October 19, 2011

Tips and Tricks: How NOT to Request a Book Review

That's right my fab followers, it's the most wonderful time of the week: Tips and Tricks!!

Woo hoo!

*dances in a celebratory manner*

I know, I'll cease it. Your poor little eyes can't take anymore, can they? Anyway, recently, as you may very well know, I've been writing a lot of book reviews, and recently I received one book review in my email and it really got me thinking . . .

Do most authors even know how to request for a book review?

Most of the book review requests I have gotten were off target, as in they saw that I was a book reviewer, looked up my email (which probably isn't that hard to do) and sent me a book review request.

This is way before I came up with a review policy but even then some people just didn't get the memo of how to format a book review request. Granted, I'm new in this game, but I have learned quite a few a things. This is the list of things NOT to do:

1. Do NOT simply type in book reviewer in a search machine.

     Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, do NOT do this. Why? Because you'll not only get book reviewers and other such random nonsense, you don't get book reviewers that may review your book. For example, let's say you do this and type this in. You'll have probably over a million hits. Some book reviewers do NOT review independently published books, some do (like me!). However, if you just simply type it in and click and then send them an email, then you might get rejected simply based on the fact that they don't review your type of book.


This is why you RESEARCH first. Ah yes, the bane of your existence, research. I know it can be challenging but if you keep organized and stay focused then you can do it.

Seriously that's what I did. I looked up book reviewers on websites listed here:

The Indie Book Blog Database:

You need to type in or look around THIS sort of search engine. Now this search engine automatically have bloggers who accept self-published works. Therefore, you don't have to worry about that. And just in case they don't say either way, then just ask.

This one blogger said that she couldn't take my books, but she referred me to OTHER book bloggers who would love to review my book.

Yes, I'm telling you the straight up truth: She was THAT nice. I wish I could remember her, maybe I'll post her blog up here later, but for right now, I'll keep her anonymous.

2. Do NOT send a mass email!

This is just not the way to go on so many different things. Even if you are trying to get published or get an agent you simply DO NOT send a mass email to all of the agents in one email. Why?

For one it's tacky. I'm sorry, but I have say it again, loud and clear: It's tacky! Do you really want to be published? Do you REALLY want to get reviewed? Then do it right the first time!

Some agents don't even respond to mass emails. That's right! You heard me right: Some do NOT respond to mass emails because it makes them feel part of the herd. And they think you're a lazy person.

The same goes for indies trying to get a book review, and maybe some trad pubbies too: Do not send them a mass email.

Send them each, yes each, a personal email or message. Send it to them the way they asked.

I know, weird request, right?

So for instance, my review policy states that I would like the blurb and pdf file of your book attached to the email. Simple right?

I hate it when people don't follow directions, especially when I have the review policy tab right on my blog. Right?! I know I'm not alone in the thought that if a person is going to ask me for a book review, they could at least do it right. Since I'm doing them a favor.

Am I right, or am I right?

*cheers from the peanut gallery*

Not only do I give my authors a book review, but I give them a FREE book critique. The least they can do for all the effort and attention I give them is format it right. That's all I ask.

Well, there is one more thing I ask.

3. If the blogger has written a review policy, then DO NOT IGNORE IT!

This is a vital mistake I run into all the time. Do not send me homosexual erotica. I will not read it. Do not send me hardcore fantasy or science fiction. I will not read it.

If I list it as a possibility then I might read it so don't get mad when I say no, I cannot read it or do it justice.

If I say I'm not experienced in horror and you get mad that I did not mention the Stephen King references in your novel, then too bad. You should have read my Review Policy.

This is why it is so vital to not IGNORE REVIEW POLICIES. If you have a question, then simply ask. Don't send me a novel that I will absolutely hate. Or send it again, thinking that if I get a second look at it that I might change my mind.

That's not possible. My mind is changeable but there are some things that I simply will not read because I've tried it and not liked it. And usually if I try something once, usually I try it again. After the third time of not liking it, I simply do not read it ever again.

That's like drinking Purple Kool-Aid. I do not like it.

"Well, my book will change your mind! Just give me a chance!"

I do not like it here or there, I do not like it anywhere. I will not like it on a car, I will not like it on a farm. I do not it here or there, I do not like it anywhere. Sam I am said.

And besides, let's say I take up your offer to read it. Then I might say in my book review, "This is exactly WHY I hate this genre." And give you a bad review simply because I don't like that genre.

So children, what did we learn?


