Saturday, April 11, 2009

Discussion topic: Authors requesting reviews

I don’t know if I should consider it a fluke, or a sign of my growing popularity, but in the past several weeks I have seen an upsurge in authors contacting me about reviewing their books. Some are very sophisticated in their pitches – personal yet professional, and others…not so much. And guess which authors have a better chance of my saying yes?

It is simply a fact of life that I cannot review every book offered to me. I don’t have the time. The books I know I’m not interested in are the easy ones to turn down. The books I know for sure I’d like are easy to accept. It’s the books in the middle that are fighting for my limited reading time. (I am already scheduling reviews for September, that’s how bad my TBR has gotten.) And that’s why a good pitch is so important.

So what do I consider a good pitch? First of all, I have to get the feeling that the author has done their research. They know what genres I review. They know what books I’ve read and liked in the past, and can tell me why I might be interested in reviewing their book. They know my name and use it.

And yes, I can be swayed by a personal appeal. Recently a well known author of paranormal romance asked me to a review her upcoming book, and I was initially skeptical because I’m unfamiliar with the genre. But she pointed out that I liked both The Forest of Hands of Teeth by Carrie Ryan and Rampant by Diana Peterfreund and that she felt her book had a lot of similarities to these titles. And now, I’m quite excited about reading a book that I would have otherwise dismissed out of hand.

Bad pitches? Well, the worst is when I get copy and paste form letters where the author didn’t even bother to find out my name (which isn’t so hard since it is in the title of my blog!). I’ve also had authors who waste their time and mine by ignoring the fact that I don’t review eBooks, self-published works or certain genres. And sometimes, an author doesn’t even include a book summary or a link to a summary. That’s just poor marketing all around.

Now, I don't want to discourage anyone from contacting me. I'm always thrilled to be contacted by authors who show that know my blog and my audience and who have written a book that just might capture my imagination. Just don't be one of those that gets an automatic delete. (Note: Anyone who actually uses my name will get a reply from me - it's the polite thing to do. But if you don't use my name, I just don't feel the need to reply.)

Any reviewers or authors want to chime in?


Shalonda said...

Question about etiquette from the blogger receiving the request: How do you handle requests for books that you are not interested in reviewing?

Someone asked this question the other day, and my thought was to be honest, yet polite.

Amy said...

I find it annoying when an author has requested ever single blogger to review their book. It comes off as desperate...
I wonder how big your tbr pile is, if it's all the way to september! lol That must be a lot of books:-D

PJ Hoover said...

So does this mean I can send you Book 2 when the time comes :)

As as author, I find posts like this REALLY helpful! It's so great to hear the reviewer's perspective.

My general rules when emailing reviewers are short:
1) Never ask for a reviewer to review my book. Only offer the ARC. If they want to review it, they will. If they don't, it is totally their choice.
2) Always personalize. Actually, I can't even imagine not personalizing and am astounded when I hear that some people don't do this. I hear this about authors querying too and can't imagine not personalizing a query letter.

My TBR stack is out of control. I can't even imagine what yours looks like!

Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

I agree totally. They should do their research on whoever they want to request reviews from and not waste the bloggers time.

Delete is an excellent button!

Unknown said...

I don't want to be rude and mention the name of the book, but did you by any chance get the same spam comments I did from an author who pretended to be a reader interested in her own book? Her screen name changed depending on what the title of the post she was commenting was. In a V.C. Andrews post she was DarkAngelFan or something like that. Anyway, she'd say "oh that was great, you should read this totally awesome book _____". It happened a couple of times and then I got an email from the author about it that I didn't even reply to. If an author has to resort to spam to get their book read by people who gladly read books for free, then I'm never going to be interested in what they have to say.

Anonymous said...

I can't past the "receiving requests from Authors." I want to be Lenore when I grow up.

Alea said...

Great topic! Besides the example that Taren brought up which was rather horrible, I think the strangest thing I've experienced is an author contacting me 4 times via 3 different places, once email, twice the ning, and a third time via GoodReads about their book. That was just too much, all in a span of about a week. I was scared that if I replied they just wouldn't let it go and I would end up with the book in my hand when I had no interest in it.

I'm always tickled when an author will mention something about my blog that they noticed or enjoyed!

Ali said...

It cracks me up when people email me: "Dear Worducopia, blah blah blah." Please, all my friends call me Wordy. LOL.

Alyce said...

I've been receiving a lot of requests from authors lately too, and the "cut and paste" messages are the worst. I don't give them more than a quick glance. I had been wondering what other people do about replying to authors - whether or not to reply if you don't want an ARC.

I have been replying to all of the emails where the authors use my name too. I like that you use that as a guideline - now I won't feel so bad about the generic emails that I delete.

I'm not scheduling into September yet, but my review schedule is filled through the end of July, so I can relate to being choosy with the ARCs I accept.

I like Shalonda's question and have wondered the same thing. Is it okay to say that your schedule is full? (Mine is, so it's not a lie.) However, if someone contacted me with a book I was dying to read then I would make room in my schedule. I always try to be polite and would never say anything negative in regards to what I think of their book.

Great post!

BookChic said...

I actually haven't gotten a whole lot of emails lately from authors offering a book to me. Usually, I'm the one asking them, lol. Which then becomes a different discussion of how reviewers should approach authors.

For myself, if I know the author and I've chatted with them and they know my site, I ask politely for a review copy. For authors I am contacting for the first time, I talk about my site and provide links and all that so they can familiarize themselves with my site and see if it's something they're interested in.

I really enjoyed your take on this topic. Thanks for posting it! This is something I like seeing on reviewers' blogs because it helps out other reviewers and lets us all know how other people handle certain aspects of running a review blog.

Diana Dang said...

Because I am not very popular (haha), authors contacting me are very slim. In fact, I only had one author and one publisher that came to me so far. I am asked for more of interviews instead of actual book reviewing, which I don't mind so much.

I'm a diverse person, so I try to have a bit of everything in my review blog. Because you may never know who's reading so it's nice to appeal to all ages and every kind of audiences. I accept anything that is given too me but eBooks are a definite no. Haha.

The Book Resort said...

A bunny left this 4 ya @

Doret said...

lmao@call me Wordy. Authors aren't blowing up my in box, though I did have one request last week. The book looked like something I'd love so I said yes. Just because a blogger doesn't get a lot of comments doesn't mean they don't get traffic. So authors should consider asking D list bloggers, ( and I place myslef in that group) to review their books. Our Arc TBR list isn't as long as a A list blogger, so we will get around to reading your book quicker. Also A list bloggers visit D list blogger sites. And if we like and review your book and it sounds interesting to the A list blogger they may move your book up their TBR pile. I think authors should appreicate bloggers who turn down books they wouldn't like. There are many children's blogs authors should take the time to find reviewer who read the books they write. Also if an author is going to pitch their book, please have a website, myspace, facebook, something linked to the email, I'll even settle for one from the publishers page.

