Confident Reads (5): Review Requests

Hello everyone! Confident Reads is a way to open communication between readers and indie authors.  This  is to help readers feel confident in the books they spend their money on, and for authors to feel confident in the book they publish.  You can find this feature each week (Wednesdays except in September when it will be Tuesdays) discussing a different subject regarding indie books and authors.

Previous Posts:
Week One: State of Publishing Guest Post by Jeff Bennington about the differences in publishing terms.
Approved Read: Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe by Jeff Bennington
Week Two: Let’s Talk Covers Part One
Approved Read: Exiled by M.R. Merrick
Week Three: Let’s Talk Covers Guest Post by M.R. Merrick- The Magic of Art

Approved Read: Entangled & Duplicity by Nikki Jefford
This week I want to talk about review requests.  Or even promotion requests in general.  Whether it’s asking for a review or a tour post of some sort, some bloggers have very specific expectations when it comes to the request.  Since I started booking tours I have started reading a lot of review policy’s.  I have found some to be very specific.  Some even say that they won’t consider the book unless it’s done exactly the way they say.  Personally I don’t think I would bother with that blogger.  But that’s my opinion.
When you are going through hundreds of blogs, trying to find the ones that read the genre you write, accept indie/self published books, have room in their schedule and so on and so forth, that really narrows the field.  Trust me.  It’s frustrating.  I get what the authors are going through.  Because they need to be very careful about how they word their requests and what they include in the request otherwise the reviewer/blogger is either going to ignore them or possibly even tear them a new one (I really hope this doesn’t happen, but some of those review policy’s are terrifying!).  And rewording every single request is extremely time consuming.
As a blogger I’m not real specific in what I need in a request.  There are a few things I want to know and these are:
  • Title
  • Author
  • Description
  • Cover
  • I want it addressed to me
  • I want to know that they read my review policy

Now, if the author wants a review done within a certain time period I need to know that.  But most are just happy to get a review and will take it when you’re able.
 
Some bloggers don’t like it when authors get friendly and personal.  I don’t mind it, but it needs to be kept short.  I don’t mind knowing an author is a best selling author or an award winning author and it does help me in making my decision.  There are so many books in the world and so many requests coming my way I need things to stand out.  But rattling on about how they started writing and their whole history isn’t necessary.  I recently (ish) got a review request and it was certainly one that got my attention but it also evoked some mixed feelings.  He gave me permission to share it with you all.
 

You and I had an imaginary conversation the other day and I took the liberty to transcribe our little chat.
First, I would like to set the scene. You were sitting on a red velvet throne. You had a toy poodle in your lap. No, scratch that. It was a very small Burmese mountain dog. I was in my usual tattered hand-me-downs and I was nervously clutching my felt cap like the Cowardly Lion clutches his tail.
The conversation was short and to the point. It went like this:
YOU:   Did you bring me a tart? I begin no conversation without a tart.
ME:      Yes, mistress. A raspberry tart. From Walgreens…I hope you are pleased.
YOU:   I am less than pleased, but that is my natural constitution. It is a curse.
ME:      Yes, mistress.
YOU:   State your business.
ME:      It’s my children, Mistress Candace. They’ve had nothing but Coco Puffs since Tuesday. The generic kind, not the name brand variety. I told them…if I could just get my book reviewed…
YOU:   Enough. I saw this coming a league away! This is an affront! A tart from Walgreens, indeed…
ME:      But, this is not just any book! Well, it sort of is…
YOU:   Did you observe the enormous trash pile on your way past the sentry this morning? It is no ordinary mountain of detritus. It is comprised of self-published debut books, like yours, and first generation Kindles, which I find personally repugnant.
ME:      I understand. I wouldn’t call it “self published”…more like “independently published”…
YOU:   Regardless. I plan to burn them all at dawn. Right here in the royal fireplace! The castle is so cold and chilly when one is queen…
ME:      Um, back to the book. It’s called “Mechanical Town.” Middle grade. But with cross-over appeal.
YOU:   I prefer YA. I read middle grade books to my cats, and that is a better use than they deserve! Do you have more tarts?
ME:      It has robots. And boogers. Boys love it!
YOU:   I’m sure they do. And they love anything green from the back of the freezer. What is your point?
ME:      It’s just that…I’m sure that with a kind word or two from your blog…
YOU:   I do not blog, young man! I put pen to paper. And each tear-stained, dribble of ink bears the weight of empire!
ME:      Right. Well, that’s all I had to say. It’s on Amazon. It’s free this Saturday, July 21st. I guess I’ll be going now…
YOU:   Indeed you will. And what will I have the guards call you as they hoist your innards onto the nearest, rusty petard?
ME:      Jim Collette, ma’m.
YOU:   I wish you a gnat’s smidgen of luck. You will need it. And leave the tarts. The whole box.
No charge for the transcript. I recommend filing it away under GREAT AUTHORS I HAVE KNOWN AND FOUND AMUSING.
Thank you, humbly.
Jim Collette

Now, what do you think?  I actually almost didn’t read it because I thought it was one of those porn spam emails that show up sometimes.  I just had a teaser of the first bit in my inbox.  But I opened it and read on and then found myself chuckling.  And although I didn’t accept the book, the letter is definitely stuck in my head and is memorable.  And memorable is good.  At least sometimes.

