Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review Requests (Indie Books/Authors)

My friend and fellow blogger Amanda over at Floor To Ceiling Books made a post similar to this the other day and as much as I wish I didn't have to, I feel like I should express these feelings to our readers as well since our inbox has seen its share as well.

When submitting an email to us asking if we'd like to review your book, put a little effort in. I'm not saying that we don't get emails that DO put effort in from Indie authors...we do get those, but a large amount put little to no effort in.

For example, when larger publishing companies send emails to ask us if we'd like to review a certain book (by a new or existing author) they usually preface their email by saying they have read the site or enjoyed our reviews. They call at least one of us by name (meaning they at least glanced at the about us page). They then go on to explain they have a book we (Chris or myself) might enjoy reading, they tell us who the author is, what the genre is and normally give a synopsis right there in the email of what the volume is about. They usually give a link to the authors website, and sometimes a little info about the author themselves. To top it off they normally throw a cover image in to whet the eye-whistles, and while this is not required or anything, you'll have to admit it's a nice touch. Thus does the email come across as well constructed, lucid and interesting. In fact, most of those emails we receive in said fashion get an immediate response with an "Okay, we'll read that!" (we got a great one the other day for an upcoming Hodder & Stoughton book that Chris jumped at the opportunity to read)

We get some funny ones that I like too, like one where the author said "Dear Chris or Scott (I refuse to say Dear Iceberg Ink cause that just sounds crazy)" and I had a good laugh at that, and the person was being entirely genuine.

We don't really think that the above is asking a lot. Publishers find a way to do it, so when we receive emails from random indie authors trying to break onto the scene who don't, it kind of boggles the mind.

We're also not trying to single anyone out, but we've received a number of emails from Indie authors that don't put that sort of effort in, and we wanted to perhaps help.

Three random sentences where they may or may not get your name right, tell you their book is fantasy or sci-fi and then provide a link where you can learn about it, is not going above and beyond. If you can't be bothered to put the synopsis of your book in the email text itself, why on earth should we be bothered to read it? You should be selling yourself to us, you're attempting to create a brand. You want us to one day look at book shelves and see your name and book title in a distinctive font and we should want to grab the title...but you don't want to do the leg work. You're meant to be an author, so sell us on reading your book by giving us the synopsis and telling us why you think we'd like it...using words. Treating your email like it's a classified ad is just not going to cut it with most sites.

Needed: One Book Reviewer. For Fantasy Book. Info please call.

Let me use an analogy. A few years back I went out to a restaurant (Alice Fazooli's in fact) with a number of friends, and when the waitress came to the table after getting us a round drinks she told us about the specials. She mentioned a rack of lamb and when asked how it was she talked about it melting in her mouth, that it was utterly luscious and she even made this motion with her hand on her neck as if it went down like butter. Of the seven of us dining that night, five ordered the lamb. Seriously. She also ended up (over the course of the evening) being the BEST server I have ever had at a restaurant and I tipped her $20 on top of the tip the table gave her. It didn't require oodles of her time and yet she spoke of what she was selling us like it was ambrosia. The lamb was delicious, but whether or not it was is totally besides the point as she'd done her job and we'd bought in.

We're not looking for your email to be amazing, but we are looking for it to be a bit personal (hopefully you've at least read the site) towards Chris or myself, and we are looking for you to sell us on it in the email...not elsewhere. You should be behaving like the big publishers when they sell us on a book, since you are self-publishing it is, in fact, expected of you.

Like I said above, if you think it takes too much time or effort to write an email that will make us want to read the book, then I can't see how reviewers are meant to take you seriously.

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