Read the damn Review Policy. If you have a question about the review policy then ask the blogger about it instead of going, "My book is unique. They will HAVE to like it!"

Um no. That's a myth. I don't have to like anything.

And if the Review Policy is vague, then ask! I ask book reviewers all the time if they would like to review my book. Minus the blurb since I don't know if they would like my genre.

Sometimes their book review policy may be vague and you might want to inform the book reviewer. Not like, "Your book review policy is lame and vague!" Obviously you ask and tell them that since you weren't sure since it wasn't listed or mentioned in the book review policy. Or if they don't have a book review policy, ask them what their book review policy is. That's fair, right?

Okay, so no more excuses or sending book reviewers stuff that they don't want any part of. Moving onward!

4. Do NOT list multiple genres or list misleading genres

I think this is a simple request but from what I heard in the grapevine (from agents, publishers and reviewers alike) is that some authors just don't know their genre that they are writing in.


I guess I should explain that as a writer, you should be reading your genre at all times. Like with YA, since it's constantly changing, then to keep current you have to keep reading the upcoming books in that genre.

So when an author says I'm a literary fiction author, but hasn't read any of the new literary fiction books and maybe just loves Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, then there's a problem.

Same thing with science fiction. If the latest science fiction book you read was by Bruce Coville, then you're in trouble.

Therefore, it would behoove you as a write to not write fiction novel or anything of the sorts and actually, what's that fancy term? Oh yes, do your research. By reading.

And this goes for listing various genres. Pick one. It is understandable if your book is YA paranormal book. I don't mind two genres. That's fine. It's when you go all out to try to include as many genres as possible. Like let's take Twilight, it's technically a YA paranormal fantasy romance and mystery sort of book.

That I have a problem with.

Especially when it is obvious when you are clearly trying to put one of your categories to match one of mine that I read.

So let's say you wrote an erotic anthology with one story with MM in it. So instead of out right telling me that it has this in there, you mislead me and say, "This is an erotic anthology with some romance between people."

I could come up with a better example but I can't think of one. Anyway, that's called misleading information and I will not tolerate it.

I know I can't be the only book reviewer who got tricked into reading a book that normally wouldn't have anything to do with but weren't told outright what type of book it is.

It's not only wrong, it'll hurt you in the end. How?

If I think I'm getting a YA realistic fic book and I got a science fiction with a dystopian twist, it's going to get me mad, number one.

Number two: I'm going to give it a bad review.


Because I no longer trust the writer and it makes me distrust their judgement. It also makes me want to warn every other writer, reader, and book reviewer to steer clear of them and their works.

And lastly number three: I'm probably going to send the author a piece of my mind instead of a book critique. Why? Because they lied to me.

So we all know that lying about which genre you're in just to get reviewed is wrong. And obviously not knowing your genre is wrong. Then how are to fix it?


Know your genre. Seriously, if you're not sure then ask someone. Give them your synopsis and ask them what they think it is. You might be surprised.

Some people might think one book is horror. Some might think it's realistic fic.

It all depends on experience and on what they know. Obviously don't give your synopsis to someone who doesn't read. Give it to someone who you trust will read it quick and give you some feedback. I know you can pay for an editor to give you the genre, but I would hesistant to pay for something you can obviously free.

If you mislead a book reviewer on accident, make up for it. I have no idea how you could, but explain the situation (maybe you gave the wrong blurb for the wrong book. It happens.) and try to get the book reviewer back on your side.

Make the reason plausible of course. Not just, "Ummmm, I didn't know that YA was not Juvenile fiction?!" No excuse on that end. Go to a library. The difference is obvious.

Anyway, all this to say, make sure you know your genre in the first place. Double check on what you are doing.

5. Do NOT get mad if I reject you for a book review request.

This is simply a behavorial issue. Do not throw a tantrum. Do not threaten me with trying to destroy my blog. Do not threaten me that you'll slash my tires.

When an author gets rejected, it's for a good reason. Not saying your book is stupid or is poorly written, but maybe it's just not a book that suits me or my taste level.

Wow, a lot of fancy talk double talk there, huh? Basically, if I get a bad feeling about it or I think it's just too advanced for me (if you send me a book about Chemistry or Physics for exmaple) then I will reject it. Simply because I can't do the book justice in a book review.

So don't get nasty. Don't un-follow me simply because I said no.


Continue sending your books to other book bloggers. I'm sure SOMEONE on this planet earth would love to read a nonfiction textbook about Chemistry and Physics: A True Romance. Just not me.

