I am currently open for review and feature requests from authors or publishers. Please read my authors/publishers page for more information on what is available and my policies.


Review Requests - Tips For New (Or Old) Authors

23 Aug 2013
So recently a facebook group that I am part of started discussing review requests after a member was getting a bit disgruntled about the low number of positive responses she was getting from bloggers that she was asking for reviews. As one of the only book bloggers in the group I then shared what I personally like to see in review requests and as everyone seemed to like my tips I have decided to share them here where they can be seen by anyone.

*Disclaimer* These elements are what I PERSONALLY find to make the perfect review request and I do not speak on behalf of all bloggers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So you have written a book, are about to release/have just released and you want a few reviews from bloggers. Here are a few tips from my experience blogging and reviewing that might help your requests be more successful.

1. Check the blogger's review policy. Make sure they are currently accepting requests and that they review the genre your book is in. This sounds obvious but you would be surprised how often reviewers receive requests for something they explicitly state they don't review.

2. Include all the information about your book that the reviewer could possibly want to know. Have the title, genre, synopsis and goodreads/amazon links (if you have them) at a minimum. If you only include the title the reviewer probably wont bother to look it up.

3. "Know" the blogger and tell them why they would love the book. Make sure you have read the blog and know the reviewer's tastes. Let them know why you think they would enjoy the book. eg. I think you will like my book as you like books about.... or .... you gave 5 star reviews to blah and blahh and my book will appeal to fans of those. Following on from this ....

4. Tell them why you want them to review your book. Unless you are sending hundreds of requests like spam there is presumably a reason why you choose that reviewer to send a request to so let them know what it is. From - #2You write great reviews" to "I like your blog and would love to see my own book featured on it" to "everyone respects what you say" or "I would like to see what you think" or even a simple "I think you would enjoy it."

5. Personalize the request. Include their name, mention their blog, if you read their blog then let them know.

6. Be nice. The nicer you are, the harder it is for a reviewer to say no. A well written request may swing the reviewers decision in your favour if they are unsure.

7. Offer a guest post or interview if they are too busy to review. A good idea is to have at the end of your request something along the lines of "If you are too busy to read and review my book right now I am also willing to do interviews and guest posts". Hopefully with this if they are not sure about your book but are looking for more interviews you can still get your book some promo.

8. End it with something open. If you finish the request with "I am looking forwards to hearing from you" you are more likely to hear back. Bloggers are often incredibly busy and may not have the time to reply with negative responses. If you appear to have put time and effort into the request, they are more likely to put time and effort into an answer.

9. If they say no accept it and move on. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES start insulting or verbally attacking the reviewer (this also happens a surprising amount though luckily not yet to me). They will just tell other people that it happened and your book may end up being boycotted.

10. Stay happy. Try not to let negative (or no) responses get you down. Most reviewers get too many requests to say yes to everything they think sounds ok. Keep trying and you will get people agreeing to review eventually.

11. Check your spelling. (Thank you to Sarah from Total Teen Fiction for mentioning this and making me realize that I had forgotten to include it). Make sure to check your request for spelling and grammar errors. A poorly written request won't give the potential reviewer much faith that the writing in the book will be of good quality.

12. Still not working? Rethink your synopsis - So you have sent lots of brilliantly written requests to reviewers who are open to receiving requests, usually love books like yours and they are STILL saying no. By process of elimination the only thing left that could be making all your replies negative is the synopsis (or the cover). Make sure you have a synopsis that reflects your books genre and will appeal to the target audience for your book. This will also help with sales!

A good synopsis is the single most important thing (in my opinion) and I have turned down amazingly written requests because from the synopsis the book simply didn't sound like something I would enjoy.

Example requests

I have received some great review requests and here is the one that is possibly the best.


Hi Laura!

(Has included my name, good start)

I was so pleased to get my Goodreads New Adult Book Club email today and see that you're open again for requests! I had bookmarked your site and read back through a lot of the posts over the past few weeks, even though you were closed, because I found this post and knew you were a blogger to keep my eye on.


This post made me intensely happy! I write a New Adult Scifi Romance series that definitely breaks the mold. REMOVED, the first book in my Nogiku Series, is fun and captivating with a Japanese twist. And it's not paranormal! Which also breaks from the mold. My scifi is futuristic, post-apocalyptic, but not overrun by oppressive governments or aliens. It is truly fresh and different. I would love it if you took a look!

(So I haven't even read the synopsis yet and the author has pretty much managed to convince me that I will love the book. She explains why she think I will like it and why she wants me to review it. She has also used some key words which I usually look out for in reviews "fresh and different" as I LOVE books that are unique.)

I'm including some information below and attaching the book cover. I'd be happy to send you a review eARC in either Kindle mobi or ePub format, if you're interested.

Thank you for your time!

(She offers me a copy - don't forget to do that! - and is very polite.)

