Book Reviewers: Wrong & Right Ways to Solicit Reviews (Part 2)

Book reviewers are an author’s best friend. I’ve discovered over the past couple of years of marketing that book bloggers have an enormous influence over readers’ buying habits. As authors we can’t forget to include reviewers as part of our marketing strategy.

If you're looking for book bloggers, Deborah (from Books, Movies, and Chinese Food) recommended using Book Blogs Search Engine. (Thanks, Deborah!) Through the site, authors can search for specific book bloggers who might be willing to provide reviews.

But what is the best way to ask book reviewers if they’d read and review our books?

Well, first and foremost, we MUST write a praiseworthy book. Enough said.

Second, we’ll likely need to have the means of offering free books to reviewers. Some publishers will giveaway free books for authors (and have review programs). But many authors will need to budget money for the giveaways.

I invited Rel Mollet, a well-known book blogger in the CBA market, to share a few of her insights about soliciting book reviews—the wrong ways and then some right ways.

1. What are some of the ways authors annoy book reviewers? What is the wrong way to go about asking for a review or gaining attention?

Demanding requests, ignoring review policies, haranguing reviewers with how amazing your book is, unrealistic requests (eg. Please read and review my book this week!) and failure to acknowledge a review that has been personally requested. In other words, doing the opposite of the etiquette hints in the next question!

2. What are some ways authors can solicit reviews in a positive way? What is good etiquette in interacting with reviewers?

Be smart about the bloggers you target.

Identify which bloggers/reviewers read and review the genre you write in. Investigate the blogs you are interested in. Are they a respected blogger? Don’t just find a blogger who only posts 5 star reviews or send books to those who only do pro-forma posts. Ask around ~ don't send your YA book to a mummy blogger just because she has kids! Find a blog with a YA focus. Book bloggers know other book bloggers – contact a respected book blogger and ask them to refer you to other well-respected reviewers.

• Look for a review policy.

Most serious book bloggers will have a review policy – read it and respect it! If the policy says the blogger doesn’t review speculative fiction, don’t ask them to read your book on time travel, no matter how amazing it might be! Reviewers will always be impressed that you have taken the time to read their policy. A blatant disregard for their policy is a sure fire way to ensure your request is ignored.

• Write a personal email addressed to the reviewer by name.

A personalized email is courteous and respectful and shows you have actually looked at the reviewer’s blog (as most bloggers will have their name easily accessible). “Dear Blogger” or “Dear Relz Reviewz” is less likely to garner a response. Provide a summary of your book, cover art and indicate a reasonable time frame in which you are hoping for the book to be reviewed. Also, request where you would like it reviewed, on a blog, at Amazon, Goodreads or another location.

• Respond graciously.

Unfortunately, I have had to decline numerous requests for reviews due to a full schedule but that doesn’t mean a writer should never ask that blogger again. Don’t burn future review opportunities by a testy response when a reviewer has had to decline your request.

• Do not send unsolicited copies of your books.

Bloggers have reading and reviewing schedules that are booked solid, often for months into the future. An unsolicited book, just like an unsolicited manuscript, is unlikely to ever be read, let alone reviewed. Don’t waste money on postage without an acknowledgment that the reviewer intends to read your book.

• Do send a gentle reminder.

If you and the reviewer have agreed to a time frame, do not feel bad in following the reviewer up with a gentle reminder. I’m embarrassed to say that there have been times when I have simply forgotten a commitment I’ve made to review a book. I would rather be reminded so I can rectify the situation rather than live in ignorance of my error.

• Consider other options to a review.

A blogger may have other opportunities to publicize you or your book, even if they don’t have time to read your book. Personally, I also do author interviews, character spotlights and character interviews on my blog and that can be a less time consuming way for a blogger to publicize your book. (Some inside information: more often than not, those posts receive more hits than actual book reviews ~ that is certainly true on my blog!)

• Acknowledge the review.

If you have personally requested a review, a thank you is always appreciated via email or DM on Twitter or Facebook, regardless of the reviewer’s opinion of the book. Leaving a comment on the reviewer’s blog, liking the review on Facebook or retweeting a positive review link is another way of showing your appreciation which takes no time at all.

