Friendship Friday: How to get the biggest books from the best publishers–for free!

New segment! On Fridays, when I’m able, I would like to give back to the awesome book community. I’ll share any knowledge I’ve gained, or spotlight other fabulous book bloggers/social media users who are ROCKING it!

Today: How to get the biggest books from the best publishers–for free!


There are a TON of books out there. Publicists these days are going crazy trying to get your interest. It’s tough. Between cute kitten videos and Friends marathons on Netflix, trying to get public interest in a particular book, let alone a stack of books, is enough to make anyone go bonkers.

They need YOUR help. Before the books come rolling in, you need to build a publicity vehicle. For me, I started getting books at the library (free!) and posting my reviews on Amazon (free!). Warning: that’s a humbling experience. Folks can vote your reviews up–and down! I suggest going with a free blog like wordpress, blogger, or tumblr.

Next, take your vehicle for a drive around social media: Twitter, Instagram, YouTube (you don’t want to see my face on YouTube). Most importantly: INTERACT. You’ll find people and they’ll find you. Make a game out of it; keep track of your social standings with Klout.

Another tip: if your goal is free books, make sure your vehicle is painted bumper-to-bumper in books. When publishers start looking at you, they want to see you talking about books. Cats and wine are totally acceptable, but make sure you let them know you love talking about and promoting books!


Now that you’ve built a platform for yourself and have connected with some other bookish friends, find new books to review. Key word: NEW. Find what the publishers are promoting and help them promote it. I like to go to the “coming soon” sections on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Both have some neat sorting features. If you’re in with your librarian or local book sellers, they’ll have some great catalogs and newsletters as well.

Here’s the ultimate first stop for free books: Netgalley, Edelweiss, and Blogging for Books. The two former ones require that you have an e-reader or computer, the latter one sends out physical copies of books. Go there! Netgalley especially has tools to sort through publishers and books to see what is coming out and what types of people the publishers are interested in giving books.


Okay, so digital ARCs aren’t your thing? You want something in the mail? You want to hold the new books? You want to hug the new books? You want to SMELL the new books?

First, you have to know who publishes the new books. In the tools above, you’ll find the books and most often see who is publishing the new books. Goodreads is also a great source. Once you know the publisher, you’ll need to know where to contact them. It’s uncouth to ask in public forums like Facebook and Twitter.

Go to the publisher’s website and look for “contact us” or “publicity contact information”. If that fails, Google the publishers name along with the words “publicity contact”. I’m going to make it easy for you. Here are some of the biggest publishing houses in America and their publicity contact pages:

Hachette Book Group (Little, Brown, Grand Central, Center Street, etc.)
HarperCollins (Harper, Ecco, Dey Street, William Morrow, etc.)
Macmillan (St. Martin’s Press, Tor/Forge, Holt, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, etc.)
Penguin  (Dutton, Penguin Press, Riverhead, Viking, etc.)
Random House (Crown, Doubleday, Dutton, Knopf, etc.) This page has merged Pengiun contacts.
Simon & Schuster (Atria, Scribner, Simon & Schuster, etc.)

That should keep you busy.


There are two types of books that you may see ahead of publishing date:

Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) that are bound copies sent out months in advance that may still be edited before the…

Final Copies, which are the finished deal. These are the books that the public will see and buy in droves.

You’ll want to write a nice note to the publisher telling them how awesome you are (publicity vehicle) and which book(s) you would like to receive. Generally plan to write your letter 3-4 months in advance for ARCs and about a month in advance for a finished copy. Each publisher is a bit different, but those are pretty good averages based on mine and other bloggers’ findings.

Make it easy for them! Connect the dots. Tell them who you are, why you want the book, and how you can promote the book. Include links to your sites and profiles. Perhaps give examples of how you’ve helped them in the past. And–very important–give them your address.

One of four things will happen: they’ll respond and tell you they are sending the book!; they won’t respond and still send the book; they’ll say “no”; or, instead of saying “no” they’ll usually opt to ignore you. Remember: they are super busy. It’s nothing personal. Don’t feel bad if they ignore you.

If you send your request far enough in advance, and you haven’t heard anything in a couple of weeks, don’t be afraid to send a follow-up request (or two). I like to tell them that I already sent a request and I’m following up with another request. I know they’re busy. Again: make it easy for them.

The more you drive your vehicle, the more books you’ll get.


Another crucial point. If you say you’ll post a review, make sure you post a review. If you say you’ll take a picture of their book with a pack of elephants, make sure you have the elephants ready. Whatever it is that got their attention, follow through.

This is golden: send them a follow-up email. Give them the links to your coverage. They may not respond, but they’ll definitely appreciate the email. It makes a world of difference for them. And, chances are, they’ll remember you next time!

There are some other great articles about getting free books. You’ll definitely want to check out this from ReadWriteLove. She includes a TON of helpful links with plenty of her own helpful advice. Be sure to follow her blog, too!

Do you have any tips or personal advice for getting books?
What has your experience been?


21 thoughts on “Friendship Friday: How to get the biggest books from the best publishers–for free!

  1. LizScanlon

    Great post! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    I’m on NetGalley and am also signed up to a newsletter which delivers daily deals into my mailbox… it’s called ReadCheaply… books for a bargain, sometimes free, covering any topic and pretty much any purchasing platform.

    1. ryandejonghe Post author

      I know, right? Definitely check out Blogging for Books. It started small with Crown’s Christian publishing, but now it’s HUGE! My first book from them was THE MARTIAN. It’s so easy and there’s no discriminating. If you see the book, you click it, and it’s yours.

      1. ryandejonghe Post author

        Yes, do it! (both read the Martian and sign up) I just saw someone’s blog post today that they got Neil Patrick Harris’s book from there. The paperback version of The Martian is currently listed.

      2. The Paperback Princess

        Oh don’t worry – I have a copy of The Martian at home. Buried under piles of other books I still need to read. It’s bad when my husband is the one telling me I really need to read a book but that’s the situation I find myself in.

      3. ryandejonghe Post author

        Ah, that’s a bummer. I’ll see if I can get you some tips from my Canadian blogging friends. I’ve seem piles of books being sent around from Random just need to know where they’re getting them from. I’ll see what I can do…

  2. citygirlscapes

    I think at the heart of things, free books is what got us all started on this journey! Or maybe I’m just speaking about myself. 🙂 Great post, definitely would have come in handy when we were just starting out, though we’re still trying to get the hang of all this so it made for a helpful read. Thanks! – ashley

  3. El @ Just Love

    This is a great post! Thank you so much for the fantastic resources and hints. NetGalley is a great resource, although I think people definitely abuse it… I’ve talked to so many publishers and authors who say they won’t use NetGalley anymore because their ARCs appear on pirating websites within a few days.

  4. Pingback: Friendship Friday: How to create book reviews that write themselves. | Ryan's Book Review

  5. The Books Confetti

    Great post Ryan! Though getting ARCs and deadlines for reviewing aren’t really what I want every month. I’ve enough books on my tbr list already omg haha. Doesn’t anyone get stressed over that? Maybe it’s just me. Keep the great posts up!


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