Jen said...

I've never had a request for a review ^_^, but I have been emailed by a couple after I commented on their blogs. I find authors to be really nice usually!

Reverie said...

Yeah i want to know more about bloggers contacting authors like BookChic mentioned.

And Doern has a very good point!!! We shouldnt be overlooked. and We grow...

The fabulous trio said...

I'm an author but new to this industry so this post was very helpful for me as well. My publisher was reluctant to have me send out ARC's to book bloggers (they had their own list) but I had stumbled on a few book blogs, loved them and wanted to send them an ARC. I had no idea how many hits they get.

Some of what goes on is quite scary. Thanks for sharing. :)

Lenore Appelhans said...

Shalonda - Declining a book from an author who has made an effort is never as easy as ignoring a mass spam request. But if I have the feeling I'd be doing the author a disservice by saying yes - simply because I won't get to the book for ages if ever - then I know to politely decline. That is usually a "no thank you, but I wish you the best of luck with your book". I don't feel like I always need to give a reason, but sometimes I do.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Amy - I'm glad you brought this up. I think it is incredibly important for authors to do their research across blogs and really do a targeted review request round. We notice when you ask every single blogger under the sun. If I have gotten an ARC and then I see it reviewed on every second blog, then my feeling is - who really needs yet another review? It's just not as urgent to me anymore (unless, of course, I just really want to read it).

Lenore Appelhans said...

PJ - Better book early!! Haha! Here's the thing - it pays to be nice to be bloggers and develop a relationship with them. If I've "worked" with an author before and enjoyed the experience, then I'm predisposed to wanting to "work" with them again on future books.

I heard about incidents where the author has berated the blogger for some reason and trust me - this gets out and others are wary to accept books from such an author.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Taren - I can't believe I forgot to mention that! Yes, I did get that spam. It was VERY obvious that it was the author leaving fake positive comments about their own book. The first time could have been legit, but certainly not the 50th time!! And all of this was apparently a strategy to butter me (and other bloggers) up before asking us to review the book. Naturally I was so annoyed that I said no.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Alea - That has actually happened to me too. One channel is fine thanks and that channel should be e-mail. In general, I don't respond to any requests that aren't sent to my e-mail address.

Amy said...

It's funny, but I actually haven't had many requests in the past few weeks. I was just thinking about that, and how good it is for my sagging bookshelves.

While I'm thrilled if an author has poked around my blog, I am open to trying some new genres. So I am open to all requests.

I got one just the other day where I could tell it was the first time the author had done such a thing, because it felt like one of those rambling voicemail messages, where they finally wound up saying, well, I hope you understand what I'm trying to say. lol.

I don't however, respond to every one I get. I simply can't. I have limited time and if I take time to answer each author, I'm not commenting on a blog, or reading another book I've already been sent for review! I do feel bad about this, but I have to make choices.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Ali - So true! I've gotten requests where I am addressed as Presenting Lenore. Presenting is not my first name, thanks.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Alyce - If it is a book I absolutely do not want to read, I usually won't give any reason at all. Sometimes there are books that I'm interested in, but not dying to read, and the author gives me a specific time frame when he or she would like to do a tour or see a review up front. Then I can use the full scheldule excuse and let them decide if a later date is ok too.

And yes, I absolutely leave a little wiggle room in my scheldule in case someone offers me books on my WoW list or wishlist.

Lenore Appelhans said...

BookChic - I haven't requested more than a couple of books in the last few months. It just seems irresponsible with my out of control pile. But yes - the same rules apply for bloggers requesting books. Personalize, be nice, show you've done your research, and craft your pitch in a way that convinces the author your site would be a good match. That could be pointing out similiar titles you've reviewed, your stats, your love of the genre, whatever!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Diana - I prefer to do interviews or guest posts only if I've read the book. I do make exceptions sometimes, but I am wary of turning into a purely promotional platform.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Doret - This is an excellent point! Authors should definitely target at least a couple smaller blogs. They are more likely to get to the book quickly and the review will get seen. I even linked to one of your reviews recently. And yes, seeing a positive review on smaller blogs has resulted in my moving the book higher in my pile.

Lenore Appelhans said...

"My Friend" Amy - I haven't looked at Shelf Awareness for months because of my sagging bookshelves!

If an author has made an effort to make a personalized pitch to me, I will take the extra minute or two to reply, even if it isn't anything more than a "no thanks". I know the feeling of sending a request out there and then wondering if it was ever received. But yeah, I don't feel bad about never responding the obvious mass mailings.

Amy said...

How come the my friend is in quotation marks, huh? What are you trying to say? ;)

H said...

I agree with Aerin :) It is hard to say no to authors, especially if they've made an effort.

an author said...

This is amazing. All my author friends and I have been talking about the exact opposite phenomenon -- a HUGE upsurge in emails from "book review bloggers" begging for "review copies" of books, many of which are books that are already out. (That's when the red flags start going up.)

I think I've had more requests for my upcoming book than they even printed in ARCs. I get a dozen a week. I get people asking for free copies of books that have been out for the better part of a decade.

In the beginning, it seemed legit. After a while, though, you got the idea that these bloggers were just spamming every author site they could to get their hands on free books. Especially when you go to these so-called "review blogs" and all you see are bloggers bragging about swapping and trading free books, and giving others tips on how to get free books, and -- here's the kicker: NOT ACTUALLY REVIEWING ANY OF THOSE BOOKS THEY'VE BEEN BEGGING FOR.

Elizabeth said...

I'll agree to review any book I think there's a good chance I'd like. If it looks like something I would pick up in a store or library, I'll take it.

(There's a LOT of things I'd pick up in a store or library -- what I actually wind up buying from within that large set is a bit random -- so this is less stringent than it might sound.)

I wouldn't feel right accepting an ARC for review if it seems like I'm not really the audience for the book. On the other hand, I'm open to being surprised, and I've enjoyed some books I've won in giveaways that I might not have picked out for myself.

Also: I'm way behind on reviews (I have a lot of half-written posts floating around), but ARCs I was given to review I'm conscientious about. Especially from new authors or smaller presses or both -- I know they have limited publicity money and need to make it count.

My boyfriend works for a smaller press (Haymarket Books) -- in publicity, no less -- so I think that's why I feel strongly about this!

Elizabeth said...

Oh, and just to clarify -- I'm speaking as someone who's not exactly floating in ARCs like Lenore is. I very rarely request them (mostly because I'm too lazy, and since I always have tons of stuff I want to read, it's not really worth the effort for me).

I've gotten some from authors, but not very many. My blog is new; I'm part of the recent massive upsurge in book blogs -- isn't it funny how we all have our unique individual reasons for doing something, and then we look around and see we're all just part of a trend? :)

Lenore Appelhans said...

