12 things that will get your book review request turned down 54


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How to approach book bloggers to ask for a review:

The DOs and DON’Ts.

Book Worm Cartoon On Books by nirots

As the owner of a site that blogs, among other things, about books, I am constantly bombarded by book review requests – many of which I promptly refuse.

Why?

There are two major reasons I refuse requests.

The first is simply a lack of time. As the Editor-in-Chief of The Writers’ Shack, plus an author, a full time worker, as well as a mother and wife, I am very busy. Reviewing books is the LAST priority on my hectic list of things I have to get done.

Reading used to be a joy but has recently become more of a chore (and that’s a whole new blog post on losing the joy of reading). What used to take me a day or so to read is now taking up to a month to get through simply because I am time poor. For that very reason, I am accepting very, very few review requests. The ones I do accept are usually only because the author had something that really piqued my interest. Most of the books I review come from NetGalley, or are books I choose to read for enjoyment.

The second reason I refuse requests, and why only a small percentage of the books I do accept for review are self-published, is because too many authors have no idea of how to approach a book blogger the right way.

There is an etiquette you MUST follow. Skipping it will almost always guarantee you get a big fat no!

I’ll break it down into DO’s and DON’Ts, but I’m going to start with the DON’Ts, because that’s what is going to hurt your chances the most.


motiguy With Stop Sign by farconville

 

THE DON’Ts:

DON’T just copy and paste the same request to dozens of book bloggers. We can tell in a couple of seconds whether we’re the recipient of a Cut and Paste Request. It’s not that we think we’re super special but we at least want to think you chose our blogs because you liked something about them. Perhaps mention some of the blogs, or that you have at least read our review policies. Personalisation will get you a lot further than generalisation.

DON’T assume we’ll accept. As my mother used to say, assume makes an ass and out u and me. Always ask nicely, and then wait for our response.
DON’T try to be cute. Professionalism will get you a hell of a lot further than cutesy jokes. I’ve had people think that telling me they love my hair will get me to accept their review request. Don’t mention sports results, or think that because we live in the same country I will be any more likely to review your book. Don’t tell us we’re going to absolutely love your book, or that it’s got best seller written all over it, or that everyone who has ever read it has given you 5 stars! It screams amateur and makes us want to run 100 miles in the opposite direction. And if you want me to respond, don’t open with an insult!
One such request I received recently on LinkedIn opened by calling me a bitch! That anyone would even think I’d say yes to that is unbelievable. What’s worse; when I checked their profile, they’d sent a similar message to dozens of other book reviewers. In fact, they seem to like to open with the ‘Hey Bitch’ greeting.

 

DON’T give us your sob story. We don’t want to know if your mother cried on her death bed while reading your book and said it was the greatest masterpiece she’d ever read, or that your dog died last Saturday and it inspired you to approach reviewers to get your book out there. Really, I’m not being harsh, but a sob story is unprofessional. Nobody needs to be guilted into reading your work. Let your book stand on its own merits. In fact, be very careful about making your book request all about you. Avoid the ‘I’ pronoun as much as possible in your request.

 

DON’T send requests on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else on social media. Requests should always be made by email. Not doing so is likely to get your request promptly deleted. And don’t bother sending DMs on Twitter. Most book bloggers I know never read them.

 

DON’T spam our email or social media accounts with constant free book vouchers. If we choose to read your book, we’ll let you know and you can then send the appropriate details for downloading a copy.

 

DON’T offer money in exchange for a book review and if the book blogger is also an author, DON’T ask us to swap reviews. If you reviewed one of my books, thank you very much. I really do appreciate it. But that doesn’t mean I should be obligated to review yours in return. That’s not to say I won’t read your book at some stage in the future and post a review, but review swaps are problematic, and avoided completely on this site.

 

DON’T crash other people’s party! This is a big one guys. If we are running a promotion on our Facebook pages, or giveaways on our blogs, don’t crash them with your own promotions, or with announcements of your free book, or invitations to visit your blog. Start your own damn party and invite your own guests. Hijacking someone else’s post for your own gain is really, really bad manners and likely to get you blacklisted. You might think I’m being picky here, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had fellow authors do this, hijacking my posts to promote their own books, or their own Facebook pages, or their own blogs. Just don’t!

