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Free books!

January 21, 2008

I bet that got your attention! The other day I wrote this post after receiving a couple packages full of free books from two different publishers. My husband joked that the Fed Ex guy probably assumed I was a writer getting my rejection letters. A couple of bloggers have since asked how I got my all too anxious hands on this jackpot and I figured it was worth a post.

Back in May of 2007, this blog was run as a kind of virtual on-line book club (aka Planet Books). Each month participants would vote on the book they wanted to read. At the time one of the books we were voting on was Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald. I then received an e-mail from Laura, who had somehow stumbled on my blog (probably via Google). Laura wanted to participate in the book discussion, regardless whether or not her book was selected. This was really the first time I had ever received an e-mail from a published author and I was thrilled.

Fast forward a few months – I changed the format of my blog from a virtual book club blog to the standard book review blog, since I had just adopted my second daughter from China and I didn’t think I could keep up with the book club format. I was fast approaching my one year blogging anniversary and really wanted to do something special. I contacted Laura and asked if she would be able to grant me an interview about her book and also if she could sign a copy of Veil of Roses and send it out to a randomly picked winner of my giveaway I planned to host. She was extremely gracious and not only gave me an interview and sent the winner a signed copy of her book, but also sent me a signed copy.

Afterwards, I started getting e-mails (sometimes from publishers, often times from authors) asking me to review their books. My time is very limited with two young children at home, so if a book isn’t one that I am really interested in, then I just politely turn them down. If the book sounds like something I would normally read, send them my way!

So how do you go about getting books from authors/publishers?

Keep blogging – Publishers and authors know the value of “word of mouth” and now use the internet and book blogs as a marketing tool for their books. Check out this New York Times article which talks about author promotions online or this interesting article, describing the decline of book tours and the more cost effective virtual encounters. As stated in the first article, the marketing manager of Collins, an imprint of HarperCollins states “If I had to choose, I’d rather have an author promote themselves online.” Publishers are now paying attention to book blogs and are more than willing to promote their books through the internet. Those three historical novels I received recently were sent by a publishing group who contacted me directly, stating that they would like to send me a few books, no strings attached. You know they are thinking “Hmm, send a book review blogger a couple of books in a genre they really enjoy and chances are that they will read and review at least one – free publicity!” So, the more you write about books, the better chance of getting some. 

Stop by and comment at other book blogs – You can increase your blog visibility by simply visiting and commenting on other blogs. The more popular your blog becomes, the easier it is for a publisher or author to stumble upon it. Often times I check out the sidebar of a book blog to see what blogs they link to, then search around from there. Also, when I sign up for a challenge, I like to click around at the other participants blogs. It’s a great way to not only increase your blog traffic, but find more great blogs to follow.

Visit author websites – I will be posting a book review and author interview in a few days, this one directly linked to a post I wrote back in the fall. After I finished the post, I left a comment on the author’s blog. She right away offered to send me a copy of her newly published book, which I have read and enjoyed thoroughly. I have since asked her if she would be willing to grant me an interview via e-mail and she very graciously obliged, which leads to the third thing you need to do…

Ask and you shall may receive – Recently I visited another author’s website (which I found listed on the book jacket) and noticed that she had a section where you could invite her to call into your book club meeting. Since my monthly neighborhood book club had just picked her book for our January read, I e-mailed her. I have now scheduled the author to call into our February meeting. In the meantime, I mentioned to her that I have a blog and asked if she would grant me an interview and send me a copy of her book for a giveaway. She was really accommodating and now I have a another author interview set up for my blog and I received a copy of the book from her publisher. 

I know that I am not the only book blogger to receive books from authors and publishers. If you have gotten lucky to get some free books, how has it come about? Inquiring minds want to know! 🙂

22 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2008 9:46 pm

    Thank you for posting! We will actually be posting our first author interview in the next few weeks. We are pretty excited!

    I appreciated you telling us how it happened for you.


  2. January 21, 2008 10:11 pm

    Yep, that pretty much covers it. Great advice! I’ve had people ask how Estella’s Revenge got going, got publicity, got in touch with authors, etc. Authors are celebs to us readers, but they’re generally so much more accessible and happy to talk with excited readers/reviewers. It’s a wonderful bookish world, isn’t it?!

