Sunday, February 22, 2009

Carolyn Rants on Review Copies And Plain Old Manners

I am cranky this morning. That’s not the best way to start a blog post or a Sunday morning but it comes with a very important tip so you or your publisher or your press won’t rile up the editors/reviewers/authors/ you send your books to.

I am reprinting the note I just fired off to a press. You’ll see what I mean:

Dear Publisher:

I received a copy of XX yesterday. Lovely book but no note, no review copy label, nothing. What to do with it? Endorsement? Review? A mention in my newsletter (is the author a subscriber?) Is it for me to decide? There wasn’t even an e-mail or site for the author. That means I have to research my mail before I even begin to schedule my week’s work.

Sorry to be grumpy, but this is one of the reasons that reviewers get a bad name and why authors get called “snooty” because we don’t answer our mail. We (authors, editors, freelance writers) often wear many hats--and we also have very short memories!

I'm only mentioning this so that you might fix your system. Perhaps you could include a little postcard in your mailings? It could include author contact information and/or mentions the purpose for which it is being sent.

I realize that, as authors, we often don’t have control over what our publisher or the press that may send out our copies, so that leads me to another tip:

I remember agent Michael Larsen mentioning this at one of the first writer’s conferences I attended. He said, "Follow up!" If I receive an e-mail in couple days asking if I received the review copy (or whatever it was!), that would be a help, not a hindrance. We authors are in business, after all. And good business communication is essential for good business!

By the way, I didn't mention plain old manners in my letter. (I guess I wasn't in such a bad mood after all!) I mean, what would it have hurt to include a thank you? But you all know I am a mother who insisted my kids write their thank yous and, in The Frugal Book Promoter, nagged my readers to send their thank yous. So what can you do with a mother/editor/author/freelancer like that? Smile and take her advice?

AAhhhh! Glad I got that off my chest. I feel better already.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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