Stamp of Approval: This weeks indie title with my stamp of approval is A Place in This Life by Julie Rieman Duck.  My review hasn’t gone up, but be sure to watch for it.  This was one very emotionally charged book! 

For the comments:

So what do you think should be in a request letter?

 

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Comments

  1. I think this is a great post Candace! I hope I’m not one of those bloggers who has a terrifying review policy (I don’t think I do?), but I’m sure there are some out there. Honestly, for me, what I look for is really simple in a review request. Please address it to me. Not “blogger”, not “Hi there”, but “Hey Jenny”. That shows me that at least they’ve taken the time to look up who they’re asking for a review, and makes me feel like it actually matters to them that I’m the one they’ve asked.

    I don’t need the entire email to be specifically catered to me, I know they must be writing tons of emails that contain the same information about them or their book. Totally fine. But address the email to me and write at least one sentence to let me know why you think the book is a good fit for my blog. Sometimes, even when an author does that, I still don’t have time to fit their book in my schedule, but I’m far more likely to offer up a promotional opportunity like an interview or guest post as an alternative to a review if they do:)

    • No Jenny, your policy isn’t scary! And I feel the same way. I want it addressed to me and have a sentence or so specific to me. And that’s how I have been sending tour requests, I have a portion I just copy on with all the info but I make sure everything is angled toward that blogger.
      Thanks for your input!

  2. That request you shared is something else! yes, it’s a bit…odd… but I have to give him kudos for creativity:)

    I’m with Jenny, hope my policy isn’t a harsh one! I actually read many, many other bloggers Review Policies before writing my own. I don’t get as many requests as you but my one pet peeve is when I get one for a book that is CLEARLY not one of the genre’s I read. But even then I never tear into anyone (and I do respond to every request and not leave anyone hanging indefinitely.) I don’t mind when an author includes positive reviews of their works, or lists accolades and awards (that’s just positive promotion), and I always appreciate when they provide links to their websites, blogs, Amazon or Goodreads pages.

    I really enjoy this new feature Candace:)

  3. Wow, that is pretty funny! I don’t think I can add anything that the others haven’t already said. I agree with everything they mention. Form requests are fine as long as I am addressed personally (which should be super easy with my blog name)and at least the 1st line is personal. Nothing worse than opening an email to read “Dear Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf”. I am not an inanimate object! lol

    • Yep I agree. I don’t care if they are copying and pasting the letter, but please address it to me and include a sentence or so that is specific to me.
      I think I’ve had those addressed to Candace’s Book Blog as well. ;)

    • Yeah, I offered to remove his name and stuff but he said it was all good that he has a tough skin. I don’t think many will say anything too negative, but you just never know!

  4. I enjoyed the request I probably would have said yes. I know about review policies I have read them and some a bitchy. I recently just closed my blog to requests just because I have too much. I think though all in all it is fair and not overly harsh by any means. It is just that as a blogger you get so many requests and then some of the books are not good and then you end up burned out. It is a tough call both ways!

    • I didn’t say no because of letter by any means. I was (AM) just too overwhelmed with what I have to read already. But I do like that this is a book that will be stuck in my head because of the creative letter.

      I’ve closed mine to requests before but then I opened it back up and it seems like I’m still getting the same amount of requests either way. I think it’s good to say that you won’t be able to respond to every request that way you don’t feel as much pressure to make a decision. I know when I’m emailing people about tours I like to have an idea of whether they might reply or not.

      I don’t think your policy is overly harsh. I’ve read some that were very blunt and pretty rude and those are blogs that I know I’ll never email about a tour. I can’t imagine they get many requests either. But maybe that’s the point. ;)

  5. I’m one of those people without a review policy. Maybe I’ll do one soon…But I don’t have many followers so I doubt I’ll get any requests. So, it’s just one of those things I keep putting off.

    • You should definitely do a review policy even if you don’t have many followers. Many authors are okay with you not having a lot of followers if they know you review in other places. If you review on goodreads and amazon (for example) then it’s worth it for them to still provide you with a book for review. If you don’t have one then they just walk away.

