How Not To Ask For a Book Review

Bull in a China Shop

Do you approach soliciting reviews like a bull in a china shop?

I had originally scheduled How to Ask for a Book Review to run for today. Donna Brown has a habit of sending me interesting things to think about for this series. When she sent me a review request she had received for her consideration, I knew I was getting ahead of myself and decided to step back and take a look at what a review request is not. As I frequently get review requests that simply hit my trash, I often wonder how/why a person has chosen to request a review in the manner in which they have.

Donna had received an email from a gentleman with a new book out. This book (I am refraining from naming names or titles) was based on an incident in the man’s life that had pretty destroyed it. I have to be honest in saying that the letter read like one of those dastardly scam letters begging for assistance because doom and gloom is ready to fall on this person’s head if the book isn’t purchased. As I continued to read the letter, I noticed there was a link at the bottom. Now, I have to admit that I went into the link with a bit of trepidation. Lucky for me, it went to his book’s page on Amazon. As I continued to break apart the letter, it became clearer that this gentleman wasn’t asking for Donna to review his book; he wanted her to either purchase it or simply review it sight unseen. I ran into something similar in which an author stated that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and needed to sell 2000 books so that she could get her necessary surgeries.

Bulk emails

Sometimes less is more…

Now, I admit that letter is an extreme case. What isn’t (and I have received more examples than I can say) is simply throwing out a “please review my book” email. These emails have no heading and are a couple of lines with no identifying information as to why I was selected to review the book. Maybe or maybe not an epub file has been attached. This example of a review request sends just as bad of a message. Maybe it is not as creepy, but it is bad just the same. I had been quoted in an article that Terri Giuliano Long had written on selecting book covers in which I had stated that choosing a stock photo with block lettering will chase me away from reading that book. The same idea applies here. I always wonder how much time a person has put into a book or how invested a publisher/publicist is in selling this book when I get this type of request.

I have to admit also that I don’t like it when a book is sent to me with the book file attached. I have talked with other reviewers who have stated that they have seen an uptick in this type of review request. We agreed that we felt it was really an unsolicited book review meaning I am not going to give you the choice to review my book. Another message that it sends is “I don’t want any type of interaction with you, but simply review my book.” I had a situation in which we had an author join Sisterhood of the Traveling Book and spam about her book. We are really strict in protecting the benefits afforded to our author members and, per our rules, this person was immediately removed from the group. As I went into my email for my book blog, I noticed that I had received a gift from Amazon of a book. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence for me. However, this author had sent me her book with a note asking me to review it. There were some serious undertones of condescension in her note to me that left that gift unopened and that author out the $5 cost of the book. I thought another reviewer had nice insight into this too, stating that attaching a file of the book appears rushed…as though the sender is trying to save time. Again, it is all about the image.

I look at the process of soliciting review requests as part of sales. In sales, it is all about relationship building. Let me give an example, at this time, I am currently closed to taking on new review requests for A Book and A Review. However, I have worked with several authors in the past who wrote stunning review request letters, follow-ups with the books and a very brief thank you for the review. One of these authors Cerece Rennie Murphy, whose second book in the Order of the Seers trilogy was just released. Cerece wrote a very nice letter the first time she asked me to review the first in the series with a nice follow-up. She did the same thing with the second in the series. She even wrote me a gentle reminder that her second book in the series was set to be released on a certain day as I had not read or reviewed her book yet. Always polite and courteous as she is, I was not offended. Even in her follow-up and thank you for the review, Cerece made it a point to identify something that she liked about my review that made it stand out to her from other reviews. With that, when book 3 comes out in the Order of the Seers, Cerece knows that no matter how backed up I am, her book will be heading into my review queue.

So let’s recap:

  1. Don’t send spam/scam like letters
  2. Don’t send one or two lined review requests with no heading/introduction
  3. Don’t attach the book to the initial email. Use that opportunity to develop a connection with your reviewer.This information is VERY important when we go into Developing Your Reviewer Database.

Comment here!

Comments

  1. I’m currently in the process of writing my first book and going the self-publishing route. Reading posts, like this one, has been extremely helpful and also extremely helpful in navigating the ‘wild west’ but exciting world of self- publishing. I’ve read many posts about soliciting reviews, as reviews can make or break the success, of the book. However, your post is the first one that goes into detail on how to go about asking for reviews.

    I have a quick question: should I be asking for reviews while I’m
    In the process of doing final edits, prior to self publishing or after I have published the book? What would you recommend, considering that review request may take time?

    • Thanks!

      Here is what I tell authors I work with. Start identifying who you want to review your book. Develop a list. I have posts on Author CEO, as well as Badredhead Media that discusses this. Also, work on your query letter while you are in final edits. These can hurt you in not getting the reviews you need as much as an unprofessional ARC and such. I always say give yourself about 3 months prep process for the review process. Some reviewers, such as myself, may even take longer to get your book reviewed. So you want to be working in both areas concurrently. If that doesn’t answer your question, please let me know.

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