Review Requests: The Do's and Don'ts
As a book blogger, review requests are possibly the most flattering email I can get - yes, even in some cases, more awesome and squee-inducing than a publicist being kind enough to work with me, because getting that email means someone noticed me. Someone took the time to consider letting me read something they've worked hard on, something they're protective of and proud of...their book. Someone trusts MY opinion enough to want it, and to understand that I may or may not enjoy their novel. Someone believes in me enough to offer me the chance to spread the word about their novel/s. Someone wants to take a chance on....me. I never imagined I would get ANY review requests when I started my blog, but I received several amazing opportunities right away.
I've built some fantastic relationships with authors who have approached me via review request, including authors who even now RT my review tweets even when it has nothing to do with them, authors who approach me to read/review a second book of theirs, and so forth.
I don't have a huge, fantastic following of these such authors and events, but I greatly cherish the ones whose support I've gained through supporting them. But it's more than that.
Review requests are a bit of give and take. As a blogger, I give admiration to those authors who send me a well-thought out and serious review request, and I take away from the book and the experience, hopefully, a new relationship with a talented author. If an author reads my review policy and sends me a polite review request, and the book is a genre I review, I will strongly consider reading it. But that's where the give and take comes into play again. The author has to give me a small slice of their time and respect by addressing me by my name, talking about their book and letting me ease into it, and I have to give them the same respect by, if I'm not going to read the book, letting them know in a tasteful way.
With that said, here are some my own person "do's"and "don'ts" when it comes to review requests. (Let me know in the comments where we agree, disagree, etc. Add your own thoughts to the mix!)
- DO: Spend enough time at my blog so that you learn my name, read and follow my review policy (ie. make sure you are querying me for a book I might actually read. Why waste your and my time with one I won't?)
- DON'T: Address me as "Dear Blogger," "Hi there," or "here'swhyyou'lllikemybookpleasereaditnow" with no introduction. Nowhere in your spiel have you convinced me at all that you know or care a) who I am, b) what I want to read, c) about me or my blog.
- DO: Send me, per my review request, an introduction to who you are an an author and a short synopsis of your book. Also include why you want me to read your book. Do you think I'm a good blogger with a valid opinion? Do we have things in common?
- DON'T: Send a generic, form letter with a copy of your book attached. You know what they say about assuming things...
- DO: Talk back and forth with me a bit, allow us both to spend some time getting to know one another.
- DON'T: Use my contact form to send me your review request. My review policy clearly states to send me an email.
- DON'T: Add me on Twitter or Goodreads ONLY to pitch me your book. I have literally received @'s on Twitter with a "Here's where you can read my book!" Tweet. I will not respond to those.
- DO: Take the time to read every review request you get. Even if it turns out to be something you don't want to read, someone took a few minutes of their time to send it to you. You don't HAVE to read the book but you should read their email.
- DON'T: Reject an author's review request in a careless way. Put yourself in the author's shoes. Whether they're self-published or represented by a prestigious publishing house, they are offering for you to read their baby, their work. That has to be nerve wracking. If you don't have the time to read their book, or don't want to, at least send them a short, polite response.
- DO: Get to know the author whose work you are reading. Offer to host them for a guest post, interview, or giveaway. Authors are people just like you and me; they're human and they have good days and bad days. Sometimes a review, or a post to help them gain exposure can make their day.
- DON'T: Think all review requests are the same. You won't be dazzled by every review request you get. Sometimes you'll accept one from the synopsis and then it's just a good read. Other times you aren't sure about the book when you start it, and then it turns out to be rather amazing.
- DO: Let the author know where they can find your review by sending them a link. Also keep in mind that there are places other than your blog where you can post your reviews: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and even Goodreads and Smashwords.com. Exposure is what most authors are looking for, and if you like their book, the kindest thing you can do for them is to spread the word about their work. Trust me: they won't forget it.
- DON'T: Be afraid of self-published writers. There may be a few out there who have given the rest a bad name but there are many others who are awesome, and who are putting out high-quality novels that are both emotional and amazing.
- DO: Thank the author for his/her time!
Working with authors is a partnership that should not be taken lightly.
There's a fine balance, being a book blogger. We spend a LOT of time on our blogs: the layout, the tags, the format of our reviews. But what you cannot spend enough time on is perception. How do you want to be perceived in the book blogging community? How do you want to be perceived by authors? Perception is drilled into me where I work, so I've brought that notion here with me. A bad image will get you passed up, but if your authors have your back, you will discover a support system that is just as awesome as that in the book blogging community.
These are only my opinions, and I respect and admire that everyone is different. Your review policy may be entirely different from mine. Maybe you don't even take review requests. But if you do...what do you look for in review requests? How do you feel about working with authors? Hit the comments and let's discuss!