Axe to Grind: Review Requests

Posted September 23, 2012 by Carmel in / 43 Comments

Axe to Grind hosted by Rabid Reads

I recently received one of the worst review requests e-mails that has ever landed in my inbox in the two years that I have been book blogging (and there have been some really bad ones) but this one actually disgusted me to the point that I felt the need to rant about it. And thus, my new Axe to Grind Feature was born.

Alright, so, the vast majority of request-ors successfully come up with something reasonable for the subject line. “Review Request” is pretty hard to screw up but that’s the easy part, things immediately start to go downhill from there.

Hi Sophie,

Ok, so where did the name Sophie come from? My name’s not Sophie, I have two associate reviewers and neither of their names even come close either. I think that my name is pretty easy to find on my blog so I am baffled as to how this mistake continues to repeatedly occur. My name is at the bottom of all of my blog posts, it’s on all of my social media profiles, it’s on my About Page and heck, it’s even in my e-mail address so why do so many people get it wrong!? If you’re not 100% sure what my name is then don’t include it in your e-mail. A simple “Hi” would suffice and save you from immediately pissing me off before I have even read your e-mail.

I read your review policy and I realize that a contemporary romance might not be a book you’d normally read but I’m wondering if you might make an exception?

When I first read this opening sentence I was baffled. Thank you for taking the time to read my policy (most request-ors don’t) but… The author pretty much answers her own question and yet, she has the nerve to not only admit that she’s blatantly ignoring my review policy but asks me to make an exception. Euumm, okaaay… Why do you think I have a review policy? Because I like typing up useless information just for the heck of it? I mean, c’mon! If this author would have spent 1 minute browsing my blog she would have realized that I stick to my policy. I. Don’t. Read. Contemporary Romance. Period. Who are you to ask me for a favour when you can’t even get my name right?

I’m writing to request a review for my book, INSERT TITLE HERE. Yes, it’s a romance novel but it’s primarily a love story about soldiers coming home from war.

Here she reiterates that the book doesn’t revolve around a paranormal plot line. Was she hoping to convince me by providing extra details about the story? I’m sorry but the mention of “a love story about soldiers coming home from war” already has me yawing. Not my thing. At all. I like werewolves, carnage, violence and sex. Does this book sound like it has any of those elements? Nope.

And that’s all of the information that she provided about her book. No blurb. No cover. No links to give me easy access to additional details. I get tons of review requests every day; do you really think that I have the time or the inclination to research all of them? I hate to break it to you but if your initial e-mail doesn’t catch my attention from the get-go and you don’t provide enough information for me to be able to make up my mind as to whether I want to accept your request or not I am deleting your e-mail.

I’ve attached a PDF of my book.

Whenever I receive a request with a file attachment I cringe. Please don’t include your book in your original e-mail. It comes across as pushy and/or cocky. I feel like I’m either being strong armed into reading the book (i.e. I already have the book so how can I say no?) or that the author is assuming that I couldn’t possibly not be interested in accepting their request. Unless you’re including the cover of your book or a press release there shouldn’t be any files attached in a first contact e-mail. It’s just bad form.

Am I wrong for getting so worked up over this e-mail? I don’t think that I am. I put a lot of time, effort and money into my blog, and when a request-or can’t take a couple of minutes to learn my name, poke around on my site a bit to get a feel for my reading preferences and write a somewhat courteous review request e-mail, I have a very hard time even considering their submission. Why would I spend 5+ hours reading their book and then an additional 45 minutes typing up a review? Yes, I realize that the market is extremely competitive and that authors get rejected more often than not but c’mon; if you want me to spend hours on your novel you can at least give me 5 minutes of your precious time.

I know this rant won’t change anything and that I’ll continue receiving preposterous requests on a daily basis but at least it made me feel better and the next time I get an idiotic e-mail like the example listed above I can just refer the sender to this post.

Have you ever gotten a similar review request? What was your reaction?

About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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43 responses to “Axe to Grind: Review Requests

  1. oh man its so annoying. I hate when they say I know you said you don’t read these kind of books but I think my book will be the exception. I was recently asked to review a medical thriller. What the crap!

  2. I got the very same review request but If I remember correctly she did get my name right. I didnt even bother to reply as like you I do not review that type of book.

