The Undiluted Truth About Review Requests – Accepting and Not and All the Decisions In between

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Book reviewers, bloggers… this one is for you us.  This is something that has amazed me for years.  All the wonderful review requests we receive by email (is it not a book lovers dream?).  Yet – what emails sent for a potential review request really make it past the 10 to 30 seconds you give to them?  I honestly feel bad but more than not – many hit the delete pile, and it may not even be because the book is not one I would read… in most cases it is that the pitch did not catch my attention in the amount of time I have for it.  (Yes that is a huge run on sentence but who has time for periods?  😉  )

Sound cruel?

I hope not.  I used to email back each person or company that sent me a review request to let them know if I was unable to accept at this time. Most times I would also let them know why… if it wasn’t a book I think I would enjoy, or if time limitations just did not allow me to agree to another book.  I liked doing that…  but now I just do not have the time to respond to each email.

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Here is the honest truth and I have to believe I am not the only one.  Time is precious.  I have my personal email where I receive job requests for my writing as well as personal communications.  I have a second email that is for Friends of the Library, and a third email for bookish stuff (where I direct all book related emails to go to).  Being a busy active person with a life, I try to give each of these emails a look each day, but I do not have time to spend hours reading and responding to emails.

Who does?

So…. the point of this post was to share what does sell me on looking further into a review request… and what does not.  Let’s start with the “does not” first…

 

What Does Not Work In a Review Request

  • The introduction.  Dear sir or madam may pass if the rest of the email is good – but honestly – it is not 1902.  If you are trying to catch my attention use my name, or just say hi or hello reviewer.

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  • If you are going to use my name, make sure it is my name.  I am not delusional… I do not think that I am the only person that you sent this email to and you covet my review thoughts and only my review thoughts. 🙂 However it starts the email off on a bad foot if you call me Jerry or Julie.  Or really… any name that is not my own.

 

  • LONG over informative emails with no pictures.  Chances are if I do not already work with your publishing company or with you, I am not going to invest time in a too wordy email about a book. Keep it short and sweet.  Engage me in why I want to read this book.

 

  • No book cover.  This is not always a big deal, but again, if you are a new to me publishing house, or author promoting your book… I like to see the cover.  Honestly – I always like to see the cover. That is just me. Even with the companies I do work with I will look up the book if a cover is not in the email… that’s just me.  I dont know why but I like to connect the cover to the story line.  Covers for me are a plus.

 

  • Pitching a book to me that if you read my blog or even glanced at my review policy you would know the book wasn’t for me.  Please do not tell me in one sentence that you enjoy my blog and in the next sentence pitch to me a romantic erotic western (*for the record – three types of books I clearly state I do not read… romances, westerns, or erotica).  LOL. Ok that example is extreme… but it has come close to happening.  🙂

 

  • Not being clear on what you are offering (ie. book copy, Netgalley, …)  I have at times said yes to a review and then received a PDF to read it on my computer.  I dont read books on my computer.

 

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What Does Work In a Review Request

  • Call me Sheila.  Or even say “Hey bloggers” or “Hey book reviewers” or even “Dear Reviewer”.  I am not picky, just start your email out right with a greeting.  I dont mind being grouped in an email that I know has went out to many. We are all friend here. 🙂

 

  • Tell me in a short synopsis about the book or books you are pitching.  If you are excited about a particular book, or know it is is being considered for a movie, or even that you expect big things out of the book.. tell me.  That’s interesting stuff.

 

  • Show me the book cover!  I love seeing covers.  If I read a synopsis of a book I am interested in – I still want to see the cover.
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Dear Sheila, How are you? We are super excited to offer you a review copy of a book that we feel is going to make a big splash not only in book format, but also as a movie! Please consider reading and reviewing The Hobbit, ….

 

  • If you are pitching several books, I dont even need the cover if there is a link where I can look at the book and see more about it.

 

  • Clear instructions of what you are offering (ie.  a book for review, Netgalley, PDF) is awesome as well as how to respond to you.

 

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That’s about it.  I love receiving review requests and I wish I had the time to read and consider them all but as those of us who write review know – we cant say yes to them all which makes the email pitch all the more important.

I am curious, do the things I mention here in review requests cause you to consider or not consider a book?  Do you have a criteria that you like to see in a review pitch?  If so, please put in the comments your thoughts on book pitches.

About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Want To Be Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on February 8, 2015, in Book Stuff, Book Thoughts and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 80 Comments.