H - Yes, it can be hard to say no. But if I know I'm not the right reviewer for the material then the author is better off anyway!

Lenore Appelhans said...

An Author - I can completely understand why you are disturbed by such behavior, and I agree it's a red flag to get requests for books that are already out from bloggers that very rarely review the books they brag about receiving. And you have good reason to ignore such requests or politely decline them.

This "competition" to get free books is certainly an ugly side of the new found popularity of book blogging, and I know this must be frustrating for authors and publicists. It's really something I'd like to see an author or publicist address in depth since I don't really think I'm the right one to bring it up.

I almost never request a book from an author anymore - I go directly to the publisher. I know that authors very rarely have a lot of copies to give out and the ones they do get their hands on have long been promised. In the case that I have some sort of friendly e-mail contact with the author already, then I might ask, but never for a book that is already published. If they offer a signed copy, that's different. But if they don't, I can certainly buy it myself.

But here's the rub: Books I buy end up getting the a very low priority in my reading pile - higher than a library book, but less than a book I request or accept for review and less than a book I win in a contest.

Doret said...

I do feel the authors frustration, to send a requested arc to a blogger, and not seeing it reviewed. The blogger should at least send an email stating why. The author worked hard on that book and they were kind enough to send it, it just common courtesy
I've had my blog a little over a year. In that time I have only sent 2 request to author's asking for ARC. Do I ask publisher yes, but I always make sure the book is upcoming. If they're kind enough to send it, I read it in a timely fashion. If they send the finished book, when I am done with it, I donate it to a library

Lenore Appelhans said...

Elizabeth - I also like to support new authors and smaller presses as much as I can.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Doret - If I'm the one doing the requesting, then I try to give that book priority. But even then, it might take me a couple of months to get to. I am also completely open to authors sending me a polite reminder mail if it has been months and I still have reviewed. Some things just might get lost in the shuffle. (Of course I reserve the right to not review a book if I'm just not feeling it.)

Anonymous said...

Another author chiming in with her frustration. It seems these days that books are almost being treated like trading cards or baseball cards -- it's not about reading the books. It's about who has the "ungetable" ARC. There is one blogger who gleefully lists all the book they get in the mail in a weekly video blog post, but never reviews ANYTHING. Why do publishers keep sending them books?

When you go onto the blogger sites, it's all the same group of bloggers trading ARCs among themselves, and you start to wonder if anyone visits these review sites except for other bloggers who are getting free ARCS (or trading for used ARCs). Is anyone who reads the sites actually buying completed books, or are they just waiting to be on the list for the next great ARC swap?

A few years ago it was ARC recipients selling their ARCs on eBay. Now its book bloggers creating a daisy chain where everyone reads the ARC and no one buys the book.

And then we authors don't get our contracts re-upped because sales are in the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me for posting as an Anon, but I have to agree with the last Anon author.

At first I thought book bloggers offered a huge service to authors, by caring about and giving free publicity to books. I do have to admit, though, it is starting to leave a pit in my stomach as "collecting" ARCs seems to often be the goal. By allowing tons of books to be sent to you -- books you wouldn't even pick up off a shelf in a bookstore if you had to pay for them -- and then not reviewing them, it actually doesn't help at all.

A book's publicist thinks they've done a great job getting buzz by sending books to bloggers that request them, yet no buzz happens because no reviews happen.

I say this as a previously published YA author. When my book came out in ARC form, I was only given three for my own use -- to show local librarians to let them know about the book. I couldn't even let them keep it/read it, as my publisher didn't have any extra copies. A good portion of the ARCs landed in book bloggers Never-to-be-Read pile -- except the ones that were sold on ebay five minutes after they were sent.

Obviously, I'm not accusing every book blogger of this, but why accept (and solicit) so many ARCs if you have no interest or time to read and post a review of them?

Alyce said...

Anonymous - I'm curious which sites are used as ARC swapping sites. I give away my ARCs in contests on my site, but I state in my review policy that if the author doesn't want me to do that then they just have to let me know.

I review whatever I read, so if I win an ARC from a contest and read it then it's going to get a review. Occasionally a fellow reviewer will contact me and offer me one of their ARCs because they know that I have been wanting to review it. This happened recently with Still Alice - which I loved and I gave a rave review. So while I didn't buy the book, the book got some free advertising on my site. But then I wasn't planning on buying Still Alice, I was planning on checking it out from the library. so I don't see that as lost revenue for the author.

Since I have started blogging I have been buying more new books than I have in years. I used to check all of my books out from the library or buy them at used book sales.

Because I read so many wonderful reviews on other book blogs I find out about books that I wouldn't have heard of otherwise, and then the ones that stay at the top of my wish list for a certain amount of time get purchased.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Anon author - I can't speak for other bloggers, but I absolutely visit other blogs to find out about books I might like to buy, and I though I do get a lot of ARCs, I absolutely still buy as many or more books than I did before I started blogging. If I particularly like a book I read in ARC form, I do buy a finished copy. I buy books as gifts for friends and family and nowadays these books are almost always ones I've discovered through blogging. And I buy many other books because I'm an addict!!

From the stats I've read, YA hardcovers are selling better than ever. I'm sure that has a lot to do with adults getting more into it and actually having money to purchase books, but I'd like to think I'm contributing at least a tiny bit.

I've sometimes gotten two or more of the same ARC and I've traded these, but I don't trade on a regular basis. I've also passed on review copies to other reviewers after I've finished and in more cases than not, they've reviewed the book too.

I am also terribly disapointed in bloggers that request books, brag about getting them and then NEVER review anything. And yes, sadly, it's happening more and more. BUT, I do know of cases, such as James from Book Chic, where he has a review blog separate from the blog where he vlogs about books in his mailbox. So if only read the mailbox blog, you might think he never reviews, but that's not true. I can think of other cases where a blogger doesn't post reviews on their blog but do post to amazon, goodreads and other such sites.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

If only I felt free to post half of the requests that I get, you would be amazed at how poor some of these pitches are. Did they read my policy? Did they read any of my blog? And worse yet, no links, no description, and if they can't capitalize then it's an automatic no. With the contact form that I have, I can tell which pages of my blog they visited before contacting me. If the contact page is the only one page they visited, that's usually a no too.

As far as the author's frustration with book bloggers, I can see it. Personally, I don't do the weekly in my mailbox meme's. That's a personal decision that fits in with the goals of my blog. I have to many other posts and book reviews to go up. And to tell you the truth, I don't feel comfortable showing off what I got for "free."

As far as reviewing the books that I receive. I must admit that I am very, very behind. Like 6+ months. Most of these titles are books that are already published, I do give higher priority to ARC's. I do feel the guilt every single night when I go to bed. I would love to be able to do nothing but read books all the time. I'd also say that 90% of these titles are books that were pitched to me. I only request about 1 out of 10 titles. But one bad blogger can ruin the image of the whole.