  3. @Carmel @ Rabid Reads I am actually going to start having review request fill out a form now. I just made it up yesterday. So I can require all the info I want and the form won’t be submitted without it. I get too many emails. I am afraid I will miss something good because I have to weed threw all the other crap. I am hoping this will help.

  4. I did have something like that before, Carmel. I wouldn’t pay much attention if I were you. Just reply with a standard one-liner. “Sorry I would not be able to accept your book for review.” Why would you waste your energy on someone who hasn’t wasted even a minute of their time to send a decent request? πŸ˜‰ Counter-productive. Funny though! πŸ™‚

  5. DJL

    Wow, Carmel, the audacity of some writers. I don’t understand how they can even ask after reading your review policy. :/ I’ve definitely had that happen before even after I put up a notice on my blog right at the top saying, “I’m not accepting review requests right now.” And when the requesting writer actually says, “I’ve visited your blog, and I think my story would be right up your alley” or something along those lines, it’s even worse.

  6. yeah I can understand. You know what? I think I had the same request a few weeks ago as well. I’m always wondering if I need to answer or if I can pass…

  7. You know I’m a different boat here, I don’t have a review policy, simple because I don’t feel comfortable reviewing for a publisher, my language limitations make me feel horribly, horribly stressed, so I just don’t, except for the few instances I have done it as a favor for our friends at audiojukebox (that’s how I know, how crazy and nervous I get..lol) I have never accepted requests.
    But it seems to me that it would be contra productive and stupid to ask someone to review a book when they already know you don’t enjoy the genre, or maybe it’s total arrogance on their part to believe that their novel is so fantastic that it will totally changed your mind. But just to play devil’s advocate, we are dealing with people that are used to hearing the world NO, and to be able to survive have develop a thick skin a tolerance for rejection.

  8. Oh, God, the dreaded bad review request. *head desk* You’re right to rant about this, is it really so hard to pay 2 minutes of attention to your blog and review policy? I don’t think that’s too hard to do, if they’re serious about writing and getting their book out there.

    Anyway…

    I received a similar review request. They had my name right, but they insisted I read their humorous women fiction or something like that (with a main character in her 40’s – no offense to the age or anything, but I read freaking YA and occasionally adult when the heroines are usually in their 20’s, I couldn’t connect with someone older all of a sudden)… And just like your requester, they kept insisting I make an exception for their book, even though I read mostly Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance (and sometimes YA contemp, but still…). They sent me 3 (yes, 3!) messages on FB when I didn’t reply immediately. Stalker much?

    And I just don’t reply to this kind of review request. (sorry about the long rant, it made me feel better LOL)

  9. Great post, Sophie! Rants are so much fun. πŸ˜‰

    I get these too, but I’m sure it’s not as often as you do. A few weeks ago I received a review request for a Christian-based story. Understandable considering that my blog has a religious vibe to it, right? =)

  10. Sweet post! Yes, we all deal with this daily. I hate when they gift me kindle books..uh hello I do not own a kindle ..i own a Nook which my blog review clearly states. I recently changed my policy for indie books, stating I would only review eBooks that were available to all e-readers. While I love indie and support it..i will not support Amazon’s exclusion policy. I recently was told by a author that I was rude and that he/she felt i discriminated against them!! WTF?? Hello..you are publishing a book that is only available to kindle owners and because I own a nook ..i am the one who discriminates??? Wow…that felt good to vent..hehehe. See all the trouble you caused Sophie! bwahaha!

  11. Your recent experience sounds very similar to a request I received a few months ago. I felt just as you’ve described in your post and did not reply back to the sender.

    I’ve received review requests for Christian romances in the past and had a good laugh about it, I don’t see how Christian Romance would fit in with my urban fantasy, vampire/paranormal romance and erotica reviews! If an author contacts me directly (and includes my name…LOL) I try to respond, even if it’s a no, but I know sometimes it’s impossible to reply to all those requests.

    Thanks for the great post!

  12. Bea

    I get requests like these often, its so aggravating. I’ve even gotten several requests to review business books. O_o

    I used to reply to those requests, now I just delete. I’ve also considered using a form and may still do that. Currently I’m not accepting except from authors or publishers I’ve worked with previously and even then I decline many. What’s annoying is that my blog clearly states I’m not accepting new requests and yet, I continue to get them. Hello? Can you read? Aaargh

    Thanks for venting and letting us vent.

