Book Review Request Etiquette

Today I had the honor of getting my very first request to review a book on my blog. I opened the e-mail excitedly and looked forward to this awesome opportunity.

However, my excitement disappeared when I read For: Blog Name That Isn’t Books And Boston.

I continued on to read Dear Blog Name That Isn’t Books And Boston.

Then, I skimmed past an excerpt of the novel, some mumbo-jumbo about the author, and finally got to the ending line of I would be very honored if you would consider my novel for a review on Blog Name That Isn’t Books And Boston!

I was not pleased.  Yes, I understand that this mistake was not personal and likely due to some silly technical error, but I found this very unprofessional.  If I was an author trying to self-promote my book I’d like to think that I would exercise a bit more tact and make sure I actually get the bloggers’ names right when sending out mass requests for book reviews.

I have to admit, I sent the author a bit of a scathing reply.  It wasn’t completely mean, but it pretty much summed up what I said here about professionalism and all that.  I concluded with saying that if they were in fact trying to contact me and not Blog Name That Isn’t Books And Boston, they should write back so we could discuss the possible book review.

Shortly after sending this I received another e-mail.  The author was extremely apologetic and explained that they must have incorrectly inserted the e-mails into the program they use to send out book requests.  Honestly, I started to feel like a bit of an a**hole.  Here I was being rude to this individual who made a mistake that I just as easily could have done.  I have absolutely confused names multiple times.  Still, in a professional setting you do need to be careful.

Then, I noticed this sentence in the 2nd email:

I would be very honored if you would review Book Name for Books in Boston!

Granted, it is a very small error, but I stopped feeling like an a**hole immediately.  For those who didn’t notice, the author’s second reply (in which they were apologetic about the previous error) addressed me as Books in Boston, when my blog name (as I said multiple times in my reply to their first e-mail) is Books And Boston.  Maybe I’m just being a b*tch, but you’d think after the first error an author would be extra careful to use the correct name the second time.

I think I’m not going to bother replying to this e-mail.  Needless to say, I’m not doing the review.

For all you authors out there, what do you think? Am I just being a b*tch? (I promise I won’t get mad if you say I am – I’m really curious about other people’s opinions on this).  Do you make sure to be extra careful about things like this when sending out e-mails? And for other book bloggers – have you ever encountered a similar situation with book review requests? How might you have handled this differently?

To the author who wrote me: If you happen to read this, I do understand that you made a mistake, but it was careless.  I don’t want an additional apology, but be aware of this in the future.  Careless mistakes DO affect the professional image you are trying to portray.  Also, I have not listed your name or title of your book because I am not trying to call you out or injure your reputation at all.  The e-mails provoked a necessary discussion on proper etiquette though, so that is why it is being posted here. 


23 comments on “Book Review Request Etiquette

  1. pooks says:

    Oh wow.

    I don’t think you’re wrong to expect professionalism from an author. But I have to tell you, I read this with a wince. I sent some emails to book reviewers last week and I personalized each one, but didn’t notice until after I’d hit sent that I called one reviewer by the wrong name. Ouch!

    You only have one chance to make a good first impression, and sometimes we blow it!

    • Michelle says:

      Exactly. That’s why I gave the author that second chance and was totally open to still reviewing the book after the mistake. It was only after the second big mistake that I said forget it. We’re all human, but if you want to project a certain image then you better make sure you do everything possible to portray yourself as a professional! I think most bloggers would be understanding to this simple mistake if you are apologetic and upfront about it – and be extra careful to not do it again 😉

      • pooks says:

        I sent an apology immediately, within a minute. As I said, I knew as soon as I hit send!

      • Michelle says:

        That definitely is the best thing you could have done. I would have been very impressed if it had been me receiving the e-mails from you and would not have held anything against you. It’s all about how you handle the situation. One mistake you can recover from; a second mistake is beyond recovery.

  2. icountstuff says:

    I don’t think you were wrong at all in messaging the individual back. When you are asking a favor from another individual its necessary to get the common courtesies correct (their name). As long as this is done in a professional manner its completely acceptable.

    If nothing else, you alerted the person that their program for sending out these emails isn’t working correctly!

