As bloggers we all seem to ask the same questions when it comes to reviews, ARCs, tours, “appropriate” publisher/blogger things, so Shelly and I thought the RSR Publisher Spotlight event would be a great opportunity to ask the experts. That said, we are very proud to bring you an interview with Vikki VanSickle! Current publicist at Penguin Random House Canada.

1. Do you have any advice for bloggers looking to start requesting ARCs?

Professionalism is key. This means a number of things. First of all, your blog is your calling card. Make sure it’s easy to navigate, double-check your links and spelling, and make it easy to find out more about you as  a blogger. Also be professional in correspondence with the publishers and the authors. It also means posting reviews that include analysis or opinions-not simply summaries of the plot- that are free from typos and inaccurate information. There are so many bloggers and so few ARCS that we want to be sure that the books- the result hard work on the author’s part- are being seriously considered and reviewed. You don’t have to love every book, but take the time to tell your followers what you did and didn’t like.

2. Is it easier to be approved for eARC request versus physical ARC request?

Not necessarily. We still consider the same criteria when approving netgalley requests, including the critical ability of the reviewer, presence online, and how up-to-date their blog is.

3. What are some traits you look for in bloggers?

Personality! I want to know who you are and what you like to read. On a very basic level I look for bloggers who have good writing skills, critical reviewing ability, and who post frequently. I want to see that the blogger is engaged and active in the book community. I also like working with bloggers who are willing to try new genres and are supportive of the books and authors that they love.

4. How do you sign up for tour request emails?

We don’t have a formal process for tour requests, but Canadian bloggers can email me vvansickl(at)penguinrandomhouse(dot)com if they’re interested in being on our ARC email list. We have limited quantities of ARCs and  I can’t guarantee everyone will receive their first choice, but that’s why it’s important to request only what you’re most interested in. I only handle kids’ and YA titles.

5. Are social media followers more important than blog followers (through email, Bloglovin’, GFC, etc.)?

Not necessarily. There is a lot of crossover in these two groups and ideally we want everyone to be talking about our books. I’m more interested in the quality of conversation than where it’s happening.

6. What is the ‘ideal’ way of handling DNF reviews of ARCs?

We offer books in exchange for an honest review. If you could not finish a book it’s important to say why. Books are subjective, different people will have different opinions. The mark of a good reviewer is someone who can say “I didn’t like/finish this book because ____.” If you want to take it one step further, perhaps suggest why it might work better for someone else.


 Book Talk!

1. Which new releases are you looking forward for others to get a chance to read?

It’s very hard to narrow this list down, but I absolutely adored the hypnotic storytelling of THE ACCIDENT SEASON by Moira Fowley-Doyle and the creepy premise of NIGHTFALL by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski. Middle grade is my favourite age group, and CIRCUS MIRANDUS by Cassie Beasley is the kind of book that made me feel twelve again. I also can’t wait for people to fall in love with the crayons again when THE DAY THE CRAYONS CAME HOME is out later this summer. Wait til you meet Pea Green!

2. What is your favourite thing about working as a publicist?

I get to talk about books all day! What could be better than that?

3. What are some of your favourite releases from your publishing house?

It may be a new title, but THE TRUTH COMMISSION by Susan Juby has made its way onto my permanent top ten list. She is one of the best authors our country has to offer and I’m proud to have been able to work on that book. I’m also a huge Kit Pearson fan and the Puffin Classic editions of The Guests of War Trilogy perfectly capture the tone of the series.


 Let’s hear it for Vikki VanSickle!!!

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I will be the first to admit that Penguin Random House has always intimidated me (yes ME) when it comes to review request, so I really appreciate the tips given today! Don’t miss tomorrow’s post, where we list our top ten favorite Penguin Random House reads!

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