How to Make Sure Your Book Review Request Does NOT Get Deleted


I've been hesitant to write this post. That is due, in large part, to how angry I get some days after reading book review requests. I curse, I rant, I snark. My cat will tell you it's not a pretty sight.

But I also feel like this is a good opportunity to talk about what it is that makes me feel those feelings AND how to not stir them up.

I'm not the only reviewer that gets frustrated when I see certain things in my emails from authors looking for a review. And I know I'm not the only one who gets triggered enough to ignore or delete those messages. I never feel good about doing it. It's just that I'm hitting the proverbial wall here and I want to hit it a little less often.

So if you're an author looking for loving advice on how to approach reviewers (especially this one), read on.

Review Requests I Always Delete

Before I get into what to do, I wanted to take a minute to look at what not to do (and how I handle it). Want to know what immediately gets your request tossed into my email trash can? Here is the list.
  • Requests for reviews of stories in genres/from types of authors I am not currently reading.
  • Requests that do not follow the guidelines posted on this site (especially ones that look like a form email).
    Short and sweet, right? The best (and most alarming) part is how fast it narrows down the number of requests I need to respond to. I don't make a point of tracking the stats, but I feel safe saying I delete half of the requests I receive just in skimming through them. I've heard that some reviewers delete more.

    How to Make Sure Your Request Does Not Get Deleted (or Ignored)

    Now that we've looked at some of the reasons why requests end up in the trash folder, let's look at what you can do to stay out of it.

    Make sure the reviewer is open to queries/requests/submissions

    Obviously I don't know if you made your list of possible reviewers weeks ago or are just gathering that list now. Either way, you should check into whether they are currently accepting requests or not. Three places to look are:
    1. Their guidelines page
    2. Their previous posts
    3. Their social media links 
    Guidelines: Check the top and bottom of the guidelines page.

    Previously posted content on their site: Check through some of their more recent reviews/posts to see if they say anything about taking a break. 

    Social media links: On Twitter or Facebook, check the pinned section of their feed before scrolling through their posts. On Instagram, go to their profile and scroll through their pictures.

    Make sure your story is in a genre they want to review

    When reviewers post guidelines, they will state the genres they are reading for.  That's why sending a book review request for your project when it's not in a reviewer's preferred genre is a quick path to the trash folder. They're not going to waste their time on a book they aren't interested in.

    Long story short - if your story isn't on their genre list, take them off of your reviewers list. Or don't add them in the first place.

    Make sure your submission follows their guidelines

    Finding reviewers, narrowing down the list, and writing out individual queries is time-consuming. We get it. We also get why, with some of us, you feel like our guidelines are too long/specific. There are reasons why, though.
    • We've gotten too many poorly written/form/non-specific requests in the past
    • We've seen too many submissions where the person submitting clearly paid no attention the guidelines
    • We've received too many queries for books outside of our genre
    I said earlier that the most effective way for me to whittle down my list of requests is to delete the ones that do not conform. What I didn't talk about is the time it saves me to do so.

    Because, y'all, deciding what to read isn't the fastest or easiest of processes. Think about how long it can take you to decide what you want to read next. Then think about how often book reviewers have to make that decision. Add in the time and energy that goes into reading that book and writing a review, and suddenly it becomes clear why reviewers seem to be nit-picky in their guidelines.

    Bonus Tip: Don't stress out about following up on your requests

    This sounds counter-intuitive, but sending a follow up email to a reviewer may not work out the way you want it to. Some reviewers make a point of saying they do not reply to requests when they choose to not read a book. Others state that they will not respond to a requests personally and to watch for a review on their site. They may even ask specifically for no follow up.

    Just because they don't say anything about you following up doesn't mean it's always a good idea to do so.

    In the past, my policy has been to try to let the people reaching out to me know whether or not to expect a review from me (but with no guarantees). After some dubious follow ups when I haven't responded and weird responses when I've said no, I recently revised my guidelines to state the following:
    While I would love to be able to let you know either way, at this time I am only able to let you know if I choose to write a review. If I do so, I will let you know my decision (usually within 2-3 weeks), and follow up with a link to the review and the date when the review goes live closer to time.
    If you hear nothing from me within a month, assume I've decided to pass on your story at this time.
    I've come to realize I have empathic tendencies, so shifting to this policy hurt. But I'm sticking with the new policy because I want to make sure that any reviews going up on this site are of benefit to the authors whose stories I'm reading and congruent with other content I already post here.

    My point here is that you following up with a reviewer, especially from an emotional place, can backfire on you and other authors. Reviewers who might have been willing at one point to engage become less likely to do so after bad experiences with review-seeking authors.

    If the reviewer is not specific about wanting (or not wanting) authors to follow up their requests and you feel the need to do so, be brief and professional in your correspondence. You're more likely to get a response that way.

    Final pieces of advice

    Here are two final pieces of advice before I conclude -

    First - Don't request a review and expect reviewers to automatically say yes. Reviewers are under no obligation to review every single book someone asks them to read.

    Second - Do not take it personally when you get turned down. Most reviewers don't know you (the person or the writer). They each have individual processes for deciding what is worth their time and their own reasons for saying no that have nothing to do with you as a human being.



    The bottom line when it comes to reviews is that no one wants to waste time on stories they have no interest in reading. Reviewers love reading, and they want to help other readers find good stories in the genres they enjoy.

    As authors, let's do better.

    How about we try to honor their time and energy with requests that give out enough information to help them decide what is worthwhile? Is that really too much for reviewers to ask of us?

    Comments

    1. I could not find, after much searching your web pages and links, any link to what you are reading currently, and whether or not you are accepting submissions from authors.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Charles! The guidelines and information on what I'm interested in reading for review right now can be found under the "Need a Reviewer?" link at the top of the page.

        Or if your device isn't immediately showing it at the top, here's the link:
        https://www.catpollockwrites.com/p/book-reviews-for-authors.html

        As of right now, I am open to submissions from other authors. Once you've had a chance to read through the guidelines, please feel free to submit if you have a story that you think would be a good fit for me. Thanks!

        Delete

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