For What It's Worth

For What It's Worth

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ramblings… how i handle review requests



When I first started this blog, almost 7 years ago, I didn’t know what review copies/ARC’s were and I certainly never expected authors to read my reviews or email me. So when review requests did start coming in I said yes to everything. I mean – how can you say no to a book! That an author wants YOU to read??

Then as time ticked by I got overwhelmed by review books. Self pub and small presses took off so the requests quadrupled. And I truly wanted to help. I wasn’t enjoying what I was forcing myself to read but couldn’t say no. I tried to turn down some requests but a lot of authors wouldn’t accept no.

Going through email became my most dreaded task. I hated saying no to anyone who put in the effort to contact me and I hated arguing with an author about why I didn’t want to accept their request. After awhile I just deleted most of them without a response. But that didn’t feel right either.

Then I read a great discussion post over at Herding Cats & Burning Soup where authors gave bloggers advice and an author mentioned in the comments that she never knows whether to follow up or not. Did the email reach it’s destination? Go to spam? Author’s are in limbo too. But several bloggers brought up how annoying and harassing the requests can get - even after a rejection - so they don’t bother dealing with it anymore unless they want to review the book. Basically it’s awkward on both sides.

After a few exchanges with the author I came up with a form letter that I reply to all review requests with.

I can’t even tell you how much easier this has made my life. Do I still get the occasional harassing follow up email? Yes. But I feel no obligation to respond since I’ve already said my peace.

Here’s the basic letter. It’s a simple cut and paste once you write it. Sometimes I customize it a bit more for the occasion and I try to personalize it if I have the time.

***
* This email is being sent to confirm receipt of your book review request.

(Address author by name here)

Thank you for taking the time to contact For What It's Worth to review your book. (I add the title here)

I'm currently accepting review requests on a very limited basis (2-3 books per month) and will contact you within 7-10 days if I select yours for review.

Best wishes,
Karen
For What It's Worth
www.fwiwreviews.net

***

I think it covers all the bases. Yes, I got your email, I’m not accepting many requests so don’t take it personally, and a definitive time frame for me to respond so they aren’t waiting forever to see if I will accept. I star and put in a folder the books I am interested in and get back to them within the 7-10 day time frame.

I do not bother responding to any requests that don’t meet my Review Policy Guidelines and you SHOULD have a review policy. It covers you both for requests and if you have a problem with the author later when the time comes for the review. Not every author or publisher reads it but that’s on them – not you.

For example…mine specifically states that I do not review non-fiction and that I don’t accept unsolicited attachments so if that’s what it is – I don’t respond. 

I also don’t respond to mass marketing email requests from publishers. They ask you to contact them if interested and I figure they don’t have time to read my rejection anyway.

How do you guys handle review requests? Authors - am I missing something in my form letter? I tried to address the most common miscommunication/issues while keeping it short and to the point. I’ve learned that the longer I make things, trying to cover every base, the more confusing it gets.












32 comments:

  1. Can I steal that? Your email that is? I still have not done anything, and I guess I should be kind.

    Some requests are so weird, they are all, you will love this since you read blah blah...ok my policy especially says I do not read that, but ok, I guess you did not read that

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steal away!

      It really has made my life so much easier even though it takes some time. I just pick one or two days a week to do it. And if you weed out the requests that blatantly ignore my policy there's not many to deal with.

      I've just heard from so many authors that don't know what to do once they send it out and get zero feedback. And I get it so I'm trying something that works for everyone.

      Delete
    2. As an author, it never occurred to me that I could argue with a reviewer. I do like your letter. One of the hardest things as an author is waiting for a response. Knowing that I will receive a response in 7 to 10 days is very helpful. It brings closure, even if the silence means no.

      Delete
    3. Hi Reena!!!

      It happens a lot which is why a lot of bloggers I know don't bother responding anymore. But that just didn't sit right with me either. I say my peace and if they're still aggressive then I hit delete without guilt.

      Delete
  2. I think we've all been there and we've all had that same path at the beginning. You have a great strategy developed.
    I honestly just get far too many, and mostly (I'm ashamed to say) don't deal with them at all. Which is rude, I know. But it was either that, or just give up entirely at one point. Being polite to everyone and their next door neighbor was taking up all of my time. I says in my review policy that I don't accept self-published titles anymore. Not my fault that no one bothers to read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't for several years because it's just so overwhelming and it's depressing to send out so many rejection emails. I just don't have the time to read and review everything and some things aren't for me.

      If they're ignoring my policy then I don't care. Like I said - that's on them. I can see why they might give it a shot but I'm clear about how I accept requests.

      Delete
  3. That's smart to use a form letter like that!

    If I don't want a book that's being offered to me, I just send a very brief replay telling them thanks, but I don't think their book is right for me. I don't give any other reasons because I don't think that's necessary. I've never had any author react badly or try to argue, so maybe I've been lucky in that regard. I've actually many reply just to say thanks simply for responding at all to let them know. I think, however, if someone has a review policy stating they're not accepting requests, it's totally fair to just ignore the requests.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what I used to do but somehow that was taken as a challenge to convince me otherwise lol

      I needed something that acknowledged the receipt but cut off further convo unless interested.

      I feel under no obligation to deal with anyone who ignores my review policy though.

      Delete
  4. What a great idea. I closed my blog off years ago to requests because I couldn't say no and I found myself slogging through book after book that I wasn't enjoying. Next time one slips through the cracks, I will do this format. Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! That's exactly what happened to me. I just said yes to everything out of guilt. And at the time I truly thought I would love and be able to read everything.

