A Letter to Aspiring Book Reviewers A Blog Series

5: Responding to Book Review Requests:

You’re reading now. You’re reading a lot. If you do too much in one sitting, if you read too many blurbs and previews, one after the other, you may find that instead of reading with a sense of hopeful anticipation, you are beginning to feel impatient and maybe you’ve started dismissing books without giving them a fair chance to capture your imagination. If you find yourself in this situation, you can give yourself a break while still making progress. You can respond to some of the authors who requested reviews of books that you’ve decided not to review.

Previously I mentioned that you should draft a “form-letter” for this purpose. Such a letter is not at all satisfying to an author, believe me, I know. But I appreciate both the courtesy and the professionalism that such a letter demonstrates. Your letter, at minimum you should state:

Dear Author,

Thank you for the offer to review your work. I’m sorry, but the work doesn’t seem right for me at this time.

I wish you all the best,
YOUR NAME
YOUR BLOG URL

Keep in mind, that like you, authors will continue to hone their craft and develop their skills. Someday you may want to review their work, so be sure to remain respectful and professional in your correspondence. If you want to include specific reasons you are refusing a work, you certainly may do so, but we all understand that a reviewer’s work is time consuming and personalized replies are not required or expected. If you do include more personal comments, be courteous and respectful.

Once you’ve sent a few responses, you can go back to your list and keep going. You’re looking for a gem. You’re looking for a story that excites you and captures your imagination. Keep going until you’ve found a work with some real promise. Pause often. Take breaks. Stay fresh. It doesn’t matter if it takes a week or even two to find that book. You will find it, and when you do…

If you are using Kindle Unlimited, all you need to do once you’ve found a book with promise, is to read it. You do not need to contact the author at this point, in fact you shouldn’t. Eventually you will need to do so in order to request the media kit for your blog, but for the time being, all you need to do is explore the potential of this one book. Don’t agree to review a book based on the fact that it has promise. Read it, then decide. Let the book prove itself to be good enough to warrant a three, four, or five star review. Anything less than three stars does not serve your purpose.

Of course, reading to review, and reading for pleasure is not quite the same thing. In the next post I’ll discuss the how to “Read to Review.” I’ll offer a few pointers that will help you make it easier to craft excellent reviews. How do we define excellence in a review? Come back next time and find out.

-J

Suggestion: A blurb serves as a brief answer to a readers initial question: “What is this book about?” The blurb should answer that question. It may do so by sparking the readers curiosity, imagination or by evoking a feeling. It may propose a question or establish a conflict. As you follow your leads each one by one, look for blurbs that draw you in. A good blurb is usually a sign of a good book. It’s not always true, but it tends to be true more often than not. Likewise the first chapter or two should guide you into the world of the book. It may do so though character, setting, or conflict. If you find it engaging, it’s likely that other readers with the same taste in books will find it engaging too. These “others like you” are your followers or followers to be, and what you like they will like. 

 

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