Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Getting Book Reviews

If you've ever wondered how to approach a book reviewer asking for a review or other favour, here's an example of how to get my attention for all the wrong reasons: send me an unsolicited email like this (the message has been edited to remove identifying references):


I am contacting you today because I would love your help in spreading the word about my latest eBook release “XX.” This is currently available on amazon for just $0.99!

Also, this Saturday (11/17) I am having a giveaway. Anyone who helps me spread the word about my “XX” can enter themselves to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card! Anyone can enter and all they need to do is help me spread the word through twitter, on their blog, or on pinterest!

I would love it if you could share this giveaway with your readers, and also if you share about “XX” on your blog you can also enter to win the $50 amazon gift card!

Below is the link to the giveaway post where entries will be taken (this post will go live on 11/17):
You can learn more about “XX” on amazon here: [deleted]

I do appreciate any help you can give in helping me spread the word about my eBook “XX” and the giveaway!

Please feel free to email with any questions you may have.
Thank you! [contact details deleted]

My immediate reaction was to delete this, but decided that it might be better used as an object lesson of how not to approach reviewers. Here are my issues:
  • The email isn’t personally addressed, indicating that this is a blanket message sent to any email address she could find (and the author is female);
  • The writer didn't introduce herself;
  • There is no reference to how she came into contact with me or whether we have had any previous contact (I’m pretty sure we haven’t. And if we had some prior connection, she would be best to mention it to jog my aging memory);
  • There is nothing about how or got my email address (I assume through, but could equally have been through any number of websites I have commented on);
  • I live in New Zealand. Sending an email like this when I haven’t specifically signed up to receive emails from you is actually illegal. Personal emails are fine, but unsolicited messages are illegal (not that I’m going to report her. That would be more hassle than it was worth).
  • I live in New Zealand (still). There is no such date as 11/17. It’s 17 November, November 17 or 17/11/2012 (again, make the message personal to the recipient. This might be getting nit-picky, but she’s asking a favour. Make it easy for me to say yes);
  • I don’t know anything about this product beyond the title. No blurb, no offer of a copy to peruse for myself, no publicity information, nothing. I’m expected to promote it for her without even knowing if it’s any good;
  • The message not relevant to what I actually publish on my review site, which is reviews of books I’ve read, not free publicity for unknown authors;
  • There is nothing about how this might benefit me (or my blog readers, Twitter followers etc);
  • There is nothing about why I might want to help her (apart from the bribe of a chance to win a $50 Amazon voucher);
  • The link she provided for entering the draw for the Amazon voucher doesn’t go live until 17 November (another three days, considering she means 17 November in the US). So I’m expected to do something for her, then trawl back through my emails to find the link to enter the draw);
  • Too many exclamation marks. It might be exciting to you, but you’ve got to make it exciting to the reader. 

The email is professionally written (apart from the irregular capitalisation of 'Amazon'), but with an underlying tone of desperation (probably a result of the overuse of exclamation marks!). I’m glad that she appreciates any help I might give her. She just hasn’t persuaded me to give her any, partly because the message is too impersonal and irrelevant, and partly because I have no idea whether her product is something I would be happy to recommend to others – because by blogging, tweeting or pinning about her book, I am indirectly recommending and endorsing her work..

Now, compare and contrast with this email I received yesterday. I’ve kept the details for this one, because I think it’s really nicely done, and I’ve already downloaded the book and added it to my to-review list:


I just read your Amazon review of Godspeed: Making Christ's Mission Your Own by Britt Merrick and appreciated your insight and candor.

My name is Ken Hensley and I recently published a short ebook on leadership called "Leading with Heart: Faith-Filled Thoughts on Leadership." Being a leader is not easy, especially if you want to do it right. My hope in writing this ebook is that the reader will be encouraged and inspired to put their best effort into being a good leader.

Below is a link where you can download a free PDF of the book. If you are willing to write a review at Amazon, that would be great! [deleted]
To submit a review, the product page is:

Thanks for your consideration!

Ken Hensley
So, again, a professionally-written email (although he still hasn’t addressed me by name). But there are some differences:
§  The author has done his research, in that he has looked for people who review products of a similar nature to his;
§  He compliments me on a review, which demonstrates that he knows something of my style (and makes me inclined to think kindly of him);
§  I know where he got my contact details (Amazon, which has my blog address in my profile);
§  There is a short blurb for his book, which acts as a hook to attract me as a reader;
§  There is a link to a free electronic review copy (note that many reviewers prefer authors ask first, and don’t just send the book or link directly. This also helps ensure that only people who have committed to review your book get a free copy);
§  He’s very polite about asking for the review. Although that’s almost certainly the only reason he has emailed me, he makes it seem as though this is an afterthought, something I can do for him as a small favour;
§  He’s also made sure to leave all his contact details.

See the difference? You can look forward to a review of this on in around mid-January.


  1. Gosh this was so interesting. I used to live in the U.S. so I know they write their dates differently to us in Oz and NZ... back the front.
    I would never have considered to write to a reviewer and ask them to review my book. I have learn't a valuable lesson here, thank you so much.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.