I do think that if you request a title or receive a title, you definitely should review it. And at least, in a much more timely manner that I do.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Second anon author -
I think that is a good litmus test when you request books - is it a book that you'd actually pay money for? If not, don't request it!

I have different standards of course for books that are offered to me...many aren't books that I would necessarily pay for, but I WILL read them if I accept them for review, and many times I end up really liking them and buying them.

And you've hit on a big problem many bloggers have - overcommiting themselves and then getting burned out. It is FUN to get free books in the mail. It's less fun to have the discipline to actually fulfill your promises to read and review.

There is also a ton of blogger envy. I often find myself saying "HOT DAMN! Look at how many books XY blogger got this week!" But I know from experience that as much as I'd love to read tons and tons of books, I am only able to read and review around 12 a month, so I have to rein myself in and be satisfied with what I have and limit myself to what I can handle. BUT I know it can be hard when you are bombarded by all the these In My Mailbox posts every week in your reader.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Alyce - There are plenty of bloggers who publicize that they got books from trades.

I am a member of a site called YA Book Swap and honestly, most of the bloggers on there I know to be serious bloggers who read and review a TON of books. Many don't have the money to buy the books so it's nice that they can get the books from a friend.

I also review everything I read (with rare exceptions) and I've gotten books from bookrays before. One was a book I gave a rave review to - No One You Know by Michelle Richmond. I've bought 2 copies of it so far - in hardcover no less - for friends, plus one for myself.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Natasha - I don't partcipate in the weekly mailbox memes for the same reasons, though I have posted bookstacks in special circumstances, such as after the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Even though I try my best, I know I don't do everything right. I'm also behind on a lot of books and there are people I've let down with my tardiness - so I know what you mean when you say you go to bed every single night feeling guilty!

As far as pitches, bad grammar and mistakes are definite red flags. I'm always a bit worried the writing in their novel will be just as bad!

Amee said...

Great discussion! I ended up tiring of the whole request and/or accept review copies. Mostly because it was overwhelming and I ended up feeling incredibly guilty about getting books for free. I much prefer to write about whatever books I have acquired on my own. That way I can still get my opinion out there and maybe have a bit of a discussion about the book without dealing with all the obligations that come with book blogging as a sort of business.

Amber said...

I do love reading your reviews Lenore, and I think you do a great job of picking out books to read and review. You are getting more popular every day :)

I might not have my own blog, but I do review books for TeensReadToo and I understand how intimadating a huge to-read list can be!

At the moment though, I only have a couple of books that I am reading. I am excited to read Wintergirls when I receive it from you, Lenore!

BookChic said...

Lenore- Thanks so much for pointing out that I have two separate blogs. As soon as I read that comment, I was like "ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT ME?!?!" Because it certainly sounds like me, but maybe I'm just being narcissistic? lol. I mean, I've been neglecting the myspace blog lately but only because it's been slow reading for a little while. But I do review. I have two separate blogs for a reason.

I find it odd that there are bloggers who ask for books that are already out. I feel bad asking for a book like a month before its release date! I can't even imagine asking for one that's been released.

I usually go for the authors first only because I don't have a whole lot of publishing contacts and I don't know who deals with what book. I don't want to send an email to a publicist requesting a book and then have them tell me that they're not working on that book so they can't get me a copy. It's just easier for me to chat with the authors about it.

I'm a part of YA Book Swap too but I usually only send to people who I know well and who I know will review the book. I don't send to just anyone. And heck, lately, I've been donating extra books to my library so that people in my community have the chance to read a book that may not have entered the catalog.

And even so, I see no problem with swapping a book amongst bloggers because there are tons of non-bloggers who go out and buy the book after reading a review or even just from seeing it browsing around. I don't have the kind of money to buy the finished versions of books. I'm very picky about what I spend money on and so when I do spend my money, it's gonna be on a NEW book, not a final copy of an ARC I have back home.

Phew, long comment. I just came back from doing Easter stuff with my family and saw like 17 new comments, lol. I'm pretty sure I addressed everything I wanted to.

Susan of Reading Upside Down said...

I am new to the world of book blogging, but have been a literature feature writer for an established online magazine for the past 16 months.

I have never requested ARCs directly from an author and have only occasionally had authors contact me directly. I do, however, receive regular new release newsletters from several publishers and am regularly contacted by publicists regarding reviews and interviews.

Now that I have my book blog up and running, any ARC I receive is generally reviewed both at the online magazine and my blog.

I regularly review picture books and YA, and always recommend titles I have enjoyed to my childrens' school librarian, who has bought several books on my recommendation. I have also bought copies of books I have enjoyed for friends as gifts.

I am occasionally amazed at the unrequested titles that publicists send me for review - successful authors who certainly don't need my recommendations to sell their books.

I try to review all books that I read, whether ARCs, library copies or books I have purchased. It is a shame that a minority are undermining the great service that book bloggers can offer to authors.

Ali said...

Great discussion, and I'm glad to see some authors weighing in, too. It's frustrating when people seem to be in it just for the free books, and sometimes the jokes about the "book addiction" seem a little too close to the truth. Then again, a quick look at the blog before sending the book should give that information. If you're not getting your money's worth by sending the book out, don't send it.

Anonymous said...

And even so, I see no problem with swapping a book amongst bloggers because there are tons of non-bloggers who go out and buy the book after reading a review or even just from seeing it browsing around. I don't have the kind of money to buy the finished versions of books. I'm very picky about what I spend money on and so when I do spend my money, it's gonna be on a NEW book, not a final copy of an ARC I have back home.

Multiply this by three or four "swaps" per ARC and the 100 or so "request" emails I have in my inbox and I guess I know why my publisher just informed me they are cutting my proposed print run in thirds. That's a significant percentage of my print run who has already read the book, and it's not even out.

Liviania said...

Great topic and I loved reading the discussion.

Personally, I'm an easy sale. What I like is the author's name and website, the book name, and a summary. It can be the blurb or in the author's own words. If it sounds cool to me I usually request it. I'm cutting back on accepting books right now due to being busy, but it always seems that right after I firm my resolve I get offered something I've been dying to read.

Jennifer Banash's The Elite didn't sound entirely like my cup of tea, but she pitched it to my blog well. (Mostly, she told me why she respected me as a blogger and I ate it up. I love any pitch that shows the author has _read_ my blog.)

Bad grammar in the e-mail is a warning to me to not request the book. So is it being in a genre I've never touched on my blog, such as urban fiction. I do try to respond politely with my no but sometimes I forget to.

As for the other end, I rarely request books. I've probably requested three - either to the publicist if I could find the e-mail on the publisher's website, or to the author with a note that I wished to request a review copy from their publisher, not them.

