Although I am currently in the process of sorting through a year’s worth of book review requests, I feel the need to take a moment and talk about what I’m seeing in my inbox. A few years ago I wrote an article about the various reasons I reject book review requests – and it still applies, but that information, readily available, seems to be mostly ignored. So we’re going to talk about it again – authors, listen up.
Book reviewers can’t read every book that’s sent to them. We’d love to, but we simply can’t. Over the course of this past year, I was sent more than 300+ review requests to my inbox. Assuming I was able to read and review a novel every single day of the year with no days off, I still wouldn’t be able to get to them all.
As it is, I post two book reviews every week, which is still quite a bit more than most people read. That’s 104 books a year, if I don’t miss any scheduled posts. I would wager a guess that as an author, you don’t read 104 books a year. You probably don’t read anywhere even close to that. Only die-hard readers will pick up and finish that many books. Unfortunately, that means that less than a third of the books that are sent to me are going to be read this year. It sounds staggering, but I want the authors out there to realize that even if you have the best book ever written, chances are I still can’t get to it. I have to be picky. Really picky.
There is a reason I have a FAQs section with a clearly outlined process to getting your book reviewed. It’s a weeding out process. And guess what? Out of the 300+ books I was sent in the last year, only about 50 of them bothered reading my FAQs and sending me appropriate information. That helped, a lot. If you didn’t send an attachment of your book to in my inbox, your e-mail went directly into the trash folder. I didn’t read it. I didn’t look at your title, your cover, your blurb, I didn’t even read your name. I just looked for an attachment and trashed those without. Why? Because I don’t have time to e-mail several hundred authors to inquire for more information about a book I still may not want to read.
From there, I read blurbs. If I read the synopsis to your book and didn’t think “ooh, this sounds interesting.” I trashed it. Because, again, I don’t have time to read every book – and I don’t want to read 104 books I don’t find interesting. I don’t like giving negative reviews – it’s painful to everyone… so if I read your blurb and your book doesn’t strike me right away, I pass it up. I look for books I think I’m going to love.
Although I’m not done, I’d venture to guess that out of the 300+ books I was sent, I will probably add less than 10 to my To Be Read list. Whatever space is left over will be filled with review requests that haven’t been sent to me yet, or books I randomly pick up off amazon or out of my library – sometimes I just randomly pick a book out of all the books that are sent to me – and here’s where that FAQs comes in handy. Are you paying attention?
If you sent me a book file, and I don’t put it on my TBR list, it goes directly into my library…. and there is a chance that I will still read it at some point – even if I initially rejected it. Sometimes it pays to pay attention.
So what can you do as an author to get yourself read? Here’s some tips:
- Send your book to reviewers that specialize in and enjoy your genre. You are far more likely to be read by these book reviewers. I love romance. I am 200% more likely to read your book if it’s a romance and I’m emotionally invested in your characters than if you don’t have romance. That’s just a fact. If you write historical fiction—find a reviewer that specializes in historical fiction. You’ll be more likely to get read, and more likely to get a good review.
- Read the book reviewer’s FAQs and stick to the procedures you find there about sending book review requests. Don’t waste our time – because we won’t feel bad about trashing your review request. We don’t have time to cater to every author. There are a lot of you.
- Don’t pester your book reviewer. Don’t send several e-mails to remind them to have a look at your book. It’s annoying, it’s invasive, and we will probably trash your book.
- Don’t be freaked out about sending your book file to reviewers – especially if it’s clear that that reviewer regularly does book reviews. We aren’t going to share your file. We’re not going to upload it to pirating websites or send it to our friends and family. If it gets out of our inbox at all, it’ll go directly to our library, where it will stay. You aren’t going to lose anything by sending it to us – because we have too many books to read already, and we weren’t going to buy yours just to give it a shot. We may purchase it afterward if we really like it though.
- Have a good cover. If it looks like you photoshopped the cover yourself, we aren’t going to read your book – because we’re going to assume you put about as much effort into writing your book as you did on that cover.
- Hook us with your blurb and your first page. Make sure they are incredibly well written and grab our attention – because that’s what we’re looking for. I’m making snap judgments… and if that snap judgment is that your book sounds interesting, you are beating 70% of the competition.
- It’s okay to send us your review request more than once – as long as you do it better the second time around. Adjust the blurb. Edit your book, get a better cover. Provide more information. Try to sell me on your book… and be sure to include that book file. It may make it the second time around.
- If you find an author that gives you a good review on one of your books – send them more books. They are more likely to pick them because we already know we’re not wasting our time by reading your stuff. You’re more likely to get more good reviews.
These are just a few tips – but they are important. Read them. Learn. Apply. I guarantee you will have better results than just blindly e-mailing every reviewer you find.