5 Ways to Guarantee I Will NOT Review Your Book

Posted 23 September, 2011 by Amanda / 42 Comments

Authors, listen up: this list is for you.  Now that I’ve been at book blogging for a few months and received my fair share of review requests, I’ve had some experiences that completely turn me off from accepting a review request, and feel it necessary to share.  Please don’t take this list as an attack on authors, because the majority of my interaction with authors has been amazing.  Think of this list as more things to avoid doing.  Some are easy.

  1. You didn’t read my review policy.  If you won’t take the 30 seconds to read my review policy, what makes you think I’m going to spend the 3+ hours reading your book?  To help me weed out people who don’t read my review policy, I have an embedded Google form in my review policy page.  Part of my review policy states that I only consider requests that come through the Google form.  My Google form allows me to a) get the exact information I want from an author and b) figure out who hasn’t read my policy.  When I get a review request through email, I know the person has not read my policy — and I disregard the request just as my review policy states.
  2. Insult me.  I once had an author tell me that a review on my blog was not worth his time if I didn’t post also post my review on Amazon.  I get that reviews on Amazon are important, but I don’t like Amazon’s privacy policy.  I won’t give up the right to own my words just so you can have a review on Amazon.  My blog is nothing to sneeze at either.  And insulting me won’t make me read your book.
  3. Use Twitter or Goodreads to recommend your book.  Exceptions to this rule include: a) promoting your book on Twitter that is in no way directed specifically at me and b) if I ask for a book recommendation (though if you recommend books other than your own, I’ll probably pay more attention to you because the way I see it, you’re addressing me as a person that way, not as a way to get another reader).   Unsolicited recommendations directed at me are annoying and seen as unprofessional.  For example: if you do something like @ reply me with a link to your book when I’m not following you, and I’m not talking about anything related to your book — just that I loved to read — it’s NOT okay.  I’ve also received book recommendations (that I don’t ask for) on Goodreads by the authors themselves.  See #1 above.
  4. Send me multiple requests.  The same author in #2 sent me another review request by email.  Judging by what looks to be a standard review request that I received the first time, I’m guessing he doesn’t remember me.  But I remember him (and also? My stance on Amazon has not changed).  Delete.  I’ve also had other authors send me multiple requests for the same book that makes me think they have no idea they already sent me one in the past.  I’d be okay with, “I was wondering if you received my previous request….” but if you’re just copying and pasting the same thing you wrote me the last time?  If you can’t remember that you sent me something, that tells me you’re only interested in promotion and not necessarily interested in establishing a relationship beyond that.  At the very least, keep track of who you have contacted.  And if you are sending out a second or third request, make it personal.
  5. Address me like I am a nameless and faceless blog.  My name is Amanda, and I run On a Book Bender.  Saying “Hi there” or “Hello” or nothing at all doesn’t move me.  You have a name, and so do I.  Taking the time to find my name is good.  Taking the time to personalize your request is even better — even if it’s to say, “I looked at your site and I don’t know if this is your kind of book but I thought I’d try anyway.”  I mean, hey.  At least you took the time to figure out what books I like to read.  I might actually be more willing to pick up your book if you treat me like a person.

Filed under: Bibliobanter,


42 Responses to “5 Ways to Guarantee I Will NOT Review Your Book”

  1. Going off of #5, it really pains me when it’s so evident that I’ve received a copy/paste generic email from them. Even if they do mean well, I end up deleting the email anyway, because I certainly can’t take them seriously.

  2. Ugh! Someone told you your review wasn’t worth his time if you didn’t post it on Amazon? Rude!! I would have added him to File 13 for sure.

    Re: #5 – Agreed. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten “Dear Blog Editor” e-mails. I’m Diana. Diana! I’d even be happy with “Dear Book of Secrets.” LOL.

    • Yes. He did. And I think it was only my second experience with accepting a review request from an author, too. It’s why I ended up giving my review policy a hefty makeover.