  1. Good points!! Just the other day I got a pitch and midway through they called me by another name. Hmmm…I didn’t feel “special” anymore – lol! I also NEED to know the number of pages. I said “yes” to a book that sounded great and then it was 800 pages!! Yes, I do read tomes, but I need time to plan for reading and reviewing it. I also don’t do pdf’s on my computer — or self-published — and it’s so hard when people earnestly beg me to read their work. I feel bad saying no. And yes, yes, yes to the point about pitching what you clearly say you don’t read — I also don’t review erotica and someone recently pitched me an erotic book with “sex on every page” – lol!!! 🙂 I’m still at the point where I truly try to respond to EVERY email, even to just say “thanks, but no” — major time consumption that I just can’t always do. -beth

    • Page count! Good point – I always check how long an audio book is before I accept it, but I dont always check for books. I should 😉 Its nice to respond tot he emails, while they may have pitched a book I do not choose, it does not mean that if they pitch me another time it will also be a no.

  2. I’ve been humming and harring about a recent request, and decided i’m not taking it further. Why? The requester got my name right (plus) but failed by having it in a completely different font to the rest of the short post.

    My review policy (as well as other posts like “top 9 ways to pitch your request”) posts says things like “dont make me go looking for stuff” (about you, the book, etc etc), and at least pretend the request was personal – the font just means a cut and paste job, possibly from an email generator. boooooo!

  3. I get too many review requests that are impersonal and from people who have obviously not read my review policy. I am especially turned off by those who found me as a Top Amazon Reviewer…which does not speak to what I enjoy in books.

    Those emails are deleted immediately. I only reply to those from publicists or authors who have spent a little time trying to match their book to what I enjoy.

    Unsolicited review requests need to show some effort in their pitch. Otherwise, they go into the trash heap. That’s how it works for me…LOL.

    • Oh, and PDF files are definitely not for me!

      • Yes PDF’s, I cant do it or maybe I could – but honestly I dont want to. Reading to me is something I enjoy – I dont want it to be work and reading off my computer sounds like work 🙂

      • I’m with you Laurel… pdf and I don’t get along either. I don’t read on my computer, can’t make the pdf print larger on my e-reader, and the Bluefire app freezes up way too often.

        • have you tried converting pdf’s? I have a free program (not calibre, but another) that I run non-kindle books through; or if i’m feeling really lazy, I just send to my kindle account with convert in the subject line and it converts for me – works well for most fiction; not so much for non-fiction though

    • That is about accurate for me too Laurel. I try to read what they are pitching (you never know) and sometimes it is well done and I do say yes…. but as you said- there are a lot of review requests out there it is important to make a pitch stand out.

  4. Oh, your email sure hit me – I just received a pitch for a book I already read and reviewed! Please at least look up to see if I have already read your book.

    Also, I am a small blog – so some won’t even work with me – not worth sending a book to??? I have time to look at something because I don’t get as many requests so to review, so I wish they would take that into consideration.

    I agree with everything else you were saying – I absolutely loved one I am working with that specifically asked me what I like to read. When I told him, he made sure that was what came my way. Now I want to do all I can for him – might even try something I don’t usually read, for him.

    • It is nice when the publishing houses know what you like and find books they think will fit for you. I know they probably have as much time as I do for all the email stuff, so I am just happy with a nice email with books to choose from too 😀

  5. I’m more likely to respond if they use my name or something like you mentioned, it doesn’t seem as generic. It shows that they at least know what I’m writing for. As opposed to others where I’m kind of left wondering if they even know where the review is going.

    • Exactly. I would think when we share our thoughts on something like this it would be beneficial for those who send the emails to know what we like to know about a book that helps us decide if it is a fit for us. 🙂

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed your post today. I, like Opsopinions, have just a small blog, and I sometimes feel guilty accepting books from authors, because I don’t think my blog probably helps the authors, but if it is a book I think I will like I accept it. But lately I’m beginning to get a bit peeved with some of the demands made about how the reviews should be written, what should be in it, and how many words I should try to put in my review. Actually, I posted about it today, because it annoyed me so much. Well, that is enough of my ranting and raving.

    • OOH I will have to check out the post you wrote. I will not accept a book to review if it comes with too many “what I need to do’s”. I forgot about that when I wrote this but I have had requests where they give you a time frame (fine) but they also said paragraphs they want added to the post, several pictures and links… I dont mind some but when it starts to not feel like it is a review I personally wrote and more of an advertisement I am out.