I try to get to the books in a timely manner. I either keep ARCs, trade them to someone who probably will review them, or give them away on my blog - something that exposes the book to a number of people. For those I keep, I often buy a real copy of the book.

I should mention that my friends affect my TBR, even though it's a little off-topic. They'll pick up books that I know I'm not going to get to soon, and if they give it the thumbs up, it gets moved up in my reading list.

I've gotten used to being called "In Bed With Books" like it's a name or any number of misspellings of Liviania.

Diana Peterfreund said...

This is a very interesting discussion.

Like some of the other authors mentioned, I've seen a massive, massive increase in the number of requests I've received for ARCs in the past month or so. I think (hope?) some of this is due to good buzz that I've gotten on Rampant from blogs like Lenore's. People hear about the book, and they want to check it out. But the cynic in me says that probably a lot of it's due to the growing popularity of "in my mailbox" and the tutorials on how to get books from publishers/authors.

Because I've also gotten a ton of requests for review copies of Secret Society Girl, which was originally released in 2006. Guys, last time I had my hands on a review copy of that book, I was signing it at BEA in the same booth as a little known Illinois senator named Barack Obama.

In other words, it's been a while.

Naturally, I'd be pleased as punch if the book's audience continued to grow (there was actually a new review of it up last week on The Book Smugglers. Yay!) But I have no review copies, and neither does the publisher. So people who want copies of that book are going to have to get it at their local store or library.

I don't have any review copies of Rampant, either, and haven't for months. I actually had to ask my own family to give back their copies so I could give them out to folks who asked.

I'm pretty sure my publisher is running low, too. It's an unfortunate situation, but given the schedule change, we're in a tough situation. A reprint of ARCs is an enormous expense. All I can hope for now is the people that have had the ARCs and aren't reviewing them are doing so in consideration of the fact that the book itself isn't coming out until September now. (If any of you are doing that, THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!)

In general, I think of ARCs as a necessary evil. they are the first impression that reviewers get of your books, and they can become a huge point of contention between readers and authors (in this conversation alone you hear of bloggers saying they make a point of buying a finished copy and bloggers saying they would NEVER buy a finished copy of an ARC they receive), but they are often not a very pretty package. The ARCs of Rampant are, sadly, littered with errors, and they also have the wrong cover on them -- but since most ARCs are uncorrected, and many don't have any cover on them let alone the right one, there's not much I can do about that. I feel like I've done as much as I can to inform people that this isn't the right cover.

As for the original topic of the blog post, the only time I've sent reviewing copies to a reviewing site is when I've talked to the reviewer before about other topics, or when they have reviewed favorably past books in my series. For instance, I sent an ARC of Tap & Gown to Angieville because she liked the other books in the Secret Society Girl series.

Rebecca Herman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca Herman said...

(going to delete my previous post because I accidentally submitted it too soon)

I have a smaller blog and focus on only a couple genres, so I don't get a ton of requests and when I do they are usually from the genre I read so I am likely to accept them. If it's not a book I like the subject of, I don't really care how nice the author is, I have lots of books I want to read so I won't take the time out to read one I don't care for. But I'm mainly blogging cause I find it fun, so I just see the books I do get as fun extras rather than the purpose of my blog.

I don't really make a lot of my own requests for ARCs. When I do, it's usually because it's an author I've corresponded with a lot in the past (and maybe gotten an earlier book or two from) or a brand new author of a book I think looks promising and could use publicity. Otherwise I'm too shy to ask!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Amee - I can totally understand. It is hard to find a good balance. On the one hand, we are offering a service to authors that we are not getting paid for and for that I do not feel guilty when I get a free book. But if it gets out of hand because we request or accept more books than we can handle, then we feel like bad bloggers who are letting people down. It can be a lot of pressure.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Hi Amber! I never feel bad about passing my review copies on to you because I 100% know that you'll review them too. Wintergirls is on its way.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Hey James, it is so much easier to have one publicist that deals with all books just for bloggers, like they have at Penguin. I can see this happening more in the future as publishing houses continue to get more savvy about Internet marketing.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Susan - I know several children's librarians who regularly ask me which YA and MG titles to buy and I love being in the know enough to make intelligent recommendations. That is really one of the most fun parts of blogging!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Ali - Agreed! I think it's pretty easy to tell which bloggers are serious and which are just in it for the free books. When publishers wise up and stop catering to the freeloaders, then we'll all be a lot better off.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Anon - Wow. Sorry to hear that! I know there have been some movements to push actual buying of books, such as the contests Lauren of Shooting Stars Mag put together for I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Willow and Reviewer X did for Dust of 100 Dogs where entrants had to send in a proof of purchase. I don't have any hard figures to show if these actually worked, but it sure seemed like a lot of bloggers said they bought the books rather than got them for trade somewhere. And I donated $30 in gift certificates in all.

There have been some complaints though about the legality of such contests where you have to purchase something to enter.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Liv - but it always seems that right after I firm my resolve I get offered something I've been dying to read.

Exactly what happens to me!

Jennifer Banash is a great example of someone who does convincing pitches. I already had both her books in my pile, so she didn't have to send me anything, but her e-mail lit a fire under me to actually read her books.

I should also mention that I really appreciate it when authors say thank you after I run a review. It gives them 100 plus points in my book :)

Lenore Appelhans said...

Diana - The buzz for Rampant is really massive and I really hope that translates into big book sales for you, because I'm just crazy about the book. And like I said, I am most definitely buying a finished copy because I MUST have it on my shelf.

I think it's a good thing not to saturate the blogosphere with too many review copies. A few targeted ones early to test the waters and then maybe a few more leading up to the launch.

I've published a tutorial on how to get ARCs and though it was meant for solely responsible bloggers, I'm sure some have used my tips for nefarious purposes. I cannot stress enough that bloggers have a real obligation when they accept review copies, and it is not to be taken lightly.

Thanks again for offering one of your precious copies of Rampant in my giveaway. I really appreciate it and I know the winner does too!!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Rebecca - I think that is a very healthy attitude. It is much nicer to be upfront and explain that you are not the right reviewer for a particular book than to accept it and then never read it!

Elizabeth said...

It's amazing how many comments blog posts about blogging get. I suppose because we all feel a personal stake in it!

Terry Doherty said...

Wow! Lots to think about, from the reviewer and producer angles. As many have mentioned, the cut/paste Press Releases are awful. What adds to my annoyance is the follow-up emails with links to *other* reviews.

We purposefully don't ask for books, because so many come to us "automatically" from publishers or authors we've reviewed previously. Last summer we stopped accepting books form new authors/publishers and we're still averaging 20 new books each month.

As a reviewer who donates their copies to Title I schools and kids who don't have any reading material at home, it is quite disheartening to hear that reviewing has become a collector's game.

Thanks Lenore, for this very thoughtful discussion.

Nurin said...

Great discussion going on :)

I try to review everything I get, however some books take longer since they just get lost in the piles and I find them months later...

