7 things that make me hate review requests

Book

I love my blog and I love the many wonderful books I’ve discovered through running this blog and the talented authors I’ve had a chance to help, even if only a fraction. Do you know what I don’t like?  Review requests.  I’ve noticed an increase in them lately and it’s forced me to become ever pickier about the books that I take on.  However, there are some cases where I’m not even tempted to find out more about the book.  Here’s why:

The way my name is – or isn’t – used

You wouldn’t believe (or if you’re a book blogger you probably would) the number of emails I get that don’t even start with a greeting but launch straight into the pitch.  Or they say ‘Dear Donna Brown of B-Lines and Felines’.  That immediately puts me off.  Apart from the fact that it’s not very personable, it makes me ask: is that for my benefit or for yours, so when I reply you can actually remember who I am?  Start a spreadsheet so you can just look up the email address!  And my name?  It’s on the bottom of EVERY blog post I write.  So please don’t write ‘I’m such a fan of your blog’ on an email that begins ‘Dear blogger’.

Sending an email that has no marks of correspondence at all

True, in my review policy I ask for certain things to be included as a minimum but I’ve begun receiving emails where nothing other than those things are included.

Subject: Review request

Title: My Book

Blurb: The best book ever written

Link: http://amzn.to/wonderbook

That’s it… no greeting, no touches of personality at all.  If I wanted a form submission, I’d have a form.

Sending an email with typos or lower case in the subject line

Typos happen, I know this.  Especially when it’s midnight and you have to be up by six to get to the day job and you’re tired.  But there are a couple of places that I find typos unforgivable: my name (it’s only five letters and I’m not Dana, Danna, Dona) and your subject line.  I’ll see those first so take a step back and make sure they’re right.  As for the subject line:

“book review request”

Professional?  Terrible!  And take my advice right now (it’s free – you may as well) a LOT of people find this a turn off.  Just add in the proper casing and it looks about a hundred times better.

Not including the book blurb

Yes, I know you included a link and that’s very kind.  But I’m now getting up to ten review requests a day alongside the 200 other emails I receive and – I’m not being unkind here – I need to scan, weigh up and decide pretty quickly.  I need to have the information I want in the body of the email so anything I choose to look up on Amazon is an optional extra.

Not including a link or blurb

It’s a VERY kind reviewer who will hunt down your information because you haven’t sent a book blurb or link.  And it’s not me.

Telling me something is for me – when it’s blatantly not

I don’t think it takes a long visit to my site to see that I like cats, romance, literary fiction.  “Hey Donna, you will LOVE this celebrity diet book…” doesn’t work.  By all means, tell me you have a literary fiction book you think I’ll love – I just might – but don’t tell me you have a sci-fi novel that’ll blow my socks off.

Not reading my reviewing policy

I have my email in easy access on my menu bar and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that people are just blanket sending without checking my review policy, looking up my name etc.  So that will be coming off, which is a shame.  There are clues in emails that someone hasn’t read my policy at all.  Don’t assume that I won’t care or I won’t realise.  There’s a policy in place for a reason – mostly so you don’t waste my time or your own.

All of these are things that I’ve begun to see over and over again.  I’ve tightened up my review policy and I’ve now become pretty firm at just saying ‘No, thank you’ if these things crop up.  Because they’re not difficult things and they aren’t time consuming.  You know what it tells me when authors do these things?  That they don’t actually care about my opinion or being on my blog.  That I’m just making up the numbers.  And that’s absolutely fine – but you can be damn sure that the people who do want to be on the blog, who do take the time to connect and who do know what I’m like will get priority every time.

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Donna Brown

Ever developing teacher and learner (online and offline!). Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.
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  1. This all seems reasonable to me. Avoiding rudeness is as simple as taking the time to fill in formalities, do a quick edit and realize he/she is writing to a real person. Unfortunately, so many people only have their goals in sight and have forgotten all the important stepping-stones along the way.

    Thank you for writing this – it's a good reminder to us all about the importance of being polite to kind strangers.

  2. Really, how hard is it to follow guidelines? Sadly, there are too many people out there who think they are special snowflakes and the rules don't apply to them.

    This is what I advise to all writers querying for reviews:

    Follow the damn@!@#$! guidelines
    Pitch to reviewers who read your genre
    Be polite–remember you are asking for the gift of a reviewer's time. Don't waste it.

  3. I've had to face each of these at one time or another. One author called me Rita! Did not even know I was a guy. I get so many requests for books where they think their book is the next big thing ( like Harry Potter big). And I think most authors don't really take time to read the review policy. Thanks Donna (see, I got your name right!) for pointing these out, and AUTHORS TAKE NOTE!

    1. Thanks Rita, er Ritesh! I know submitting review requests is time-consuming but that time is better spent doing the job right: authors have much more chance of getting their work considered by taking an extra five minutes. Better to do five requests in an hour an get two 'yes' responses, than 20 requests in an hour and get all 'no' replies! Thanks so much for visiting!

  4. Agreed! Just follow the rules. As an author who solicits reviews, I get so nervous sending them, double-checking to make sure I have the right reviewer for my book, and that I've followed all their rules.

    1. I tend to think that the reason for increasingly strict review policies is because of the bad experiences – but then, we're probably flogging a dead horse anyway considering the 'Not reading the review policy' point! Still – it's always great to receive an email and know that someone has used it. Thanks for visiting!

