Notes From The Inbox

November 29th, 2006 · 4 Comments
by Kassia Krozser

We had a lovely rant about finding reviewers for your work planned for this morning, but due to technical difficulties (ie, lack of caffeine), it was lost in the ether. However, we remember enough of said tirade to reproduce the intent of the post, if not the actual words. Our intent was to explain, gently, that if you are seeking reviews, you must do your homework. Approaching the wrong people with requests to review your brilliant work is not a positive career move.

This rant, like so many, was prompted by a sudden deluge of review requests sent to our BS address. This tells us that someone out there took the time to locate this address, but not enough time to actually read what is posted here. For example, a cursory glance will show that we don’t review books on this site. To the best of our knowledge, we have never posted a book review here. We’ve considered doing so, but, being naturally lazy, haven’t executed.

However, if one were to look around, one would discover that we do review elsewhere. And, a moment at that particular site will reveal the type of fiction we review and, most importantly, our review style. You will note immediately that while we like American Folk Art, we do not have the necessary qualities nor inclination to review a book dedicated to said Folk Art. Yet, someone, for some reason, decided to query us on that particular subject. We read the query, because it was, oddly, a follow-up to a previous request and so poorly written and formatted, it took our breath away. It takes effort to create an email that looks like a train wreck, and we applaud that level of work.

Writing to the wrong reviewers is not only a waste of your time, it’s a waste of the reviewer’s time. You may believe that sending out hundreds of queries to hundreds of reviewers is an efficient process, but the technical term for this sort of behavior is spamming. If you are trying to present a professional image, you are failing miserably. If you’re trying to get a review, well, you’re failing miserably there, too.

Review queries should be well-written and they should be properly targeted. If you subscribe to the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity, you need to spend some time in our inbox. If you cannot write a halfway decent letter to a potential reviewer, that does not speak well to your ability to write a halfway decent book.  In other words, the proprieter of this website is that last person on Earth you want reviewing your book…if you take our meaning.

Finding reviewers for your book is hard work, and you have to do it. Do not take shortcuts and assume that a list of reviewers you found on an obscure website is accurate and useful. It probably hasn’t been updated since 1999. Of course, if you like writing dead email addresses and targeting defunct websites, we would never stop you. If you prefer actually garnering a review, we suggest that you compile a list of potential reviewers, visit their sites, read the reviews, check out querying guidelines if they exist, and then write a request for review to the appropriate people.

Yeah, not as much fun as sending a thousand untargeted, misspelled messages, but, you know, easier than actually writing a book.

Rant over.

File Under: Back To Basics

4 responses so far ↓

  • Debra Hamel // Nov 30, 2006 at 7:30 am

    I got the folk art request too! I don’t care or know anything about folk art either….

  • Andrew W // Nov 30, 2006 at 7:37 am

    The exact same advice goes for submissions to lit mags, agents, or publishers. Lit mag editors especially can tell you that they don’t mind getting bad submissions as much as they mind getting inappropriate submissions. It’s disrespectful of the reader’s time, and it shows not only a lack of professionalism but a lack of honest intent to pursue your craft.

  • David Thayer // Nov 30, 2006 at 8:12 am

    This misguided marketing is another example of sheer madness.

  • ktwice // Nov 30, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    Or it’s the fault of the French. One never knows.

    And, yeah, Andrew — the same goes for all of those and more. I like that you used the word disrespectful. I think that was in the original (lamented) draft. It shows both a lack of respect for the person you’re asking to read your work…and your work itself.