  13. Completely agree with everything you’ve said.

    I added a sentence in my review policy that says I will automatically delete your request if you attach the book to the request email. I have no idea who you are and I’m not opening unsolicited attachments.

    Guess what? At least half STILL attach the pdf. DELETE.

  14. Great post Carmel
    Hmmm one of the best ones I received was a children book lol. IF they bother even to check I review Romance and YA. The YA very occasionally at the time and I don’t think Children book would fit in with erotica either lol
    Tash @ Confessions From Romaholics

  15. @Carmel @ Rabid Reads I noticed my review policy is getting bitchier. and I hate that. but I’m not asking a lot here. I’m going to see how the form works out. I’m just trying to figure out a way to not get so irritated with the massive amounts of emails.

    And really what the hell is a medical thriller? and if you look at my blog for one minute you will see it doesn’t fit in whatever it is.

    its funny you posted this, because last night I was bitching about the same thing.

  16. I totally relate to this. I delete requests that either come to the wrong email (I have one dedicated to reviews) or are just so poorly worded that you can’t help but wonder about the quality of the book. I also don’t like unsolicited files and more often than not also delete those (there are a few exceptions).

    Does anyone else get these random emails from people saying that they’ve read your reviews on Amazon and want you to review their products? We’ve gotten them for music, male enhancement products and so on. Hello…. we’re a book blog…

    Jen @ Romancing the Book

  17. Oh my god, I know what you mean. I’ve had a few review requests that were poorly worded (and do keep in mind that English is not my first language, so that says a lot). But the most annoying thing an author can do is send me the ebook attached to that first e-mail. Hell, maybe I can’t review it, maybe I don’t want to. And I have that on my review policy: don’t sent the books attached BEFORE I accept them. You’d think it’s easy to understand, right? I don’t even bother with those. Sorry, I may be paranoid, but let’s face it, I’d rather come across as a moody reviewer (was about to use a different word *blush*)than get viruses. Again, paranoid is my middle name, especially when it comes to computers.

    The weirdest review request I ever got was for a software. HELLO, does the title “Ruby’s Books” say anything to you? *face palm* LOL

  18. Argh I’m totally with you on this one – I HATE unprofessional, assuming review requests. I actually delete emails with attachments and my review policy says so – I hate the arrogance and why would I open an unknown attachment, as Ruby says.

    Grrr *grumble grumble*

  19. I don’t get e-mails requesting reviews (basically, it’s because I don’t accept requests anyway, and my blog is just basically a diary that I use and post about what book I am reading, etc). I have so many, that I don’t think I’d have time to read requests anyway. But I joined a reading social network at the start of the year and all I seemed to get was stuff from YA authors wanting me to read their new Paranormal Romance book. After reading Twilight, Shiver and Raised by Wolves, I’ve already decided that I don’t want to read YA anymore in any form, unless it’s by an author I already like. I was finding that spending my time reading books that I didn’t like was really wasting it and there came a point where I was no longer enjoying reading books because of it, so why should you waste your time reading books that would just get awful reviews anyway because it is not your cup of tea? I can understand the annoyance when authors try to push their book on to you and in most cases, you have to wonder why they need to contact readers directly. Is the book even worth reading even if it is not a book that I would normally read anyway? My first thought is that the author is either new and naive (which I can forgive a little) at marketing, or their book is so crap that they literally have to beg people to read it.

    But on the plus side, if requesters keep sending you crappy e-mails, you can use it as a way to automatically fillter out books that you don’t want to review because you have too many books to read in the first place…

  20. @Kat Balcombe It’s frustrating when you try to be as specific as possible in your Review Policy to avoid useless e-mails and yet, you seem to somehow get more of them instead of less. WTF!? LOL

  21. @carnivoran You can still be a newbie author and manage put together a somewhat cohesive e-mail. Regardless of your writing experience, everyone is capable of reading a review policy and submitting a passable request… Or are my expectations just too high?

  22. Thank you for bringing this up. My inbox was inundated with many requests such as this. How dare you ask of my time and effort when you can’t do me a fraction of the same courtesy? And as for the attachments? Really, how dare they? Oh, and if this doesn’t beat all, my blog has been on hiatus for more than half a year (Too much going on in my life to deal with the drama) and I still get 4 or 5 unsolicited request…I mean really? If the request-or has even taken 2 seconds to link ove to my home page he/she would notice RIGHT THERE ON TOP that I am no longer accepting reviews…I mean seriously!