Authors, we must do better!

I’m writing this post following a rather disconcerting conversation I had with my talented book blogger friends, Megan and Laura. We were chatting about our general experiences of blogging when they told me some horrifying tales concerning how certain authors engage with them.

For me, the most alarming aspect was the audacious tone some authors use when contacting them and their fellow bloggers. A review request from an author/publicist is exactly that; a request, not a demand. Yet lots of bloggers receive literally hundreds of messages a month demanding that the recipient purchase their books and promptly write them a review. A link to the book’s Amazon page is usually included.

I was stunned when I first heard this; if you’re asking someone to produce a piece of work for you (a review) then you should at least offer a free review copy of your book. Otherwise, you’re essentially asking someone to work x amount of hours for you, and saying that they should pay you £y for the privilege. Obviously, people buy books and write reviews all the time, but, as an author, if you’re contacting someone directly and asking them to produce one, I personally think offering a review copy is the very least you can do.

Apparently, only around one in twenty requests are polite, include an offer of a review copy, and are addressed directly to the blogger. Some authors even attach an e-copy to their request – again, this is a big mistake. It creates the impression that you’re assuming a blogger will read your book, and implies that you want the minimal dialogue possible with said blogger: just read my book and don’t bother me with a reply.

Other gripes (particularly from indies, I’m sad to report) include constantly messaging to demand that a review be posted faster (bloggers have lives too, you shouldn’t really put a timescale on these things), failing to acknowledge a review that is posted (a thank you message only takes a few seconds) and neglecting to help with promotion (Retweets, Facebook posts etc).

Obviously, I’m not perfect and it’s taken me a while to get in sync with the way the blogging world works. But some of these instances really do defy common sense as well as common courtesy. As authors, we need book bloggers so, so much. They talk about our books and actually give us a chance of achieving some measure of success. On top of that, they talk to each other. If you treat one book blogger badly, others will soon know about it, diminishing your reputation. And beyond being professional, we’re all book lovers at heart, aren’t we? You don’t want to throw away the chance to make some new bookish friends!

A helpful article on approaching book bloggers properly can be found via Jenny in Neverland.

23 thoughts on “Authors, we must do better!

  1. Great post! As a blogger I’ve been pretty lucky that everyone who approached me has been nice but friends have had bad experiences. One friend told her contacts that her dad was terminally ill which would delay reviews and an author replied ‘Surely that doesn’t require all your time, I’m on a schedule here’ which was horrific!

  2. Great post, Jack, this is good advice for all authors to remember. Authors behaving this ways shocks me too, and hurts the whole community. I’m sorry for Chucklesthescot’s friend and any other reviewers that get hounded.
    If I may, I will add two more suggestions for the authors. (Both work for me)
    1) If the blogger has a bio or a review policy, read it! That way the author can connect with people who will naturally be interested in reading their book. This is especially important if you write works with adult content. (2) Please, do not reply to a review with ANYTHING other than a thank you note.

    1. Great additions!! Especially the review policy part, if authors bothered to read these before sending requests things would be much better 🙂

  3. Great post! I’ve been approached several times. I think it’s important to remember the context of where you’re meeting your potential reviewers. If you’re on a networking site, the people around you are colleagues not customers. I usually reply to ‘aggressive salespeople’ wanting me to purchase their book with the offer for a trade.
    This isn’t without it’s own pitfalls but it can help the other person realize the situation should be mutually beneficial. The most important aspect is to state your expectations and the standards to which you’ll fulfill your review of their book. You don’t want to spend hours on a several paragraph review and receive a “Great book. I liked it.” in return. I’ve received some of my best reviews this way.
    Though its easy, and sometimes necessary, to stop all communication with such people, it’s often just a case of ignorance. Some people need a gentle reminder that you’re just like them.

    1. They are such Brilliant points, Meg, a trade is a really good idea. I think the idea of laying out your expectations is also important – people are usually quite accommodating if the understand the situation!

  4. FANTASTIC post Jack! Everything you said is completely 100% right and it’s good to hear it from an author too! Thanks for linking my post, hoping to spread the word even more! 🙂 xxx

  5. This is really helpful Jack. I have a foot in both camps at the moment as I blog about my writing and review books, but am about to publish my first novel. I have to say I’ve found the book blogging world to be so helpful and supportive so far. SD
    http://www.sandradanby.com/

    1. I’m the same – foot in both camps, you get a really good sense of the problem from our position. It was just the proportion of it that shocked me!

  6. Good points Jack. Politeness is, of course, essential.
    I find that most book bloggers say that they won’t review indie authors in their policy and I guess this is the unhappy result of a deluge of requests. A shame. It’s us indie authors that really need the reviews. Traditionally published authors have agents and PR teams to help – we have no-one.

  7. Wow – I’m really stunned to hear that authors could be so abrasive regarding reviews. And as for expecting the reviewer to buy the book… what’s that about? I’m continually heartened by the wonderful book bloggers out there who take the time and take a chance on your book. Seeing as they don’t get paid for their efforts, the least you can do is offer them a free copy of your book. There are so many books out there, so I think if you want to build up a loyal readership, your first priority should be to build a good reputation among the blogging community. Well done for highlighting this issue 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment, Evie – you’ve hit the nail on the head. There are so many books out there, and so authors need to prioritise building up a good relationship with bloggers/readers. Not only that of course, it’s just common courtesy!

  8. It makes my heart sink to read articles like this, because then all us Indies get tarred with the same brush. None of the authors I know would behave in such a way, but its obviously happening and its shameful. Guess we Indies just have to work harder to prove they are a minority, and hope book bloggers out there realise this. In the end, these guys are just shooting themselves in the foot…

  9. Well done, Jack!!!! I hear all sorts like this from my book blogger friends Ali and Rosie, too. One horrible man slagged Rosie off on her own blog comments, and on Goodreads, for giving him a 3* review that wasn’t even that bad – I can tell you, I laid into him!!!! Also, so many writers just expect their book to be reviewed but to do nothing to support the blog – they only get in touch or read or pass on any of the bloggers’ posts when they want their own new book reviewed…..

    1. Thanks Terry! Yeah, I was very sad to hear what it’s like for book bloggers as they work so hard 🙁 I’m so glad you laid into that guy, I hope he changed his tune?!

  10. Great post Jack, I love reviewing books and have met some really great authors many of whom are now really good friends and support my blog and all my mad ideas. I’ve had authors who only use me for their review and I never hear from them again which is a shame and of course I had the one author mentioned by Terry above who basically went ballistic at me going as far as “reviewing” my review and telling me I was not intelligent enough to read his book and saying I would have failed at a GCSE English exam in the matter, and yes he did ask me to read and review his book in the first place. Lucky for me I have lots of lovely supportive friends when I need them most. I shall be sharing your post.

    1. That’s so bad about the GCSE guy!! The only solace I suppose is that Any bloggers who saw what he was doing/saying will know not to review him. Thank goodness for nice supportive friends!!

  11. What a timely reminder, Jack. Well done you! I can’t believe people can be so arrogant, but then maybe I can. I shall share this around for sure as I think all indie authors should read what you’ve got to say!

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