Another thing you can do is say, "Hmm, maybe I should use some of my connections to give my book a chance. Or get some friends to review it."

I'm not saying get the whole league of stalkers in your closet a chance to review it, but maybe one of your friends will review it for you on their blog.

There's also this website where you can pay like 70 bucks for someone to review your book guaranteed. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was, but it was on JA Konrath's blog. Let me see if I can find it . . .

I think the official price is up there in case I got it wrong, but yeah. Instead of doing all of that hard research, you might want to take the short cut.

But beware of shortcuts.

What does Mama Larissa say?

Shortcuts don't always work. On BookRoster they have to put on the bottom or top in their reveiw that they were paid for it or something like that. I don't remember the exact thing, but it made me suspicious. Therefore, I did not choose to do it.

Also my pocketbook was like, "Um no."

But it may be a good option for you in case no book blogger agreed to review it for you. They gurantee that 10 people will review it for you. So it seems like a fair deal.

Or what you might want to do is go back to the drawing board. I certainly had to.

Is it a drawback? Absolutely.

Will I cry in my room, never to emerge over such a mistake? No. I'll recover and get my book right back out there. No biggie.

Last thing . . . 

5. Do NOT give up.

Here's the thing: Some people will not like your book. They will review it, tell you it is crap on a stick, and throw it back to your face with a smile of thanks.

But don't give up and do not get angry at them.

It's just an opinion for one. Doesn't mean it is the end of the world if your fav book reviewer or your friend hates your book. There might be some trust issues, but not a deal breaker.

My point is there's nothing wrong with going back and thinking that maybe I need to work harder. Or maybe I need to read the Review Policy, or maybe I need to commit to being more organized with trying to get a book reviewer.

Everyone has their weak spot. Mine is my books. I do not like it when people attack it, but I listen anyway. If one book reviewer said my book sucked, that's one thing. It's a whole different ball park if a lot of book reviewers say the same problem for them occured in the book.

Then it's time to go back to the drawing board.

But don't give up.

Even if you don't get a book reviewer to agree to review your book

Don't give up.

Even if you feel like shit for yelling at a book reviewer and worried that no one else will review your book because of your dreadful mistake.

Do not give up.

You will find readers. You will find the magical deal of a lifetime (probably not, but you can always hope). You will find what is meant to be for you.

So say it with me: Don't give up.


  1. The genre always seems to be a huge problem. Most review requests don't even state what the book's genre is, let alone misrepresent it. Thanks for such a relevant and spot-on post!

  2. Hey Olga! Thanks for commenting! It's always nice to see a familiar face. :)

    I think you're right. I just get steamed when an author sends me the wrong genre. It's just like, "Really? Seriously? Did I ask for a picture book? Did you even read my book review policy?!"

    Or some of the authors will not state it just like you said. They'll just say read my novel. Well, I don't know if I want to read it if I don't know what type of novel it is. If it even is a novel by technical definition. I really wonder if some authors even know what type of book they are reading. It just disturbs me sometimes when I see fiction novel or just plain ol' novel.

    Anyway, I'm glad that you enjoyed my post. I loved your response.

  3. Thanks dear,L, for the great tips. I love them and I'll definitely come back to read them again when I get to that point.
    Love your new blog design, by the way.


  4. Hey G! Glad to see you stop by! Don't make yourself a stranger, lol. :)

    If you sent a query letter before to agents and publishers, then you should know the basic rules. Just don't put anything in your email that you wouldn't want to see an author do to you. I.E. Crazy font in the email. Drives me insane. It's like hello! Let's try to keep consistent, kk?

    But yeah, I'm glad the tips are useful and I can't wait to see you blossom as a self-pubber!

    Thanks for the compliment on my new blog look. I like it to. It took me a while to get use to it, but I love it now. It's become home. :)

  5. This is so helpful especially since I need to find reviewers who are willing to read my memoir (did you like how I threw the genre in there) LOL!
    Great blog--I love it :0)

  6. Hello Elisabeth! I'm so glad this was helpful for you and clever way how to promote yourself on my blog. :)

    There are many resources that I didn't include but maybe this one will help you out: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?authkey=CL-y58MK&key=0AnjJ9uZ3TZ2mdGliem94UlZLZmhTTGJNWElpdm81Z2c&hl=en_US&authkey=CL-y58MK#gid=0

    It's a spreadsheet of book reviewers and this spreadsheet helped me immensely. I really hopes it helps you. Good luck! :)