Tips for Writing a Galley Letter

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Galleys (or ARCs) continue to be a vital step in the book review process, which can help make or break a book. As important as galleys are, the accompanying galley letter is equally important. Knowing how to construct a letter that helps sell your book (what to include and the overall structure) can help your galley/book get noticed and, ultimately, get media coverage and stocked by retailers.

Keep in mind just how many books/galleys reviewers, media contacts, booksellers and librarians receive; the numbers are astounding. A galley letter is the key that can open the door to get someone to genuinely consider reviewing or stocking your book.

The Basics

Most trade outlets request multiple copies, so you’ll want to include a letter with each galley, folded into the inside cover and sticking out. Also, fold them so the print is showing, not the blank side. If possible, bind the galleys you’re sending with a rubber band. Use your letterhead and sign the letters, too. This personal step can help.

It’s a Vehicle

Your galley letter is a vehicle to convey pertinent information about you and your book to a reviewer, library, or retailer. It’s not a press release and shouldn’t be written as such. You don’t want to repurpose your press release or emphasize what you could discuss in an interview. Keep your audience in mind. You want to make the case as to why your galley should be considered and why it’s unique from other, similar books.

Get the Bibliographic Information Correct

Very important: you need to verify the bibliographic information is correct and it’s a good rule-of-thumb to include it multiple places within your letter. The essential biblio elements:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Author
  • Publication date
  • Publisher
  • Format/trim size
  • ISBN
  • Price
  • Short author bio including previous books

Failure to get this most basic information correct could result in your book and pitch being ignored. Most review outlets will organize galleys received by publication month so it’s important to get all this information correct. 

Personalize It!

To help your letter stand out, personalize with the review editor/bookseller/librarian’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 media outlet-specific items like roundups or category spotlights. If you received a glowing review from the outlet previously, it’s OK to call that out and include the date.

Brevity is King

At most, a strong and effective galley letter should be four or five paragraphs: an opening, paragraph about the book and what is unique about it, biblio information, paragraph about the author and a conclusion with your contact information listed. Do not make it longer than one page! Use single spacing with a double space between paragraphs. If you have a few top-notch endorsements, it’s fine to have a second sheet listing them.

You want to put your best foot forward with reviewers and by following the tips above, you will be in the game. Happy writing!


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Mike Onorato

Mike Onorato is Executive Director of Publicity Services for Smith Publicity. Before joining Smith Publicity, Mike began his career at CBS News, then moved on to account management at a major public relations firm. The bulk of his book promotion experience comes from 14 years spent at Wiley, one of the oldest publishing companies in the world, where he began as a book publicist and worked his way up to Associate Director of Publicity.