 

DON’T ask for review updates. This includes emails asking if we’ve had a chance to read your book yet. This is definitely a case where patience is a virtue. If we have accepted your book for review, we will get to it when we can. Harassing us about it will only make us less inclined to read your book. In fact, my advice is send a review request and if the reviewer accepts, promptly forget all about it. IF they post a review (any review – good or bad), consider it a success and move on. IF they don’t post a review, forget about it, mark it up as a loss, and move on. Personally, I have over 100 books in my reading list. It’s going to take me some time to get through them all. It could take over a year. Accept it or choose a different blog site. The only time when this will even be considered negotiable is if the review is part of a book launch to be posted by a specific date, and then only on request.

 

DON’T attach files to a request. If we are interested, we will request your book. DON’T be presumptuous and send it to us without asking. I never open any attachments I have not personally requested. People who send unsolicited files are 99% more likely to end up in the delete folder. IF we accept your request, then and only then, send us the manuscript and a JPEG of the book cover.

 

DON’T be a diva. If you are difficult to work with, if you demand your own way, or if just generally have an unpleasant persona about you, people will not want to work with you. A review request is as much about personality as it is about your book. If you are unlikeable, it doesn’t matter if you’ve written the next HARRY POTTER, people won’t want to deal with you.

 

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ask us to take down negative reviews. If we have taken the time to read your book, we are absolutely within our rights to post a review. Book bloggers are not there to scratch author’s egos. DON’T bad mouth us on social media, or get all your friends to dislike our review. It’s unprofessional, and likely to get you blacklisted from most other book blogs. In fact, responding to reviews (good or bad) is considered bad form. If someone gives you a review, be grateful and move on. Not everyone will like your work. If you can’t accept that, then you shouldn’t be an author. Or just stick to getting your family and friends to review for you. And DON’T ever ask to preview a review before it goes live.

Businessman Holding Paper by pakorn

THE DOs:

 

DO your homework. Know what genres your chosen blogger reads, what formats they prefer, how they like their requests formatted… If a reviewer states they only read hard copies, only offer a hard copy. If they say they only read romance, don’t send them your horror book. If they say they don’t read Indie authors, don’t think you’re going to change their mind with a wonderfully worded request. Also, it’s good to read a couple of past reviews the blogger has done. If they tend to mark down for grammatical errors, and your book has its fair share, find another book blogger. Knowing what a book blogger wants is half the battle.

 

 

DO provide book bloggers with everything they need to make a decision. Give them the title and genre of your book. Let them know if it’s your first book or your fiftieth. Give them the blurb and page count. Tell them what format it’s available in. Tell them any awards, prizes or special mentions your book has got. If you won first prize in a writing competition, let them know. Tell them what qualifies you to write a book, and what previous writing experience you have. Also be upfront with whether it’s trade or self-published. A review request is not the place to try to hide information. And it’s certainly not the place for any false claims. If your book has hit the Amazon best-seller list three times, that’s great, and it will probably help reviewers make a decision, but if it hasn’t, telling them it has will make you look foolish when they find out (and they will find out).

 

 

DO include all your links. Notice I said links and not attachments? There are two reasons we want your links. If we are interested in your book, we will most likely check out the other reviews of your book, as well as how professional you act online. This is where that last DON’T is so important. If you have acted unprofessionally with other book bloggers, you’re going to lose out at this stage. If we do go ahead and accept your book for review, your links will also come in handy when posting the review. A book blogger does not want to chase you up after the fact to get these. Possible links to send include your website, blog, social media accounts, book buy pages, Goodreads page, or anything else that will show potential readers your author platform.

 

 

DO be polite. Address the book blogger by name, and politely request a review. Nobody was ever offended by good manners. And if you’re polite, even if you inadvertently do one of the DON’Ts, we’re more likely to forgive you because you’re nice (but that is no excuse to deliberately do them and cover it up with niceness).