I don't "collect" ARCs. I still buy alot of books but I also frequent the library etc. And I usually only review review copies or books I *adore* because I just read so much and I don't have the time along with school, the hours I need to complete to get my job etc to get to everything.

Anonymous said...

Anon author who said:

There is one blogger who gleefully lists all the book they get in the mail in a weekly video blog post, but never reviews ANYTHING. Why do publishers keep sending them books?

ACTUALLY< that person does review books=, just does it in another site. The blog YOU go to is only for the videos and the other site is only for reviews.

Rebecca Herman said...

Elizabeth - that's an interesting point! I've always thought it's probably because so many people that read blogs are bloggers themselves, so they all have something to say about it. While any post related to a book/author will probably just get posts from people interested in that particular book/author.

This kind of makes me wonder if people see my In My Mailbox posts and assume I'm a lazy reviewer though, because I include books I purchased myself and sometimes I decide not to read those for a while.

Shalonda said...

Lenore, I am enjoying this post. It is amazing to hear what both the authors and bloggers have to say about the matter.

I totally understand the frustration of the authors because yes, there are some bloggers only interested in obtaining the most sought after ARCs. However, most of the bloggers I know and associate with (myself included) do not blog for that reason.

I have requested books from authors, because I don't have any close contacts at the publishing companies. Do I feel bad about it? Yes, especially if it is an author I haven't contacted before. I only ask if I'm REALLY REALLY interested in the book. However, I don't request books to "collect" them. I review EVERY book I request.

When a person sees my IMM post, it may seem as though I have a ton of books that I am not reviewing, but that is not the case. Most ARCs are sent out months in advanced, so chances are you won't see a review for the books for a while. Also, I purchase A LOT of books with my own money, and currently have 25 checked out of the library. If I purchase or check out a book, I don't feel obligated to write a review. Instead, I focus on those authors who have given me the opportunity to review their books.

As for swapping books, I have every ARC received by request on my bookshelf. I only swap books I have purchased or those sent to me that I did not request. In addition, if an author fulfills my request, I almost always purchase a final copy of the book to give away on my blog or to keep for myself.

Lenore Appelhans said...

ReadingTub - I've rarely gotten follow-up e-mails with links to other reviews, but I have got a couple from self-published authors after I've declined their book. They get defensive and want to prove that many people liked their book and so I should want to read it too...uh...not when the positive review comes from their sister, ha!

And you bring up a good point of what is permissible to do with your review copies when you are through with them. That is certainly a HUGE debate.

Lenore Appelhans said...

RR - The time issue definitely comes into the equation. I would love to sit around all day and only read and blog, but I have to work to earn money to be able to live (and buy more books!)

I'm always so impressed with you and other bloggers that are in school and still manage to stay on top of your blogs. I would not have been able to do it when I was in school. I barely had time to sleep!!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Rebecca - I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Shalonda - Though I review everything no matter where I got it, I can completely understand your policy. I agree that if you request a book, you should do your very best to review it. But if you buy it or get it from the library, borrow it from a friend, find it on the street, etc then you are under no obligation to review if you don't want to. I think reviewing is fun, but even so, sometimes, I just don't feel like it.

Anna said...

I agree that personalized email are best. I can understand that in the competitive world of books it can be hard to generate interest, but I think authors should take the time to know who they are writing to. I had an author contact me several times in different places, as well. Since my inbox isn't overflowing with these types of emails, I take the time to write a polite note declining the titles I don't want to read.

Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

Alea and I seem to have the same problem. I wonder if its the same authors. :) I agree that personalized emails are best, and a synopsis or link to one is very helpful. I like when authors do research to see what I've read before and what I liked, but I'm usually pretty open about genre, so it really depends on the pitch/query and the synopsis for me.

I really hate blanket emails and those spam messages..

great discussion.

Anonymous said...

No, I'm not talking about Book Chic. I know he has a myspace page. It's a different so-called "reviewer." Seems anyone can hang up their hat and call themselves a reviewer these days. Really they are just after free books.

MarjoleinBookBlog said...

Wow, this is a very interesting post! I wish authors where contacting me more, but alas, they aren't. Mostly I contact them. But I agree they must do research, but on the other side the reviewer has to do that to.

the story siren said...

WOW! I feel like I'm the last to chime in here! Another great discussion.

I have to say i totally agree with Lenore in the aspect of receiving requests. I love it when no information about the book is provided! Grr!

And I really didn't start IMM as a bragging post. It was supposed to be additional publicity for the novels! And I'm really nosy and like to see what other people are reading and getting as well... i guess even when you have good intentions, it isn't always good enough.

BookChic said...

So I am happy that I'm not the one being talked about, lol. Though I kinda want to know who's doing vlogs about all the books they recieve and don't post reviews. I know several people who vlog but they all post reviews, so it's someone I don't know.

...I'm so curious now!!! :P

Mollie said...

Our book reviewing at Teen Troves has wained to practically null. However, we're still getting requests for authors to send us review copies/ARC's. I'm am honest with those authors telling them that we've not been reviewing but if they still want to send us books they are likely to go directly into the hands of Ariel's 10th and 12th grade students. And, so far authors are still sending them.

I very rarely contacted anyone to get review copies....with a few exceptions-- Elizabeth Scott who is very generous and understanding and Sarah Dessen. I'd pretty much sell my soul to get my hands on any of her ARCs ;)--only got one, Lock and Key. But it was AWESOME!

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

Great post, Lenore!
I have had to, on a few occasions, decline an author or publisher's request to review their book. I typically tell them that my calendar is full (and I do have a calendar for my reviews) but I can fit them in at a certain date. I think it helps to have a review policy posted on your book blog as well.

pussreboots said...

I just started scheduling reviews for August so your quip about planning for September has me nodding in agreement. The requests that irk me are the ones that are for books completely outside my normal interests; ones that too full of marketing hype (AND CAPITAL LETTERS!) or the ones that come with a bunch of demands (when to review it, press releases to post with it, etc). Finally though, what I hate most of all is getting books I haven't asked for. So often they are complete mismatches for my book blog.

I have never though emailed an author directly to ask to review a book.

vvb32 reads said...

Chiming in here as a new YA book blogger as of this year... while I haven't experienced this latest phenomena, I can understand the frustrations from both sides. And, can avoid the pitfalls as I blog. Thanks for this post.

I did want to mention how ARCs have had such an impact on me. I haven't received any, but the ARC reviews and even just the book cover images of them by fellow bloggers generates soooo much buzz that they are surely doing their job! I already have a long list of books I want to purchase or get my library to buy based on them.

In regards to swapping, the thing to ponder is book pricing. The YA audience may not have the disposable income to be able to make purchases for $15+ hardcover and paperback books. So, trading, sharing or the library are options for the younger non-working crowd. I wonder if pricing books under $10 would make a difference in sales. I don't mean to devalue our beloved authors. It's the poor economic situation of the times.

