How to Approach Reviewers
Sometimes, it can be scary to ask people for things. Even asking reviewers to review something can be daunting because what if they say no? What if they say yes, and then write a scathing review of the book?
I think that a lot of authors decide that the best method of contacting reviewers is to quickly spam message them. Find a reviewer, locate a way to contact them, then send a title and blurb along with a request. The time investment is minimal, and so is the fear of rejection because there are hundreds of other reviewers to contact next in line.
However, this is a faulty approach. Sure, you might get a few responses, but there will also be reviewers who now cringe at the sight of your book because you didn't take the time to research them or to consider what information they might need to make an informed decision about reviewing your book.
Just like an author shouldn't contact an editor or agent without researching them first, you also shouldn't contact a reviewer without learning a few things about them to start.
1) Does this reviewer read and review in my genre?
A reviewer might have read one book in your genre and you have seen them post about it on twitter or goodreads, but that doesn't mean that they review that genre on a regular basis. Individuals read what they want to read, but reviewers tend to stick to one or two genre's for their blogs/sites so that they can build a following of their own.
2) Is this reviewer open for requests?
This question may or may not be answered on their blog/website. But make sure you have checked all the main pages to see if they have indicated one way or the other.
3) Does this reviewer have any requirements about how to submit to them?
Some reviewers want you to comment on their website, others want an email, and then there are those who might have a form. Read their blog/website carefully to find the answer to this question or your request may be missed/ignored.
Once you have answered these questions and determined that the reviewer is both open for requests and a good fit for your book, you can contact them. Keep in mind their special requirements, however you most likely will be able to just use the following list of information:
-A simple greeting.
-Mention how you learned about them.
-The title of your book.
-When/if it has been released.
-The first couple pages of the book (or) an amazon link they can follow to read a sample.
-A statement of appreciation for their time.
Those sample pages are an element which I believe most authors overlook. Some reviewers may not care and will decide whether or not to review a story based solely on the blurb, however many others will pass on a book if they cannot determine what the writing quality is.
It is an extremely painful position for a reviewer to be in where they have accepted a book for review, then after receiving it discover that the writing (NOT the story) doesn't meet their expectations. At that point, they will have to contact the author and inform them of this fact, which no one wants to have to do. Especially when every reviewer who has worked with indie authors for some time has had an author argue with them or respond hostilely to a negative review.
Do not be that author.
Every reviewer who has worked with indie authors for some time has had an author argue with them or respond hostilely to a negative review.
It is still possible that a reviewer will read a writing sample, accept a book, and then determine that the story is deserving of a negative review. However, offering a sample reduces this chance and ultimately saves time and headache for both parties.
Other things to remember:
-Just because a reviewer works/volunteers in a specific field, does not mean they want to read a book that involves that field of work. They are in fact more likely to avoid such books because they often get the specifics of the job wrong. You should be able to tell whether or not they do enjoy such books based on their past reads.
-Just because a reviewer is of a particular faith does not mean that they will make an exception to their rules or preferred genres. A Christian lover of fantasy will not automatically enjoy a Christian historical fiction novel, and they may not wish to read Christian works at all. Same for other religions.
-Having a request for a review turned down does not necessarily mean that the reviewer believes that your book was poorly written/boring, ect. It may just mean that they already have a long list of books they have accepted and they simply do not have the time to take on yours. If a reviewer offers this as a reason, please do not try to argue that they are welcome to get to your story "whenever". While this may initially seem like a way to ease the pressure for the reviewer by letting them know you aren't in a hurry, it is actually not respecting the fact that the reviewer already said "no" and that the reviewer knows what sort of work/life load they already carry and that they have to place limits on what they agree to.
-Always be polite and remember that while you are providing free books to reviewers, they are providing a free service to authors.
What about you? Are their any tips you have for working with reviewers? Or is there anything from this post you plan to use in the future? And are there any other questions about the reviewing process you would like answered?