      Delete
  5. It never occurred to me that an author could wonder if their email went through or not. Maybe it's because I use Gmail, so it's mathematical that I receive every single email that was sent to me (or so I assume! I don't know of any email got lost). I never reply to authors who try and "sell" me a book that not complies with my policy. On the other hand, that doesn't happen often ;). I mean, I don't get many review request, what with being - well, small. I wonder if I should have a standard reply myself, though.

    I'm surprised that authors don't try again after a few months hoping to be one of your 2-3 selected ones per month. Unless they do and you don't notice because you can't possibly keep track of everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use gmail too. I don't know if they think the request was literally *lost* so much as it went to the spam folder or maybe lost within a pile of other requests and accidentally deleted before reading.

      Because of my review policy, I've managed to knock down on the request volume. I would say almost 99% is publicist just shooting in the dark at any listed blog - it's mostly non-fiction political books right now. Very few are valid requests aimed at my policy standards.

      They do try again sometimes. If I'm really interested but don't have the time I tell them that. They have the option of passing or waiting several months for a review.

      Big or small I still think it's a good idea to have your policy in writing. Mine covers the type of reviews I write - when and where I post. It's helped eliminate conflicts later.

      Delete
  6. I do really love this idea! I don't have a form letter and I don't reply to EVERYONE, but for the most part, I do try and get back to people because I know what it's like to wait for an email to come in - even if the answer is no. I'd rather know than to wonder if they've even read it. So I try and write back, even if it's a no, and say something like 'Thank you so much for the request. I'm afraid I'm not taking on many titles at the moment OR Your book doesn't feel like the right fit for me. Thanks for getting in touch. Best of luck. That kind of thing.

    -Lauren

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I made mine more concrete - with the time frame and - because so many authors tried to convince me to change my mind.

      I never got into a discussion with them but I'd rather just cut that kind of interaction off.

      Delete
  7. Aside from stating that I'm not accepting review requests on my Policy page, I also have a template. If I like the sound of the book, I offer to do a spotlight instead. If it's totally not my thing, I just decline politely. I think it's only fair. It's the pushy ones that I don't bother with, the ones who attaches copies of their books with the request.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to have that option but the guest posts became a hassle for me. Maybe when I'm more into blogging again I'll add it back in.

      I NEVER read unsolicited attached copies.

      Delete
  8. I had that I wasn't accepting anything and I still get emails. Heck even though I stopped blogging I still get emails. I send emails if I want to read the book. with life and work and I have books to read but reading them at a much slower pace .
    If it says blogger I delete and don't care about the book. If they mention 5 monkeys I might read it

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have to admit, I've been ignoring those that I haven't worked with me before. I have that stated in my policies when I became overwhelmed. I get so much e-mail it helps. I like your form though. Well thought out!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think that sounds like a great way to handle things and the form letter just what's called for. I should probably do similar. Right now I have a form on my website where they can submit a request and on it it tells them I'll be in touch if I have time/space/interest. So far that's worked fairly well though I've run into a couple persistent ones like you have as well.

    Thanks for linking to my post! I'm glad it turned into something good. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you deal with a much higher volume than I so even that would be a lot of extra work for you - plus the form probably weeds out a lot of it.

      The post was very helpful for me though. Solved a lot of the issues I was having.

      Delete
  11. I actually never thought about writing a "I've Received Your Message" email for review requests I get! Yours is straight and to the point. I just delete mine because my policy currently says I'm not accepting any unsolicited books, but yet they still keep coming. :p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you say you aren't accepting anything then they are violating your policy and you shouldn't have to respond anyway. I hate when they don't bother reading it. It's a waste of time for everyone involved.

      Delete
  12. That is SO smart and I should do it immediately. I don't get that many review requests because I just don't have time to review that many books anymore. But I don't feel right not responding to emails.
    This is pure genius!!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I felt guilty blowing them off but going through them each week and saying no killed my blogging soul lol

      Delete
  13. oh you are so brilliant!! I never even thought about having a form letter to use. I used to accept requests when I started blogging, but I rarely do it now unless its a book I would read on my own. Great post

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually end up buying most of them instead of accepting for review. Most are inexpensive self pub. So if I'm interested but have too many books on my plate that's a way to help them but not tie me to a time frame or review.

      Delete
  14. Hmm, certainly something to think about. I've been pondering on the way forward as far as requests go for some time now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It can be awkward. I didn't feel right not responding at all but I wanted a way that cut the conversation off if I'm not interested. Something fair to both sides.

      Delete
  15. When I first started blogging, within the two years I was flooded by review requests. I don't actually link to my email address or post it up, so I'm still at a loss to how it was found. I've had authors who were lovely and their book sounded like something I'd enjoy, so I would accept. But then when I would say no thank you, or that I didn't have the time, I had one author being aggressive and schooling me on how her livelihood relies on people like me and why was I being so closed minded. Her book was erotica and it clearly stated I only accept YA. It turned me off being open to accepting new books directly through authors. I still get a few emails per week asking, even though I have a policy up that I'm not accepting books for review and just ignore most of the emails now.

    I can understand that through reviews, it's how they promote their work but blogging is just a hobby for me and I don't want to feel obligated to read anything. That cut and paste response is brilliant, can I steal your idea to write my own? :D

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm on a blogger recourse list apparently. I don't recall signing up.

    And yes - I've gotten so many aggressive reply backs but none like yours! I wish authors wouldn't do that because then bloggers shut off everyone.

    Mine are - I KNOW you'll like this book even though you don't read this genre. Mine is different. Don't be close minded. Or about how they've had a horrible year with money/their health and need reviews.

    And steal away!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have to steal that template away! :))) What a fantastic idea, Karen! I have it in my Review policy that if they don't hear from me within 2 weeks it means that I'm not interested, but this is much more concrete.

    ReplyDelete