Gwendolyn B. said...

This is an incredibly informative and interesting discussion. Thank you, Lenore, for bringing up the issue and “moderating” this dialogue.

I’m a new blogger, but certainly not new to receiving free books from publishers. For years I’ve received free books, sometimes ARCs, sometimes finished books, directly from the big publishers such as Random House, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster simply by participating in contests, discussions, surveys, etc. posted in their newsletters. After receiving a few books, I’m on some sort of list and find myself receiving books every month from somewhere. I’m not asked to review these books; but I’m often asked to send my thoughts directly to someone in marketing and/or talk up the book to family, friends, and coworkers. Sometimes the publisher even offers to send copies of the book to anyone I believe would be interested. I’m not always interested in these “unsolicited” books, but I always try to find someone who is and pass them along.

I’ve been reading book review blogs for about a year now and recently launched my own. I’ve barely gotten started and yet it’s already obvious that I could end up with a glut of books. Like the proverbial kid in a candy store, I’ll have to use a lot of restraint and discretion when making my selections. This post and discussion will definitely serve as a guide as I learn to handle both receiving and requesting books as well as what my responsibilities are as a book reviewer/blogger.

Alice Berger said...

Wow, and here I was feeling a smidgen of guilt because I've got my schedule booked through June! My current policy is that authors can expect a 90 day turnaround and I try to stick to that.

As our site has gotten more popular, I've also had to decline some books. Although we're open to self-published authors, we're becoming very choosy about who we'll accept. You really have to convince me that your book is worth reading.

Those with the best rate of success are publishers and publicists I've developed a relationship with. They know me and my style. But a well-written and personalized request will at least pique my interest, as long as your book is in the genres I prefer to review.

I almost always reply to requests, and will send polite declines. Only once I sent a slightly less polite one, but the author had written a book on a topic I find completely horrifying and she was attempting to glorify it. I couldn't let that pass. But otherwise, you'll just get a "No thank you. I can't fit you into my schedule at this time."

Chrisbookarama said...

Holy Crow I'm not even through half the comments yet! Whew!

Anyway, I've never requested ARCs unless it was through a list sent to me from a publisher who wishes me to choose a couple to review. I still get a fair amount in the mail and try to get them reviewed as soon as possible (maybe a little too soon. I accidentally reviewed one I wasn't supposed to until a later date).

Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of 'how do you get free books?' questions on some forums lately. I hope those bloggers are reviewing them but apparently some are not from Anon authors' comments. It doesn't mean every blogger is slacking off. It would pay the author to check the blog of the reviewer esp. the contact page. And all book bloggers should have a contact page to let authors know how you do things.

If we all do our homework and then we'd all have better relationships, I think.

Also Doret has a point. The smaller blogs can be a great resource for authors. We all have to start somewhere :)

Interesting discussion!

HeatherMarie said...

Wow this is a great discussion. I'm yet another blogger here (surprise), but I'm also a bookseller which gives me a bit of an advantage when contacting publishers. I really don't contact authors, and have so far only had a couple contact me. Most of the books I've reviewed at Want My YA have been books that I've either purchased or borrowed from work (yes I'm allowed to borrow books).

I did recently start contacting publishers to get review copies for my blog just because it would be nice to do some advance publicity rather than always reviewing after the books are out. The first two publishers NEVER responded. I was kinda bummed. The third publisher did respond and has agreed to send me a couple of books thanks to the fact that I'm a bookseller.

So yes, even though my current blog doesn't get many requests, I used to review for a popular Romance review site and I got tons of requests via my MySpace page. What amazed me was that so many of them had nothing at all to do with Romance, even though I made it quite clear that because of the site I reviewed for, I only reviewed Romance novels.

Now my blogging partner and I are just running into the issue of time. She runs the Romance blog and I run the YA blog and we used to help each other out by blogging on each other's blogs. Now we just don't have time to. Her blog is actually the one getting all the author requests and she keeps trying to tell them she's just one person, and sadly I'm too busy to help her. And vice versa. I think she's posted exactly one post on the blog, though she has permission to post at any time. Despite that I recently received an email to my blog's email account, addressed to her. lol I was vastly confused, though further discussion with K lead her to think that maybe she had spoken with that person in the past.

Ok I am rambling now, all in all great post. :)

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

another post I'll be refreshing for the rest of the day, to read the continuous comments!

Your original question had to do with being contacted by an author - yes, I look for - Do you know who I am (my name)? Do you know what types of books I've reviewed in the past (if you have a sci-fi, western, or paranormal fiction ... let me give you someone else's name). Can you write an e-mail without spelling or punctuation gaffes? (this might give an indication as to the quality of your finished work), etc.

If the book doesn't seem to be a good "fit" for me and the people who read my blog, I politely decline.

I do believe there's some responsibility on both sides - bloggers need to be truly interested in a book they request for review (granted, it may not be what we expect, or even like it in the end, it's the intention that counts). And, authors need to vet the bloggers they agree to work with (look for those red flags, like someone requesting a book that's been out 5 years, or someone who requests a history book for review on their all-chick-lit-all-the-time blog).

Sorry my comments weren't brief ... I'll see what others are saying ...

Lenore Appelhans said...

Anna - My e-mail is overflowing generally. I have good friends I don't have the time to write back to!

Serena - I know authors are pressed for time too, but it is great when they can say some personal that lets you know they have read at least something on your blog.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Marjolein - When I was first starting out, it was like that for me too. I e-mailed a few authors directly and fortunately they were very very nice! I am so glad they were patient and had faith in me. We all were beginners once!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Kristi (Story Siren) - As I commented on your blog, I'm 100% sure your intentions with IMM were pure. You aren't the one bragging and then not reviewing. I'm glad you decided to keep it and I hope bloggers will be more responsible in the future.

HeatherMarie said...

Ok, this is why I shouldn't type and eat, I get distracted and ramble.

I just wanted to clarify on that whole bookseller issue because I'm afraid it sounded more like I was bragging than I intended it to be. My point was that on occasions when I've met authors in person I've received mixed responses when I tell them I'm a reviewer (before I became a blogger), but if I tell them I'm a bookseller, they seem to instantly love me. lol I had no idea of this effect until I went to a conference a few years ago and Mystery author JA Konrath accidentally sic'd a bunch of authors on me by announcing to an entire room of them that I was a bookseller.