 

 

DO keep it short, sweet and to the point. I’ve been guilty of this one myself, in sending out a 4 page book review request. The book blogger in question was kind enough to email me back and point out the mistakes I made in my request. The majority of bloggers wouldn’t. They’d just hit delete. We don’t have time to read through long, complicated requests. Get to the point, and get to it quickly. Use lots of white space and use bullet points to give us bite size chunks of information.

 

 

DO edit your request and for god’s sake, use spell check! A formal request is always much better than a hurried “I’m sending u my book 2 review. Tell me wen you finish.” If your request is full of errors, we’re going to think you’re book will be the same.

 

 

DO let the reviewer know of any time requirements but allow plenty of time for reviewers to respond, AND read your book if they agree. It’s no use sending us a request that states you need a review posted by next week. We’ll just say no.

 

 

DO include your contact details.

 

 

DO understand that book bloggers are doing YOU a favour. You’re not doing them a favour by sending them a free book to read. Most of us have full time jobs outside our blogs, AND we also have lives outside of work. It’s a HUGE time commitment agreeing to review books at all. Authors would do very well to remember that.

 

 

DO include a snippet of other reviews, but only if they are from other book bloggers or media professionals. We don’t want to read what your mother said about the book. But if another book blogger has given you 4 stars, or the local newspaper said your book is the most exciting piece of literature they’ve read all year, it could help get you accepted. The hint here is brevity. Don’t cut and paste entire reviews but just give us the highlights.  Try to keep it under a paragraph.

 

 

Finally, I’ve attached a PDF of a sample review request. Don’t just copy and paste, but tailor it for your book, and most importantly, tailor it to the individual book blogger!

 

images by nirots, farconville, and pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos
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About Riley Banks

Riley Banks is the author of Vampire Origins, and The William S Club. She blogs about books, entertainment, and writing. For more information on Riley Banks and her books, go to http://www.thewritersshack.com/riley-banks/


Join the discussion

54 thoughts on “12 things that will get your book review request turned down

  • Jody A Kessler

    Thank you for posting the fantastic advice. I wish I had read this last year when I was first starting out. But, based on what you’ve suggested, I may have botched a couple of requests, but otherwise I think I’m doing ok. Cheers

  • Peter James

    Why should anybody want to waste time and submit books to blogs anyway? It’s not as these poor designed and low budget blogs get much traffic lol. For example; this article was submitted in Feb and you only have 3 comments.

  • chrisbookarama

    I’m going to address that above comment in case their are other people that think a blogger’s reach is only as far as their subscribers.

    I’ve been book blogging 6+ years and some of my oldest reviews still get hits every month. I don’t have large subscriber numbers. BUT…People use Google to look for reviews of books they might be interesting in buying. A blog post isn’t a piece of paper that gets tossed, it’s a permanent article on the internet. One that can be found fairly easily.

    Book bloggers are a clannish bunch, we read each other’s reviews. We BUY those books, read, and review them. (Add a few more subscribers to that original number.) I tweet about the books I read. (Add a few more.) I get retweeted sometimes. (Add those peoples’ subscribers.) I have reviews pinned to Pinterest. (Add some more.) I’m on Goodreads, LibraryThing, etc. (+++)

    Subscriber numbers are not something to go by alone. If you think this, then you are not thinking about the long run. There are no guarantees (are there ever?), but if you don’t play, you can’t complain when you don’t win.

    Anyway thanks for the post Riley. Great advice!

  • Stephanie

    You came here right? Did you miss this fact that this was a book blog.

    Yes, there are some that don’t get a lot of traffic but there are others that are pretty big with 30,000-40,000 subscribers, followers and fans.

    My guess would be that your additude is probably what keeps you from networking with the more professional, bigger blogs. Honestly, with a mindset like you showed above I could never, would never and will never opt to review or host you or your books. As Riley stated above, attitude/demeanor is very important and goes a very long way!

