How to Solicit Reviews and Blurbs for Your Poetry Collection
Soliciting blurbs and book reviews for your poetry collection is an exciting part of the publishing journey. It’s a joy to read what your peers or professors think about your work, and to hear it conveyed through the written word is a poet’s dream. But if you’re new to the publishing process, you may need to start from the beginning. A blurb is a combination of a testimonial and a synopsis of your book, and it’s usually located at the back of the book jacket, although sometimes publishers place them inside the back cover of a hardback or the front cover of a paperback. Before you publish your book, you will need to contact authors who can create a great blurb. It’s preferable to contact them around eight months before your publication date.
Book reviews can be requested once your book is published, although you can pitch reviewers four to six months in advance of your publication date. It takes time to write a review and read a book, and if you wait to solicit a reviewer after your book is published, it may take a few months for the review to be released to the world, especially if the outlet is a professional publication with an editorial calendar. So, it’s best to pitch reviewers with consideration of their time and publication deadlines. Below you will find a step-by-step strategic guide to the promotion, publishing, and marketing process of soliciting reviews and blurbs.
JOIN A WRITER’S GROUP
Writers and poets are known for being solitary, but if you want a career as an author, you’ll benefit from becoming part of a writing community, a writer’s group, or an MFA program. This is the first step to seeking blurbs and book reviews. If you don’t take classes, attend conferences, or engage with publishing industry professionals, you’ll miss opportunities to find authors who can write blurbs or book reviews for your poetry collection.
A simple way to begin connecting with a writing community is by attending readings and taking workshops. By doing this, you will naturally build real and authentic relationships with other poets, so when your book is published, it won’t seem unnatural to ask your peers for a book review or a blurb. Collaborating with esteemed authors on books is another great way of developing relationships.
The time, energy, and attention you give to your poetry peers will directly impact what comes back to you. If you isolate yourself from the writing community, it may seem opportunistic to suddenly ask someone for so much of their time and energy, especially if you haven’t given your time and energy in return.
WRITE BOOK REVIEWS AND BLURBS
Reading a book requires time, and as we all know, people are busy with work and responsibilities. Asking an author to read your book and then write a blurb or book review is asking for a considerable amount of their time, so it’s important to appreciate that this author is doing you a favor. You can return that favor by reviewing their book through websites such as Fjords Review. This is a great way to build relationships with authors you admire. It’s also a terrific resource if you have social anxiety or don’t like to network. You can also find a directory of online reviewers and contact them.
FIND EXPERIENCED AUTHORS AND MENTORS
Just because someone is a great poet doesn’t mean they can write you a great blurb. Blurbs are promotional copy written by authors who are experienced with the publishing industry. They have to understand the marketing purpose of the blurb, so it’s best to find an author who has written blurbs before. You can also reach out to well-known authors you’ve never met and ask them if they would be interested in reading your book.
CONTACT LITERARY MAGAZINES
Most literary and commercial magazines publish book reviews, and you can contact their offices to ask them for a review of your book. Some presses automatically send your book to well-known magazines. Other presses and magazines where your work was published submit to well-known contests such as Best of the Net and The Pushcart Prize. When your poetry is acknowledged in these prizes and contests, more poets and writers will take interest in your book.
CONTACT AN AGENT AND PUBLICIST
If you’re published by a literary press then you generally don’t need an agent, although many well-known literary poets do have agents that specialize in their genre. However, if you are published by a commercial press then you absolutely need an agent and a publicist. They will request interviews for you, contact magazines and poetry websites, and do all the practical work of promoting your book.
GIVE BOOK READINGS
There are so many talented poets in the world, and people have limited time these days, so in order to stand out amid a world full of books, you have to be willing to give book readings. When a reader has a personal experience with your work, they will remember your poetry. And if those readers are reviewers, they can even write about your book without you pitching to them.
JOIN SOCIAL MEDIA
While social media has its addictive downfalls, in this renaissance age of publishing, it’s almost always necessary to have a social media account. Facebook and Instagram will allow you to discover book readings and learn what your peers, professors, and writing communities are doing. Twitter offers writers the opportunity to network with a community of authors who are eager to interact with readers. If you absolutely cannot fathom the privacy concerns of social media, you can sign up for literary newsletters to learn about events happening in your city.
Throughout the pandemic, social media has also become a great way to network digitally. You can connect with your favorite authors through Instagram Live if you are unable to attend a book reading. Once you make a connection with someone, be it video or in-person, it’s harder for them to forget you, and they may be more inclined to write you a book review or blurb.
Some writers become editors or publicists and create networking opportunities through their career, and while this is a great idea, there are fortunately many other ways to engage in genuine and authentic relationships with other authors. Even just joining a writer’s group will open doors and offer necessary opportunities for your career. Soliciting reviews and blurbs for your poetry collection happens naturally when you are part of a poetry community. To start engaging in the publishing world, you can easily join our community of poets on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.