      I’ve gotten a “I’d love to have On a Book Bender review my book” (sadly from THAT author) and… I have to say that I don’t approve. My blog and I are two separate people (er…not that my blog is a person, but I think you know what I meant). It would be like writing an email to a book instead of the author:

      Dear Book,
      I would really like to read you. Do you think I can get a copy?

  3. I’ve received “Dear Tequila” countless times. Really? I don’t even mind getting the copy/paste pitch, but I’d rather not have a greeting at all than be addressed by the wrong name.

    Numerous emails irk me too. I’ve actually received 5 different pitches about the same book. How hard is it to make a list of all the emails you’ve already sent the pitch to?

    Great post, Amanda. I think we spend a lot of time explaining how bloggers can be appropriate when requesting books, but there really should be an equal amount of time explaining how to be appropriate when requesting reviews as well. I know that one bad interaction with an author can turn me off from ever reading their books.

    • Book Lovers, Inc actually has a really good post about etiquette for authors who are requesting a review of their book. I think most of what I ranted/talked about here was included in their post (though presented much nicer).

      I agree that more time should be spent on how authors request reviews. It’s a two-way relationship, and bloggers aren’t here solely to serve the needs of authors or to get them 5 star reviews on Amazon or elsewhere.

  4. This may be a bit off topic, but I used to love Goodreads because I felt the reviews there provide more of an accurate representation of the quality of the book, but now I’m finding it to be exactly like Amazon. Books that don’t necessary merit high ratings are ‘collecting’ just that, and it’s very frustrating, especially when you are trying to decide if a book is worth your reading time. I recently DNF a book that was a hot mess, but when I took it on, I trusted it would be good based on the goodreads ratings (somewhere around 4.5stars).

    I really don’t know why I’m ranting about that, but I remember hearing about Amazon’s privacy policy a long time ago and decided that I would never post a review there.

    • Missie, I think that’s actually a really good point. I don’t really trust Goodreads or Amazon ratings when they are all 4 or 5 stars. In fact, I think a lot of ratings are inflated, but that might just be me.

      I’m actually considering only taking review requests from authors I already have an established relationship with, or from authors whose work I have previously read (and therefore have an idea of whether I’d like it or not).

      • You know, this is actually a great post for today. This morning I received 5 review requests, even though my policy says I’m currently NOT accepting any requests.

  5. #5 happens to me all the time! I got “Hi there Kim!” once. Definitely not my name but “A” for effort. I had one small publishing house (I think it was in the UK) send me an email with a list of “blogger rules” for reviewing their book. RULES. It was amazing:)

    • Oh, a list of “blogger rules” ? That would have seriously pissed me off. Like you need to be told how to run your blog/write reviews.

  6. These have all happened to me as well, except for #2 since I automatically cross-post on Amazon anyway. Sounds like you’ve had many unpleasant request experiences.

    • Well, what happened in #2 brings up a greater issue: what do book bloggers offer authors?

      I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a lot of unpleasant request experiences… just that I prefer to be treated like a real live person who is looking to establish good working relationships with authors. I’m not a promotional tool, though I am happy to promote what I like. If that makes sense.

  7. Loved this post and agree with ALL of them. Not reading the review policy and not using the Google form angers me so! I put a hold on review quests months ago, and stated that I was taking any. Would you know that I receive a request from time to time, even though it states “I am currently not taking requests for review” in large, red letter at the top of my policy, and again down near the Google form? I mean, really? lol

    • You know what I would do? State that you are not taking any requests at the moment and that all reviews will be disregarded. Then in your google form, make a statement that says by filling out the form, they have read, understood, and agreed to the review policy. Problem solved. That’s (sorta) how mine is set up.

  8. Oh, man. How I love this post! I swear every review request I get I already know they DID NOT READ MY REVIEW POLICY and honestly it pisses me off. It wastes their time from typing of they’re email b/c I”m not gonna accept. And the twitter and good reads promote! OMFG! It is damn annoying in Goodreads Groups, but some authors that friend me I already know it is to get to read their book and same thing with twiitter I get a tweet to read her/his book.

