How to Alienate Book Reviewers

Hello!

I was wondering if you would like to review my book, Random Name.  The blurb is below.

[Big long blurb I’m too lazy to read.]

Have a nice day,

Random Author Person

I get these all of the time.  They’re form emails and they can turn a great day into a bad one because my blood starts to boil after reading only a few lines.  And it’s about time I’ve tackled them on my blog because they are rampant in the book blogging community.  Here are my thoughts on them:

Names

Names are easy to find, believe me.

Argument: “Names are hard to find!”

Us bloggers (or maybe it’s just me) are kind of vain.  Even if we don’t have our full names on our blogs, we usually have either our first names or pseudonyms on an ‘About’ page.  This is usually located in an easy-to-find tab next to the Home tab.  By not even bothering to use a blogger’s name in the greeting, authors are sending the message that we’re not worth their time.

Do you see the hypocrisy here?  Authors are expecting book bloggers to take hours out of their days to read their books but can’t even be bothered to spend a minute maximum finding the blogger’s name.  That’s not lazy, that’s rude.

Generic

What generic emails start to look like after a while.

Argument: “But authors don’t have enough time to personalize every email!”

Bullshit.

I see authors wasting hours of their time on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.  Yes, promotion is important, but isn’t getting reviews an important step in promoting yourself?  If you don’t take the ten minutes (maximum) to find out a reviewer’s name and check their policy to see if your book fits their tastes, you shouldn’t be on social media.  If you spend ten minutes checking their policy and looking at their name, it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to write the email.  All you have to do is address them by name, ask if they could review your book and include information they ask for in their review policy, which usually just consists of a blurb (which you should have on hand anyway!).

If you can’t take twenty minutes out of your precious day for reviewers, don’t expect reviewers to take hours out of their days for you.

Yes-ma-am-No-Sir

Most reviewers don’t expect this, but you should address us politely.

Argument: “I don’t know how to address the reviewer!  What if I accidentally offend them?”

If you’re so worried about offending someone by calling them by their first name instead of a more respectful Ms. Lastname or Mr. Lastname, then look at the comments section of their blog.  See how commenters address the person.  If they use their first name, go ahead!  Besides it’s the internet; things generally aren’t that formal.

And if you can’t be bothered to look at the comments and want to send a generic email instead, think about this: It’s far more offensive to send a generic email with no name than to handcraft an email and get the wrong name.

art-rude-420x0

Please don’t make me be this guy. I may be mad, but I’m not insane.

Basically, just be polite and spend a couple minutes of your time on an email rather than sending out generic ones.  Reviewers like me get them all the time and can spot them a mile away, so don’t think you’ll get away with it.  Especially if you’re sending out requests when a reviewer is not accepting requests and it is clearly stated in their policy.  That’s just lazy.

21 comments

  1. James Kennedy

    I agree! In addition to finding out my name (which takes 3 seconds), I’d also like to receive a REAL (paperback/hardback) version of the book instead of an ebook. Ebooks are tiring to read on a computer or an iPod.

    • Carrie Slager

      Ever reviewer has their preference so I can see why you like only physical books. I try to accommodate authors so I do accept ebooks, even though I don’t have an e-reader, but I can see where you’re coming from. That’s why I always fast-track books up the list when I receive physical copies. I still give them honest reviews, but it adds incentive to send me real books.

  2. shirleyford929

    Great article. As yet I haven’t approached anyone by email to read/review my book, unless it has been a reciprocal arrangement. I find it quite difficult to ask someone to read my books and hope instead that someone downloads them, reads them, then writes a review.

    • Carrie Slager

      Thanks! I definitely see how an author-author review relationship would work well, but when you’re a book reviewer like me you get a lot of generic emails. But if you take the time to write a semi-unique email, I don’t see the problem with asking reviewers to read your work and sending them a free book.

  3. The Masquerade Crew (@MasqCrew)

    Though I keep a waiting list of book review requests for my crew of book reviewers, I only pick from it half the time. It isn’t hard to find books I’m interested in reading.

    Having an online form open for requests (even part time) also takes down the number of email requests or otherwise blanket requests. If an author has to fill out a bunch of info for a request, the lazy ones are less likely to apply.

    • Carrie Slager

      Well, I have my contact form which gets used often, but I may have to switch to a more detailed form like you have. In fact, as I was just writing this comment I got another generic guest post (not review) request. *sigh* Obviously they have not read today’s post.

  4. Rita J Webb (@RitaJWebb)

    As an author, I say, “Amen!” Bloggers bleed their hearts into their blogs the way authors do with their stories. It’s hard being a writer and marketing a book, and it’s bloggers who make it possible. Everything we can do to show our appreciation and some respect, the better.

  5. Diantha Jones (@DianthaJones)

    Carrie, you’re awesome. I love your rants and this one was just fab. I can’t even imagine sending out some generic email to bloggers asking them to take time away from their lives to read my book(s) without even taking the time to get to know them a little bit by checking out their blog. First of all, I love book blogs, so I’m checking it out regardless. And how in the hell could you forget to find out their name?! It just baffles me. I have yet to receive a request as bad as your example, personally or for the Masquerade Crew, but I’m sure it’s on its way down the pipeline.

