Thursday, September 27, 2018

How not to request reviews and six thing you should be doing

A few years ago I posted on the blog about how frustrating it is to realize authors don't take the time to read review policies before sending requests (you can find that post here). In the time since then, I've realized that expecting an author to look at a review policy is a fantasy and I've moved on. I've passed denial and anger and now I'm into acceptance and laughing at the ridiculous requests that come through my inbox. Today's post is a mixture of asking you to laugh with me combined with a how-not-to for any authors who stumble this way.

Dear authors,

When you open your email and begin composing a message to ask a blogger to review your book, there are some things you should consider.

First, have you read the blogger's review policy? Like I said, I've accepted that most people won't but you could set yourself apart! The review policy is usually clearly located in the nav bar and usually includes genres a blogger enjoys and those they don't. It will also usually plainly state whether they're accepting review copies. If they aren't, please move to the next blogger.

Another important thing to keep in mind is what you're asking. When you email with a request, you're asking a total stranger to take the time out of their day(s) to read a 300+ page book, possibly take notes, and construct a thoughtful review. Courtesy goes a long way. Let's take a look at an example:

Immediately when I opened this email, I saw "Hi." When asking a stranger to do something for you for free, it is a good idea to take the time to find out and use their name. This is a pet peeve of mine and something I've noticed a surprising number of authors do. Even when I send my own requests to publishers, if I can find a name, I use it.

It's also somewhat strange to me when an author words an email in a way that assumes I will accept the request. Just because a copy of a book is provided does not mean that I will have the time to read it. Honestly, maybe just offer a free book if they're interested rather than including the book IN the email.

Next, when submitting a review request, always make sure what you're typing makes at least some sense related to the actual reviewer you're talking to. Here is an example:

The first thing to notice is that this author did actually take the time to find out my name, which I greatly appreciate! The first paragraph is somewhat informative, but the second goes off the rails. I did review Reawakened - I gave it one star. For some reason, this author assumed that meant I enjoyed it and that I would also enjoy his book. (Or more likely, he saw that I reviewed Reawakened but didn't even take time to look at the rating.) But even if I did enjoy Reawakened, how does that relate to his book? He gives me no information whatsoever on how they're related.

Now that I look again, neither of these authors actually took the time to tell me WHY I would enjoy their books. The first author said I'd reviewed a book of the same genre, but didn't tell me WHAT genre. The second told me I'd like his book since I liked Reawakened, but didn't say why he thought so. I mean? He did at least have a good last sentence.

In closing, here are six key things you should be doing if you're submitting a review request:

1) Find out the reviewer's name and use it.
2) Give some details about your book that will actually make them want to read it.
3) If comparing it to a book they reviewed, make sure they actually liked it.
4) Offer a free copy IF they're interested.
5) Don't close the email by assuming they're going to review your book.
6) Thank them for their time.

A blogger and reviewer

I understand that a lot of these emails come from independently published authors and I can see why they're eager for reviews. I do try to be understanding and take the time to find out if I'm interested (if I have time), even though my review policy clearly states that I'm not accepting review copies. I'm sure that some of them are not personalized because these authors send a ton of emails! But all things considered, at least using the name of the person receiving the request doesn't seem like too much to ask.

What is the most bizarre request you've received?
Do you have any review request pet peeves?
Let me know in the comments!