-----

Name:
S. J. Pajonas

Book Title:
REMOVED (Book 1 of the Nogiku Series)

Book Synopsis:
Twenty-year-old Sanaa Griffin, a sweet and smart half-Japanese girl, is about to get more than she bargained for when she wishes for love and excitement on New Year’s Eve 3103. Mark Sakai, who knows more about her than any stranger should, thinks Sanaa is the perfect person to spy on the heads of the three biggest Japanese clan leaders in Nishikyō. He wants her to gather enough evidence to keep them from going to war when they land on Earth’s colonization planet, Yūsei. Nishikyō, built by the Japanese 300 years ago to house the rest of mankind, is failing and everyone is preparing to leave.
Sakai has known Sanaa’s family all her life but she knows nothing of him! And despite all the time they spend together, he keeps his distance from her. Then one day, he brings her to Jiro, his nephew, to learn sword fighting, and it changes her life irrevocably. Between falling in love with Jiro and the information she is gathering on the clans, Sanaa realizes Sakai is holding back secrets about her family and her deceased parents, secrets as to why she was chosen for this job, and learning the truth puts her and all of Nishikyō in danger.  
 
(Has included the synopsis which means I don't need to spend time looking for it. /the synopsis is also well written, interesting and doesn't contradict anything that she has mentioned about the book so far.)

More information about my books is at: http://www.spajonas.com/ I will be hosting a fun Japanese food inspired giveaway during the week of Sept 16-23 as well as posts on my blog about Japanese traditions that I draw on for the books. If you're interested in reviewing, maybe we could coordinate something for that week or the week after. Of course, that's up to you! :)

(Her website link was included for if I want to check it out - I did - and though she hasn't explicitly offered anything like a guest post she makes it clear that her book gives her interesting things to write posts about which piques my interest further.)

Best, Stephanie.

(Overall the request makes it seem like she actually cares about having me review her book and I am not someone she just found on google. The effort put in to the request makes me want to put in equal effort. If I had chosen not to review the book I most likely would have sent her a long email explaining why and possibly would have even suggested bloggers who may like the book.

To make it even better her email is written in good English which leaves me very hopeful that the book will be too.) 


I don't receive many review request this amazing and most are more along the lines of this (each / isn't meant literally).

Dear Laura,

I am writing to ask if you would be interested in reading my debut novel / newest release Book Title. I think you will like Book Title as it fits in well with books you have rated highly on your blog / goodreads / I have seen you say you enjoyed on twitter. If you are interested I will happily send you an ebook in your choice of format

http://www.linktothebookongoodreadsoramazon

Synopsis for Book Title ......................................................
.......................................
.........................................

Best,

Author

This is a perfectly reasonable review request. It could well be a template that they just put a name in but it does seem to be personalised. They haven't sold me on the book at all but hopefully the synopsis will be amazing. I am probably less likely to say yes if the synopsis sounds good but not amazing than I would to the example request earlier. These make me happy enough, though they don't stand out I respond positively to plenty of requests like this.

What NOT to send

Hi, I would like you to review my book http://linktobookonamazonorgoodreads

Thanks,

Seriously? No name, one line and only an amazon link? If you seem to not care about your book then why should I? Some reviewers won't even bother to click on the link if you send something like this (I do but would be slightly annoyed so the book would have to sound like it will become a new favourite for me to say yes).

It is easy enough to create a template so that you don't need to start from scratch for every request. You can then add on things like their name and why you would like them to review it. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T FORGET TO ADD THINGS ON TO THE TEMPLATE!

I once received something similar to this.

Dear [reviewers name],

I am a huge fan of your blog [blog name] and would love for you to feature my book Book Title. From reading your blog I think you would love it. If you would like to review it on [blog name] I would be happy to send you a free copy.

Book details...
...
....

best,

Author



The most important thing is to choose carefully who to send requests to. If you email lots of bloggers who a) don't review your genre b) only take requests from publishers or c) are currently closed to review requests you are simply wasting your own time.

If you are still confused with review requests or struggling to receive positive responses there are many people who you can hire to organise blog tours or solicit reviews for you. People like Xpresso tours, ATOMR tours and CBL tours are all awesome and deal with the stress of organising reviews for you.

I hope this is a help to authors seeking reviews! I wish you all the best of luck with getting your book into the hands of readers that will love it. Bloggers, what do you look for in review requests? Is there anything specific you like to see or anything that will turn you off a book? Please share your thoughts in the comments :)

20 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks :) Hopefully it will help some people :D

      Delete
  2. Great advice Laura! I love the stay happy advice. I like it when emails make me smile! I'm not currently accepting review requests, but am still getting emails. I've also received a lot of requests for genres I don't review which often baffle me (especially when it's not YA, given the title of my blog!). It may sound obvious but spell-checking your review request is a great start too! If I receive a request with spelling or grammatical errors it does tend to put me off because I'll presume the book is full of them too...

