As a book blogger, I get plenty of requests to review books. Sometimes I’m so turned off by the email requesting the review that I don’t even bother to finish reading it before firing off my ‘thanks but no thanks’ reply. On a few occasions, I didn’t even bother replying (even though that made me feel guilty after the fact). Writing the perfect review request takes time and effort. Following a few, simple rules will make the task that much easier.
- Let me know I’m special. If I’m sent a request in which I’m obviously just one of hundreds (in a bcc no less!), I’m not going to feel particularly bothered to read the email, let alone the book. At least know my name! I’ve gotten several emails addressed to the wrong person. I don’t bother to respond to those. I understand that it’s sometimes difficult to find the actual name of the blogger. Some bloggers keep their name private as they don’t want to get tons of spam. In that case I always make sure I mention the blog. That way the reviewer knows I’ve had a look at their blog and possibly their review policy.
- Catch my interest. Most book bloggers get several review requests a day. You need to do something to stand out from the crowd. A form email isn’t going to cut it. A long detailed resume is going to put me to sleep.
- Don’t make me work for it. Book bloggers are busy people. Often they blog in addition to normal jobs or are writers who blog on the side. There’s nothing worse than getting a review to request a book which doesn’t contain a synopsis of the book! In addition to not having the time to research the book to find a synopsis, I’m now annoyed because I feel like the writer didn’t even take the time to write a decent proposal. What am I – chopped liver?
- Don’t start with rave reviews. I review (mostly self-published) books because I want to help authors. (Although I do admit to sometimes signing up to review a book because I love the author and am anxiously awaiting her newest novel.) If you start your review request with a bunch of rave reviews, my first thought is ‘this author doesn’t need me’. Delete, delete, delete.
- Don’t be something you’re not. Don’t write a funny review request for a serious book and most definitely do not write a serious request for a witty book. When I read a review request, I’m also checking out the author’s writing. How do I know if your book will be funny if your email is stuffy? I sometimes write humorous review requests for one of my serious books as I find the blogger fun, but I always warn the reviewer that the book is actually quite serious.
- Follow the review policy. If a reviewer says she doesn’t review self-published books or thrillers, then don’t request a review for your self-published book or thriller. It’s that simple. It’s painful, I know. Sometimes I come across a blog that I think is a great fit for my writing but then I read the review policy and see the dreaded words ‘do not accept self-published works’. In that case, take a look if the blog accepts guest posts. I’ve had a few bloggers refuse to read my book, but agree to post an article I’ve written. Often this leads to a great relationship and eventually a review.
- Keep it short, simple, and informative. This is why writing review requests is hard work. You’ve got to give the reviewer enough information so that she can make up her mind, but not too much information that she rolls her eyes and hits the delete button.
- Spell check, spell check, spell check. If an email has spelling or grammatical errors, then what does the book look like? I don’t care how many four and five star reviews a book has, if the synopsis has grammatical errors, I’m not reading it.
And always remember, no means no. Don’t argue with a book blogger who has decided – for whatever reason – she’s not going to read your book. Always maintain a good relationship. Maybe she is interested in reading your next book or is willing to post a book spotlight for you.