Tips For Requesting Reviews
Hi everyone. My name is Teresa and I run the book blog Readers Live A Thousand Lives. I've been blogging for almost two and a half years now and I love being a part of this community. So a big thanks to NA Alley for having me on the blog today to share a bit of what I've learned over the years. It is an honor to be here.
In my time blogging I've gotten a good number of review requests and some of them have been more engaging than others. Obviously everyone is different and everyone will have different preferences, but I'm going to share some tips for requesting a review from bloggers/reviewers. Again everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another but here are some things I always like to find in my requests.
1. Make it personal. I feel like this applies to anything really, but there is nothing worse than getting an email that says "Dear Blogger" or even worse it has the wrong name. It is always good to take the time to learn the name of the person you are emailing. It is that little extra effort that shows you care about the blogger/reviewer you are contacting and aren't just looking for anyone.
2. Review policy. Before contacting a blogger make sure you check to see if they have a review policy. If so, take that into consideration. This will be helpful for you too. The policy will usually state what kind of books they accept for review and will help you decide if this blog is the right fit for your book. No need to waste time querying a blogger with your horror book when the blogger clearly states they don't read that genre. Also, bloggers aren't always open to accepting review requests. Sometimes life gets crazy and we just have to stop taking on new books. So if this is the case it will usually be stated in the review policy.
3. Attachments are bad. This one can go either way depending on the reviewer, so it's probably a good idea to check the review policy. However, I don't like when I get a review request with the book already attached. This is mostly because of security reasons. It's just not a good idea to click on attachments from an email address you don't know. Sure it says it's a book attached, until that one time the attachment is not really from an author and it is actually a virus. I personally prefer to receive a request and then respond accepting that request before getting the book as an attachment. Again though, this one varies.
4. Be respectful. I feel like this one goes without saying, but be nice to the reviewer. Remember there is a person on the other side of that email address who most likely doesn't get paid for blogging. So be nice to that person and if for whatever reason your request is declined just be gracious about it. Nothing is worse than getting a nasty email because you didn't have the time to take on another review book or because it just wasn't for you. Also, don't make the blogger feel bad about saying no. We don't like saying no, it's not fun. Being given the guilt trip because you said no just makes everyone feel bad.
5. BCC. This one is big for me! If you want to email multiple bloggers at once please please please use the BCC option. This way the bloggers email address isn't distributed inadvertently to others. It also stops every single person who received the original email from getting emails every time someone clicks "reply all". It's fine to mass email at times, but just be respectful and keep the email addresses private.
6. Numbers aren't everything. Just because a blog has a ton of followers doesn't mean it is the right fit for your book. Yes numbers are important but it is also important to take into account the content of the blog and if your book fits in with the other books featured on the blog. Also who knows; that little blog you take a chance on and accepts your request may grow to be a huge blog one day. Then when they are established and big, they will remember that you were one of the authors who noticed them when no one else did.
7. Multiple emails. If you don't hear back from the reviewer it is probably best to assume that they aren't interested. Our inboxes are always clogged and sometimes it is just not possible to reply to every single email. One follow up email is fine, because we all know email can be screwy sometimes, but if you don't hear back after that it is probably best to assume the answer is no.
8. Contact is key. Most bloggers are connected to every single form of social media possible. However, obviously we are going to be more active on some as opposed to others. Make sure you check their review policy/contact tab and contact them in their preferred way. As a general rule, emailing is probably best. It is just too hard to keep track of multiple inboxes and catalog review requests over multiple platforms. I know I personally only respond to requests via email and most bloggers I speak to have the same preference. Again, everyone is different so be sure to check the bloggers preference beforehand.
9. Facebook walls are bad. This is one that seems to be very very touchy for a lot of bloggers! While most bloggers do not mind messages through their facebook page (again, check the policy), posting a promo on their facebook wall without permission is a big no. Now that’s not to say never post to their wall, if you want to say hi or something like that go right ahead, but do not use the wall to promote your book through the page without permission. If you want the blogger to share a teaser or sale, message them first and ask. Now this one probably seems a bit weird, like it’s just a facebook wall right? But here is the thing. We promote a lot of books in a lot of different ways and we don’t want to just promote any book. I personally like to have either read the book first (or have read something else by the author) or have an interest in reading the book before I promote it. Why? I don’t want to just blindly promote a book without knowing anything about it. I want my recommendations to mean something and I want people to be able to rely on my recommendations. If I just recommend anything that I come across, then my recommendations don’t really mean much. This holds true for a lot of bloggers. So long story short, if you see a facebook page you like and want them to help spread the word about your book, just ask first.
10. Be willing to provide a review copy. I know… you are going “well… duhh” right now, but it seems that this is not always the case. I have received review requests that do everything right and sound like a great fit and I’m reading the email going “yes, I like the sound of this one, I’m going to accept this one” and then I get to the bottom of the email and it says something like “if you think this would be something you are interested in reviewing for your blog here are the purchase links” and no offer of a review copy. I’m sorry I buy a lot of books (the amount of money I spend on books is obscene) but if you are requesting a review and expect me to buy the book and then review it for you… well it just doesn’t work like that. If I am spending money on a book it will be my choice and my choice alone. So basically, if you are going to email a blogger with a review request you should be willing to provide the book.
And I think that covers most of the important things. Obviously you’ll want to include in the email a little bit about the book and any other relevant information (like why you think the blogger would be a good fit for it). But other than that, these are the most important things to take into consideration when putting together a request. Most of these tips apply to a first time request. Obviously as you build relationships with bloggers you adapt to that specific relationship. We love getting to know you and working with you! I have met some of the best authors ever through blogging and I love love love working with them and it is an absolute joy. It is truly one of my favorite things about blogging. So just know, we truly love hearing from you. To this day I still get incredibly excited when an author emails me requesting a review. Because out of all the bloggers, you took the time to email me. Even if I can't accept it, it is still a great feeling.
Thank you again to NA Alley for having me visit today! It was a pleasure to be here, and I hope I was able to be of some help.
Questions for Teresa?
Post them in the comments! :)