For more than 25 years, I have been affixing a review slip to every review copy I send out to the media. For me, it is automatic, yet when I mention it at Publishing University or in other settings, I’m amazed to find that most publishers and authors don’t know what I’m talking about. Because review slips help get coverage for books, you may want to add the slips to your standard promotional materials.
What It Is and What It Does
Publishers and authors are conscientious when it comes to preparing all the materials to be sent out with review copies. These often include a cover letter, a media release, an author bio, and a recap of advance blurbs or reviews. They are all important elements to create and send, and they all should, and usually do, include contact information. The trouble is that they often get separated from the book when it arrives at its destination, or when the journalist, producer, or host you sent it to passes it along to somebody else. As a result, a media person who is interested in the book and is actually looking at it may not know how to get information needed for writing a review, inviting the author to appear, or otherwise featuring the title. But the media will know if contact information is easily accessible on a review slip that has been affixed to the inside front cover of the book, or to the first right-hand page, if that is blank or there is space around text that appears there. You always want to make it as easy as possible for a journalist or producer to reach someone quickly and easily when they want to; if they can’t, they might move on to somebody else’s book. Permanent access to contact information is especially important when a journalist or producer likes a book but doesn’t plan to do anything with it immediately. That’s when the book often goes into a pile or onto a shelf for possible future use without the accompanying paperwork. Fast-forward a few weeks or a few months. (We have even been contacted a few years after we sent a book out.) The book’s topic is now hot. Journalists and producers want to get in touch with the author quickly. They pull the book off the shelf and start to look for the best way to reach that expert. Of course, they can try searching via their favorite search engine or Facebook or Twitter, but that takes some time, and so does hunting through the book for a Web site or an email address. But the review slip gives them a way to call or email the contact person immediately. The easier you make the journalist’s and producer’s job, the more likely they are to contact you. If you are then prompt at getting back to them, and if you are helpful, you suddenly become a resource not only for the current story but for future stories on that topic as well. We print the review slip on sheets of self-adhesive labels that can be run off as needed and easily peeled off and stuck onto the book. (Once upon a time, the presence of a review slip—like stamping the edges of a book with “Review Copy”—kept a review copy from being returned to a bookstore to be exchanged and sold. Today, Amazon and other retailers proudly announce that a used copy has a review slip or is designated a review copy some other way. This is just a fact of the book business now, and one shouldn’t dwell on it.) The slip that appears below has been enlarged. Its actual dimensions are 3.5"× 5", so that four review slips fit on an 8"× 11" sheet for printing.