Non-Traditional Jobs: How Bibliophiles and Film Fanatics Can Find Success

By Charissa Arsaoui on 12 December 2009 (Updated 1 March 2010) 7 comments
Photo: brewbooks

Book lovers and movie fanatics of the world unite! There is a legitimate way for you to feed your addiction for bestsellers and box office blockbusters without spending a dime. In fact, it may pay to be nice to the UPS and FEDEX men because they soon will be showering you with gifts and lots of them! In a given week, I receive at least five packages — all of which contain new release books and movies ready to review. That’s right, folks. Everything you were told about the entertainment industry is true. It pays to network.

With that being said, I am going to share my secrets of success with you, Wise Bread readers. I am a contributing writer/reviewer for Buzzine and know how to work my magic when requesting new titles from publishers and distributors. In fact, last month’s booty consisted of over 50 books for my reading pleasure and at least a dozen comedies and documentaries from dinosaurs to wildlife photography to organic cooking. Needless to say, I am in the process of reviewing the bulk of these titles and now have gifts for every member of my family for free. How utterly cool is that? It really is easier than it looks.

Here’s how you can go from your average bookworm or movie watcher to a supercharged, reviewing machine.

Find an outlet for your reviews.

This can be your blog or a publication that you write for. Make sure that you clear your role in the company with the Editor before setting out to express your opinion about an upcoming new release. Much like food critics, reviewers can be brutally honest. You may or may not need to censor your content a bit to fit your target audience.

Start making contact.

Do a simple web search to locate publishing companies and film distributors throughout the country. Locate their Press Room and make note of the name of the site’s publicist.  Write down the name, author, and ISBN of the titles that you are requesting to speed up the process. This information will be needed for the next step.

Make a written request.

Some publishing companies require that you fax in requests on company letterhead. I have yet to meet one that has not honored an email request. When writing the publicist for the first time, introduce yourself by name, give background information on the publication that you work for, state the titles that you are interested in, and include a mailing address where the items can be shipped to.

Keep an open line of communication with your contacts.

If a publisher or distributor honors your request, be kind and send them a few words of thanks. Also, send them a link to the review once it goes live. Many companies use your words to help promote their artists, actors and actresses, and authors.

Sign up for the company’s mailing list and request catalogs so you can view future titles.

Treat the publisher/distributor with respect, provide them with a hard copy as well as links to the review, and watch in awe as you become the type of person who gets whatever he or she requests. It’s kind of a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” philosophy. In return for free publicity, you get boxes full of books and movies for free!

Writer Linda Formichelli created a list of contact information for nearly every publishing company in the United States. Along with the name, address, and phone number of these businesses, she has also gone to great lengths to gain the contact information of publicists who are more than willing to get new material into your hands. Even if you write the wrong person, chances are he or she will forward your request to the right agent.

For a few minutes of your time, you can request upcoming new releases and stop accruing late fees on your library card for having a title out too long. Although some reviewer gigs may not pay monetarily, they do have perks in the form of free merchandise. You may also find yourself richer because of the experience.

Take it from me. Put your talent to use and start reviewing today. Free publicity is enough to get some people to stand up and pay attention. If you are passionate enough about a subject, your words will forever shine through.

This is a guest post by Charissa Arsaoui, a freelance writer with a love for arts and thrift-related topics.

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Guest's picture
Kas!

This is pretty neat. I've definitely thought about reviewing books; even if it's for my own pleasure.

Any tips on how to construct a well written review?

Guest's picture

That is very interesting, I will give it a try.
Thanks for sharing this great idea1

John DeFlumeri Jr

Guest's picture

I work full time as the editor and publisher of the online book review website sanantoniobookreview.com. This is a very thorough description of how the book review system works -- my hat is off to you!

Now that Editor & Publisher and Kirkus Reviews have closed, it is more important than ever before to provide an outlet for book reviews. I sincerely hope that readers of this article decide to take up the cause for literacy.

Guest's picture

I really like this idea, I just have one question --

Is it necessary to join a review site, or would it be possible to get reviews done on a personally-run blog? What are the chances of getting a yes, are they good?

I would love to be able to do this, it just doesn't seem like my own blog is big enough to be able to. (Though I've always wanted to write for another as well.)

Guest's picture

does this work only in the US or can a person in another continent get involved??

Guest's picture
Caerol

It's a dream job, in fact, it's not a job at all, if one could read and watch and write reviews afterward, and be paid for it. You're doing what you both love: writing and earning.

I hope there would be more opportunities for people residing in a non-US territory.

Websites devoted to book and movie reviews would be great. And where people could write their reviews, to put into practice what they've learn, while earning at the same time.

It's just a thought that I'm sure everyone is also dreaming of.

Guest's picture
Isis

While I like this article's idea, I don't think these steps are practical. I got hung up on the step that requires you to "Make a written request". If you don't have any credentials and if you're not writing for a widely recognized blog, your request is probably going to end up in the trash. Contacts are important for every aspect of the publishing industry (a fact that I am learning the hard way) so I don't believe that reviewing books would be that easy. They're not going to send you free books if they know no one listens to you.