You Get Sent Proposals to Review Books?

As with most of my discussion posts, todays topic is brought to you by my muse, Twitter.

I mentioned on Twitter earlier in the week that I received an interesting book proposal or book pitch. And this was met with some surprise, not the part about the “interesting” pitch, but that I receive requests for reviews at all.

Actually most of the books I review at The Story Siren are the result of a book pitch. Basically that means that the author/publisher/publicists/third party publicity/etc. contact me about a novel that they would like to offer for review.

I’d say the majority of the pitches I receive are from third party publicity companies. Which is an absolute 360 from when I started blogging. (That could be a whole post in it’s own!)

However, a good number of the pitches I receive are from publicists that I’ve built a professional relationship with. They know the type of books I like and are sure to highlight books that might not be on my radar but that I may enjoy. Other times I’ll have an author that may be familiar with my blog, or an author that knows I am familiar with their novel and they’ll contact me for review. These are greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, not all pitches are made equal.

There has been some discussion on this topic before. You can read a post that Lenore of Presenting Lenore did.

I’m going to briefly highlight some points in her post and then address some additional issues.

A Good Pitch:

  • Addresses the receiver by name. 
  • Shows that the sender knows something about the blog. 
  • Isn’t a copy and pasted email. 
  • Doesn’t bog the reader down with information. (Is this a review request or an advertisement campaign?)
  • Doesn’t ignore the reviewers policies, such as no e-books, no self published books. (Often a waste of time for the sender and receiver.)
  • At least includes the title(s) of the novel(s). (A summary of the books or an author website are good too, but not always needed.) 
Bottom line…. a good pitch can be the determining factor of whether a book will be accepted for review or not. 
As a blogger, I couldn’t agree more with the points that Lenore makes. A formal pitch doesn’t do much for me. I like something a little more personal, as most book bloggers do. 
    On the reviewers/book bloggers side of a book pitch:
    • How do you decline a request nicely?
    I sort of answered this in a “Dear Story Siren” post I did recently, but I’m going to go ahead and address this again here. I always thank the person. Because number one, the email took that person’s time to compose (most of the time..). You don’t have to give a reason that you are declining the request, but if you have one, why not be honest. Usually my reasons have to do with just not being interested, to having a substantial review pile already. Be sure to keep the “line open” perhaps this person may be representing a title in the future that you might be interested in, let them know that. A simple, “please feel free to contact me in the future with any other titles you might wish to discuss.” You don’t have to use that word for word…. but you get the gist. (really don’t use that word for word.) 
    • Should you reply to every request?
    This is something you need to decide for yourself. No one can answer this for you. Do I reply to every request, no I don’t. Like Lenore mentions in her post, if the sender doesn’t take the time to find my name, and know that it’s not Story Siren, they don’t receive a reply. If the sender takes the time to send me a personalized pitch, I’ll take my time to send them a reply, even if it is to decline. At the same time, some of those don’t even get a reply. Honestly it just depends. 
    • I accepted now what?
    If you accept make sure you keep within the set specifications of the pitch. Sometimes a review by date is discussed, if this happens it is your responsibility to have the review posted by the date promised. 
    What if it’s the reviewer sending a pitch… or in this case we’ll call is a request. 
    A Good Request:
    • Doesn’t ask for everything. Try to limit your requests to “new/upcoming” releases. (Requesting backlisted titles, can come across as being greedy and slightly clueless. Although if a backlisted title is coming out “new” in paperback, exceptions can be made.)
    • Realizes that authors DO NOT have a stack of advance readers copies at their disposal. You’re better off asking the publisher. (You can read (almost) everything you need to know about arcs at this post: Advance Readers Copies: What You Need to Know.)
    On another note: 
    • Don’t post list after list of books you are getting for review and then don’t post any reviews! This goes for In My Mailbox too. It just makes you look bad and and it looks like you are just in it for free books (this type of behavior doesn’t go unnoticed.)…. unless of course you list books you buy, get from the library, win from a contest, etc and clearly state that! 
    Bloggers love it when:
    • Authors link reviews on their websites! (or if they’d rather do it privately, send a “thank you” email)
    • Authors comment on our blogs! 
    Bloggers don’t love it when:
    • When authors argue with our opinions or berate us in our comments section.
    Yeah… so I think that’s it. I wanted to touch a little bit on both ends of the spectrum. Address the issue and get it out there. Done.
    This post IS NOT meant to discourage anyone from contacting me for a review. (Most of the time I view a pitch as a compliment…. as a privilege!) I’m hoping is has the opposite effect….. I’m hoping that this might open the lines of communication. There are so many times, I feel like half the people are on one page, and the other half are on another, and if we could just discuss it we might end up helping each other. 
    I’d love to hear your opinion, this is a discussion post. Perhaps you feel differently, have something you want to add. Please feel free. bloggers… authors…