  7. Great post. It is a big pet peeve of mine when I receive a review request that calls me by the wrong name or where it is blatantly obvious that they did not read my review policy. I sometimes feel bad for turning down review requests, but I simply don’t have the time to read everything offered and I don’t want to. It is hard to reply to all emails as well, so some don’t get a reply. I, too, like to see covers and I want review requests to be specific. If you want me to review, please let me know the format…if you want to have a giveaway with the review, you have to let me know what it is. Spell it all out, shortly, in the first email. Everyone’s time is precious and I don’t want to miss any information that ends up spread over several emails.

    • Excellent thoughts here Brooke, sometimes with a giveaway they are not specific. I do not want to have to ask a lot of questions back and forth like “How do I post the giveaway”, “do you send me the giveaway or so I provide a winning name?” Is there a time frame you want the giveaway posted for?” etc etc

  8. Nicely put! I respond to well-written pitches that show a little thought went into the email, and of course those I already work with. But seriously, if you can’t read my review policy, which clearly states what I don’t read/review, then I don’t have time to reply!

    And now you’ve reminded me to respond to a few of the requests I had starred for later.

  9. Fantastic post.

    I agree about the greeting. I get Hello Silver. 🙂 As you said: Find out my name. 🙂

    I reply to each e-mail and tell them I am too busy or that I don’t read this genre and I actually give them links to places that have a lot of bloggers. They usually don’t write back even though I was gracious. 🙂

    I LOVE to get review requests too, but we can’t do it all. 🙂

    Elizabeth

  10. I am shocked that you pass up romantic erotic westerns, Betsy. Isn’t that what this blog is all about?

    (HA HA)

  11. I don’t answer those that are obviously sent to tons of bloggers with a genre that I never review on my blog.
    I answer those more personal, with a sign that they did go read a bit of my blog, or even clicked on links about me and saw that I’m French, or painting on rocks, etc, but I often just copy and paste a template answer – to save time, yes!
    And I’m super picky as for genre. I only accept what I think I can enjoy. I also go check Goodreads if others have already read the book or others by same author. I’m super picky. I also look on my calendar and tell them when I could post a review, sometimes 3 months from the date of the email. If they think it’s too far away, then no thanks. And with all that, I’m quite happy with the books I do get from authors/publishers who contact me through email

  12. My pet peeve in a pitch is the word ‘free’. Nothing is free, especially for reviewers.

  13. I only reply to anything I am interested in or a publicist who knows what I like from previous communication. Occasionally I’ll say yes to something else. And a delighted yes to a favorite author when I receive an unexpected approach. Must be tough getting reviewers for books and some people really work at it. However I don’t want to waste time on books I might not like – and have been caught once or twice on trying to write a review of a book I didn’t really like.

  14. I don’t really get book review pitches but I get other PR pitches and the issues are pretty much the same. Usually it’s a generic email and often country-specific so then when they find out I’m not in the US (for eg) they’re not interested anyway. Nowadays I don’t respond to PR emails if they don’t use my name as I know it’s just a generic mail-out.

    • Oh yeah I forgot about the country specific. A few years ago I was being pitched hard by a publishing house I love and I was all set to work with them until they seen I was in Minnesota. They thought I was a Canada blogger because I receive so many hits from Canada. They then politely declined to pitch books to me, which was fine but I too was shocked to see I have a lot of Canada readers. 😀

  15. Sheila, excellent post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this, Sheila. I have also stopped responding to every book review request (and I do feel badly about that). But, I can’t keep up with it all! Many of us are deluged with book review requests, which is flattering, but, there is only so much time in the day, and time is precious. 🙂

    • Yes, time is precious! I absolutely love what I do as a book reviewer and I appreciate all the work that goes into contacting me about books I just hope that some of the companies really take note of how they are pitching so they too can have better success of getting books out to those who love to talk about them.

  16. Good post, Sheila. I used to reply to every request but not any more. I don’t have time. I have a few publicists I enjoy working with as well as a few authors. Those are auto-accepts for me. Other than that, I request on NetGalley and am kept busy with the approvals there.
    I agree that it’s annoying to get requests for genres I never feature on my blog. I clearly state the genres I read on my “blog info page”. I guess some people don’t take the time to read those pages.

  17. Great post, Sheila. This isn’t the first time I read bloggers giving their opinion about review requests. If we’ve been at it as long as you and I, we’ve seen thousands of pitches, and we can tell in the first few seconds what works and what doesn’t, like you said. But, I’m going to give my two cents here because I’m on both sides of the coin.

