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7 things that make me hate review requests

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.

Author: Donna Brown Donna is a longtime book lover and sometime book reviewer and has devoured books from an early age. She writes short (or long) stories as and when inspiration hits and is married to fantasy author David M. Brown (Fezariu's Epiphany, A World Apart). She was also co-contributor to David's book, Man vs Cat, a humorous look at life with six rambunctious rescue cats. Donna has lived in many different areas of the UK over the last 30-something years but has remained in Yorkshire for the past decade. She ardently disputes the misnomer that 'It's grim up north'.

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0 Responses to "7 things that make me hate review requests"

  1. Jennifer Bogart
    Jennifer Bogart 3 years ago .Reply

    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.

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      Hi Jennifer – I completely agree! Thank you so much for visiting!

  2. LJ Cohen
    LJ Cohen 3 years ago .Reply

    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.

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      Thanks Lisa – I might have to put "Follow the damn@!@#$! guidelines" at the top of my review policy!

  3. Ritesh Kala
    Ritesh Kala 3 years ago .Reply

    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!

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      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. Kelly Hitchcock
    Kelly Hitchcock 3 years ago .Reply

    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.

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      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. Suzie & Bunnies
    Suzie & Bunnies 3 years ago .Reply

    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. Donna (
    Donna ( 3 years ago .Reply

    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. Tressa Green
    Tressa Green 3 years ago .Reply

    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.

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      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. Donna Brown
    Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

    Hi Donna – thankfully I haven't had the Twitter submissions yet directly but a few for The Indie Exchange. I haven't seen your post – SHAME ON ME! – so heading over to check it out right now!

    Edit: Visited the post and this is a great read so I recommend jumping on over and taking a look! http://www.girl-who-reads.com/2012/02/tips-on-thu

  9. Donna Brown
    Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

    Thanks Suzie and Bunnies!

  10. Jessica ( frellathon

    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

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      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 :)

  11. Cheryl
    Cheryl 3 years ago .Reply

    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

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      Thanks Cheryl – I think a tight policy from the beginning is key and not having one was a mistake I made and quickly had to learn from!

  12. Krista D. Ball
    Krista D. Ball 3 years ago .Reply

    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.

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      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.

  13. Bea
    Bea 3 years ago .Reply

    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!

  14. Pavarti K Tyler
    Pavarti K Tyler 3 years ago .Reply

    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.

  15. Aimee B.
    Aimee B. 3 years ago .Reply

    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!

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      Thanks Aimee – I'm so pleased it was helpful!

  16. Paula Krapf
    Paula Krapf 3 years ago .Reply

    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

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      Thanks Paula – I genuinely wanted this to be useful and not just hot air ranting so I'm so pleased to read your comment!

  17. Donna McBroom-Therio

    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.

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      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!

  18. Ninette Swann
    Ninette Swann 3 years ago .Reply

    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!)

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      Thanks Ninette – and ask away! I never make promises but I'm always fair (as long as you get my name right!).

  19. Andrei McBreak
    Andrei McBreak 3 years ago .Reply

    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.

  20. Al
    Al 3 years ago .Reply

    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)

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      Lol – you did indeed get me – I wondered where that was going! But there is a serious point – it does have to be courtesy on both sides, that is for sure!

  21. Jo Michaels
    Jo Michaels 3 years ago .Reply

    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 :)

    • Donna Brown
      Donna Brown 3 years ago .Reply

      Thanks so much Jo! I'm really glad you enjoyed the post.

  22. Jo Michaels
    Jo Michaels 3 years ago .Reply

    Ouch… That one hurt ME.

  23. […] while ago I did a blog post called 7 Things I Hate About Review Requests. I was very worried that people would think I was being overly negative but I got a great deal of […]

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