  5. Donna,

    You wrote about everything that drives me nuts in a review request. Hopefully some of the authors will see this and know that what they are sending is not appropriate.

    On the review request I receive that are not professional I actually turn them down.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  6. I think everything you mentioned was in the per peeves list I collected for my Tips on Thursday post a month or so ago about blog reviews.

    Have you started getting pitches via Twitter? Like I'm going to click a short url from someone I don't know. Yeah right!

  7. It's unfortunate that those who don't follow submission guidelines more than likely won't read lovely posts like this. :(

    I've not ever solicited a review, (not sure a reviewer for my novel exists); but I'd certainly make sure all the Ts are crossed in order to at least get a look. It's boggling the lack of respect and politeness on the internet, especially when asking for what amounts to a favor from a stranger.

    1. Hi Tressa – agreed. I think it's the internet aspect that's key: addressing me as 'Donna Brown from Book Bags and Cat Naps' makes me feel so faceless and I know it's something that would never be done in reality.

  8. Great post. I had one author contact me and start off with you seam open minded like you wouldn't shy away from human dolphin sex and sex on top of the Mayan pyramids. Ummm yeah what about me and my blog says hey bestiality woooooo I didn't even answer that author so no review for him

    1. Jessica, you turned down dolphin sex? Seriously though, that must be a hard one to pitch but I'm not sure that approach was the way forward! Thanks for sharing… I think :)

  9. Hi Donna,
    Since I tightened up my review policy a few weeks ago my review requests have gotten better but fewer. Some of my requests come from twitter and I don't mind that – I just send them a link to my review policy and wait to see if they'll comply.

    But then again I'm still pretty much a newbie blogger and I'm sure you're volume of requests far exceed mine. Really nice post Donna! Thanks for speaking out for all of us.
    Cheryl

  10. I will add actually reading the blog. Sometimes, I come across blogs that say they review fantasy, but what they actually review is paranormal romance. I just move on along. Likewise, some blogs say they only review paranormal romance but tend to branch out on occasion. In those cases, I might say in my email something like "My book matches books like ABC, which you reviewed, so thought I'd make the offer."

    I've always had great success with contacting book bloggers and, honestly, I think it just comes down to being a human being and treating the bloggers like human beings! It isn't hard.

    1. Thanks Krista – you're so right about the human being element. Bloggers aren't an extension of the blog they run – their blog is just a tiny part of who they are.

  11. Donna, thank you. I know it's hard work and time consuming to send out review requests but as you said, if authors follow a blog's requirements, they increase their chances of getting a yes.

    If I want to request a book for review from an author or publisher, I do my homework. It's just respectful.

    Thanks foe posting this!

  12. SOOO True! I get emails addressed to "Tyler" or "Pavarati" all the time. I don't mind "Parvati" since that's an easy mistake to make and not catch but Tyler is my LAST NAME. Seriously.

  13. So glad I stumbled upon this post. I will soon be sending out review requests for my debut novel. This blog will surely set me in the right direction of what to do. Thank you!

  14. Donna,

    I'll be sharing your post with our authors – we remind them to always do their homework before pitching… but sometimes hearing it directly from a reviewer carries more weight. Thanks for the post!

    Paula

  15. From another "Donna". What a fantastic and truthful post. When I respond to someone requesting a review I always tell them to please visit and spend some time on my blog to make sure they think we have a "fit". And, I too have a policy in place. It clearly states what I will and will not review. It needs to be read and you need to comply with it. We as reviewers deserve the same respect that they as an author feel they deserve. I agree with your assessment of the pathetic subject lines, getting my name wrong – or worse yet, not getting it at all. I do not feel guilty turning down book request any more. Some of the authors have made it very easy. It would also be nice to have emails that sound sound and look a little more professional.

    1. Thanks Donna – I'm learning to be firmer. Unfortunately, though, when someone does follow my review policy and send a perfect email I feel like taking the book regardless of what it is. Then I really have to apply the brakes!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  16. What a great piece on what should be common sense. When someone is doing you a favor, it pays to actually understand a bit about who that person is and what they're about. I understand it's hectic and scary to approach people about reviews. But put a bit of effort into it.

    I will be sharing this. (And probably eventually asking you to review a book for me. After I read your requirements, of course!)

  17. Hi Dona,

    I think a lot of bloggers right now are experiencing the same thing as you do.

    A lot of article writers and article marketers are no longer in the article business because of a Google panda algo update. So they switch to blogs.

    One thing they forgot is to build trust first.

  18. Of course there's the flip side of this conversation: what publishers/authors dislike about reviewers.

    1. Reviewers who say they review something, but don't. All that time wasted going through their blog to discover that.

    2. No reply to a request ("Get lost", "Thanks for the note", "Wonderful, I'll get right on it"). Okay, the last one is me, living in a dream world.

    3. Never getting around to reviewing the book. I mean, for cryin' out loud, just because you hate the blurb, the genre, and you've more requests than you can possibly address in 5 years is no excuse for not getting to MY request immediately!

    (Gotcha)

  19. I can't imagine what book reviewers go through these days. I certainly understand your penchant for pissiness when your submission requirements are even read or if your name is spelled wrong. I have a difficult first name (shortened to Jo) and it peeves me off when people spell it wrong. I couldn't imagine my irritation if it were simple. Great post. I enjoyed the one about things not to do when someone takes the time to review your book as well. SO true. Courtesy and all that. Anyway, just my $1.20 :)

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