    I have a medium size fan base considering I have being doing this less than a year. My 2nd review ever posted online was used by a well-known author who sent me my first ever review copy! I was stoked, read it, loved it and reviewed it. Next thing I know, she had used my review- including not only my name, but also the name of my **book blog**. That same quoted text from my review is now listed as part of her promotional materials for the 2nd book in the series and is plastered all over her website, social media and the like. So, needless to say- everytime her book or promotional materials are distributed, my blog also gets a little attention. — And, she did it all without telling me or even commenting on the post (also as Riley suggested!). The only way I know she even saw my review was because I hashtagged her in my Tweet and she retweeted it. A few weeks later I went to PURCHASE her 2nd book in the series because I really enjoyed the first one, (bam- there’s was an instant sale-) and was shocked to see my name and blog all over the new book and as the headline to her site!! Mind you I was a teeny-tiny blog back then as it was only my second review listed- and my first ever review book received.

    My reason for pointing that out is because book bloggers can be very beneficial. It’s not just about the ‘blog post’ but also, posting reviews on retail sites mainly Amazon, B&N and Goodreads. The 3 main places people will go to find/buy books. You keep your fans happy and they will make you happy. Hello- book bloggers are generally your first few true fans.

    I would also note, that if you are an author, you may want to reconsider your options. Book bloggers are the new thing! Even NYT Bestselling Authors like Jamie McGuire are touring on book blogs! Regardless of whether you choose book bloggers, online marketing, or go from town to town, you are going to have to change how you treat your potential fans – as you did in your comment above- or else you won’t get far. You could have the next Fifty Shades of Grey and one snark remark like that and the media will eat you up so fast you won’t manage to recoup the money for your flight home!

    *Sorry Riley, didn’t mean to get on a soap box, he just struck a nerve!*

  • Riley Banks

    Thanks Stephanie. Appreciate the support, and well done on the coverage you got from your review. I actually had a trade-published author approach me the other day for a review and tell me his agent had recommended my site. Must say, that made me feel a little special.

  • Libertad

    These are alllll very true! I’ve been reviewing books for a few months and my blog is so specific I sometimes wonder if authors even read my policy at all???

    @the one with the catty comment, blogs that review books get plenty of traffic! Especially ones that put in the work like this one does! No need for trolling :/

  • Jenny Williams

    Rebecca. As you can see from my frequent comments I am reading everything that appears on Riley’s Blog site. Good job. Thanks for many interesting and useful tips. I keep all comments in one neat folder for the future reference.
    Jenny

  • seumas gallacher

    Excellent take on the issue of reviews, ( and a bit more besides about blogger’s time management).. I’m an author and a blogger, and I LUV the whole nine yards of this stuff. It’s taken a couple of years to get ‘with it’ as an old Jurassic as to how it all really gels together. I do both… I download other authors books without telling them (usually newbies) and read, then post a review as time permits. On the distaff side, I ail be launching my own third novel on Kindle within this month.. My methodology was a little different.. I posted the fact on Goodreads and my blog and Facebook, inviting any potential reviewers (i.e. people who would already know about me and my work) who’d like to undertake an HONEST review, with the intent of getting some early posted reviews on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com (and perhaps on Goodreads) as the book is launched… that way, I know the reviewers are willing to honour me with the time to do the review, and know me well enough to give that HONESTY I seek in the review… So far, a few dozen have already volunteered, which just blows me away… thanks for the article, m’Lady :))

  • Joel
    Joel

    Thanks for the Dos and Dont’s advice. Believe or not someone would follow all your instructions, yet still a reviewer wouldn’t be interested to review his or her book.

  • Stephanie Manning

    Joel,

    You are right, as a book blogger myself, while these are great tips, following them does not guarantee a review– I myself, only review a few genres and none of those pertain to sci-fi, vampires, or fan-fic. I get a lot of reviews for them and only accepted one- which I did not finish…why? Because I don’t care to read it, just doesn’t interest me. That author was aware that I didn’t like the genre but it had come up in an email conversation and I offered – but did let her know it would be my first attempt at that type of book. She went in KNOWING I might night like it, and low and behold, I wrote her and told her I couldn’t get past the first chapter because I can’t get into the mythical characters. Her reply was very nice, professional and understanding. I honestly only opted to review the book because I enjoy readering her books in the romance genre. (She writes a variety of genres)

    That goes back to what Riley said about checking out their blog, get to know what they like and make sure it’s something you think they would enjoy. If not, move on. (Of course this one I offered to review, but in general, it’s a waste of time.)