However, sometimes authors have good reason to feel this way about booksellers. My example of Heather Brewer and her Vladimir Tod books is a great one. Back when she was first starting she'd sent out a request via Myspace looking for reviwers, bloggers, booksellers to help promote her new book. I responded because I LOVE vampire books. I loved the book, reviewed it on Internet Book Database (this was before I had my blog), and best of all I made sure we had it in stock at work. We sold 25 friggin copies of that book in HARDCOVER! Of an unknown author! I was so freaking excited and so happy with my co-workers for helping me push Vlad. :)

So yeah, that's my lesson learned. Even if I'm talking to an author/publisher about a book for my blog, I make sure to always let them know that I work in a bookstore too.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Mollie - If you're honest with them, and they still send the books, then no reason for you to feel guilty.

And if the students like the books, they may tell their friends. In any case, the book is out there, hopefully being read and enjoyed.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Jenn - I agree about having a review policy. It pays to keep it updated and in a place that is easy to find as well.

Pussreboots - I also get quite a few books I didn't ask for, but I know that publicists don't expect anything. They just hope. Sometimes these titles catch my eye and I read and review them, other times I pass them on to other reviewers or friends and family.

vvb32 - Pricing is a good point. Would the author rather no one read the book if no one can afford to buy it over a group of friends passing it around, reading it, enjoying it, and recommending it to others? Just because someone will give a book a chance if they can read it for free, doesn't necessarily mean they will pony up the cash to read it. So this isn't necessarily cutting into sales.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Gwendolyn B. - That's so cool that you've been in the know for years! I am sure publishers have a different agenda when it comes to passing out free books than authors do. Passing out a lot of books to eager readers can generate some serious word of mouth, but the kind you really can't measure.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Alice - Not to generalize, but it's usually the self-published authors who send me the most clueless pitches for their books. That they are even sending me an e-mail shows they haven't read my policy...

Chris - YES! We all need to do our homework. Well put!

HeatherMarie - Publishers also have different expecations when it comes to booksellers, so there is probably less (maybe no) obligation to review.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Dawn - You bring up a good point. What if we request a book and it turns out to be something different than we expected? Something we don't like, or something that is offensive even? Do we still have an obligation to read and review it? Would the author prefer us to write and say "Sorry, but I hated this book because e.g. every other word was a profanity"? Worth a whole discussion post probably!

Lenore Appelhans said...

HeatherMarie - That's a wonderful success story! Booksellers who care about books can really work wonders. I love it when friends or blog readers tell me that they bought a book because of my recommendation.

Marie Cloutier said...

Great post, and an important topic. When I get generic requests from authors or publicists, I usually ignore them or reply with something equally generic. If a note is personalized I'm likely to be a little more personal in my response but many of the books I get offered are not appropriate for my blog. Ever since I posted a review policy I've received fewer offers, which is fine with me. I'm not bothered the generic offers but I'm also unlikely to accept them.

Ruth King said...

I've spent the last twenty minutes reading all the great comments here. Very interesting discussion, Lenore.

So far in 2009, I've only accepted three books that were directly pitched to me by authors. It's amazing how many offers I get that are mass e-mails, or contain little to no information about the book. (One of these didn't even include the title of the book. If you can't take the time to type the title, why would I want to take the time to read your book?) But the three books I accepted were from authors who had obviously spent a decent amount of time at my site, and two of them were authors I had read in the past -- BEFORE I started blogging. Neither of these authors knew that I had read (and enjoyed) their previous work before making their pitch, but, because they took the time to do their research, ended up requesting a review from a blogger who was a VERY good fit for them.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Ruth - Exactly why it pays to do research. If the reviwer is a good fit, there is a better chance they'll read AND like your book :)

Elizabeth said...

...Okay, I was totally thinking we were not getting a lot of these spammy emails everyone's talking about, and then I actually checked our blog's email address... [usually my co-blogger's job]

and Oh My Lord. Some of it is as bad as C1aLi$ spam. Also, did you know Michael Phelps wants to make me aware of a new self-published crime novel? ...

Lenore Appelhans said...

Michael Phelps has been writing me too. I thought he'd be more persuasive - alas.

KT Grant said...

I have been very lucky with review requests. Most of the authors who contact me are very friendly and personable. And when they send me their book I will try my best to read and review it in a timely matter.
As for the growing TBR pile... eek...

Lena said...

I'm a YA librarian, not a blogger or author, who reads book blogs to know what to suggest to my teen patrons. I do appreciate the reviews and remember and use the positive ones.

I just want to put in my two cents that I HATE the "in my mailbox" posts that many people are doing. What is the point of them? To brag? That's so boring!

BookChic said...

Lena- For me, the IMM post is not about bragging, nor did Kristi (The Story Siren) intend for it to be that way. It's just a fun way to see what other people are getting and to learn about other books that you may not have known about before. I find out about so many new books through the IMM posts- to me, that's the big point about the posts.

The main gist of my IMM vlogs is this: "I'm so excited to have these books and I can't wait to read them." My love for these books and my love of reading in general should hopefully come across when I do my vlogs. I never brag about anything- that's just stupid and unnecessary. It's probably also the same for most bloggers, I'd imagine.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Hi Lenore, I came here from Elizabeth's blog who linked to yours today. :)

From the POV of an author, I think it's perfectly okay to let an author know you aren't able to review the book he/she e-mails you about because it's not your thing or you are booked or whatever.

I know if it were me, I'd appreciate the honesty rather than having you say - sure, send it - if chances were good you'd never read it.

As for the authors who send out a generic letter to a bunch of reviewers, shame on them. They should be taking the time to get to know the bloggers, what they like and what they don't like, and should write a personal letter. Hopefully that isn't the norm for authors who contact you!!

Sarah Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Miller said...

Doret said: "I do feel the authors frustration, to send a requested arc to a blogger, and not seeing it reviewed. The blogger should at least send an email stating why. The author worked hard on that book and they were kind enough to send it, it just common courtesy "

I disagree. Strongly. I'm all for courtesy, but this idea makes me squirm on multiple fronts. As a blogger, I have no business writing what amounts to a rejection letter for a published book, and as an author, I sure don't want to receive one. I'm neurotic enough without adding a second round of rejections into the publishing gauntlet. If a book doesn't sufficiently appeal to someone, they shouldn't feel obligated to review it. That choice should speak for itself without going into specifics.

Once I had an author follow up with me to find out when I was going to review the book he sent. It was classically amateurish writing, riddled with typographical and grammatical errors. (I'd taken a chance on a self-published book.) But it was a holocaust narrative based on family history. How am I supposed to tell this author that his book is sub-par? I resented being put on the spot that way, and when he pushed for specifics I felt nagged to boot. It's just not a good position for either party.

IMO, as soon as the ARC has been sent, authors should take a hands-off approach. Otherwise you're not getting an impartial review. Sending an ARC is a risk an author has to accept. Professional journals certainly don't review every book they receive, so IMO it's unrealistic to expect bloggers to do the same -- especially since bloggers are often speaking for their own personal taste as opposed to making an objective assessment.

Maybe the courteous thing to do is ask the author at the outset where to send the ARC if you choose not to review it -- then at least it gets a second chance with another reader.