Friday, February 7, 2014

Sorcha Discusses Review Requests & How to Handle Them

Please welcome Sorcha of Writing About Books.  She is here today to talk about her experiences with accepting books for review, from how potential authors and publishers can contact you as a blogger to deciding whether the review is right for you.  

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I have been receiving increasing numbers of contacts from writers and publishers with regards to reading and reviewing books. I therefore thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve learnt along the way about handling contacts.

Have an “About” page on your site.

(Mine is here.)

This gives a brief summary about you as a person to let potential contacts know more about you. Share as little or as much information as you want, but I would suggest as a minimum:

  • Include your approximate geographical location (America, Canada, UK, etc). This can have an affect on what items you can receive, tours you can take part in, etc. UK users can’t download ebooks from Amazon.com; publishers may be restricting tours to Australia or the Far East; paper copies of books may only be posted to UK or Europe addresses due to postage costs, etc. 
  • Detail a way of contacting you. Your twitter ID. An email address – set up a separate address and have the emails forwarded to your proper address if you’re worried about spam. I wouldn’t recommend posting your physical home address online. 
  • Have a link through to your Review Policy Page. 

Have a “Review Policy” page.

(Mine is here.)

This page should list what your rules are. Sometimes you will only change this to exclude something when it happens the first time and you want to prevent it happening again. So you need to cover:

  • The books you do and don’t read/review. 
  • Whether you charge for reviews. 
  • What kind of reviews you will produce – if you charge for one, will you guarantee a 5* review? If you don’t, do you reserve the right to write a decent review, with whatever rating you feel like? 
  • Whether you read only paper based books, or whether you also do ebooks (kindle, kobo, etc) and audiobooks. 
  • How you accept requests – via email (point back to the “About page” or repeat it on this page), twitter, etc. 
  • How you will NOT accept requests.
    • I’ve had full page submissions posted into the comments section of my “about” page. That comment was promptly deleted, ignored, and my review policy updated accordingly to say I do not accept submissions via comments – I haven’t had one since. 
    • I’ve had a request for a free review, sending me to a link where I can’t download the book. I replied back, declining to take forward, and the author wrote back a week later, asking again for free review, and sending me a link where I can get the book – at full price! This time I ignored him, and didn’t even reply. 

Handling Review Requests

First, know thyself.

  • How fast can you read? Do you have other commitments that can take your time away from reading? How soon after reading can you produce a review? You don’t want to commit to a book and then not be able to deliver a review on time. 

Know your books.

  • What have you already committed to? Do you know their publication dates? Are you able to read all the books you have already? 

When you know the answers to the above, you will already know the answer when you get another request come through for a review. Is it a book I like the sound of, and if so, do I have the time to read it?

  • If the answer is “yes” reply politely and go “yes please!” Then work from there. Confirm the date the author would like a review up and published. Agree the format (e.g.mobi, pdf, paperbook). 
  • If the answer is “I don’t know” then the answer really is “no.” If the answer is “no” reply to the request saying “no, sorry but thanks for asking.” Give whatever excuse/reason you are comfortable with, e.g. 
    • I’m backed up with reviews. 
    • Sorry, but I don’t think it’s my style of book and I don’t want to give you a bad review simply because I didn’t get on with it. 

Authors often want publicity as much as getting the book out there and reviewed. To take the sting out the tail of a “no thanks,” offer to hold an interview or giveaway. (Example interview and giveaway.)

Read and review the book.

  • Know when the book is to be published, or the agreed date with the Author/publisher. 
  • Read the book when you can. 
  • Write the review and schedule it as close to the date agreed as possible. 
  • As a reviewer, you are there, in part, to assist the author with sales or traffic. Wherever possible therefore, include links to where readers can buy the book and find the author, such as on Goodreads, Twitter and the related webpage for the book.
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Thank you Sorcha for a very informative article!

Readers:  Do you have any questions?  
Do you have any additional tips or suggestions that you would add to Sorcha's recommendations?

6 comments :

  1. Thanks for stopping by today to chat about handling review requests!

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  2. This is an excellent post. I definitely have learned a lot about what I will and will not accept, though at first I accepted everything and now have a horrible backlog. I've even gone now to saying I'm not open to review requests directly. so I completely agree with asking yourself whether you can read and review quickly.

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  3. Informative post, Sorcha! Thanks for putting it together and sharing with the rest of us.

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  4. Thanks for your comments! (and for hosting me)

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  5. As someone who struggles with diplomacy I /love/ this. :)

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  6. This is SUCH a great point: "If the answer is 'I don’t know' then the answer really is 'no.'"
    I think keeping that in mind can really help prevent some burnout.

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