    Considering dozens of review requests a week, I can’t possibly keep up and the majority of them I don’t read… but, just because I don’t read them- it doesn’t mean my followers/fans wouldn’t enjoy them. I quite often, more so recently since I don’t have as much reading time and want to keep fresh content on my blog daily, I still offer the author a chance to promote their book on my blog with a guest post related to writing/reading/publishing, or if they want to ‘sponsor’ a giveaway I will set up a giveaway for them for the book and include the buy links and a mini-bio, and the typical stuff you would want if you were seeing a new book for the first time. These are going really well for me and the author!! I keep fresh content for my blog and my readers are enjoying it- the author gets their book and name out before new audiences… WIN-WIN!

    Of course I don’t accept EVERY author on my blog. Some just aren’t a good fit (such as horror) and then some, like the ones listed above on the “Dont’s” list, well they get the boot to the trash can. However, those who were professional and took the time and were truly interested in ME and realized I had something to offer them (not just that I was a blogger and it was my duty to review their book), well those get read, thought about and 75% of the time, get an invite to do a guest post, interview, giveaway, etc.

    I do end up getting a ton of requests from a lot of authors on a variety of genres, though most of them are romance. My contact info got shared by a few authors in their ‘author networks’ and they had recommended me and so there was a huge flood of requests for about 3 months. Eventually started having to turn authors away- many of which were from the bigger publishing houses, because the demand was overwhelming. Slowly, either the word got out that I had books coming out of my ears or else the threads finally found their way to the ‘old archives’ – whew! Thank Goodness.

    ***Long story short… Even though they follow all the stuff listed above, sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to keep up with the requests and you do have to turn them away even though you really, really would like to work with them. That is one of the main reasons I started offering the guest posting and such. I really wanted to deliver what I thought would be a great book and though I didn’t have the time to read it, I did have 30 minutes to put together a great post using content that someone else took the time to write so that I could share it, which helped promote them. Another Win-Win!

  • Riley Banks

    This is true Joel. Sometimes that just comes down to time or interest. You can do everything right and still get a no because the blogger has too much other stuff on their plate, or maybe it’s just not a genre they particularly enjoy. However, if you are professional and polite, you may well get a yes on another book you want reviewed in the future. Keep slogging away. I know how much hard work it is because I’m also an author.

  • Stephanie Manning

    I really enjoyed this post! Unfortunately, while trying to scroll down and leave you a comment I got caught up on the other comments- so sorry! Didn’t mean to write a book on you blog- nor hijack your comments in any way, I didn’t think you would mind me sharing my two cents, which turned in to about $5. I didn’t realize I they were that long until after they published.

  • Riley Banks

    Don’t apologise – I love it when people get passionate reading my posts. That’s what they’re there for – to elicit a response. I agreed with everything you said anyway. And you gave me some great ideas for how to cope with the inevitable authors I have to turn away. I can also offer them a guest post…

  • Nick Ward

    Good article. The only caveat is that how an author behaves on line is increasingly misreported these days. Not all complaints turn out to be true.

    Personal grudges, ex-spouses, outright trolls etc. litter the Internet.

  • Inion N. Mathair

    Excellent post! The comments we’re great as well. Always nice to see the support. And though they’re hard to stomach the negative ones as well. We overlook the “snarky” person and go for the response which always seems to end up, being helpful to those of us who are trying to learn so…
    I must say, I find it great that the Do’s & Don’ts are something that writer’s should be well rehearsed in. Most of your terms are the same ones that we must adhere to when querying for literary agents. Funny enough, you’d think we’d take that good advice with us and realize that it could only help. It’s a shame we have to be taught again. But, maybe that’s a good thing.It would seem it takes some a while before it sinks in. LOL. Once again, great post!

