For those of us not lucky enough to have a publicist touting our creative accomplishments there is always the fall back of promoting ourselves. However, as you can imagine, there is a right way and wrong way to do it. As a poet, or a writer, if you are hoping to ask for someone to review your work and post it in a printed publication or on-line then there are certain rules you should follow:
1.) Be familiar with the publication or web-site you are approaching, i.e., do your research. Make sure that the editor or reviewer you are approaching has regular features/reviews of your genre and that their reviews match what you are looking for. I have had poets approach me asking for much more than what I typically provide on my blog and have had to explain that I produce relatively short, concise features rather than in-depth reviews that might be published in a magazine such as Poetry from the Poetry Foundation. Tailor your request and expectations to the publication or web-site you are approaching.
2.) Be humble and polite. When requesting to be reviewed simply include a brief introduction such as your name, the title of your chapbook or book, what your collection of work is about and that you would like to be featured in the publication or web-site. It also doesn’t hurt to explain why you’ve picked this reviewer’s publication or web-site—do you admire the writers they’ve featured in the past? Do you enjoy reading their reviews and hope to be included among them? Compliments and research go a long way to scoring a review. Please wait for a response from the reviewer before placing restraints, recommendations, or links to other reviews you’ve enjoyed hoping that the reviewer will emulate those reviews when they begin to read your work. The more restraints and requests you make the less eager the reviewer will be to accept your request.
3.) If you do not hear anything in return, wait a couple of weeks to follow-up on your request. Include a reminder that you had sent an e-mail or letter a couple of weeks ago and have not heard a response, would the reviewer mind taking a look?
4.) Also, if you are politely declined do not assume that it is because you are not good enough. It may simply be that the reviewer is currently overwhelmed and you can try approaching the reviewer again in another several months to a year.
5.) Once you have been reviewed, please send a thank you note of some sort—e-mail or hand-written. The reviewer took time out of their busy schedule to read your work and review it so be sure to thank them, especially before requesting another review for another collection of work. Also, do not expect the reviewer to automatically say yes to reviewing another collection unless they have specifically indicated they are willing to do so. If you would like another review and have not had an invitation to send more of your writing then you may need to wait three or more months before asking again. Remember, reviewers have quite a few chapbooks/books to review and may want some time before featuring the same poet or writer again to catch up on other requests or to keep their publication/web-site “fresh.”
I hope this advice is helpful, we are all in this together and I wish you all courage and success in asking for reviews and getting your words published and featured.
Please drop by again on Monday for another featured site…