    I am still reviewing books and know what it’s like to get both good and bad pitches, but I also work with new authors and I understand their bewilderment. They are told by their small press publishers that they need to promote their book aggressively if they hope to sell, but they are given no indication how to do so. I read on one author’s blog that he decided to promote his book on LinkedIn and got told off for spamming so that he is now almost even afraid to promote his book on his own blog!

    Yes, authors make mistakes and they do things wrong, but some are quite sincere in their efforts so that sometimes I will overlook things that bother me, such as not including a book cover. Being a tour coordinator, I now send out a lot of review requests. Being a book blogger, I know what works and what doesn’t and I’ve learned a few things about the book blogging world that actually surprised me. First, I found that most bloggers are awesome and will go the extra step to help authors. I’ve developed close relationships with a lot of my tour hosts who are just amazing and generous. Second, I learned that some bloggers have become self-absorbed in their blog’s success that they come across as almost… haughty.

    This is not the majority, of course, but there are some, and to be honest, this bothers me. I can understand why some authors are intimidated by book bloggers. Yes, you heard right, they are intimidated because they read our rants and raves about authors on our blogs and don’t want to be labeled as the author who did such and such. I’ve worked with authors who followed my instructions for their blog tour to the letter because they want to make sure they do it right.

    So yes, more and more authors are using book bloggers to promote their books, hence the onslaught of review requests and the more burdened we may feel because of this, but there are days when I tell myself that although I’m more experienced and more sought after for reviews, (and more tired!) I still want to be seen as approachable and friendly. Just saying. 🙂

  18. Great post. I agree with you. I am deleting 20+ email requests a day. How do all these people find me? Anyway, I used to feel guilty and write responses, but again, I had to let it go. If I get an email with a publisher that I work with regularly, I will respond either way, but to the random author that found me on Amazon or wherever, I am ok with deleting. I also always look at the cover and number of pages. They are listed in my review policy, but they can play into whether I will give it a look or not. My big policy is that I don’t promise to review. If it isn’t working for me, I just won’t finish it. Too many good books out there to waste my time on a bad one. I’m not saying I won’t give bad reviews…..(The Other Typist) but I am not obligated to finish and review. That has been so freeing!

    • My review policy has changed so much through the years… and I still tweak it every few months. I too can no longer guarantee a review. I try to always post the books that come in and give them coverage when I can.

  19. I like your points. Review requests that will not get me to look at them are those that are obviously a ‘bulk’ mail out with no effort to see if my review ‘tastes’ would be a good match. I do not have time to reply to all. I have two folders that I assign requests to: Review Requests and Rev Req2. The second is for those bulk mail out requests and those that are lacking basics like a link to the book. I almost never return to that folder.
    The first folder I review now and then. If the request catches my interest I will also put it into a folder for ‘calendar’ or ‘say yes’. Then hopefully I will reply within a reasonable time. I am rethinking a new approach to make the process easier. Still thinking on it.

  20. Love this post! I rarely accept review requests because I prefer to review books I have chosen myself, but sometimes a gem does show up in my inbox!

    I never respond to pitches that I’m not interested in unless the sender wrote me a personalized message. My rule is that if he/she couldn’t take the time show me why the book is a good fit for my blog, I’m not going to take the time to write a response. And I give personal emails so much more consideration than I do standard form pitches.

  21. Sheila, you make perfect sense, and you know—you sound VERY much the way an agent or editor sounds because it’s basically the same deal: I have a lot on my plate, do what it takes to grab my attention and quickly—don’t waste my time! 😀 SO right!

  22. Oh SHIRLEY you cwack me up 😉 … instant delete if they address me by the wrong name, I don’t mind my blog name or Teddyree or Sheree or blogger or reviewer, anything but someone else’s name lol. Like you, I used to respond to every review request but those days are long gone, there’s just not enough hours in the day. I don’t read PDF’s and I usually delete requests that have a copy of the book attached (bit presumptuous)
    I’m more likely to at least read the entire email if it’s humorous and if they mention they are an Australian writer. I’ve actually said yes to a couple of books I wouldn’t normally read just because the email request was written in such a humorous manner I couldn’t resist.
    Thoroughly enjoyed this post Sheila 🙂

    • Thanks KATE! 😉 LOL I like Minnesota authors too so they get a bit more of a chance with me 😉 I too have had emails with the book attached -I have never read one of them. Humor – always good.