Thank you, Rel, for taking the time to share your insights with us! Head over to Rel’s blog if you’d like to see how she does a Character Spotlight, Author Interview, or Book Review. I was fortunate enough to get all three from Rel for The Doctor’s Lady.

How about you? Other book bloggers, do you have anything to add to Rel's list? And writers, when you think about asking for reviews, what's the most daunting aspect of the process for you? (Asking for the reviews? Giving out free books? Wondering how people will like your book? Other?)


Saturday 10/8: I'm visiting with Catherine Johnson on her blog and sharing how I come up with my plot ideas!


  1. Spend years becoming friends with bloggers and then they'll want to review your book. That is the ideal :o) Great post!

  2. With my debut releasing this May, the most daunting idea of asking for a review is the review itself. I'm hoping readers will enjoy my book, but you just never know until the responses start coming, you know?

  3. Hey Rel - I tried to click on the Contact page on your blog and for some reason it's not working. Have you had any other complaints? It might just be my computer. Thanks!

  4. Hi ladies! Yes, Jessica I think those friendships we develop through social media can help. My friends/followers have gone out of their way to support my books and review them on their blogs. But I didn't know a lot of book bloggers until my book actually released. And then I realized a whole other set of bloggers is out there who specifically read and review books. And now I'm becoming more familiar with them and how they operate.

    Katie, I can totally relate to being nervous about how your book is going to be received. I think that is one of the toughest aspects and most stressful of book release time!

  5. Katie ~ I'll check that out right now. You can contact me at relzreviewz at gmail dot com :)

  6. I feel like Rel and I are the same person because she's pretty much said everything that I would say! I totally agree, I cannot recommend reading and using book blogger's review policy. If they say they don't accept self-pub, don't email saying, I know you say you don't read self pub but you haven't read mine yet! Don't send them PDF files of your book in your pitch letter if they say don't review e-books. Also if a blogger doesn't reply you back, don't take it as an insult. As Rel said, many of us have extremely full schedules already and sometimes if the book doesn't fit our policy, we don't respond.

    One more thing that I would add would be for authors, if you get a negative review from a book blogger. Please do not try to make the blogger change their mind. Don't write snippy comments on their blog or on YOUR blog. Not everyone is going to like your book (I know..that sounds horrible) and there is always going to be at least one person who doesn't. I try to be very gracious when I write a negative review, but sometimes I just don't like it. And since I review or put up a DNF (did not finish) post on every book I read, that means the Good, the Bad and the Ugly will be talked about. I once had an author tell me that she appreciated my somewhat negative review and thanked me for reading it and the other books in the series. I thought everything was fine until I found out she was talking about me indirectly negatively on her blog AND in person to other authors! Needless to say, I don't have anything to do with that author anymore.

    Thank you so much Jody for these awesome posts and highlighting book bloggers!

  7. Thanks for all the helpful information, Rel! I'm just starting to think about requesting reviews, so this was perfectly-timed.

    As a self-pubber, I think the biggest obstacles for me are reviewers who don't accept self-pubbed books (which I do understand, they're riskier and there's so much to read anyway) and having to pony up the money to send out books. But I think my strategy will be to put a decent percentage of my ebook sales (given I make sales...) into sending out review copies for a time. We'll see how that turns out!

  8. Katie ~ my contact link seems to be working okay for me.

    Deb ~ thanks for your comments :) Makes me happy to know I've represented my fellow bloggers/reviewers well!

    Thanks again, Jody, for the opportunity to share :)

  9. Hi MK ~ yes, I agree, it is especially difficult for self pubbed authors as many reviewers have a blanket policy not to review self published novels. That makes it even more important to target your reviewers well and build relationships through twitter and FB.

    Wishing you the very best :)

  10. Oh and there will also probably be times when a book blogger FINDS you and wants to know if they can get a copy of your book to review. I personally haven't cold requested an author in a long time but if you don't have ARCs or review copies to give yourself, be sure to pass on your publisher or publicist's contact info to the blogger so they can get a copy for review.

  11. GREAT Post!! Thanks for the time you spent answering these questions Rel. I agree with Deborah in everything both of you said!!

    You are right too about doing author interviews and other things when you don't have time to read the book! I too get more responses to author interviews than book reviews on my site!

