Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Reviews and how to ask for them

Or to give a more detailed title: "Reviews and how to ask for them in a way that makes me want to actually read your book."

I go through phases where I tend to get a decent amount of review requests. Which is nice and I'm glad I'm thought of, even if it's in a very non-personal way, as someone who could read your book and actually influence other people to pick it up. Thank you for that. However, I tend not to read a lot of these books. Mostly because they don't sound like something I would be into and also because I have a zillion other books already on my TBR pile. I should go through and see how many of the review request I respond to versus the ones I actually receive, but I know so far this year I've only accepted 3 (I'm in the middle of reading one right now AND IT'S GREAT but I'll get to that later).

That said, I think I have some advice for those who want to ask bloggers to read their book in a way that will annoy them the least. Or me. A way to annoy me the least.

1. Get to know the blog - I know, you don't really have time for this. There are hundreds of thousands of book blogs out there, and it's unrealistic to read through all of their posts and really learn what that blog and blogger are like. But some top-line skimming would be nice. Something that indicates that you actually think this blogger would want to read your book, and that their audience would also like to read your book. Sending a paranormal romance to someone that only reads 19th century English novels is going to be a waste of everyone's time. If you can reference a specific review (even if that is the only post you read) that at least shows me you looked at SOMETHING on my blog.

2. Avoid the email blasts - Or at least make them less obvious. This sort of goes with the first point of getting to know the blog. But seriously, when I see things that start "Dear Blogger" I zone out. I still skim the email cos there could be something interesting in there but most of the time, I just don't care. I know, email blasts are time-savers and LOTS of people use them. But at the very least, maybe use a program that can swap out the Blogger with the person's name (and I promise you, there are programs out there that do this).

3. Use the blogger's name - Again, building on the point above, but when you start the email with my name instead of Blogger, I'm more apt to pay attention. I don't even care too much if you use Red instead of my actual name, though for those I've gotten that DO use my actual name, you guys get all sorts of bonus points. My name (it's Alley by the way) isn't hidden but it's also not obvious, so Red is fine. This doesn't mean I'll read your book, but it least makes me look more closely at your email.

4. Check out if the blogger has a review page - This is a great way to see if the blogger is accepting books for review, if so what kind, if they want to do interviews, blog tours, all that fun stuff. Not everyone has them, but a lot do so check that out. My book review policy page isn't the most obvious (it's on the left side of the screen) but it's there. The majority of requests I get fall into the Deal Breaker list, which isn't helpful for anyone.

5. Please no third person -  If you, the author, are emailing me directly, please don't write your email like you're someone else. This isn't a big deal, but I hate seeing "This author blah blah blah" and then the email is from the author. Just say "I"

6. Yes, you have to give me a copy of your book - This one is actually part of the reason I wanted to write this list. I got a review request that ended with "If necessary, I can send you a copy of my book." If what now? Yes, this is a necessary step. It's part of the agreement. I'll review your book and in exchange I get a copy of your book. You get a review, I get a free book. You might not get a review you like, but I may waste my time reading a book I don't like. That's how this goes.

Now let me tell you about the best book review request I got. I sort of want to hug it, except it's an email. First up, she addressed it to me directly. My name even. So bonus points already. Then there is a quick description about the book and the author. I don't need 6 paragraphs describing the book. Tell me enough to get me interested. THEN (and this is the best part) she answered a question I asked in one of my reviews. Actually it wasn't even really a question. Sort of a random musing. Not only did the person skim through my blog but they read it closely enough to go "Oh yeah, she sort of asked a question here, and I have the answer so LET ME SHARE".* And now I'm not only reading The Kings and Queens of Roam but I was all excited to read it because of an excellent request exchange. (Also the book is good, so that is helping a lot.)

Now granted someone can write a really kick ass request, and demonstrate that they've actually read my blog and still ask me to read a book I don't think will be my jam, but that's OK. Because the odds are we won't get to that point because the person will have a reasonable expectation of what I will like and thus will only send the request if it looks like it will be worth their time. 

Any review request advice I missed?

*If you're curious, the question I had asked came from my Warm Bodies review about why there was an Audrey Niffenegger blurb on the cover. Turns out they're both represented by the same company so BOOM! Question answered.