  6. I definitely want a request addressed to me and bonus if you mention something about my blog but, I have to admit, I’m terrible about accepting indie or self-pubbed authors. Usually, their emails go in my “Unanswered requests” folder (no I don’t throw them out!). I do try to send a “thanks but no thanks” email, just so they can mark me off their list. I do hate being rude (it’s a Southern thing…and a Catholic guilt thing. I blame my mother.).

    • It’s hard because there are so many. I have hard time saying yes or no. I hate saying no, but I don’t want to get saddled with more to read either. But it makes it hard to reply to every request. I do try though.

  7. As a freelance publicist, I’ve found review policies more than a little terrifying. I don’t want a blogger to ignore my client’s book just because I didn’t send an appropriate email about it…so I do think policies should be rather simple and straightforward. But that’s my opinion.

    I think unique requests can be fun. The one you got is rather amusing, so thanks for sharing. The author was brave and decided to be very creative, so kudos to him! I don’t know requests in that fashion because they aren’t my books, but I do try and be personable, yet politely distant, whenever I write any blogger I’m not THAT familiar with.

    -Lauren

    • YES exactly! It’s hard because we want to say exactly the right thing to every blogger and I’m constantly second guessing myself. Review policy’s ARE terrifying. Which reminds me that I should go fix mine up a bit…

      I also try to be friendly but yet politely distant, like you said, when I send requests to those I don’t know well.

  8. Great post! His review request was very entertaining, so good for him for trying something different!

    I read quite a few review policies before coming up with mine. The big one for me is to address me by name, and I even include it in my policy. This way, if they call me Alexia, I know they didn’t read it. I try to respond to inquiries, but added that I might not respond unless I’m interested and that takes some of the guilt out of not responding.

    I’ve been very selective lately because I have so many unread books right now, but am upfront about it and say this in both my About Me section and my review policy. I still get several requests every day, which can be overwhelming.

  9. I’m not open for reviews right now, simply because I never said no to people before and I have a huge back log. Still though I get requests from individual authors asking for reviews. That tells me that they haven’t even looked at my review policy. Most are addressed to my blog name instead of me. If they read a post they would see that I sign my posts with my name (99% of the time) and when they pitch what I specifically say I don’t review it aggravates me. But, I still take the time to answer each author. And in my review policy is a link to the Indie Review Directory so they can look up bloggers willing to review their work, but they still have to read the review policy. It’s just the polite thing to do.

    I don’t care about accolades. If the synopsis interests me I’ll read it. I don’t care if it’s self published or indie, to me they are the same, just one paid money to use someone’s press name so it looked like it wasn’t self published. And then of course, if my friend is booking tours…..I don’t say no to her unless it really doesn’t interest me :)

    Bottom Line- Read the review policy. In mine you’ll find helpful links. And like the others said- Address it personally, say why you think it fits my blog, give me a synopsis and a link, I like to see the cover and what other people are saying about the book. And let me politely refuse just once if I’m not interested. I have actually walked new publishers through how to request a review, where to find their market and what they did wrong with me (sent it to someone else’s name, not my age group, not my genre even). Not sure that press is in going to be in business long.

    Had that guy sent that letter to me, I would have reviewed his book even though I’m not accepting reviews. His creativity would have told me he deserved a chance since I do review MG books.

    Heather

  10. I don’t really have much to add to your wonderful post. I do prefer it when authors include my name, which shouldn’t be that difficult to find considering it is in the title of my blog.

    I also wish that authors would either include all electronic formats of the book or none at all. It makes me feel awkward as a reviewer to have to ask for a different version of the book, especially when I state what format I prefer in my policy.

    Lizzy

  11. That was a funny request and i enjoyed it. I too want synopsis, cover, links and to be addressed as my blog name, or user name. If they haven’t read my policy and followed then I will not accept. I recently changed my policy regarding self-pubs and will only review eBooks that are available for all ereaders and not just amazon exclusive.
    Amazing post and i agreed with everything you stated.

  12. I agree with you about review policies sometimes being far too specific to the point of being a waste of authors’ time. Since I’m rather new to blogging, I only just had my first review request. Although I understand some bloggers probably get a lot of requests, I think both bloggers and authors should act respectfully of each other. While everyone is entitled to their own personal policy, I think it’s kind of sad that some bloggers put a blanket ban on anything published outside of a major publishing house. There are so many good books out there but I feel like sometimes all bloggers focus on the same few.

    Like you I’d just want the basics in a letter. Some links to the book’s and author’s websites would be nice as well. If someone does something slightly different, I hardly think I’m going to penalize them for that.

  13. Honestly, I probably would have thought this was spam as well and deleted it. After reading it all though it’s really catchy and fun! It’s just getting me to read it in the first place ;)

    I need something that I can get through quickly.

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