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On Author Requests

17 Feb

I don’t get lots of offers to review books, which is fine as time is rare these days but perhaps I am in a position to be able to suggest a few simple things that I think would generally help the author and the reviewer when contact is made about a book review or indeed any general interaction.  Although each blogger has their own unique ways of going about things, I think of myself as probably a typical example and having done this sort of thing for years, I may as well chuck a few ideas out there.

There are two camps of reviewers I would say, those that accept anything that is free and those, myself included who are a bit more picky in what we choose to take on, owing to many factors, not least time and sheer choice.  Here are a few suggestions though which could certainly aid authors looking for sites with which to have their book looked at and may appeal to bloggers also:

Firstly research your blogger, spend a bit of time reading their reviews of books in your genre, do they like your type of book or are they rabidly against it?  Is the blogger well placed to appreciate that type of book and is their writing of quality, do they get to the soul of a book or just skim the surface.  It should be common sense but I have found myself bewildered by offers of books that I clearly have no intention of ever considering.

Get some initial interaction going, comments on a post or two before sending that email or if you do start in with an email, please avoid that identikit mailing list feel to your words.  The personal touch always elicits a more positive response as we like to feel a bit special,  Perhaps mention why you are picking their particular blog or talk about you, it needn’t feel awkward, make it informal and relaxed.  I’m always happy to chat and to send short emails back and forth and keep an author updated on my reading progress.

A thank you is always nice too, as well as being basic politeness but it doesn’t always seem to happen. After all we do make the time to read the book and write about it,  I usually spend an hour or two in writing a considered review, likewise the blogger can drop in a thank you for the free book when they write a note saying the post is up.

We all want to feel loved so stay in contact, make friends, it doesn’t take long to send a quick email every so often. Not only is it pleasant to chat but it will also cement a relationship that will be more amenable in the future for all when it comes to reviewing/editing/interviews/contact sharing and guest posts and who knows what else.

There are millions of books out there and like anything else in life, it’s a competition, you have to make your effort stand out. You write words so use them effectively to make solid contacts and friends, people who will give you fair and honest reviews and encouragement and respond more positively.   People will also remember you and possibly even mention you in a post, like so: Jess Harpley, Stephen Baum, Cynthia Morgan, Seyi David, Nicolas Conley, Penny Howe, Nils-Johan Jørgensen.  Most of all though enjoy the experience of chatting with fellow book lovers as you never know where the adventure could take you..,

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41 Comments

Posted by on 17/02/2016 in Blogging

 

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41 responses to “On Author Requests

  1. Jill Weatherholt

    17/02/2016 at 18:55

    Great suggestions, Ste J. Thanks!

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    • Ste J

      17/02/2016 at 19:00

      I think some authors just use review sites as another step in the never ending publicity hunt but unlike retweeting (for example) it takes a long time to craft reviews and maybe I’m just moaning but I do like to feel valued for what I do and cultivate these friendships, a quick in and out always gives me the sense of just being used for a review as opposed to the author being genuinely interested in what I have to say. Plus I like chatting to people too!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  2. gargoylebruce

    17/02/2016 at 19:57

    “Please review my book. It’s a gritty crime drama featuring a drug cartel in the Mexican badlands…
    No.
    “Please review my book. It’s a paranormal romance featuring a love triang –
    Hell no.
    “Please review my picture book. It features an alliterative title and illustrations by my three-year-old”
    -FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE STOP!!-

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    • Ste J

      17/02/2016 at 20:07

      It’s a hard life being a book reviewer mate. I get loads of offers for thrillers, I have tried hard to enjoy them, I just failed miserably most of the time until I gave up, not that it puts people off.

      My favourite was ‘this is my book, I need a review inside three weeks, thanks in advance, blurb below’. I got no name and was expected to purchase the book as well. Naturally I took note of the price and then went to the second hand shop and bought stuff to the same price.

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      • gargoylebruce

        19/02/2016 at 02:59

        They expected you to buy the book??? That’s beyond the pale! I just love it when you get a book pitched at you when the author hasn’t even bothered to click on your blog to see what you review. Surely a few targeted requests would reap far better results than the scattergun approach.
        Ah, the mysteries of self-publishing and publicity.

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        • Ste J

          19/02/2016 at 19:58

          Exactly, if people have time to write a book, then they must be able to find some time to find the appropriate blogs. I did sputter over my tea when I was told where I could find the book available to buy, as if I can just fritter away $2.95 on stuff that the blurb hasn’t really sold to me.

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          • gargoylebruce

            20/02/2016 at 02:54

            $2.95?? American or Pound Sterling? Either way, far too expensive for our crashing Australian dollar.

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            • Ste J

              20/02/2016 at 14:01

              That is a pretty shocking exchange rate, perhaps now is the time to book some cheap holidays….