    • Michelle says:

      Thanks! 🙂 I’m glad you agree. While this is important in any professional situation, I think the circumstances make it especially necessary. There is already a certain stigma regarding self-published new authors that says they lack professionalism and quality. I don’t believe this is always the case, but if a new author is looking to change this viewpoint then they should definitely maintain the most professional image possible.

  3. Sarah Reads Too Much says:

    I think you handled the situation perfectly. It is a shame the author continued to be careless even after your warning! That right there would make me not want to review the book; imagining all sorts on editing oversights!

    Don’t worry though, you will start getting more and more requests – you write quality reviews, and that will appeal to authors looking to be noticed!

  4. KateBrauning says:

    I have received book review requests where I could barely tell what the sender was asking me to do, and yes, English was the sender’s first language.
    Accidents happen, but proofreading professional communication is an all-important skill. Read it out loud if you have to!

    • Michelle says:

      Agreed. If an author is asking for a blogger to review their book then they are asking for a professional favor and should treat it ask such. If the author isn’t even clear on what they are requesting then I would either assume 1) They just didn’t put the time into the request or care about it, so I shouldn’t either; or 2) The author’s writing skills are seriously lacking, in which case I wouldn’t want to do the review either.

  5. emmiemears says:

    I think you handled it fine — I think now you (and we) have a taste of how agents feel when they are addressed incorrectly by writers aspiring to be published (and how it smushes their desire to read more). I know it’s difficult to make sure every detail is correct, but first impressions really are all you have in this industry.

    I wince every time I hear another story of a female agent being addressed, “Dear Sir.”

  6. You raise a great point here, Michelle. As authors, everything we send, even down to short (or long) emails represent the quality of what we bring to the table. For all someone knows, our books could be as sloppy as our emails. I personally don’t want that kind of reputation! 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      Thanks for stopping by my blog Sarah =) I hope other authors will find this point useful as well.

    • pooks says:

      As a new writer this is a point that was made to me by an editor once. She said that writers get frustrated when they can’t get anyone to consider their work, and say, “But how do they know they aren’t interested? They haven’t read it yet.” And her response was, often, reading the query was all they need to see. They HAVE seen a sample of your writing, and it’s up to us to make sure it’s as strong as the book itself.

      Clearly the same goes for reviewers!

  7. You’ve made a good point.

    I think I would’ve done the same thing, because the author did not learn from his mistake. I am definitely not trying to make the author feel bad, but as Marcus Tullius Cicero had once said, “Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.”

  8. Adam says:

    I think the first problem here is that the person is using a program to send email to people requesting a review of their book. To me that sounds like they’re spamming dozens (if not hundreds) of blogs trying to get a few bloggers to review their books.

    Tip for any authors or anyone asking for a request by email. Do some research, find the person’s actual name, and send out an individual email to that person with your request. If you receive a generic email such as the one Michelle received (even if it doesn’t have any errors in it) you’re more likely to ignore it. Take a few minutes, find the person’s name, and give them a reason to think you’re a professional. Also, why do you want the person to review your book? Do you like their reviews? If you do, say so in your email (citing a specific book review would help a lot). Also, why should the person be interested in reading your book? Is it similar in tone or style to another book that they have already reviewed on their blog? That would be another great thing to mention in an email request.

    I think you were right in rejecting this person’s request for a review. If they can’t act like a professional in a simple email, why should you think that they would be writing at a professional level either?

    • Michelle says:

      Excellent tips Adam. If I received a request formatted like you suggested I know I would be impressed and MUCH more willing to accept. A personal touch says a lot.

  9. Kat says:

    Not being a b*tch at all. It’s all about taking the time to form a personal request. In an age of social media and virtual relationships we can’t lose site of etiquette and decency.

    • Michelle says:

      Definitely. So far no one’s called me a b*tch, so either really did do the right thing, or I’m so scary that no one has the guts to say it…hmm 😛 Thanks for stopping by and contributing though 🙂 I think you’re right and it’s easier for people to lose sight of common courtesy, unfortunately, with the new ease of communication.

  10. I think you totally did the right thing. The first error was sloppy but understandable; the second was unconscionable.

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