  3. January 22, 2008 12:59 am

    I’ve had the same experience, Stephanie and it’s all just getting started! It’s really amazing to be able to interact with authors who’s work you enjoy. One of my favorite young adult authors is giving me an interview in a couple of weeks and I’m really excited about it! Great post you put together here!! What a great resource for people 🙂

  4. January 22, 2008 7:39 am

    I had never even thought that any books were being sent out free! Very interesting!

  5. January 22, 2008 3:30 pm

    What an informative post! I haven’t been blogging very long, and already received two books to read and review on my blog. I don’t know how they tracked me down because my email wasn’t available on my blog at the time. Now it is, and the same day I put it up, I got another offer. This one I turned down, since it didn’t look like a genre I’d enjoy… I hope more books come my way, but to tell truth I’m nervous about doing any author interviews. I’m so awed by what authors do, I feel intimidated by them!

  6. January 22, 2008 6:37 pm

    I always feel funny about inviting authors to read what I thought about their books lol. I just do it to get my thoughts out on the book and hopefully convince someone somewhere to read it.

    For the most part, the free books I keep recieving are from fellow bloggers or contests.

  7. January 22, 2008 9:18 pm

    How fascinating! I’m a virtual neophyte in the book blogs, although I’ve had a personal blog for quite some time. It really hadn’t occurred to me what a perfect vehicle this is for authors to promote their books.

    You’ve given some great tips here! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. January 23, 2008 6:52 pm

    Yep – that’s sort of how I started receiving books for review too. I enjoy it and try to keep up with the books but I do fall behind quite a bit. I really only accept books though that I think I will enjoy reading.

  9. January 23, 2008 7:18 pm

    Loved this post…in fact I’ll be blogging about it tonight. I’m always looking for reviewers for my clients’ books while they are going out on virtual book tour. If you or your friends are interested, email me at and I’ll hook you up with some of the best books out there. ;o)

  10. January 23, 2008 8:39 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I really enjoyed reading it. Everything sounds so fascinating! 🙂

  11. January 24, 2008 3:01 am

    I love this! Although I have been keeping a booklog online for years, it’s only been a means of making a list for myself.

    I’ve only just recently found the world of reading bloggers! It’s fantastic.

  12. January 25, 2008 1:07 am

    Hey Stephanie! I’ve written a post with some of my tips for getting free books as well. 🙂 I really enjoyed reading yours!

  13. January 25, 2008 10:07 am

    Great tips – that’s about how I got started receiving books from authors and publishers. I try to minimize the number of ARCs coming in, just so I can get to all of them.

    Stephanie, do you still have your To China for Maya blog, out there? I don’t see a link (but it’s morning, so just shake your head and point if I’m overlooking it). I have a friend who is just beginning to look into adoption and think she’d enjoy reading about your experience. Any great links to adoption networks that you know of would be helpful, too. You can write me at bookfoolery at yahoo dot com.

  14. January 28, 2008 12:47 am

    Thanks so much for this information! I’m going to try it…I’ve always wanted to review for authors (and get free books!!). Deb

  15. January 29, 2008 10:47 pm

    I got a free book a couple of days ago. The publisher saw my blog and asked if I’d be interested in a copy of a new Tim Sandlin novel, Rowdy In Paris.

    Another time I got a free book was when I griped bitterly that I couldn’t find the novel We Are All Fine Here when I went shopping while I was home in the US. Somehow the author of the book, Mary Guterson saw my blog and offered to send me a copy. She autographed it as well! I was thrilled!

    You wrote a great post with excellent advice.

  16. February 5, 2008 6:20 pm

    I know there are lots of others who get advanced reading copies to review at various sites. I think its fabulous that you contact the author directly for interviews, etc.

  17. February 27, 2008 8:41 pm

    I’ve just started getting emails from publicists asking me to review books and it’s so exciting every time I get one! 🙂

  18. June 11, 2008 1:55 pm

    Thanks for the tips Stephanie – I’ve been contacted by a couple of authors/publishers in recent months – but I’d love to review more free books! I hadn’t thought about looking for author websites and sharing my reviews with them – will give that a try. It’s so nice to chat with an author about their book esp when you’ve really enjoyed it.

  19. August 13, 2008 1:25 pm

    Thanks Stephanie for the link. I believe I read this way back when I was starting my blog and it was really helpful!


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