tips and tidbits on your
"advanced review copy" package
You'd think the bound version of the Advanced Reading (or review) copy of your manuscript would be what reviewers want. It's nice, polished, you've spent a lot of time and care with it, not to mention is cost a good chunk of your promotional budget, only to find out reviewers are as picky about what they like in a story as they are about what they'd like in your Advanced Reading Copy package. Remember that while it might seemed tedious, finding out what people want before hand might just save a few dollars, (which adds up in the long run). Take some time via a few e-mail correspondence to introduce yourself, to tell the reviewer briefly that you'd like to send your ARC package for a review post or a book quote for your website or exactly wherever you plan to use a positive snippet of what they have to say about your story. Remember also that as you are inquiring about how they'd prefer your submission sent, unbound vs. bound, including a press kit in case they have space either on a site or in magazine, etc., to mention some information about you, you also want to make contact with them to ensure they have the time they need to read your story. While this may be a given, people who do reviews are regular Joe's just like the rest of us. They have families and real 9 to 5's and get backlogged and behind. After you've done all that, consider your entire package checklist and don't forget to check each item off.
Advanced Review Copy Checklist -
1. COVER LETTER - something short that says what's enclosed, what you expect (are they just reviewing to post on Amazon.com, and other sites that allow reviews? If they have a website, like the RAWSistaz Reviewers and other sites, suggest being a possible author of the month, that you'd love to be the guest for their monthly chat, or whatever other special events they host listed on their site. It never hurts to ask, they can only say but they won't say anything at all if you don't ask. Don't forget to thank them for their time and "please enjoy" or "I hope you enjoy " story title" ". Remind them of how you heard about them, whether you spoke with someone initially over e-mail and the approximate month you were in contact with them. You don't need to know the exact date, a generalization (the month, a couple months back) will do. This will help to refresh their memory.
2. THE MANUSCRIPT -Do a double check to ensure all the pages are in order. Nothing would urk a reviewer more than having to search for the next page.
3. PRESS KIT - a must, even if you don't have a ton of things to put into your press kit, the standard things you should have created whether you've been on the map or are just entering into the realm of writing include:
-Photo (a good one, can be B&W or color)
-Publications list, if you've written any articles, (paid or non-paid) if they're floating around cyberspace be sure to list them, title, publication date, and location.
-Press Release - write up something about your books release, a paragraph on what the story is about, the publisher, and a couple sentences about you. Double space it, make it short and sweet and put it as the next page under your cover letter. When they open it after reading the letter to see what the package is, the press release should be the next thing they see.
-Book excerpt - you can type this up yourself. Put a border around it, make it look nice and put it on color paper. Remember your press kit shouldn't be strictly black and white. Spice it up; use different colors (pastels, remember neon, checkered and other busy, bold colors are hard on the eye and whatever is contained on the page probably won't get read). Use different textured papers are well to spice up your press kit. Cut paper with those funky edges to make it stand out.
-Last but not least, don't forget a Cover flat, postcard, bookmarks, other promo items and color photocopy of your books cover
4. Return SASE - Some reviewers do keep manuscripts, some may even be collectors, others probably toss them after a year or so trying to keep the clutter down, (sad but true) ARC's are bulky, cumbersome and while it was a good read, to keep the 8 ½ by 11 form of the book is just a real space taker. Assume they don't want to keep it and if you don't want it back (nor want to pay the postage to get it back), ask them to properly dispose of it. If its a bound ARC or galley, which cost you more to produce than the general unbound version, I myself would send the SASE to get it sent back to me.
5. MANUSCRIPT RECEIVED SASE - There's nothing worse than wondering if your submission was even received. Use a post card print you address on it and some identifying information about your manuscript to ensure those that received it, can send something back to let you know as much. Forget this and wonder away about your beautiful hard toiled, expensive manuscript floating around there in postal service error land.
After the review:
Don't forget to send a handwritten thank you note. No matter what was said, you should thank them. Even if your heart felt as if it was ripped out whatever their comments, thank them for taking the time to read your work. It might've been just a bad day for them and they felt like being a bit ornery and sorry to say, they happened to be reading your work on that day. Reviewers are people and they have bad days, and they have different tastes. In the future if it's really bothersome, consider the type of work they usually read and perhaps do not use them the next time. The good comments you received will far outweigh the bad and a handwritten thank you note is a lost art with e-mail, electronic cards and notes the common way to correspond, but hand writing your notes a long way so don't forget it.
Best of luck to you,
Tracee Lydia Garner
Tracee Lydia Garner is the winner of the BET/Arabesque first ever, First Time Writer's Contest for her novella Family Affairs (All That & Then Some anthology). Her full-length debut entitled Come What May will be in stores February 2003. Read excerpts at www.Teegarner.com, or send e-mail to