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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ask A Publicist (Issue #1)

Hey everyone! Welcome to the first edition of my new feature, Ask A Publicist! 

In this feature, publicists from all different publishing houses will answer your questions about sending requests, ARCs, convention etiquette, and more! Whatever you've ever wondered about and been too nervous to ask, you can do it here!

To protect the publicists' privacy, they will be answering your questions completely anonymously. This also allows them to be more open with their answers. But rest assured, the people answering are either currently working in publishing or have worked in publishing for years.  

If you questions you would like one of the publicists to answer, submit your questions to this Google Form or simply leave them in the comment section! The publicists pick which questions from my list they want to answer for each feature, so if you do submit a question, be sure to check back and see if someone has responded to it!

How long should you be blogging before you can be taken seriously enough as a reviewer to request and get ARCs? Are there specific stats publicists have in mind, or do they just look at overall quality and content of the blog?

This is a tough question to answer. For me the length in blogging mattered a little less than looking at how active someone was across their platforms, combined with how frequently they were updating their blog. Granted, I wasn't going to hand printed ARCs to someone who just opened their blog yesterday, but newer bloggers, if consistent, and have evidence on their platforms that they're part of a bigger network and not totally just tweeting or posting into a void, then I would be okay getting requests from them, and depending on the priority level of the book, weren't out of the question for getting access to the title.

I will say, the "younger" you are at blogging, try to be more open-minded about digital ARCs. I can't speak for everyone, as policies may differ, but those can be easier to provide access to. Printed ARCs are very limited and cost a lot to make. So if you can go digital, that can possibly up your chances.

Are there specific stats publicists have in mind, or do they just look at overall quality and content of the blog?

I can only speak with how I handled stats: At the end of the day numbers matter. We have to report back on who has the book, what their reach is, and what their traffic looks like. What those numbers need to/should look like technically can vary depending on the priority level of the book. I never had a specific number in mind, but I did sort my lists and knew which bloggers had higher followers on which platforms, and who created and posted great content consistently. Additionally, I would watch for the kind of engagement they would get on various platforms, and who they might be connected to for RTs or shares in Instagram stories, etc.

Did I really answer this question even? Ultimately, it's both. But numbers tend to win out at the end of the day. But it's definitely a balancing act.

How many ARCs is it polite to ask about in one email, and how often can you send emails?

For me, I preferred one request at a time, that way I could file the emails into respective folders and have a reference when it was time to build a list (especially if you're requesting really far in advance). If you're asking closer-ish to publication it might be worth putting them all in one email, as the ARCs are likely in and if they have copies available to send to bloggers that's when they'll make a decision. Just be sure to include ALL of your stats that you deem relevant to your blog (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) along with links. Don't make the publicist work to find out your information. You're already making it harder on them to want to send you anything. Make their lives easier by giving them all of this upfront.

As for emails in general: You need to understand that publicists emails get filled to the brim daily. The empty inbox is not a real thing. At least it never was for me. You also have to understand while this one book might be your Main Priority, publicists are handling many titles a season. It's a balancing act. So depending on when you reached out, give them a beat to reply. The window for follow-up may vary from person to person, but if you're asking far enough out give them a little bit of time, and remember to be careful of your tone with your follow-up. I was on the receiving end of more than a few emails with accusatory, entitled tones, and let me tell you, I have no desire to give you a book if that's how you're going to talk to me. It's a professional, working relationship at the end of the day. Just be kind.

As a publicist, what are some things that bloggers do that make you want to work with them aside from their stats?

Creativity was my biggest thing. If I saw bloggers were doing things on their blogs, like special features, I always wanted to work with them. Most content that I enjoy, and could see others enjoyed, were not the reviews (though we obviously like reviews) it was the fun creative content.

Outside of that, just seeing the passion and excitement a blogger had for certain books/series went far. The genuine excitement for books made me want to work with them too because we loved the same things. It made me hopeful and feel safer to send something to a blogger that the review/content that they might create around the book later would be good/positive.

Do you have any pet peeves regarding blogger behavior? Any horror stories?

I hate the power play but at the end of the day the publicists are the gatekeepers. Treat us with respect, and don't be demanding. ARCs are not fun free books, they're marketing materials. They cost a lot to make, and ultimately you are not entitled to a copy. Think about the tone you take in your emails, be professional. You might also want to think about what you post on your feeds before requesting a title.

I pay attention to what bloggers tweet and post on Instagram. I once had a blogger send an email requesting an ARC. She gave me a great story about loving the author's books, and really wanted to read her next one too but didn't have a copy. This same blogger had just posted a few days earlier a picture of said ARC in her home. Things like that? Not great. I don't enjoy being lied to. Especially for someone who is looking to get duplicate ARCs. That's not cool. I kept this blogger off lists going forward because that's just not okay at the end of the day.

Should I always respond to a publicist's pitches or blog tour emails, even if I'm not interested in participating?

I don't know how all publicists feel about this but YES PLEASE. It means I can cross you off from future emails about the title and not jam up your inbox with needless follow-up.

What is proper convention etiquette? Does the etiquette differ for different conferences, for example BookExpo versus BEA versus something like Comic Con? I'm never sure how to act, and there are ARCs everywhere!

For BEA/BookCon/Comic Con: One ARC per person. It's a real simple rule that a lot of bloggers still seem to struggle with. Don't take multiples. Be kind. Don't cut the lines. Listen to the people in charge of making the lines. If you miss out on a title, be sure to watch for information from the house in order to request the title otherwise. And also try to only take what you actually will read. Don't be the person that walks away with boxes and boxes (or suitcases and suitcases) of books unless you know you're going to read through all of them. The thought of all the free, shiny, new books is so tempting. But so many will leave with so many books that will go unread.

