When authors approach you

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:

  1. State in your review policy that you only respond to requests you are interested in.
  2. Answer the e-mails you are interested in and ignore the rest.
  3. 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,
Esther

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.


How do you handle these sort of scenarios? I’d love to hear your own experiences!

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29 thoughts on “When authors approach you

  1. This is such a struggle for me too! It’s also hard because I’ve found that the books I’ve been asked to review tend to have writing that is a lower quality than the books I typically read. That makes it really hard for me to enjoy the book if I don’t think it’s written well. But then I feel pressured to write a positive review because I feel bad for the author–just like you mentioned! Usually what I do now is I’ll read a sample of the book on Amazon and if I feel like the writing is too poor or it’s not interesting me, I’ll say no. Great post! So important!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      I understand. I’ve not really encountered bad writing, just books that lack a little something. That might be character development, a clear plot, etc. And that happens with all types of books, so it’s nothing out of this world 😛 But it is a great idea to check the sample on Amazon. I have to start doing that more often just in case! Thanks for the tip.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Before I had my review policy on my blog, which states that I’m not accepting books for review, I had someone contact me about reading and reviewing a book. I politely declined by saying that I was not accepting books for review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The funny thing is I clearly state in my review policy that I’m no taking any more requests and they keep sending me emails asking for reviews and saying: “please, I know you said you wouldn’t accept, but…” And they’re books that are not my style at all. And that simply means they haven’t checked my blog at all.

    Back when I was accepting requests, I read and wrote a review and the book wasn’t my favorite. I decided not to publish it on the blog, but left a review on Goodreads and the author asked me why did I rate it 3 stars if the review was positive. I told him I had decided to focus on the good stuff and he still kept asking questions and it was a bit annoying, to be honest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my… some authors really miss the mark, don’t they? I have not encountered those extreme cases yet, thankfully! They sound awful. The thing about requested reviews when I’ve stated that I’m not taking any has happened and I simply ignore them because they clearly didn’t take the time to check my blog, so why would I waste my own replying to them!? It’s rude.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a very helpful post.
    I had the exact same problem, in the beginning, not knowing how to say no and ultimately getting in trouble for it.
    I had to cringe when I read what you wrote about the author writing back to you. Must have been terrible O_O
    Thank you for this post. I’m sure it’s going to be very helpful for a lot of people (:

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t approach bloggers. I’ve had someone arrange a blog tour for me and the bloggers were amazing. You guys are such a source of support to us whenever we put out books but you couldn’t possibly keep up with that requests.

    Besides I think it’s slightly rude to bombard bloggers with requests if you’re not interested in following their blogs for any other reason than your own personal gain.

    I figure you’ll discover me when it’s meant to happen lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Omg Esther this post is super helpful to me since I’m a new blogger too! I totally understand your feeling because I’ve been contacted by an author once. I usually just reply to all of the authors because they took their time to write an email to me so I feel that I should do the same. 💗📚✨

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahhh, I totally agree! When I was new to blogging, I felt so pressured to accept all review requests, because I had this feeling that I can’t be picky JUST BECAUSE I’m new. I now realize that that is not true at all. We all have the right to accept or decline review requests, and I think authors will appreciate it more if we decline their requests respectfully, rather than accepting and not following through with the review. This post is definitely helpful for pro and beginning bloggers alike. Thanks, Esther!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a really great post. I think a lot of bloggers, whether they’re new or not, struggle with how to decline requests or how to write negative reviews for books they received from authors. I’ve been blogging for over a year and I still do! It was such a life-saver for me when I realized that I didn’t *have* to respond to authors and tell them no thanks. I still struggle with writing negative reviews, but now I state in my review policy and in my initial email responses that I’ll only notify them of the review if it’s positive so I can pretend they won’t ever see it even though I know they’re probably keeping an eye out for it, hahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, I love that! I don’t notify them either way because I know they’ll keep an eye out and it’s awful when the review isn’t a glowing one. But that is actually a great idea, I really like it. I helps them keep track of the good things being said about their books 🙂
      And thank you! I really hope it helps other bloggers figure their own way to review, say no, etc. It’s a tough spot to be on sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I also respond to every request, even if it’s to say no, and it took a while but also figured out my go-to sorry-but-no response. Authors really just appreciate when we let them know either way. I’ve had so many of them email again just to say thanks for responding. I’ve also given negative reviews to books I received directly from the author, and yeah, that’s never fun. I have it in my policy that I may or may not choose to post a review if I give a book 2 stars or less. I don’t review every single book I read, so I have chosen to simply not review some of those negative review copy books, in which case I emailed the author to let them know the book wasn’t for me, and I wouldn’t be reviewing it. Other times I’ve just posted the review and not emailed the author to even let them know because it just seemed like it’d be kinda mean to be like, “Hey here’s my negative review!” lol. But I still posted it. Luckily I’ve never had any bad experiences with authors. I’m sorry you had that one though :-/ But just know that most authors are respectful and not like that, don’t let it scare you from accepting more books!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent post! I can definitely relate with everything you said and I both still struggle to say no and feel bad whenever I don’t like a book… But like you said, the most important thing is being honest… And I guess it’s simply better to say no to a book that isn’t a right fit than read it anyway and having to leave a bad review. I’ve had some (minor) issues with authors about bad reviews in the past, so I’m definitely more picky about any requests now.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post, Esther! When I first got asked by authors to review their books I was so in awe because I can’t believe people wanted me to do that? I accepted them all because I didn’t know any better and there’s still some I haven’t read and I feel so bad. I quickly closed requests though and it can be quiet annoying to still get emails. I feel really grateful that they offer, but it’s like …..can’t you just read or follow what I’ve said? Haha. It’s even worse when they’re really nice about it 😂 I fluctuate between ignoring (sometimes i don’t have the energy) and trying to decline politely as I can. One of my biggest fears is an author getting rude or responding to a review I write, haha. I feel like they shouldn’t be commentating on that kind of stuff. I can’t believe that happened to you! :/

    Like

    1. Yeah, it was awful haha. But I also got positive feedback from another author and it was great. I just don’t like when it is obvious they haven’t even checked if the blog and the person behind it is a good fit for their book. I understand they can’t get to know all the bloggers, but just by reading a post or two and seeing the titles you can guess more or less if the blogger will like it! Thank you Lauren, I always love hearing your side of things and I’m relieved to see that we felt the same way!

      Like

  12. I go with #1 because I want to avoid negativity wherever possible. I agree that it can still be tricky when you accept a book directly from the author and then end up not liking it. I don’t receive many review requests from authors (none that I’ve accepted). I think I would have to be very certain I would like the book for me to do that (ex. other bloggers with similar tastes have liked it, it has a number of tropes I love, etc.).

    Liked by 1 person

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