      • I know! Every email I get I know the don’t read it. You wanna know why? I say that I DO NOT accept self published work/books in bold, all capital letters and that’s the ones that send me one. And a lot of time it’s not even in the genre I read. So annoying. But you’re right! It’s take like 30 seconds. My review policy isn’t even that long.

        What? Do they think it’s just there to fill some space in the menu bar or something?

  9. Persistence is one of my big no-nos. I say “I don’t have time right now”, saying “I can wait, send me your address” isn’t going to convince me, it will in fact make me ignore you. Grr.

    That and, while it doesn’t put me off as much.. people who open with “Hi Jaedia”. It’s my internet pseudonym, sure, but just because my email address is jaedia@ doesn’t mean it is my name. On my book blog, I go by my name, Hannah. It’s in my signature at the end of each post. How, exactly, can you miss that unless you don’t even GLANCE at my blog before review requesting?

    Great post.

    • Thanks, Hannah. You know, I’ve actually told an author that I couldn’t do it at that time, and to send me an email after a specific date. I never got a return email. Which is kind of interesting, I think.

  10. I have absolutely never thought about this before. Mostly I just feel bad because I’m awful about responding to author review requests and can never look beyond my guilt. I think I’m a bit afraid to accept books from them directly in case of it’s a DNF. I get stomach cramps just thinking about it.
    However, I like the idea of only accepting review requests via the form. It would certainly help my conscience, and it would be easier to keep review requests separate. Only, I really, really don’t like the Google docs spreadsheet.

    • The spreadsheet is definitely the biggest downside.

      I had a DNF book from an author… I pushed back my guilt and emailed him to let him know, and then never got a response back. Not sure how I feel about that. Do authors really care? Do they even want to hear if their book is a DNF, or would they rather just never hear from you again?

      There is a HUGE pressure to review books favorably when you receive the request directly from the author versus the publisher. I haven’t received any requests from publishers though (nor have I attempted to request books or establish a working relationship with a publisher) so it doesn’t much matter for me.

  11. Great post Amanda. I find it amusing (only because I don’t receive a shit ton of review requests..which is fine by me) when I hear of people being so oblivious to a blogger’s review policy. I think we’re all old enough to read and follow directions, no?

  12. It sounds like you’ve made it in the book blogging world. If authors are arguing with you, I’d take that as a good sign.

    • Well, they’re not arguing with me. Except for the guy who wanted me to post my review for his book (I hadn’t even read his book) on Amazon, and he was just insulting.

  13. Another thought, I see your Commenting to Build Community badge and I wonder: Is that like another SITS Girls community?

    • Um…I don’t know much about the SITS Girls community. It’s more just a way to try to make sure to comment on other book blogs.

  14. My favorite so far is the one I got this morning. It began, “Dear Isis”… My name is Kathy. I’ll answer to Kat, Kathy, Kathy Ann or Kathleen. But “Isis”? No. Isis is the first half of my e-mail address. Not my name. If someone has read my blog and can’t remember my name is Kathy when they’re sending me an e-mail I can already tell we’re gonna have issues. Might be snarky, but it takes more time for me to read a book then it does for someone to make sure they got my name right.

  15. I have written in my policy that I’ll only respond to a request if I’m accepting. I’ve had a few people email me months later saying, “Oh, I sent this request to you a few months back and didn’t hear back, so I thought I’d try again.” Really? READ THE POLICY!

    I did really like getting a query to review a political thriller that was addressed to “undisclosed recipients.” That made me feel real special.

    I like your idea of having a form for requests. At least if it’s a form at the END of the policy, there’s a chance someone will read it (read: someone, not everyone).

    I’m going to have to check out Amazon’s review policy … I had no idea it wasn’t good! Serves me right for not reading it. *goes off to check*

    • I eventually changed my policy so that it reads, “If you have not heard from me within a week of making your request, you may assume that I will not be reviewing your book.” Then I don’t have to respond, and authors know to expect (or not expect) a response within a specific time frame.

      My review policy also states that by sending me a review request, they agree to my review policy. And my review policy states that I disregard any request that isn’t through my form (which is a contact form now instead of a Google form). Win-win for me.