How to get free, pre-released copies of your favorite authors’ new books
Ever find a brand new book on Amazon, just released today, and wonder how it already has all those reviews? Or glance at a book cover, and think, “this was printed before the book was released to the public, but it’s covered in testimonials from famous entrepreneurs, celebrities, and other writers.”
How do those reviewers get the book so early? How do I get in on this?
Here’s how I do it.
When we see a lot of other people looking at something, we become interested. It’s how our psychology works. So authors want their books surrounded with testimonials.
Publishing companies and their public relations (PR) staff do work to get those reviews. They’ll spread early editions of the book to other authors under that same publishing company, or mail it out to influential people in their rolodex.
But, I’m not a published author of a book, and I’m not famous, so I don’t have any PR person sending me free books from my favorite authors.
How can I fix this?
And it turned out, it was easy.
1. Scan Amazon #
I religiously scan Amazon and the internet for new books that might be coming out from my favorite authors.
Amazon lists books for pre-order months ahead of when they actually get released. I don’t have a great automated way to do this, but I simply search Amazon for interesting things, especially from authors I already enjoy. Some strategic bookmarks to Amazon searches or Google Alerts might help.
Here’s an example:
Last year, I did a search for Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favorites, and there it was. Malcolm’s latest book David and Goliath was available for pre-order on Amazon.
2. Find the author’s email address #
There are a ton of ways to accomplish this. Many authors simply list their email on their website. Or you could use WHOIS to find registration details of someone’s domain name.
Or simply guess. firstname.lastname@example.org often works. Then, use Rapportive to check some of your guesses. After you have Rapportive installed, you can start a new email with that address in the To field, and if Rapportive has the email in their database, a profile will popup.
Or search Google for different combinations of “email@example.com”, “firstname.lastname@example.org”, etc.
Or use Twitter to make the connection, or the authors contact form, or use LinkedIn’s InMail.
3. Now, email them #
Introduce yourself as a fan who’d like to do an honest review of their book. Mention some of the data that might make that interesting to them: I run a growing blog with X readers, I have Y number of Twitter followers.
Here’s what I sent to Malcolm.
That’s all there is to it. 64 words including the subject. And I have a 100% success rate doing this.
A few days later Malcolm responded, “wonderful!” And he put me in touch with is publicist who sent me a free copy of his book.
And on the day his book came out, I had a review already written:
4. Thank the PR person #
After your review is published, send a brief thank you note/email to the person who sent you the book. A lot of PR people work with multiple authors, and now you’ll be in their rolodex for new projects.
Questions and objections #
Wait, this was really simple. Isn’t there more?
No. It has been that simple. I was expecting a ton of fail and rejection - at least a lot of ignored emails. But I keep being surprised by the response and excitement of the author and their PR people to send me the free book.
But, I don’t have thousands of Twitter followers.
Stop letting this be an excuse. Most of us don’t start with that unless you are already a celebrity. If this is an excuse that’s holding you back from things, then start building that audience. Start writing and teaching, and helping people wherever you find them: on Reddit, Twitter, Hacker News, a million forums, Github. Start helping people and they will start to follow you.
Here are a few thoughts on how to start building an audience.
Also, I have no idea what the “minimum” is that these authors or PR people even care about. It probably doesn’t exist. Leave out the numbers then in your email, and just show them you are writing a blog that you obviously are spending constant time on, and this will probably still work.
But, I don’t want to write some BS review.
Don’t. If I get a book, and it sucks, I keep my pen closed. I never feel forced to write the review. I only talk about books that I’ve actually enjoyed.
When should I publish my review?
Ask the PR person. Some publicists/authors want your review to “prime the pump” before the release date, and they’ll tell you. But by default, if they haven’t told you, assume you are going to hold off until the release.
The real lesson from this is how easy it is to connect with someone if you want to. I’ve reached out to dozens of famous people this way: Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos, Marc Benioff, Howard Schultz, and on and on. Sometimes I get sent to a “gatekeeper”, but if I’m polite and trying my hardest to be genuinely helpful, a lot these outbound connections turn into meetings and deals and other opportunities - like getting a free preview of their new book.
P.S. I’d love to meet you on Twitter: here.
Or please let me send you my latest newsletter.