awesome post! 

Also, will the winner (Katie) of the giveaway for Sarah Holman's book The Destiny of One please email me at If we don't hear from you in the next week, I will need to choose another winner. Please contact me soon!


  1. This was very helpful! Thank you for doing this post, Mr. Smith!

  2. I appreciate your time and assistance, Jordan. Thanks so much! We'd love to have you again sometime.

  3. Very helpful! I've never read a post on this subject before, and you have great ideas. Thank you!


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