    THANKS to everyone that posted here. GREAT information. You've put into words what I believe. THANKS!!

    Nora St.Laurent
    The Book Club Network

  12. Great advice, Rel. It's amazing how much of these relationships come down to common courtesy. But what's even more amazing is how rare common courtesy has become. Maybe we should start calling it uncommon courtesy. ;-)

    Thanks, Jody for a great series of posts. And thanks to Rel and Deborah for letting us peek behind the curtain.

  13. Having just gone through this, I can vouch for this being spot on! And thank you for the link to the book bloggers search engine. Very nice!

    I had a question though, and was curious what your take on it would be. On #yalitchat the other night there was a discussion about authors commenting on book bloggers sites when they review. Some bloggers seemed to think it was GREAT, others not so much. This isn't something usually stated in their policies, so what's an author to do? I love to comment, but I don't want to crowd out readers or taint the process, so it seems prudent to keep my distance (while thanking via email). What's your take?

    Thanks for the great post!

  14. Hi Jody,

    That was brilliant! I'm just starting looking at potential reviewers and feeling a bit overwhelmed. Your post has given me a lot more confidence in knowing where to start and what to look out for.



  15. Rel and Jody,

    Does the publisher usually let the author know where they are sending the ARCs? I don't want to assume that Rel is getting a copy, but I don't want to duplicate the marketing department's contacts or annoy a fantastic blogger. :) (And yes, I'm working on an influencer list. That's completely separate from ARCs, right?)

    Thank y'all for doing this interview. I'm bookmarking it.

  16. Susan, I'm curious to hear the answer to your question too. I often try to pop over to blogs that review my book and leave a comment. Now I'm curious if book reviewers like that or would rather have a personal email.

    And Regina, many of the big CBA book bloggers do get books directly from publishers that have review programs (and Bethany House does). Therefore, I generally use my author copies to give to blogger friends who may want to interview me or be apart of a blog tour or help promote the book in some other way. Hope that helps!

  17. I always appreciate your practical/applicable information, Jody! I'm bookmarking this page!

  18. Jody and Rel, you ladies rock! Thank y'all so much for a great 2-post series that will hopefully help a lot of authors when it comes to requesting reviews from bloggers. :o)

    Susan asked a question about leaving an author leaving a comment on a review. Personally, I love to see those on my blog. I don't mind if I get a response through FB or Twitter saying thanks, but there's nothing like having that public acknowledgement on your blog for others to see in the future. It only takes two seconds, and it is so meaningful esp. to a person who reviews books left and right. Just to know that my opinion is appreciated is such an encouragement.

    One more tidbit on this same topic.... On the flip side, nothing is more frustrating than to get no response. Now, I understand that some authors have schedules busier than I could ever dream of, and other authors don't even have a social presence other than their website. In those cases, I don't expect a response because they're not interacting with their readers online. But if I've tagged you on FB or Twitter about a review of your book, please acknowledge it and send a thank you. I'm more likely to continue reviewing your future novels if you do.

  19. @Jody and @Christy Thanks for your answers to my question! I would always thank a reviewer via email, but it's the public visit to the blog that I worry about. I wish I knew each blogger's preference (esp since I love dropping in)! I know several authors that won't visit just as a matter of policy, because they don't want to "crowd in" or inhibit the reader interaction in any way. So I can see that side of it too.

  20. Thanks so much, Jody and Rel, for sharing this info. As a book reviewer and hopefully future fiction author, this advice is timely and appreciated.

    Have a great weekend!

  21. I don't usually get many ARCs from Christian publishers. Most of my ARCs are general market publishers, mostly from the Big 6. A lot get sent unsolicited so I'm pretty choosy about which ones I read. But I do like getting the ARCs wayyy in advance so I can schedule ahead. For Christian pubs, mine mainly come from either blog tours or author influence lists. I actually don't really like the blogger programs that the Christian publishers use. I think a lot of them tend to generate blogs that only review one publisher and the blogs aren't very professional and the person seems to be only trying to get free books. I would much rather be pitched by the publisher/author or request myself which I find a lot of Christian pubs just won't do.

