An Example of How Not to Write a Review Request

Comment: Dear Sir/Madam,
​​
would you please be able to write the review of the poetry anthology. you can give a look to the profile of the anthology on the links

[Several links to the poetry anthology.]
I am looking forwards to work in close cooperation with you

best wishes and regards

[Name redacted]

A few months or so ago this would have made me insanely mad.  Now it just makes me facepalm.  Why?  Because no matter how many articles I and other book bloggers write about the importance of reading review policies and personalizing review requests, people like this man who emailed me won’t listen.

Yet I’m still going to dissect the many reasons why this man went wrong because I’m a little cranky and nitpicky today:

Dear Sir or Madam

1.  He addressed me as Sir/Madam.

Honestly, it’s not that hard to find my name.  It’s in the first sentence on my About page, which is along the top of my blog.  This is pure laziness and carelessness.  He doesn’t care enough to take a few seconds to find out my name, let alone my gender, so why should I even bother clicking on the links in his email, let alone agree to review his book?

Grammar Dog

2.  His grammar is terrible for a writer.

I don’t claim to be a grammar expert; I break the rules of grammar quite frequently here on my blog because a blog is quite casual.  A review request is not, however.  Review requests are not exactly formal, but they are not so casual that you don’t even bother capitalizing the first letter of your sentences.  I get that poets play with the rules of grammar a lot more than bloggers, but to anyone who considers themselves a writer this is completely unacceptable.  Even if I had been addressed by my name (or even by my correct gender), I would reject his request for this alone.

If you think I’m being nitpicky about the capitalization, re-read the last sentence: “I am looking forwards to work in close cooperation with you”.  Enough said.

Lazy Garfield

3.  He didn’t provide me with any information other than telling me to check out links.

If you want me to review your book so badly, you had better include some information to at least get me interested in it.  Telling me you’ve written a ‘poetry anthology’ and just giving links makes you look lazy and makes me want to hit the delete button.  Again: why should I review your book if you can’t even take the time to copy and paste your own blurb into the email?

Ignorant

4.  He didn’t see/chose to ignore that I am closed to submissions until 2014.

This could have been accomplished by looking at my review policy.  It’s at the top of it in bold, capital letters.  A writer has to know how to read as well as write as far as I know.  So why couldn’t he take the time to read my review policy?  If he did in fact read my review policy, he chose to ignore the fact that I am closed to submissions for another four months!  That, my friends, is massive disrespect and won’t help you get your book reviewed.

Facepalm

5.  He didn’t read my full review policy anyway.

You know that part in my Review Policy in the third paragraph that is in bold letters stating what I won’t review?  Well, guess what!  Poetry is something I won’t review unless you’re Dante, Homer, Virgil or Milton.  I guarantee the man submitting his poetry anthology to me is none of the four I mention.  Therefore, even if he somehow didn’t see that I’m closed to review requests, he obviously didn’t read the review policy at all.  I think we can safely conclude that he was too lazy to read my policy, right?

I Give Up

I know that the types of authors who already do this sort of lazy/ignorant/thoughtless thing won’t be reading this post.  If they do, they certainly aren’t about to change right now.  However, maybe new writers looking to learn how to write review requests might read this and learn a little something.  If nothing else, they’ll learn about why so many reviewers are more than a little frustrated at authors.  (Especially self-published authors unfortunately.)

9 comments

  1. Rebecca Vance

    I can certainly relate to this post! I have been closed to submissions too and have been since the end of January and I still get requests. You would think that would be the first thing they would look at. I am a “newbie” working on my first novel, but way back when I decided to write it, I started reading up on the publishing industry, read up on the craft, followed many blogs and started my platform early. My point in all this is that I was preparing myself. My blog is dedicated to beginners and aspiring authors. I have seen many books that were definitely not ready for publication. If I got a request like this (and I have) it tells me that the book is not ready. I may be wrong, but his is the impression that is set. When my book is ready and I am looking for reviews, I will research the blog first. Check out the policy, read the reviews that they have done. Is is a good fit? My WIP is a paranormal/historical mystery. So, why would I ask a fantasy or romance reviewer to review it? You can tell by
    reading the reviews, without even looking at the policy, that wouldn’t be a fit. The saying “you only have one chance to make a good first impression” is so true. It makes you wonder about all the query letters that agents get. This should be no different. Just because we don’t get paid doesn’t mean that the same care shouldn’t be taken. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, then you have to be one! 🙂

    • Carrie Slager

      Not only do requests like this tell me the book isn’t ready, but that the author themselves aren’t either. Obviously they are incapable of doing research into the business of publishing a book and marketing it, so why bother publishing a book at all? Especially if you’re going to alienate all of the reviewers you can by making requests like this.

      I’m a frequent reader of agent blogs that talk about slush pile submissions and I can sort of understand their frustration. I mean, really? First impressions are everything! 🙂

  2. Margaret

    I have a guess what just happened. Somebody is running a scam that goes like this:

    1. Buy up a bunch of domain names with the words “writer” or “poetry” in the title.
    2. Fill the sites with content that is either a) stolen or b) bought from a content mill for pennies.
    3. Put ads on the site.
    4. Write a computer program that scours the Internet for sites with the words “book review” in them.
    5. Have the computer program search for something that looks like an e-mail address or contact form on these sites. Spam them with requests to direct traffic to your ads.
    6. Profit.

    I think you may have just been solicited by a robot. I’ve seen human beings write badly, but I’ve never seen them come out sounding like that letter.

    • Carrie Slager

      Good guess Margaret, but it’s so sadly not true. This person who contacted me is the editor for a legitimate Canadian publishing company who is compiling a very real anthology. (The anthology in question has garnered submissions from over a hundred poets.) Apparently he knows nothing about the book business and is trying to alienate as many book reviewers as he possibly can. Perhaps he used a bot to find the names of many book reviewers, but as far as I can tell this disaster of a review request is the real thing. *facepalm*

    • Carrie Slager

      I wish it was spam, but I did a little research into the anthology and it turns out it’s legitimate–with the man sending me this horrible request as the editor! For a real Canadian publisher! This is just sad.

  3. Rebecca Vance

    Maybe his job is in jeopardy and he wants to harm publication? I can’t imagine an editor being so obtuse. I also fear for the success of this anthology. It has a very bad start. is right!

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