The Do’s and Don’ts of Asking for Reviews

by Carien Ubink

It’s important to get reviews, but if you ask in the wrong way, your request might be deleted right away. So here are some do’s and don’ts when asking a blogger or fellow author for a review.

Do your research.

This means you need to have a good look at the blog/site/profile of the person you want to ask for a review.

Check if they read and review the genre you’re writing in. If you ask someone to review a Fantasy Romance when all they read is Historical Romance the chance of getting rejected or even ignored is high.

Also, check if they have a review policy posted somewhere. If it says they’re closed for new requests, or that they only accept print books (when you only have digital review copies), you will waste your time, and theirs, by sending them a review request.

Do be personal if you can.

Don’t use a template that seems personal, but isn’t. Reviewers know that when you say “your website is very interesting and unique” without explaining why, you’re saying this to all of the reviewers you contact. If you have researched them, it will be easy to include something you liked, like a recent review (or picture in case of Instagram). 

When you do copy/paste requests, please check that you changed all crucial information. Nothing gets your email deleted faster than sending “Hi Emma, I just love your website. It is so unique,” to someone named Sullivan (yes, I have received emails like that more than once).

If you must send out a group email, make sure to put all email addresses in the BCC of your email and fill out your own email address in the TO field. Most people don’t like it if you send their email address to strangers.

Don’t spam bloggers if you don’t receive a reply. A second email asking them if they received your first email won’t change their mind if they already deleted the first. If you feel that your email might have gotten lost, check if the reviewer mentioned a response time to requests on their blog or website. If they do, and it’s been longer than they mention, you can inquire. If that email doesn’t get an answer either, let it go.

Be clear in your email about what you have to offer: Do you offer a print or digital review copy? What formats do you have available? How can the reviewer get that review copy? Add the cover and the blurb to your email. Make it easy for the reviewer to find all the information they need about your book to make a decision. The more reviewers have to work to learn about your book, the more likely you are to lose them. 

Don’t bug the reviewer if your book does not get read and reviewed right away.

A lot of us have daunting TBR mountains and it might take time to get to your book. If you want a timely review, make sure to mention this in your initial request, so the reviewer can take this into account when deciding if they want to accept. If they do not meet the time frame you agreed to, you can always decide to not ask the reviewer again for a next release.

Don’t freak out if you do not get a 5 star review.

Most reviewers don’t think about ratings in the same way as authors. Where an author sees a 3 star review as a negative rating, most reviewers will see this as a reasonable rating. After all, Goodreads says 3 stars means “I liked it.” Don’t ask a reviewer to defend their rating or to change it. Again: you can always decide to not ask the reviewer for a next release.

Do NOT argue with a reviewer in the comments and do not publicly badmouth a reviewer.

Vent in private to your friends or fellow authors, but do not name and shame a reviewer online. You might not see it, but there is a power imbalance. Naming a reviewer in a negative light might send zealous fans after the reviewer. Also: reviewers will remember! There’s one author who used to be on my auto-buy list, but isn’t anymore, because of how she talked about some reviewers online.

Know that many readers don’t trust books that only have 5 star ratings. Having lower ratings, as well as 5 star ratings, makes the 5 star rating look more believable. If a reader looks at both high and low ratings, they’re more likely to come away with a fuller picture of the book and how it may appeal to them. What one person hates, another might love. I myself follow one reviewer with a taste opposite of mine. If she gives a book 1 star, it immediately ends up on my wish list.

Do keep connections.

If the reviewer liked your book and gave it a high rating, don’t hesitate to ask them if they’d like to be added to your list of reviewers for future releases. Most reviewers are as passionate about books as you are, and if they love your book they will happily help you promote your work however they can. Nurture these relationships by always being considerate and being generous when you’re able.

Carien Ubink has been an avid reader since she was a kid, when her mother and grandmother took her to the library. A native of The Netherlands, she learned English in order to finish reading her favorite U.S. fantasy series that weren’t translated past the first book. She has been reviewing since 2009 under the alias Sullivan McPig at Pearls Cast Before a McPig. When she’s not reading, she’s gaming, working at a game shop in Groningen, and being an author assistant for Jeffe Kennedy.