    I'll definitely be sharing this post! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spelling is so important to me too!

      I get an unbelievable amount of review requests for things like horror and I don't understand why. Whilst I will consider reviewing books of most genres the majority of reviews here are for YA and NA books, usually romances. It makes me wonder why they are asking me rather than a horror reviewer.

      Delete
  3. Humanity. That is what I look for in review requests. Someone who shows that they're human but also understands that you're only human as well. They know you can only read too much, maybe they're aware you're a student or in full time work, and their request reflects that.
    My favourite review request is very similar to yours Laura. She knew how busy I was and mentioned that if I felt I couldn't review right now, she'd still be happy to send a copy - even if I never got a chance to review - and would still love to be featured on the blog for a guest post or interview. It was such a personal and pleasant request!
    Review requests that just show the author has done the research are gold. If they can't take just half-an-hour to look at your blog and find out a little about you, then why should you spend four-to-ten hours reading their book and then another hour writing a review of it?

    Amazing post Laura!

    Faye :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fully agree :)

      I have also had the occasional request where the author has said they are happy to send me the book with no obligation for me to review. That's always nice as even though I try to review everything I read (eventually)it lessens the pressure somewhat :)

      Blogging can be very time consuming and a lot of pressure so it is nice when the author understands that.

      Delete
  4. Many good points. I think my worst "request" was just the synopsis. No salutation, no "I think you might be interested in this", and I didn't even know if the person submitting the suggestion/request was the author or not...I did not reply to that one.

    Maria @ Reading the Alphabet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never had only the synopsis, there is usually at least one line. How can they expect you to even know if they are after reviews if they say nothing? I can't believe authors expect to have anyone reply to a request like that.

      Delete
  5. Ok, the Picard pic made me laugh out loud :)

    What's important to note about my request here is that, yes, some of it IS cut and paste! From the title down through my paragraph about the week of Japanese posts on food that I have planned. But the beginning, where I take the time to tell why I love your blog and think you'll love my book, is off-the-cuff, and it comes from having taken the time over a few weeks to get to know you and what you review.

    Before I was ready to ask for reviews, I set aside time weeks ago to comb my favorite sites and make a list of people I was interested in. I made sure the blogger posted regularly and I searched their sites for keywords I thought applied to my own books.

    I'll admit that my only downfall is that I'm not a big commenter :) I spend most of my time on twitter and the Goodreads boards (where you have probably seen me before). But I was reading and lurking! And I waited until I was sure about a few bloggers before sending off all my requests and following them on twitter. Do your homework, be polite, and remember that the person on the other end is a human being too who loves books just as much as you do. You already have common ground! Bridge the gap!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I fully understand copy pasting or having a template, much of the stuff that should be included in a review request should be the same no matter who you are sending it too.

      The personal stuff at the beginning is really what makes a request extra special :)

      Delete
  6. I love that you included the examples, they illustrate perfectly the difference between a request I would consider and one that gets deleted.

    Also don't like requests where the author goes on about themselves for ages and then there's barely anything about the book. Actually, I don't like overly long requests in general, if you don't grab me in the first few lines, it's unlikely I will waste my time reading an essay of a synopsis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like a short little intro and then on to the book intro. I think authors need only to go on about themselves if it is relevant to the book or is likely to effect my decision to review the book. For example there aren't many UK NA authors so I always try to give them my support therefore if a New Adult author is British then I would like to know that.

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  7. These are great tips. Thank you for posting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you like them. I know that several authors wanted a reviewers take on review requests :)

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  8. My Two Cents: When I released a YA novella last year I sent out hundreds of personalized book blogger requests, and some from a PR firm I hired. The percentage of reviews accepted was only 40%, and then there was still a percentage of bloggers who accepted the complimentary book for review, and never posted one. This is 100% normal, and submitting complimentary copies of your book for review should be considered part of your marketing budget. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 40% sounds about right to me though obviously that will differ depending on the genre etc.

      I probably have about a %40 rate of accepting requests. Normally about 1 in 5 requests are for thinks I would never consider, eg. genre's I don't read (Yes it is really that high! Everyone check who you are sending requests to). The remaining 80% usually sound reasonable but I don't have the time to review them all so accept the ones I think sound the best / are something I particularly want to read at that moment in time, Usually about half.

      Delete
  9. Completely agree with everything you said.

    The worst I get is "I see you are currently closed to review requests but..."

    NO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I was closed to review requests I was still getting an average of about 1 - 2 requests a week *sigh*

      Delete
  10. Great post! I agree with what you said. As a reviewer those are things that I look for and appreciate when the author takes time to make a formulated request and actually looks at my blog first. I usually don't really ever accept review requests that don't at least address me by my blog's name.

    ReplyDelete

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