Having recently received a spate of emails from authors who are clearly clueless about how to politely request a review of their books, I thought I would write up a brief list of etiquette items that authors should follow when making these requests of total strangers.
These items are nonnegotiable:
Address your would-be reviewer by name
Yes, this will require a bit of research on different websites, particularly if you are making a request through a site that assigns various reviewers to different types of books, but this piece of information is quite key to your success.
I recently received a request for a review which opened with the greeting “Dear Button tapper,” suggesting that this person couldn’t even be bothered to look to either:
- The header image, or
- The right-hand sidebar of my blog
Both of which feature my books, with my name prominently printed on the cover. (BONUS: Every single one of my blog posts says “Written by Laura Roberts” at the top, in case you are still clueless.) Into the garbage with that request!
Make sure this reviewer likes your genre
This should go without saying, but again, you’re going to need to do a bit of research here. Not everyone likes to read epic sci-fi adventures!
Indeed, not all erotica reviewers enjoy the same sub-genres. I, myself, do not care for billionaire romances, so a recent review request suggesting that I review a book in this particular sub-genre went unanswered. Sorry, billionaires, but you bore me.
This person also suggested I had previously reviewed another book similar to hers, naming a title I had clearly never reviewed. If you’re going to personalize your email in this manner, make sure you really know who you’re emailing, and don’t just spam every reviewer on your list with this information. (In other words: actually personalize these emails instead of spamming everyone with the same message.)
This last item is actually the most important. I might overlook an email that addresses me as “Dear Reviewer.” I might even overlook the fact that I don’t typically enjoy sci-fi epics. But if you are fucking rude about it, either by demanding I review your book or by insinuating that you are doing me a favor with your email, your request is going straight to the trash.
So how should an author address a potential reviewer?
An excellent question, my dear author!
Here is a simple, straightforward template I’ve created to do exactly that. Please feel free to cut and paste it into your next review request!
Dear [Reviewer Name],
My name is [Your Name], and I’m the author of [Your Book’s Title], a [Genre] tale of [One-Line Summary Of Book].
I found your contact info on [Amazon, the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages, or wherever else you found their contact info], and thought you might enjoy my book. Are you currently accepting titles for review?
If this sounds like a book that might capture your interest, I can forward you a review copy in the e-reader format of your choice.
Thanks very much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
One last thing…
As a final point, do not attach your book to your initial email. Many reviewers will simply trash any emails with attachments, unread, in order to avoid viruses. It also comes off as an assumption that you are expecting this person to review the book, which is quite rude indeed.
Instead, use this template to inquire about whether or not the reviewer is interested, and if they say yes, that would be the proper time to forward them your review copy of the book.
Asking for reviews doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require a bit of humility and common decency. Sometimes reviewers are just not going to be interested in your book, or they may already be swamped with titles on their To Read shelf. Keep in mind that it’s usually nothing personal if they say no.
If you do try my email template, please feel free to report back on your successes! And if you have any other questions about how to approach book reviewers, let me know in the comments. Good luck!