Is it okay to email a publicist to see if they've mailed something out yet when I'm waiting on a book?

I think it is. Especially if you see that the book is landing with other people. Give it a few days though, cause mail takes time to arrive depending on where you live. But if it didn't get there, you know you requested it or talked to the publicist about it, doing a friendly check-in to see if you made the list for the mailing isn't the worst thing to do. Especially since you're also busy and need to know what books to anticipate doing work on later.

What do you guys think of this new feature? What are some questions you'd like to ask a publicist? Remember if you would like to submit your own questions to be used to in this feature, fill out the Google form or simply leave a comment below!


  1. AHHH THANK YOU FOR THIS NEW FEATURE. It'll be nice to get into publicists' heads, and learn proper etiquette and email attitudes! I'll be awaiting future posts under this. ♥

    - Aimee @ Aimee, Always

  2. I love all of your new features! This is so amazing! I would want to ask how to get on all of those blogger mailing lists. I always see bloggers getting arcs and forms to get arcs and I haven't been able to find any information on it.

  3. Eee, I love this post :D Thank you so so much for sharing Brittany. <3 You are amazing. Hugs. I already knew most of this, but hearing from a publicist is the very best thing :D Cannot wait to see more posts. <3 Hugs.

  4. Love this new feature. Thanks for doing it.

  5. Lovely post and advice! Thanks for sharing!

  6. What a great post! Very informative. I've been blogging for two years, but I've never really gotten ARCs, so this is all good for me to know in case I want to request something.

  7. This is a great new feature. I think it'll help new bloggers especially if they have certain questions like these.

  8. This is pretty awesome to see these responses- what a great new feature! Thanks Brittany!!

  9. This is so cool, Brittany! It's always a struggle for me to know if I should email or not a publicist regarding a book, but this answered one of my questions perfectly!

  10. This is such a helpful feature! I love it! This actually answered something I had occasionally wondered about! Thank you! I love your new features you are coming out with! I look forward to more issues of them! :)

  11. I LOVE this new feature omg thank you for doing this, Brittany!! It's really helpful!! I'm definitely going to submit a few questions I've had haha. I'm sure it'll be a little different varying in countries, but I'm guessing overall publicists feel the same way? Also emailing back to say no to blog tours is one I'm actually asking myself right now, haha. But now I know!

  12. I love all your features and this one is an amazing addition, Brittany! I think it's helpful and also quite interesting, thanks for introducing it :D

  13. This is such an amazing feature, Brittany, thank you so, so much for doing this. I'll be looking forward to all of the issues and to read more questions and answers here :D x

  14. This is such a brilliant feature!! So useful, great for newbie bloggers but also a great reminder for those who've been in the business forever! Love hearing all this great advice straight from the publicists! Thank you, Brittany!

  15. This is sooo helpful Brittany and I think you asked all of the *dying to know* questions! Many thanks to you and our anon publicist!

  16. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me! I think that there are lots of great tips here and even some things that I have never even considered. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I look forward to the next instalment. :)

  17. Excellent!! Great new feature, a window behind the scenes is always great!

  18. Amazing feature! Thanks so much for this Brittany, it's definitely very helpful. Looking forward to further installments :)

  19. This is an awesome feature! As someone who is just now starting to get on lists for publicists to contact without me having to reach out to them all the time, there were definitely things that helped me.

  20. I love this feature!💜

    I will also ask this question on Google docks, but lately myself and other veteran bloggers have noticed that newbie bloggers with few blog followers who only promote on a couple of different social media platforms have been getting high demand ARCs that we were denied. At first I thought maybe this was a YA blogosphere thing because publishers were trying to get teen bloggers involved, but then the Adult Horror bloggers also started complaining. So we were wondering, do publicists still check bloggers' blogs and Twitter to make sure the stats being given by these bloggers is truthful? There is one new blogger who has only about a tenth of my stats no IG account and no Facebook account who has been getting physical ARCs of highly anticipated books that some of us couldn't even get digital Netgalley copies approved for. Why is this? It's kind of a slap in the face to bloggers who have been pouring time and money into our blogs for years. Are these new bloggers lying about their stats? Things had gotten so bad for me on Edelweiss that I emailed the help center thinking that my stats weren't showing up on my requests. An Edelweiss rep emailed me back an said she was confused too because my review ratio was fantastic and that I needed to contact the publishers, but whom do I contact?

  21. This is such an awesome feature! I love hearing directly from publicists what they like/don't like/want us to do, etc. It's hard to navigate because no one really talks about it, so yeah, this is pretty genius! I have to think up some questions now!

  22. Love this feature and the publicists' honesty! (Please thank them for us, LOL.) It's really nice to see this perspective from the other side, and sometimes I have to remember that these people are humans like you and me! (Because I'm so intimidated when I send out emails, hahaa.)

    - Aila @ One Way Or An Author

  23. I love this, Brittany!! I can't wait to read the future issues! Now I need to think of some of my own questions so I can add them to google form!

  24. Ahhhh I love this feature so much, thank you, Brittany! And to all the publicists kind enough to answer the questions for us. ☺️

  25. This is super helpful! I think a lot of us know the basics of writing an email, but it's cool to see more information about content and engagement across platforms. Thanks for this series, Brittany!

    Mary @ Mary Had a Little Book Blog