Are You a New Book Blogger? Do You Want Free Books?
You might wonder how other book bloggers get free books, many of them before they even hit the shelf. I wondered the same thing when I first started blogging about books. I visited a lot of blogs trying to figure out the secret to getting free books. When I saw bloggers talking about awesome books that hadn’t come out yet, I was like, “How the heck did they get that book already?” I didn’t know how many different ways there are to receive advanced reading copies. And I didn’t know then that established bloggers often have books sent to them without having to ask for them.
Because most of the bloggers didn’t reveal their secret (which I know now isn’t really a secret), I started searching for “review copies” on Google. I did a lot of research, and finally figured out how to get some of the books myself.
Since then, I’ve had people ask me how I get the books I review. The truth is: I get books from so many different places it gets hard to keep track of it all. I get some of them before they come out, but the majority I get later from a lot of different sources. In this post, I will tell you some of the ways I got free books when I first started as a book blogger.
I still use many of these methods, but not as frequently, not because they aren’t legitimate ways of getting books, but because I have had to repeatedly reduce my book collection. I’ve become more selective in the books I request, do tours for, and accept from authors or publishers. I even try now to limit the number of free books I buy on Kindle, just because I have too many already.
Here are some ways to get free books to review on your blog:
1. Ask the Author
The most obvious way is ask an author for a copy of his/her book to review.
Although this seems easy, I generally advise against it unless you already have a relationship established with that author.
If you take the chance and ask anyway, you will get one of the following results:
- They author gets irritated. You risk ruining any chance of working with that author in the future. Of course, you might not know that the author is irritated by you, because a lot of authors just won’t reply.
- The author redirects you to the his/her publicist or agent. If you email that person, he/she might not respond.
- You receive a nice response that declines your request.
- The author does want to work with you. You start a new working relationship with the author. (slim chance for new blogs, but it can happen)
If you are going to go this route, I recommend waiting until you have some followers, so the author can see that she isn’t giving away her work for nothing.
Also, it is a good idea to approach indie authors first before trying traditionally published authors, who usually don’t have review copies to give without having to go through their publisher.
Word of warning: If you are going to approach an author, do it through email only. A lot of authors don’t like to be bothered on social media. I’ve read many posts from authors ranting about how readers pester them for review copies.
Enter giveaways for copies of books you would like to read. You might be doing this already. So, just start reviewing the books you have won. Author websites, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are all great places to look for giveaways. Just follow your favorite blogs and authors and keep your eyes peeled for giveaways.
Google isn’t the best way to find giveaways because you’ll usually get old results for giveaways that have already ended.
Authors also give away their books for free through newsletters and promotions like Instafreebie. Another way they give books away is by offering them for free on Amazon, Nook, and other online retailers.
3. Blog Tours
Participating in blog tours is a wonderful way to create connections with authors and publishers, in addition to getting free books before they come out. Most tour companies use digital advanced reading copies (also known as d-ARCs and e-ARCs). The few companies I know of that offer physical books are more selective of who they allow to participate in the tours. But you can sign up as a host anyway, to see what happens. The more hits your blog gets and the more followers you have, the better the chance of getting selected as a tour host.
Blog tours are also a great way to get content for your blog. Just keep in mind that there will be a lot of other blogs posting the exact same thing if you aren’t reviewing. I recommend looking for blog tours that offer a chance to create unique content for your blog like exclusive interviews or guest posts.
4. Digital Review Copy Websites
There are a lot of these websites. Some are better than others, because some are very picky about who receives digital ARCs. Most of these websites are catalogs of books by publishers. The decision whether to issue you a review copy is made by the publisher of the book, not by the actual website. Four such sites to check out are: Netgalley, Edelweiss, Reading Deals, and Library Thing.
We are actually starting a review copy library on this website. If you have a blog and some followers, feel free to request any book that is in our library.
5. Author Requests
If you’re not opposed to reading self-published books or small-press books, you can put yourself out there as someone who is willing to review those types of books. There are many websites that index blogs willing to review indie books. Sign up on a few of these. You can also list your blog on various Goodreads forums. Soon enough, authors will start coming to you.
As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to get free books to review on your book blog. Once you’ve established yourself as a book reviewer, more opportunities will arise to review books before they come out.
Words of warning:
Asking for review copies can become addictive! Don’t bury yourself under books you won’t get around to reading. I made this mistake at the beginning, saying yes to every offer that came my way and requesting too many books on Netgalley. I still have books I haven’t read yet. And, honestly, I don’t really want to anymore. But I will because I said I would, even if it takes me three more years to get through them all!
No matter what, don’t take advantage of the generosity of an author or publisher. Do not duplicate, share, distribute, or sell the book you have received. I know most people would never consider doing such a thing, but I want to say it anyway. Authors work really hard, and they don’t deserve to have their work stolen.
Experienced bloggers: Do you have any other advice on how to get free books?
Edit 1/14/18: I’ve grandfathered this post into our new feature, Book Blogging Basics. More posts like this can be found in our menu under features.