  23. You make a lot of good points and I feel the same about many of them. One that I seem to have gotten a lot of recently is, “Because of your interest in thrillers…” when not only does my review policy page say I don’t read thrillers but when I had the time to respond to every request, I used to politely point out that this was not a genre I read. Really makes me wonder, but at least I don’t have to devote the time to responding to those since they are so far off base for me. 🙂

  24. Great post Sheila. I probably don’t get nearly as many review requests as you do, but have gotten a few lately that brought some of your points to mind including how it is addressed, what format the book is in, and the book description. Sometimes some requests are more attractive than others because of the email. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  25. Fantastic post Sheila! You have written what I often think. I hate when someone sends a PDF that I have to read on my computer because it doesn’t fit the screen on my e-reader. Yes, I too have a name. Call me Michelle or macjam47, reader, reviewer, or whatever; just don’t open with your request and no greeting. There should be a manual for submitting requests to reviewers, and I think you just wrote it.

    • Thank you for your thoughts on this – you are correct there should be a list of tips for authors and maybe smaller publishing houses to look at or pass on to those who are sending out the emails. I think they have the potential to get much better responses.

  26. I don’t yet get the volume of review requests it sounds like you do, but I’ve run into this already. I skip any email that starts, “Dear Reviewer, Dear Blogger,” etc. If you don’t have the time to find my name on my site, I don’t have the time to read your book. Simple. I’ve turned down a few that are outside the genres I enjoy because my rating would be lower just because it’s not what I enjoy. I shouldn’t start a book off on the wrong foot because it’s science fiction when I enjoy historical. And like you, I don’t do PDFs. I need a physical book.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    • I think it is good to know what we are looking for in a pitch – not in an uppity way, but if I was the one sending out the pitch, I would like to know what reviewers are looking for in such an email.. Good thoughts!

  27. ah. My strategy is to ignore every single one of them. But that’s just me. Happy Birthday!!!

  28. I just recently started getting review requests and they are submitted via a form on the site, so they are pretty uniformed. I’ll admit that I don’t give the books nearly enough attention, but my TBR list is already longer that would like.

  29. I am just getting offers for reviews. I tried to keep the number accepted down. At first was honor to be offer books I don’t usually read and accepted them. I have trouble reading thrillers as I find the violence hard to handle. I won’t accept if I feel it to violent. I have 2 on my list now. Also, I don’t read many romances. I am pleased that I was able to get my Netgalley badges on my blog and surprise there was new one for me. Lack of time has force me to decide what I will do and which to leave for later.
    http://idahobluebird50.wordpress.com

  30. I have accepted PFD books and I find changing computers or the Kindle I lose those books and My Browser doesn’t disply them so I forget them. If the cover is on the book it more apt to read first one without a cover.. I have learned a lot from every answers Thanks for the help.

  31. I don’t accept very many review requests these days. I just find review books too stressful (I have more than enough must-dos and deadlines in my life!), unless they’re ones I really really want to read. Not to mention, I prefer writing about books rather than reviewing them – when I accept a book, I always mention this, because they may only have a certain number of copies and they’re better off sending them to someone else if they want a review. When it comes to the pitch email, the name thing is what really gets me. I have actually had emails that started with Dear Ms. Bookish …! I don’t need to see a cover, though. Actually, until I read your post, I never even thought about the cover!

  32. my biggest issue – please get my name right – I mean Dee isn’t that hard – I had someone send me a review request with dear rachel in the email – so I knew right then, it was a total copy and paste job.

    personally, I prefer a shorter email at the beginning to established contact – I ask for a 25words or less synopsis and now, starting to ask how did they find my blog – which always intrigues me. And while I like seeing the covers, I’ve been burnt one too many times by great cover; horrible book.

    I do tend to do some cursory research into an author – google them etc – I want to see how their interaction is with readers/reviewers – is it all self-promo, or do they interact in a meaningful way; do I come across any instances of them attacking reviewers (this is a newer thing for me, because I had an author dislike my DNF review and write an entire article for an indie reader journal about how I was not an appropriate reviewer because my primary reading genre is romance (aka, too dumb to understand their masterpiece).

  33. This is a great post! I would add that if you are the author of the book you are pitching, make sure your email is written with proper grammar and spelling. If you can’t do that in an email then I’m going to question your ability as an author.

  1. Pingback: How to request reviews | ellen allen

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