              Liked by 1 person

               
  3. Alastair Savage

    18/02/2016 at 07:13

    I have to say that on the few occasions that I have accepted a review copy of a book, the author has almost always been unfailingly nice and approachable. It’s hard accepting them when offered though because there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

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    • Ste J

      18/02/2016 at 09:11

      It’s true, I am planning to do so much this year, of which there will no doubt be a post about soon but I do like to dabble when a book grabs my attention. There are a few times I have come up with an author/agent who its clear doesn’t really care about anything but a review, frankly these experiences are far and few between.

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  4. Sherri

    18/02/2016 at 17:44

    It’s sad to think that some can’t even be bothered to say a thank you and be polite and keep up some kind of contact. I was asked to review a memoir last summer by someone who found my blog out of the blue. She emailed me but never left a comment on my blog or followed or liked my Facebook Page, even though I asked her to in exchange for me liking hers, thinking we should have some mutual contact if I was to take the time to both read and review her book. She didn’t offer me a free book either, she expected me to buy it. I happened to have it as a friend, by coincidence, had recently sent it to me. Put me right off though. Oh…and one more thing, I would be honoured if you would agree to review my book (when I actually write it, that is, ha!). And honestly, I never even thought of that until I read your post. The light just went off, duh!! You’re doing a great job my friend. And you’ve got manners too…

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    • Ste J

      19/02/2016 at 20:17

      It is a bit cheeky when authors do that, I mean they want to get reviewers onside so they will be honest and fair with constructive criticism, I wonder if your author is still looking for people to buy her book for reviews. It is sad when they want to be popular and get their name out there but won’t share the love with others just wishing for some reciprocation.

      I would be honoured to read your book, being polite I would never ask to review one of my blogger friend’s books as I don’t wish to pressure them into saying yes but half of the time I am thinking ‘pick me, pick me, I review books’. I will start saving the pennies for when you present me with the price hehe!

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Sherri

        26/02/2016 at 20:10

        Yes, I wonder that too. Oh that will be so wonderful, the honour will be all mine (even if you hate it lol!). I’ll be sure to give you the links to the most expensive sites when it’s published, haha! Seriously though, what a cheek…and the day I give you a copy of my book (I can’t even believe I’m saying that, can it be possible I will oneday have a book written and published?) will be such a happy day for me. I will keep writing with that thought in mind and a happy smile!

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        • Ste J

          27/02/2016 at 10:44

          I await the book that is so expensive that even the website link is made of gold hehe. It will be a very exciting day all round, perhaps we could do a photo op for the local paper in which you hand over a symbolic oversized version. Perhaps one day when my works come to fruition, you will enjoy reading it as well!

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • Sherri

            29/02/2016 at 16:16

            LOL! A website link made of gold! I will definitely read your works. Let’s plan that mutual photo op ahead of time…you never know!!

            Liked by 1 person

             
  5. Theanne aka magnoliamoonpie

    18/02/2016 at 18:58

    nicely stated 🙂

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    • Ste J

      19/02/2016 at 08:34

      Thanks! It seems like common sense but some of the emails about books that I have received make me want to ask them if they sent the mail to the right blogger.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  6. Jeff

    18/02/2016 at 21:34

    I like your posts on historical books. You have an eye for the unusual among them. Historical subjects in bookshops are mostly wars and monarchs due to limited shelf space. What you do is introduce the surprising niches. I think that if you pursued this more then you’d get a few more freebie offers because publishers would respond to your development of a specialist area on an otherwise broad-audience blog.

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    • Ste J

      19/02/2016 at 20:23

      Now that is a great idea, the shelves in the local big bookshops do tend to be fairly samey and in some cases a bit yawn inducing, I will look into this, perhaps get in touch with the guy in the second hand bookshop in Nottingham and see if he can hold some of the more interesting titles for me. Wait until I get around to read Post-War Reconstruction in Australia, I’m hoping it blows both of our minds.

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      • Jeff

        19/02/2016 at 21:20

        > Wait until I get around to read Post-War Reconstruction in Australia, I’m hoping it blows both of our minds.
        You can often be quite free and open about the peculiarities of your interests, so why not? You don’t try to excite everybody with something general that can be read anywhere else. You’ll be fine embracing your enthusiasms – that enthusiasm is probably what draws so many people to your blog. I shall have to find a way to learn from you when I write about a book I bought about the Baader-Meinhof group. Actually, I’ve got a few ne-er do-wells coming up. A tricky lot to present.

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        • Ste J

          19/02/2016 at 21:36

          There are plenty of other bloggers who enjoy their bestsellers, I don’t get along with a lot of them in the main. The Baader-Meinhof group will be a very interesting read and the others will be a good challenge, it does help to push your writing and thought processes and that is a good thing.

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  7. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder

    18/02/2016 at 22:52

    Wonderful suggestions, Ste J. I absolutely agree! I receive emails almost everyday about reviewing books. Yes, I’m choosy and, I really lack time, that being an important factor.But getting random emails without any prior interaction sometimes irks me, really. Moreover, as you’ve said, it doesn’t hurt doing a bit research on the reviewer before sending the request.