  • Willy Nywening

    Thanks so much for this excellent advice. While reading it, I learned a lot about what to do and not do when requesting reviews.. As a newly published novelist, helpful suggestions by more experienced writers is greatly appreciated.

  • Bianca Sloane

    Very thorough and helpful article. I think folks get intimidated to approach book bloggers for reviews and they shouldn’t be! Many bloggers are extremely supportive of Indies and they can really help spread the word about your book. Thanks for such a great post!

  • Betty Gelean

    Thank you so much for writing this! I feel the same way, I’ve lost my ability to read for pleasure, have stacks of books waiting for me to review, and feel like I haven’t seen the outdoors for months. As a freelance proofreader as well, I’m finding it difficult to separate my proofreading from my review reading. When I read for review, I read in-depth to get at what the book is saying, what audience it is for, and how well-written and researched it is. It doesn’t matter if I am not the audience it is for, I put myself into that persona before I start to read. Consequently, it takes a lot out of reviewers, something most people don’t realize. I’ve been reviewing and proofreading right through 2 cataract surgeries. I guess we’re not supposed to be taking time out. Almost all my authors at this point are authors I’ve worked with before or they are authors whose books I take an interest in. I would dearly love to have time to go outside once in a while, though! We take one trip a year to see 3 of our grandchildren, 2 of our kids, my parents and other relatives. Once a week, more or less, we see our eldest daughter, husband & grandson because they live nearby. Thank you for letting me blow off a bit of steam, sorry my comment is so long. Oops!

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    This article was loaded with all of the reason why I choose not to use book reviewers. While I have a deep respect for editors and associate editors and their limited time and other constraints, I am a literary freebird.

    I would rather my books be read by readers who make their own decisions intelligently on the books they choose to read. Sorry, If I’m not a rah rah book or movie review lover.

    As an example, there is no way I could be coerced into reading Forty Shades of Grey. No matter how glowing the book reviews are, I simply have no interest in reading that which does not increase my literary values.

    I don’t mind being a relative unknown in publishing. I have no dreams of literary grandeur. I do mind being coerced by a review of a book to read it. I consider MY time as an author valuable too.

    Sorry if this offends those in the book review industry. I’m a leader, never a mindless follower. I know what I like and don’t like.

  • Rebecca

    Hi! I wanted to leave a comment and say that I loved this post. I think book review requests are sort of like cover letters for applying for a job. It’s best to be professional. Again, thanks for this post.

  • Judith

    Hi, I am a book blogger and I wrote a similar post last year and it was along very similar lines. Yes, I absolutely agree with you all the way! :-)

    I especially don’t like general messages that start with “Hi” – I want to see my name there and something a bit personal. And authors who think they’re doing us a favor by sending us a book for review… uh, no. Only when we’re new to blogging and have just 30 followers we will jump up and down!

  • D. C. Chesterlink

    Riley,
    Informative post.

    As for the three comments rant by Peter James…it’s almost noon on October 12th and I’m counting more than three comments on your site.

    BTW, I found you from a re-post of your article on thepassivevoice.com.

    Sorry, Peter James, but making it into thepassivevoice is a pretty big deal.

    – Dan

  • Terry Tyler

    What an excellent post. I am not a book blogger reviewer, but an author; can I add a couple of things here? Don’t forget all about the book blog once you’ve got your review. Retweet them, read their blog, recommend them to others – it’s not all about your book!!!! Book bloggers are worth their weight in gold and deserve to be treated as such. Also, don’t write to anyone who has a fairly active blog asking them to review your book!!! I get at least one request to review a book every week – I always say to them, exactly WHERE on my bio or in my blog does it say I review books???? Which leads back to that point you made about actually looking at the blog before requesting…!

  • bob spook

    Are you looking for reviewers. I would not mind reviewing books if you want some help. I am an avid reader. Worked for years in a library. Staying home with the kids now and have a little time for the first time ever.

