Stuff On Sunday: Advice for Authors

Despite offering clear guidelines for those seeking a review at Book’d Out which can be viewed here HERE they are often ignored, and I suspect quite often they go unread.

Reviewing any book is a significant time commitment. Each book review you see on Book’d Out represents around 6 hours of my time. On average a 300 page book will take me around 3 – 4 hours to read, a review for that book takes me around 2-3 hours to write and the actual posting of that review and promotion takes around an hour. If an author wants me to to commit my limited resources to reading, reviewing and promoting their book then they need to get my attention with the review request. The easiest way to do that is to provide me with the information I need about the book.

A week or two ago, Judith at Leeswammes blog asked me to cast an eye over an upcoming post she had planned titled “Authors: How To Pitch Your Book to Bloggers“. Many book bloggers receive email queries  from authors asking for a review of their book. On average I receive 20+ a week, but sometimes it can be double or even triple that. I love reading and I like to support authors but with so many appeals and only so much time, I have to carefully consider each request I receive. A well thought out pitch that meets the requirements of the individual blogger is essential and Judith’s post is a must read, offering sage advice for authors seeking reviews of their work.

Rather than repeat that advice here, I thought I would show what such a request may look like. This (entirely imagined) pitch is addressed to me from an author named Word Smith for a book called Dog Days.

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Subject: Review Request: Dog Days by Word Smith

Dear Shelleyrae,

My name is Word Smith and I would like to request a review of my book, Dog Days. I believe Dog Days will appeal to you because you list mystery as a genre you like to read in your review request policy and recently enjoyed similar titles, Collared and Buried Bones, reviewed at Book’d Out.

Dog Days is a mystery novel and is the story of a woman who went to see a man about a dog. The woman wishes to buy the dog, a dalmation, but the man refuses to sell him. Why is he so reluctant to part with the dog and what price is the woman willing to pay?

An excerpt of Dog Days is available to read online at my website, Mystery WordSmith. Dog Days is 280 pages long and was published in October 2011 by Printit. It is available for purchase at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords.

I can offer you Dog Days in digital (epub, mobi) or print (paperback/hardcover) format at your request.

I would be pleased to provide Dog Days for a giveaway at Book’d Out or provide you with guest post or interview should you wish.

Dog Days is my first novel. I worked for eleven years in a pet store but I am now retired. I live in Whoopi with my husband and three dogs and I am currently working on my second novel

For more information about myself or Dog Days please visit Mystery Wordsmith.

Thank you for your consideration of my request, I hope to hear from you soon.

Word Smith
Author of Dog Days
Mystery Wordsmith

[Cover attached]

{Assume the words underlines are linked appropriately}

———————————————

This is the type of request I prefer to receive and I am most likely to  give serious consideration. It is clear and concise and contains all the information I need to help with my decision making process. I don’t mind if it is embellished a little with some personality or additional information as long as what I need is there.

The truth is though an author might do everything right and I may still reject their request, for a variety of reasons. Often it is simply because my schedule is already overcrowded and I don’t have the space  (this years schedule has been full since April), at other times it may be because I have already accepted books of a similar genre in that time frame. It is also possible that perhaps after reading the synopsis, extract and other reviews the book just doesn’t appeal to me strongly enough for one reason or another.

However authors that do their research, choosing the most appropriate reviewers to approach,  reading and responding  to the review guidelines of book bloggers and submitting a considered request give themselves the best chance to gain a review for their work.

So tell me –

If you are an author, has this information been helpful?

If you are a book blogger what advice do you have for authors seeking reviews?

37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marie (@bostonbibliophl)
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 07:29:49

    My advice is simply to read a blogger’s review policy and follow it. If the author doesn’t have time or interest to read a review policy, then that author should neither be surprised nor take it personally if they get a “no” or simply no reply. Really, this isn’t rocket science.

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  2. Dollycas
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 08:22:16

    Shellyrae, This is an excellent post. Since moving to WordPress I have been receiving so many review requests and was trying to accommodate everyone and found I was ending up overbooked and not really enjoying the books I was reading in a rush to get to the next book. I finally had to tell people my schedule is full through year end. It was hard but I had to do it. I hope your post and Judith’s is shared all around the blogosphere. I will be sharing this one myself today on FB and Twitter!! Thank you!!

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 16, 2012 @ 12:18:44

      Hi Lori, I find it difficult to say no sometimes too but I have to picky otherwise I would drown!

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  3. whisperinggums
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 09:10:30

    Looks like a great letter Shelley … But, I am the opposite. I don’t actively seek review requests. I work with a few publishers who have an idea of what I like, and love to – and do – receive offers from them. However, there are so many books I want to read – many of them older books and classics – that I fear being swamped by requests to review current books. I have only said yes, so far, to one direct author request and she had become a regular commenter on my blog, engaging in active discussion about the books. Thought I’d just share a different POV. Hope that’s ok.

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  4. Marg
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 09:46:17

    I am definitely more likely to consider a review request if it is obvious that they have spent some time looking at my blog before deciding that their book would be one that would match my reading tastes.

    By the way, I think I would like to live in Whoopi!

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  5. Jenny Schwartz (@Jenny_Schwartz)
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 11:18:24

    Having an actual example letter is super-helpful. Thanks, Shelleyrae.

