Galleys, or advanced reader copies, are important to your book promotion, and so is your galley letter. You want to put your best foot forward with reviewers and by following these tips, you’ll be off to a good start.
Galleys, or advanced reader copies (ARCs), are printed versions of your book that you can distribute to reviewers, bloggers, distributors, retail buyers, and other industry contacts. Galleys are essentially product samples, and they continue to be an important step in the book review and promotion process.
Whatever the changes in the publishing landscape, reviews can help make or break a book and galleys can help you get reviews in advance of your full publication run. And as important as galleys are, so are galley letters. Knowing how to construct a galley letter — what information to include and how to structure the letter — can help get your book noticed and reviewed.
A letter for every ARC
Since most trade outlets request multiple copies of an advance, you’ll want to include a galley letter with every ARC, folded into the inside cover and sticking out. If possible, bind the galleys you’re sending with a rubber band. Use your letterhead and sign the letters, too. That personal step can help.
Know your audience
Your galley letter is a vehicle to convey pertinent information about the book to a reviewer. It’s not a press release and shouldn’t be treated as such. You don’t want to repurpose your press release or enumerate what you (as the author) could discuss in an interview, for example. Keep in mind who your audience is: book review editors. You want to make the case why your galley should be considered for review and why it’s unique from other books in the same genre.
The Five Ws
It’s critical to get the biblio information correct in your galley letter, and it’s a good rule of thumb to include it multiple places within your letter. This includes the title, subtitle, author, publish date, publisher, format, ISBN, price, and short author bio — including previous books if possible. Failure to get this most basic information correct could result in your book and pitch being ignored. Most review outlets will organize galleys by publication month, so it’s important to get all this information correct.
To help your galley letter stand out, personalize it with the review editor’s name and outlet. At all costs, do NOT begin your letter with “Dear Editor.” You might as well not even send it! It’s also smart to specifically highlight or call out previous notable publicity you’ve received, particularly if it came from the same source you’re contacting. If you’ve received a glowing review from the outlet in the past, call that out and include the date.
Keep it brief
A strong and effective galley letter should be no longer than four paragraphs: an opening, a paragraph about the book and what is unique about it (including biblio information), a section about the author, and a conclusion with contact info listed. You do not need to make it longer than that and do not go longer than one page. If you have a few top-notch endorsements, it’s fine to have a second sheet listing them.
Galleys are important and so is your galley letter. You want to put your best foot forward with reviewers and by following the tips above, you are off to a good start. Happy writing!
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