Something that keeps surprising me as a blogger is when authors contact me and offer me their books for review. Me, a little spot on the community, receive and review your work? Truly amazing… and also nerve-wracking.
How do I say no?
Do I write a nice review to show I’m grateful?
Am I being rude if I rate it poorly?
As a small and fairly new blogger, I thought nobody would care to send me a copy of their book. To my surprise, I’ve received a fair amount of requests and, in the process, I’ve learned a thing or two about what to do when authors approach us. I am not an expert by any means, but if you are starting out as a book blogger, this might help you out a little.
I’ll tell you how I respond to review requests and what I do when I don’t like the books. Hopefully, you won’t be as lost as I was.
HOW TO RESPOND
Depending on your style and the time you have, you might choose to go one of these ways:
- State in your review policy that you only respond to requests you are interested in.
- Answer the e-mails you are interested in and ignore the rest.
- Reply to all the e-mails you get by having both negative and positive responses ready.
Although at first I first I got excited and felt honored to receive review requests, I soon realized that I couldn’t read all those books. Firstly, I don’t have enough time and secondly, if I accept a book I’m not interested in, I’m going to rate it poorly and give it a negative review, which is no fun for me and it isn’t great for the author either.
In my case, I felt compelled to answer all e-mails and I soon struggled with the negative responses. Despite the simplicity of the message, it took me a while to figure out how to say no without feeling bad or rude. The response usually went like this, although it changed a bit depending on each case and author’s e-mail.
Hi there Author’s Name,
I really appreciate you considering me and my blog. Unfortunately, I don’t think the book is a good fit for me. Thank you anyway!
All the best,
So, is it always necessary to respond? Nope. It depends on what each blogger wants to do. Some authors truly appreciate getting a message back because they know whether to expect a review or discard your blog, but it is not our obligation to do it.
I SAID YES AND DIDN’T LIKE IT. NOW WHAT?
I will never state anything other than my real opinion on my reviews. I don’t see the point in lying, despite understanding why others might do so. If I don’t like a book, I have my reasons and I will state them respectfully. Still, I was not exactly prepared to handle negative reviews from a book an author had personally given me.
Normally when writing reviews you never truly expect the author to actually read them. It’s usually about other readers getting to know how you felt about that particular work. But when it comes to requested reviews, the authors are right around the corner waiting to catch them, take them apart and—worst-case scenario for someone as nervous as me—even get back to you. That’s why being respectful is so important.
TRIAL AND ERROR
Here’s a little story. I said yes to a book I shouldn’t and I wasn’t enjoying it, so I didn’t finish it. I felt like I owed the author an explanation and wrote a short negative review stating why and then decided to give it one star on Goodreads.
Imagine my horror one morning when I see the author’s disappointed response on my e-mail. He said I wasn’t being fair and that I didn’t uphold my ratings’ policy. He was right. One star meant the worst and that wasn’t the case. Besides some issues I had with it, the main problem was that the book wasn’t my style and I was bound to dislike it.
I never should have said yes to reviewing that book, but I felt I was showing how grateful I was they had contacted me. That’s when I learned how to say no. I took the rating off of Goodreads and left the review, which is what ultimately felt fair to me.
So, I clearly don’t have everything figured out, but from cases like that I’ve learned a few things. It’s definitely trial and error. I think it’s important to read what we want, review as we truly feel, and always be respectful. That’s how authors grow, books get better, and bloggers keep true to themselves.