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  6. Cathryn Hein
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 13:27:47

    I’m with Jenny. Definitely helpful info. Good stuff.

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  7. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 14:29:35

    Thanks for your very clear article. I sincerely hope that your herculean efforts receive the kudos they deserve! Reviewers of high caliber have a potent influence on both readers and standards of literature. Well done!

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  8. Candice Lemon-Scottt
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 16:09:00

    This is fabulous advice. I had no idea how the selection of books to review works, or how authors ought to go about approaching bloggers to review their books. This leaves me very well informed, thank you. Candice 🙂

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  9. Tony
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 17:52:33

    Ha! I love the idea of having writers swamp me with desperate e-mails – the reality is that I’m the one sending begging e-mails to publishers 😉

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  10. laurelrainsnow
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 23:29:34

    I suspect that many who request that I review specific books have NOT read my review policy. One would think that checking this detail would be crucial….

    Then there are the unsolicited books I sometimes receive. Even those that look like they might appeal to me go to the bottom of the review pile. Just a quirk of mine.

    I like your “Imaginary Request.” Funny and creative.

    Here’s MY SUNDAY SALON POST

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  11. notesoflifeuk
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 06:49:55

    I’ve had a few who have read my review policy and said “I know you don’t review such & such but…” in case I’ve got time to make an exception for them.

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  12. Bernadette
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 11:54:31

    So when are you going to pubish Dog Days? I want to know why he won’t sell her the dog 🙂

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  13. Jenn J McLeod ~ Come home to the country...
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 14:14:06

    Very timely advice;) Thx

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  14. Helene
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 16:36:30

    Great post, Shelleyrae. I’m very hesitant about offering a book for review – I still remember hitting send with sweaty palms when I did finally write to you 🙂

    I would have thought it was simple manners on the part of an author to make sure a reviewer’s guidelines were followed – much like a publisher or agent’s guidelines really.

    And I’m with Bernadette – look forward to reading Dog Days, although Collared and Buried Bones sound fascinating too!!

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  15. The Australian Bookshelf
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 17:59:59

    I’m so glad you put together this post Shelleyrae, because this has been starting to grate on me of late. You are so right, it does take a lot of time and effort- not just to read a book but to write the review, prepare a post and liaise with the author etc.

    There have been times when I’ve received review requests from authors who haven’t even provided a synopsis or summary of their book… just dropped the amazon link and expected me to do the research myself!

    I certainly don’t receive as many requests as you do but the influx of late has been enough to overbook me for a couple of months and I’ve had to update my review policy to indicate that i can’t accept any new ones at this time.

    I love your request letter! Perhaps i should make my specifications a little clearer on my blog.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:50:28

      I think the clearer the guidelines you have the better chance you will be offered books you are actually interested in though of course there are always those who will ignore it anyway!

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  16. the book mystress
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 19:33:20

    I find it Rather annoying when people do not read my policy, I understand that i have my email address in most of my ‘About Me’s’ but this does not mean you can just ignore my review policy.

    One thing i find rather annoying is that in my review policy it states ‘I do not read/review Self published Novels, Indie and Small press are ok but i do not like self published Novels’

    then i get an email saying “i know you dont read self published Novels But you’ll like this one” No, chances are i probably wont, I could write my own post about this but all i can say is, if some one says ‘i dont except’ dont assume your the bees knees that can break that rule, its there for a reason,

    *Rant Over*

    Great Post Shelley

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:52:28

      Actually the only place I have my email addy on site is on my request a review page, right at the bottom LOL

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  17. Amritorupa Kanjilal
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 23:34:40

    Ok, now I want to read Dog days and find out what happened 🙂
    On a serious note, I’d advice writers to check what genre the blogger usually reads and posts about, and focus on those that work in the specific genre the novel falls in. I don’t do YA, but I get so many requests for it, it’s a huge waste of my time as well the writers’!
    Thank you for the lovely advice. Do visit!

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  18. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:57:56

    Sigh, even with those guidelines, there’s always those who are determined to break the rules. I’m a meanie, and I don’t like my time wasted, so I’ll just ignore anything that’s totally off target.

    That said, I have had some wonderful pitches from people who present themselves as the professionals they are. Hooray for those lovely authors.

    PS, Shelleyrae, a bit of topic, but I’m curious to hear about the channels through which you promote your site.

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    • Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
      Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:17:48

      And by “of topic”, I mean “off topic!”

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      • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
        Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:07:52

        I’m not sure what you mean Stephanie, like where I post my reviews? The blog auto publishes to my Book’d Out Facebook page and tweets post links. I paste my reviews into Goodreads, LibraryThing, TheReadingRoom, Amazon and Boomerang Books, sometimes at B&N as well. My blog is listed at a few places like the Book Blogger Directory and the Australian Book Blog directory and I participate in one meme a week. I’m not sure if much of that counts as active promotion though. Can you be more specific maybe?

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      • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
        Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:24:50

        It does take a bit of time to do all that and its also formatting the post, linking purchase sites (cause I link to the product page), finding author information, links to trailers, excerpts etc, notifying the author, all those little things that just take a few minutes each but add up quickly (especially on a reasonably slow internet connection)

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