  • samantha

    Hi Bob, I’d like to take you up on your offer if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. I have three books out. One of my books called The Scroll might be to your liking since the lead is male, a young widower. The book is not high-brow literature but it’s a fun read. I have a blog on Goodreads if you’d care to give it a look. Again, thank you for the offer, it’s appreciated.

  • Anne R. Allen

    These are spot on. But I’d add one more “Do”. DO READ THE BLOG. Not just the guidelines. Read some reviews. Find out what the reviewer likes and doesn’t like. And DON’T send a review request to a blogger who doesn’t review books. I get at least a dozen a month. All the publicist or author has to do is click on a link to my blog. In seconds they’d see it’s an industry blog with advice for writers, not a review blog. They’d really save time in the long run.

    • Riley Banks

      Very true Anne – and even when they DO review books, read a couple of their reviews first. By reading a few of their reviews, you’ll get a feel for their hot buttons. It’s no use sending an erotic novel to someone who has said in their last three reviews that they hate erotica, or sending an unedited manuscript to someone who gives 2 star reviews for poorly edited manuscripts.

  • Jil Nojack

    One of the things that has really shielded my site from any less-than-desireable behavior by authors (who after all, are just people who can have bad days like anyone else) is the creation of a very detailed form to submit a request for a review. This way, I get the information I need to decide if I want to review the book without any of the noise.

    If I get a request through the site contact form, I just delete it. The contact form clearly states that authors need to use the submission form. Same thing with requests in other formats — they are disregarded. I want to read books by people who demonstrate an ability to follow instructions :-)

    The form not only helps me stay organized with all of the requests but to respond to authors efficiently once I decide whether or not I can put it on the site’s TBR list for our reviewers. So far, I’ve only had one rude response from an author. It was dishearening to be told by an author that the site was “not worth the time” when so much of my time is devoted to promoting indie authors, I hope that frustration doesn’t build over time and put my in the place where reading feels like a drag.

    Then again, I intentionally take a break once in a while. Anything that I feel like I have to do becomes a drag eventually!

    Here’s hoping authors start to understand that reviewers are busy people, too. Thanks so much for your article!

  • samantha

    This is nothing more than an observation from the back bench. Readership seems to be a very small pool with an awful lot of fisherman trying to hook the one lone reader swimming in it. I, as an author, have no time to read. Or rather, I choose not to read and I made this choice because 1. I don’t want to be accused of stealing someone else’s ideas, 2. My ego is fragile, someone else’s ideas might be way better than mine to say nothing of their writing, and 3. I don’t have the time to read. I only read when I’m not writing.

    Reviews are busy people too; they don’t have time to read. That begs the question – who’s left? Half the world is made up of authors who, like me, don’t read for one reason or another and the other half of the world is made up of reviews who don’t read because they don’t have the time. Somebody out there must be reading.

    Dear reader whoever you are, please get in touch with me. I promise to keep your pool tidy, look after you tadpoles, feed your catfish, and serve you tea while I put a footstool under your fins. All you have to do in return is read my books.

    Sincerely, a humble, snivelling author.

  • Terry Ervin

    It only makes sense to both the reviewer and the author if they review books that catch their interest. The reviewer will likely enjoy the experience more and the author’s work is more likely to earn a positive review.

    • Robert Nagle

      Well maybe when you say “ignore” that is too strong a word. I’m trying to promote a world-class author, and it’s precisely the unclassifiability of this person’s fiction which makes him so good and important. It’s a mistake to assume that because an author doesn’t fit neatly into one category that the blogger would not be interested in that author.

      I generally read the blog to try to get a feel of what things the blogger likes, but I tend to err in favor of sending the query if I think there’s a chance.

      Believe me, I would love to personalize every query I send, but it is extremely tedious and time-consuming to send out individualized emails to every blogger (most of whom won’t respond). I have sent out dozens of well-written and personalized emails to bloggers about a writer I think they would like and get no sort of response. At some point, it makes sense just to send a generic email — with light customizations for those I know personally.

