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A Question: Dealing with Unsolicited Review Requests

I didn't start a blog to get free books, in fact it never occurred to me that free books/ARCs/etc were even an option. I don't get a lot of ARC offers but I have recently received a bit of a rash of them in the following ways:

  • Requests from authors
  • Requests from publishers
  • Gifts of a book through Amazon from an author (with the offer to buy something else if I don't want her book)
Some of the books sound good to me, but many are books that aren't in my areas of interest. So here are my questions:
  1. Do you respond to all the people that contact you about book offers?
  2. What do you say if you aren't interested at all in the book being offered?
  3. Do you cash in the Amazon offer with another book if you aren't interested in the one being offered?
  4. Any other tips for me?
Thank you very much!


Cass said...

I know it might be kind of skeevish, but if I'm not interested, I don't reply. Simple.

As I live in Australia, many of the books that ARE pitched to me that I'm interested in, don't get very far. Once I reply back saying I live in Aus, I never hear back a reply. :/

Jen at Introverted Reader said...

I stopped accepting books for review for a couple of reasons. That said, I never got a lot of review requests, but here's what I think.

I initially tried to respond to them all. After a while, I stopped responding to the ones who couldn't be bothered to at least address me personally, or who obviously hadn't bothered to read my review policy (i.e., offering me a self-help book when that was not on my list of accepted genres). If they can't take the time to read my policy, I'm not taking the time to respond. Harsh? Maybe. It feels fair to me though.

Once or twice, I pointed them in the direction of another blogger who had the review book on their to-read list on GoodReads. Other than these, if I wasn't interested, I responded as politely as I could that I didn't think this was the book for me but I wished them well with their publication and thanked them for thinking of me.

Something about the Amazon offer sounds a little fishy, but I don't know anything at all about it.

My unsolicited advice is to stick to what truly sounds interesting to you. You don't want reading to start to feel like work! Hope that helps!

Lindsay Cummings author said...

most of the book review requests, from the selfpubs at least, are spammed out to every blogger.

for this reason, i don't answer them. especially if the book doesn't interest me at all! I don't want to review something that EVERYONE will be reviewing, and i especially don't want to review a book that i already know i won't like!

Book Dragon said...

I don't respond if I'm not interested anymore. I am a mood reader so I'm not able to say no to specifics, just individual titles.

I didn't blog for most of 2010 because reading became a chore :( so stick to your guns about what you'll accept.

Oh, if the email is to me specifically, I double check that it says "please reply if you are interested" and not "let me know"

I don't know if that helps any...I currently have a wall of shame page and 15 books have been added to it so far this year!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Cass--Not responding sound so appealing I'll give it a try

Jen--I don't have a review policy, but maybe I should. I am not taking on books I don't want to, but so far I am ignoring the emails. I just haven't deleted them

Lindsay--I'll check all the emails to see if they are personalized or seem to have been sent out to a ton of bloggers

Book Dragon--Nice touch on looking for "please reply if interested", thank you

Athira said...

I'm glad you asked this because lately I've been finding this a bother too. I don't reply to a review request if I'm not interested in the book. That said, there are a couple of publicity agents I've worked with in the past and even if they suggest a book I don't want to read (rarely happens), I get back to them. I initially started out replying to everyone but now I don't get the time at all. Look at it this way too - if we contact a publicity agent about a book we are interested in, they may not get back to us always. So it's perfectly ok, we don't have that much time anyways.

I'll just say accept a book if you're interested in it. ARCs sound cool in the early days of blogging. Then reality sets in. They're still cool, but there's also the Mt. TBR.

JoV said...

I haven't receive many requests, but if there is an offer, I'll usually take them.... and ending up feeling pressurised instead!

Having said that if you are inundated with offers, you should ask about the title and if you want to read it, otherwise kindly reject the requests would be the best thing to do, until they find something you really want to read!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aths and JoV--I only take on books that I think I'll really like, but I am learning that I don't have to respond to every email request. I have a difficult time with that since it feels rude. :-)

Stephanie @ Read In a Single Sitting said...

If it's clearly not targeted to my site and they haven't read my guidelines, I ignore them.

If they're properly targeted I'll get respond, but I will decline if they don't work for me.

I receive a *lot* of unsolicited review copies from publishers, and they tend to get pushed to the bottom of my TBR pile, as I try to read the ones I've requested or agreed to review first.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Stephanie--Good advice, thank you! I do feel guilty when someone sends books I didn't ask for then I don't get to them. They stare at me from my TBR shelf....

Deb said...

Dear Helen,
It's a puzzle today about books being published by and for whom. I'm always on the lookout for good books whether through the best publishing houses to the smallest private publishing houses, to the authors, themselves.
I read "Fountainhead" by Ayan Rand when I was in my 20's and have never forgotten what she said about the citizens allowing critics to make up their minds about what is and what's not good art (and literature). I feel great when an author asks me to read his/her book. It's an opportunity to step out of the pack and really have an opinon that will shape the expectations of others.

All that by way of saying that I believe treasures can be found in the most surprising places, and I generally do "listen" to what publishers and authors are wanting to send me to review.
I am quite picky, though. I tell them which books I'd like to read. Some things just aren't appealing to me and I kindly say so. And, I always tell them my "100 page rule"...I'll only read 100 pages, and if I find for any reason the book doesn't appeal at that juncture, I will not continue and will not review it.
Authors and their publishers have been most gracious to me in the past, and I find nothing wrong with assisting new and experienced authors with getting the news out about their books. I love reading books and I love telling people about them. I'm devoted to my readers and I'd never lead them wrong in the reviews, so if I have books sent to me that aren't appealing...I give them to a lending library or something of the sort and everyone's happy! :]

If you don't want your author and publishers...send them my way!
Email:thebookishdame at aol dot com

Hugs, I'm serious!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Deborah--Dont' get me wrong, I do like getting requests from authors and publishers and am by no means against small publishers and self-published authors contacting me. Just recently I've gotten overwhelmed with offers of book I have no interest in. I guess it's time to post a review policy? Maybe that will help.