So…this is a topic that can cause a plethora of new grey hairs, but it’s a process that needn’t be painful: asking (begging?) for pre-publication reviews.
Here are some tips.
1. Where to find reviewers – They can be book club members or other voracious readers. Try to find some in different states. If all your reviews say “Queens, NY” and you live in Flushing, it will look like you only asked your friends. Be creative: for my novel on jazz, I researched jazz DJs and radio hosts, jazz artists, and others in the industry, all women (since my book is contemporary women’s fiction).
2. Ask other authors what they did – then follow their model. You can, in fact, reach out to reviewers whom your colleagues used (assuming your colleagues will part with that info), but only for other referrals. Under no circumstances should you tap the same well!
3. How to send it? Never electronically! That’s rife with terrible potential hazards. Yes, you have to go to Staples and print it out. Include a nice, big SASE for them to return it. Attach a brief, friendly cover letter reiterating what you are asking for. Make it clear you are NOT asking for the story to be proofed or edited. You are only seeking a response, a reaction to the story you’ve presented, in one to two sentences.
4. Send it, then forget it! You might have given a “deadline” but realize it’s a soft deadline. The recipient of your manuscript is doing you a huge favor. Regardless of the page count, they are putting aside time that could be used for their work, their family, their hobbies…your MS is an intrusion, so don’t pressure them.
5, Savor your tiny returns! There might not be many (any?) highly quotable testimonials, but any nugget of positivity can stand alone. Extract exactly what you need. Keep remembering it’s quality, not quantity. And if your quantity is only one or two, make the best of it.
6. Thank those who participated – a prompt email of appreciation followed by a signed copy will do just fine.
(c) Debbie Burke 2017