      My press sends out digital review copies, so it costs me next to nothing to give you a review copy (even if you never review it). I realize that reviewers always have a LOT to read and are always behind on reviewing, but just because you are swamped isn’t a reason to turn down a request. Remember: book launch is probably the only opportunity for me to contact bloggers and reviewers. I don’t really have time to wait for you to decide when it is convenient to review my book. I am offering you this opportunity NOW (and if you want to wait a year or two to actually review, that’s fine by me)

      Finally a request for book bloggers. Can you please put your contact info on your Amazon profile (or at least mention on your Amazon profile the name of your blog so I can google it). I often will stumble upon a well-written book review on amazon and think, “Gosh, this person would like X” but have no way to contact this person. Often these people participate in the Vine program and make the (false) assumption that because so many books are available on Vine that it is not necessary to be open to reviewing non-Vine titles.

      • Riley Banks

        Hi Robert – thanks for your well thought out response. It is true that sometimes books are difficult to classify, and when I talk about people ignoring genre lists, I’m talking about the people who ignore the clear statement that the reviewer does not accept erotica and sends it anyway, or only reads paperback copies but keeps getting sent ebook requests.

        You’re right that it is virtually impossible to heavily personalise every request we send out, but you absolutely must at least make sure you’re not sending them what they clearly don’t want to receive.

        While I am not always able to accept books to review, I’m lucky that i have a great team of reviewers who will often take on what I cannot.

  • Sylvia

    Your article on requesting book reviews is excellent and long overdue. I can’t believe how rude and pushy some people can be when they are asking you to do something for them for free.

  • Robert Zimmermann

    Great post. I did one that sounds very similar to this earlier in the year, and have it attached to my review policy. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one with views on requests like these. You can always tell who has read the policy (and attached article) and who hasn’t, when the requests come in.

    I just hope more authors (and PR people, since I find them to be sending the worst requests) will read posts like this and learn. It can help save time for authors and us reviewers.

  • Robert Zimmermann

    Oh, there’s one thing I’d like to bring up that I didn’t see in this post. I find that with me, my main thing is that authors do not look for or care about whether or not I’m open for requests. I eventually got a large “CLOSED” sign to post at the top of my policy, and it still doesn’t seem to make a difference for many authors. So, I’d just like to add that availability should always been considered. If we’re closed, bookmark the policy for later and move on. (I didn’t see this brought up in the comments, but I was skimming some. Sorry it it’s been said already.)

  • writerchick

    Hi Riley,
    I found this blog post through a Linkedin group I belong to. I was astounded by the don’ts because it’s hard to believe people would do things like that – but I guess a lot of people don’t think things through before they act sometimes.

    What I found interesting was the burn out you talk about – that you’ve lost to some degree your love of reading because your book blogging. I have gone through a similar experience as a writer. I work as a freelance writer and though it’s great to be self-employed I too go through a burn-out and to some degree have lost my love of writing. I wonder if there is a way around that.

    Though I think you’ve written a great, informative piece here, I also find it discouraging since I come away with the feeling that I don’t stand much of a chance of getting a yes from a book blogger in getting a review. Even if I do all the right do’s and avoid all the don’ts. I’ve read other similar posts that seem to express the same thing: so many books to read and review and so little time.

    I wonder, is there anything specifically that you feel an author could do that might give them an edge in getting a reviewer to say yes?

    I am working on the first book in a series and am thinking ahead of how to launch a promotion campaign and of course, book reviews would be part of that. I have published before and really had no idea what I was doing and didn’t do much promotion and consequently didn’t have much success. So I’m trying to be more proactive this time out. Anyway…I’m just trying to sort through the enormous volume of information and advice out there.

    Cheers,
    Annie

  • jennyinneverland

    This is the most accurate thing I have EVER read. You are absolutely spot on about most of the DONT points and I have had more than my fair share of authors asking me on Twitter and sending me DM’s it’s ridiculous!
    Will definitely be retweeting this, great post :) xx

  • Rev. Cassandra Martin

    Thank you so much, Riley. This will be my first time seeking bloggers to review my NF book, and you have given me great advice. The “Multiple You” Universe: Sacred Science for the 21st Century is a niche market. I will send you an email soon to ask if you will review my book.