    • Carrie Slager

      Just wait Diantha, just wait! You’ll discover the creatures that crawl out from the depths of the internet to request books soon enough. But it’s nice to know that most authors are good people like you who take time to find out not only the book reviewer’s name, but also what they review. 🙂

  6. sdtaylorauthor

    Definitely agree with Carrie and Rita. It starts with knowing who can review your genre and then appreciating them. Not winning over a reviewer for a better review, but after-the-fact, regardless of their opinion. The devil is surely hidding in the damn details. Promoting reviewers back, supporting them in some way, and not forgetting the ageless “Thank you” note. (Hand-written whenever possible people! There are scanners that can send them via email. OMG…). This comes from an author of erotic romance and believe you me, I’d better not query a YA reviewer with my nonsense. It takes time, dedication, and a lack of sleep. But in the end, it’s possible to find and build a network.

    • Carrie Slager

      Hallelujah, a sensible author! (Just kidding, most of you are quite sensible.) But you’re promoting the lost art of a thank you note? What planet do you come from? Yes, at least you understand that you need to target reviewers! You’re absolutely right about not querying YA reviewers with erotic romance (which I hardly call ‘nonsense’).

      Thank you for being a great person and continuing to support reviewers like myself. 🙂 And thank you very much for taking the time to comment on my little rant.

  7. Rebecca Vance

    I am glad to have found you! I review only debut authors, and I have also gotten this generic email. Fortunately, not often. I made the mistake when I started my blog of taking in everyone that asked. I know how important reviews are, and I didn’t want to say no. Then I narrowed in down to only one genre..then recently I suspended all reviews until I could get caught up. The thing that irks me the most is not reading the submission requirements, which are in big, capital letters on my About page. They will ignore it and send requests anyway or in a genre that I no longer review. Then expect it within days! I have so many that I am several months out now. I am working on reviews that were downloaded in August. I don’t have any other readers. I am working on my debut novel too and when I realized how much it was cutting into my own project, I knew I had to say “no more”! Thanks for the post! 🙂

    • Carrie Slager

      Truly, I feel your pain. For the first time in the more than a year I’ve been running my blog, I’ve had to close down book review requests. I have this in bold letters on my book reviewing criteria page and yet I’ve still received three requests for reviews. I try not to limit myself too much by my YA mandate and will accept books teens can read but are technically “adult”, but sometimes it’s just too much. Months behind and I’m working on editing an anthology as well. *facepalm* I take on way too many projects at a time. At least you seem to know when to cut back!

  8. Rebecca Vance

    Thanks for that. I should have cut back a long time ago. When I first started my blog last June, I thought I would just go to Amazon and browse the free-$.99 books on promotion, the majority of them were debut authors, and write a review on those that interested me. Then I signed up for Twitter. Wow! I was inundated with requests. That’s when I learned that the authors would send me their books for free! Boy, did they! I have 74 in my self-browse Amazon queue and 93 in the promised and waiting queue.. That is a lot. The funny thing is: I am an Amazon junkie. I admit it. Is there a 12 step program for this? I can’t get enough. If I see something that interests me and it’s free or $.99..I download it. Sometimes, I shake my head at myself. Do you really need that book now? No, I don’t..but, if I don’t get it now the price will go up..yep..a junkie, alright! 🙂

  9. cav12

    A shame more authors don’t take care or respect the reviewers’ time. I’m very conscious of when asking reviewers to read my stories that I approach them much like I would an agent or publisher. I hope it improves because reviewers are so important to aspiring writers like me!

    • Carrie Slager

      I don’t think it will improve because entitlement is such an ingrained thing. But I do like putting my two cents out there when it comes to tackling such problems. Although, the majority of authors I work with are excellent people and do respect my time and effort. It’s just a few bad apples that ruin it for everyone else.

  10. nedkelly944

    Dear Carrie, thank you so much for the rant and the responses it generated. I am very new to this whole game. Debut author, debut blogger, debut Twitter (on advice, which I have yet to figure out). I’m still trying to take in the mind boggling world I’ve innocently entered. As yet, thankfully, I have not approached any reviewers and following this blog tells me I’m not ready to do so yet without thinking it through properly. One approach which has stood me in good stead in all things in the past has been to try and put yourself in the other persons mind and ask the questions, how would you like it if…? Fill in as many blanks as you like and sort out the ‘No! s’.
    Valuable lesson I’ve received today going to lie down and think about!

    • Carrie Slager

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful reply! It’s good to get to know the book blogging world before you submit because there are certain norms authors are expected to follow. Us reviewers are quirky that way. But approaching people for reviews doesn’t have to be so scary as long as you read their review criteria and take the time to find out their name. Simple! Good luck with getting your book reviewed! 🙂

  11. Scott

    I agree with all of your points. I have made a contact form to fill out for reviews and there are still a lot of people who don’t follow the proper procedures to make life easier on me. Well, I guess it’s easier in terms of me not having to consider them for a review.

    You have a very nice blog here, keep up the good work.

    Scott

    • Carrie Slager

      I have a very generic contact form and it’s served me well, but I may have to steal yours and Mark’s idea of a more specific contact form. I’ve moved my review policy to make it more visible which will help authors in the long run, but I suppose it will bring a lot more people who don’t follow the procedures. Such is the life of a book reviewer, right?

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