How to get Free Books to Review for your Website

You can find books covering any subject imaginable and almost an equal number of blogs writing on these subjects.  If you’re a fellow blogger and avid reader like yours truly, it may be of interest to you to jot down your thoughts on the book you just consumed.  However, obtaining these books, especially ARC titles (advanced review copies) can be daunting due to availability or mounting costs.  Well, good news everybody as my favorite cartoon character Hubert J. Farnsworth would say.  Even if you have a small blog with only a handful of readers, getting your hands on free books to review is a possibility.

Who do I contact?

Finding the right person / place to contact is largely based on the type of books you would like to review.  Obviously, for Retro Hive I was interested in sci-fi books so that’s where I began my search.

To find the proper contact information:

  1. Navigate to a book category of interest, in my case “science fiction books
  2. Click on “coming soon” in the upper left hand sidebar
  3. Find a book you’re interested in reviewing and click on the title to view the product page
  4. Scroll down until you find the publisher/book information (as seen in the image below)
  5. Copy the publisher & ISBN-10 information
  6. Now you have the information necessary to find the publishers contact information! With a Google search find the publisher (In my case I was lead to Penguin Group Publishing)
  7. The next step is to find the review copy contact info.  This will vary from publisher to publisher but a good place to start is in the FAQ/Help pages for the website.  For Penguin Group I was able to find this page,

What do I need to say to the publisher?

Most publishing companies will require you to fax information to them.  If you don’t have a fax machine I’m sure you can have someone you know fax it for you or find a library/print shop that will let you use theirs.  However, for the best chance of receiving a review copy it’s important to be professional and provide the information they require in a clear & precise manner.

What should I do next?

After you receive your review copy it’s time to keep your end of the bargain and actually write the review.  Publishers & authors like to receive positive reviews but if you prove yourself to be a fraud there won’t be anyone around to read those  praises.  With that said, your best bet is to simply write an unbiased review and hope that the publisher in question will continue to give you the chance to write about additional products.

Even though you’ve written the review it doesn’t mean the publisher or author will automatically see it, so let them know.  Most ARC copies will come with publisher information on the cover label or via documentation provided with the book.

If you’re new to writing reviews I’d suggest using a template to help guide your thoughts.  You can find a decent review worksheet on ReadWriteWeb.

Additional Tips:

If the publisher contact information is exceedingly hard to come by an alternative approach is to contact the author directly.  This is usually just a matter of finding the author’s name and searching for their official site through a search engine.

It’s a good idea to remember all of the books you’ve requested and from which authors/publishers you’ve requested them.  Keep an ongoing Google Doc or a spreadsheet of your choosing to store this information.  After all, you don’t want to hound the same authors until they blacklist you.

Hopefully this guide was helpful to you, if you have any questions or comments please post them on the forum.

Read More

How to get Audio Files off of your iPod or iPhone


iTunes and Apple have a choke hold on your ability to transfer files back and forth from the iPod/iPad/iPhone. However, with a little program called SharePod you can bypass all the nonsense preventing you from backing up files from your digital device to your computer.

My main MP3 player these days is the trusty ol’ Android Incredible.  However, in the yester-years I used an old iPod Nano to listen to all the sci-fi audio books I put my cybernetic hands on.  However, years after my old iPod was stuffed in a drawer and a new computer set atop my desk I found myself wanting some of the old audio books off of it.

Unfortunately, iTunes or any of the other go-to audio players didn’t make that an easy task (although, it should have). So, what is a guy to do? Well, I was lucky enough through a Google search to find an Engadget post that guided me on my way to a program called SharePod.  This lovely little program lets you share your audio files with your computer or backup to and from your iPod. No, this isn’t a shill post to advertise the software (it just got me out of a pinch backing up my Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy audio book & others).

So, how do we backup iPod files onto the computer?:

  • First, download SharePod from their site or via the Retro Hive Sharepod mirror.
  • Unzip the file & install using the setup program
  • Open SharePod and highlight all of the files you want to backup (hit CTRL+A to hotkey this)
  • Click on “Copy to Computer” and wallah it does its magic!

Hopefully this helps anyone else in a sci-fi audio disaster like I found myself in.


Read More