    Loads have been written about the sufferings through which authors go through, but no one has perhaps spent a single page on the pain of reviewers… 😛 😀

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    • Ste J

      19/02/2016 at 08:43

      Exactly, people are all about the author and yes, on the face of it we get free books to read so why should we complain? I think our job is more complex than people realise, giving a balanced review and reading books we actually may come to dislike is challenging. Authors who choose their bloggers well will probably go a lot further and it doesn’t a long time to see how we work. Time is precious, especially when we have bookcases full of amazing authors we could be exploring.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  8. Lucy

    19/02/2016 at 19:25

    We are very thin on the ground when it comes to offers, but then we don’t really do proper reviews and most of the authors we are a bit on the dead side, so we probably don’t appeal 😦

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    • Ste J

      19/02/2016 at 20:20

      Perhaps get some Ouija baords antics going, it would be a new twist on author interviews and what not.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  9. clarepooley33

    19/02/2016 at 22:15

    As I have said recently elsewhere – reviewing is something I can’t do and I admire someone who can write a well-balanced critique of a book without too many spoilers. It is an art and the work involved should be appreciated properly by an author who hopes to benefit by your labours.

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    • Ste J

      19/02/2016 at 22:28

      Spoilers are such a bane, so much I want to say about books, yet so much I need to keep back. Sometimes, whole themes have to be left out just to avoid ruining the book. In this world of instant information, it can be easy to forget about the time it takes to craft each review but I am happy to remind people every so often, so long as I don’t get a big ego that is.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  10. Andrea Stephenson

    20/02/2016 at 16:33

    Writing reviews is something I’m really not good at, so I admire those, like you, who take the time to do it (and therefore contribute something valuable to the book world) and to do it so well. I’ll never have to worry about those bad-mannered approaches to write a review, but I’ll definitely take your tips on board if one of my books does make it into print (although I hope I’d be good-mannered enough not to commit any of those sins!)

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    • Ste J

      20/02/2016 at 19:59

      Really it just amounts to being prepared to spend a little time getting involved with a reviewer and vice versa I might add, just come over as a person genuinely interested in the process of meeting people. You will do just fine!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  11. Invested Ivana

    20/02/2016 at 16:56

    Great article. It might not be fair, but it’s true that I will go out of my way to help someone with whom I’ve developed even a small relationship.

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    • Ste J

      20/02/2016 at 19:33

      Relationship is the key, their are some authors who don’t want a relationship just a review and then they move on with the least involvement possible. I may be picky but I prefer to have more contact with an author than just a standard can you review my book? letter.

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  12. macjam47

    22/02/2016 at 13:39

    A great post, Steve. I often get requests to review thrillers, suicide themes, other dark themes that I expressly state I do not review in my review policy on my blog. Authors or publishers requesting reviews should definitely take a look at my review policy before requesting a review. I took the time to write it out to save me from having to go back and say I don’t review their genre and so they don’t waste their time asking for my review.

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    • Ste J

      23/02/2016 at 18:37

      That is a good point, I really should do a review policy of some sort as things have changed in the few years since I wrote my About Bit, mainly because I string a sentence together so much better nowadays hehe. Review policies make it easy for people, you’ve goe to the effort to help people avoid the hard work, yet still it happens, I wonder how many emails they must send out to all the bloggers they can.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  13. shadowoperator

    22/02/2016 at 15:40

    How very insightful and helpful this is! And the tone is especially winning, because it sounds modest and at the same time informative. I’ve always thought your intellect had more than two bits to rub together, and that you had a good idea what was what, but the generosity of your sharing of it so nicely proves these things beyond a doubt. Keep up the good work(s)!

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    • Ste J

      23/02/2016 at 18:41

      I’m glad it sounded modest, I read my first draft and it seemed like an angry rant and that I was somehow represent all bloggers, thankfully I avoided that. Most of it is just common sense stuff but if it can help authors to reach their target markets and achieve success then I am happy to have done my part…and it saves me from writing emails that could have been avoided.

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  14. Liz Dexter

    27/02/2016 at 11:55

    This is great and helpful. I ended up writing some pieces about being a good guest blogger, and one about getting people to review your books, after I had a very good email asking me to review something, mentioning my blog, showing she had READ MY BLOG and sending me links to reviews etc. The book was a good read, too. I get offered thrillers and romance a lot, which is fine, as I can truthfully say I don’t read much in those genres so won’t be able to help.

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    • Ste J

      28/02/2016 at 09:17

      The enigma of the authors who are so keen to get their books out there, they risk less than positive reviews by people who have little interest in the genres. It is great to receive emails from those who have taken an active interest in our blogs and made us feel a bit special in the process. A little research and a bit of thought about who is best to approach would save a lot of time and help get the accurate opinions for the books reviewed. Since writing this I have had no new offers, I think I may have scared everybody off lol.

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