    As for comments, I have no problems with authors responding! Though I will admit if I've written a meh to negative review, it's always a bit of a uh-oh grimace when the author does comment.

  22. Rel has hit the nail right on the head with all of these as a book blogger I can definitely relate to some of those do's and dont's that she mentioned. The thing I hate the most is receiving unsolicted books. I'm glad that someone obviously thought enough of my blog and reviews to want to send me their book but I'm always usually pressed for time and sometimes the book is something that I'm not interested in AT ALL! It only takes a few minutes to send an email with a few details about the book and the worst thing I can say is sorry I don't think I'll have the time or I don't think your book is for a short email is a money saver in the long run!

  23. Thanks for jumping into the discussion, everyone! It's great to see the varying thoughts!

    Christy, I appreciate hearing that it's frustrating not to get a response from an author. (I can see a future blog post arising out of that!) Personally, I think it's good etiquette to visit blogs that take the time promote you or review your book. Sometimes, however, I don't always get notifications of blogs that review or mention me (even with my google alert!). So if I've ever neglected a blogger, I sincerely apologize!

  24. Great post. I agree with everything point that Rel made.

    A personal touch, showing that someone has taken the time to try and ensure that their book is the right fit for that particular blog, and understanding that an immediate turnaround isn't always possible.

    And if a book is turned down, a snarky response actually ends up hurting other authors. It could result in that blogger just not responding to any requests they aren't planning on accepting.

    I agree that guest posts, interviews, character interviews or giveaways are great ways to help promote your book if you see that the blogger is not accepting review requests!

    Thanks so much for this post! It makes me feel a lot less alone in my thinking that while blogs may be less formal, a request for review should be approached with at least a base-level of professionalism.

    And that letters starting with "Dear Blogger" or "Hi, here's my book. When can you review it? I need a blurb by next week," just don't feel professional or considerate. Bloggers are people too!

  25. Morning! I see you have been busy commenting while I have been sleeping - LOL!

    Nora ~ good to see her here :) So glad I have represented other blogger/reviewers, like you, well :)

    Karen ~ "uncommon courtesy"! Sad but true.

    Susan ~ great question! As you have discovered, it may be different for each blogger. Personally, I welcome author comments on my blog, particularly if the post is an author interview or a character spotlight, when it enables my readers to interact with the author.

    Check out my recent interview with the lovely Julie Lessman and you will get the idea!

    Hi Juliet, so glad to know this was helpful to you :)

    Regina ~ I imagine every publisher has a different policy with regard to distribution of their ARCs so I'd check with yours to find out what it might be. You can't assume certain bloggers will receive ARCs - I mostly receive final copies, which suits me fine. A reputable blogger will let you know if they are receiving a copy of your book directly from the publisher or publicist so they don't end up with two copies.

    The influencer/reviewer question is a good one, not many understand. If you are asking someone to be an influencer, they should be providing you with a positive review/take on your book. If you are requesting a review, there is no guarantee of a positive review, as it should be. It is important that authors clarify when requesting a review if they are seeking an influencer/endorsement review or not.

    Karen ~ thanks for the encouragement, pleased we could be of some help to you :)

    Fiktshun ~ good to see your thoughts :) Thanks for sharing.

  26. Rel is absolutely right about the importance of etiquette. Bloggers are not faceless people in a virtual world, so a personalized email goes a long way (and honestly will garner a quicker response). If an author/PR rep requests a review from me, then I am assuming they value my opinion, quality of my reviews and the time commitment that goes into the review.

    Pro-forma posts work to get the information about your book out to readers, but I find that personalized reviews (NOT summaries) garner the best response. Readers want to know WHY the book is worth reading, not just re-read a description on a dozen different sites. If you have prepared a pro-forma post, request that a blogger accompany it with a personal review.

    Amazing post once again ladies!

  27. I've bookmarked this post for future use! Thanks so much for the practical advice.

  28. Good comment, Lydia, on personalising reviews. They are so much more effective than just "information".

    So glad the post was practical and helpful, Julie :) Thanks for your comment.

  29. Great advice. While I don't have any published books *yet*, I've saved this post for future reference. Thanks for sharing these tips. :-)

  30. This is exactly what I was looking for today. Thank you!


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