Jim Mcleod of Gingernuts of Horror has been at this game a lot longer than I have and he’s had more time to learn what does and doesn’t work for him as a reviewer, a lot of which he’s graciously shared with me when I’ve asked for his advice in the past. We’ve also talked a lot about what we do and don’t like when it comes to review requests and what it takes to get into the huge pile of books we have that might possibly get reviewed. We share the same opinions in this area and I believe you’ll find most–if not all–reviewers will too. Awhile back, Jim had an essay published in HORROR 101: THE WAY FORWARD (a great resource of essays about writing horror fiction) about that very subject and he’s also published it on his website. Today he’s kindly agreed to let me re-post that here. It’s a damn good guide and, if you follow it, you’ll find yourself with a much better chance of getting your book into a reviewer’s TBR pile. Thank you to Jim for allowing me to post this here and to you for taking the time to read it. If you’re looking to get a book reviewed, you’ll be glad you did.
A Reviewers Guide To Getting Your Horror Book Reviewed
There are millions of guides about writing, publicising and promoting your magnum opus horror novel masterpiece. Most of these guides are written by other authors, some are written by authors who have paid their dues, and have numerous publishing credits to their name. Others are written by “authors” who claim to be bestselling authors, whose lack of basic language skills, results in them not knowing the difference between “bestselling” and “loads of free downloads” of my Ebook on Amazon. These are my favourite guides, how can an author who hasn’t actually sold a book write a guide on selling your book. And by sold I mean have someone part with their hard earned cash for your book.
However both of these groups of author guides seem to lack one important factor, a factor that I like to call Reviewer Etiquette. Reviewers are an odd bunch, we tend to get looked upon as a necessary evil, loved by authors when we give their book a good review, and despised like mass murdering pervert when we give a book a negative review. Which is fine my me, you as a writer are entitled to get upset at a bad review. Hell I get upset when the wife criticising my attempt at housework. I spent the best part of a day doing it, how dare she, and like a lot of the books I receive it does seem as though the author spent the same amount of time writing their book as I did doing the laundry. But this isn’t about author meltdown, that’s for another day. This post is about getting your book in the reviewer’s review pile, and what you as a writer should do in the run up to the review being published.
First up, the majority of reviewers don’t get paid; we do this out of a love of the genre. If you are lucky enough to work for a publication that can afford to pay you as a staff writer, then good for you, I hate your guts, but good for you. Yes there are “reviewers” that will take payment for writing a “review”, those are not reviewers, they are scum, and they do more damage than good. The rest of us reviewers do this for fun, we all have a life, and we have work, family commitments and other stuff to do.
Now some authors I have dealt with seem to think that giving a reviewer a free copy of their 99p eBook is payment with an unmentioned contract to review that book. I’m sorry to say that this isn’t the case. I look at this way of thinking if this was my job, and my pay was the minimum wage of £6.31, then your 99p ebook is only worth around ten minutes of my time. When you look at it this way, this doesn’t give you the author any right to get all uppity when decide not to review your book.
I’m getting ahead of myself. To put things into perspective when I was on holiday the other week, I came home to around 300 emails all demanding my attention, yes some were for hair replacement therapy, and investment opportunities in Zimbabwe, this still left hundreds of emails all wanting either an interview, a review, or news item or even all three on my blog. I’m sorry to say this is a depressing sight to behold. So how did I tackle it, firstly I scanned the emails for authors whose work I am familiar with, these went straight into my holding folder. Or the deleted bin, depending on my past interactions with the author concerned. I then checked for anything in the subject line that sounded like a red flag. The sort of thing I was looking for were phrases such as
ZOMBIE, ROMANCE, SEX, and my personal most hated phrase “THE NEXT BIG THING IN HORROR FICTION”
These emails were all deleted without a second thought. The next filter was another simple one, any email that used colourful or stupid childish unprofessional fonts, was again deleted without reading. Annoying as hell isn’t it.
This still left rather a lot of emails, that required my proper attention, and this is where it gets interesting. The emails deleted previously were all down to schoolboy errors, you could have got past these stages if you just read my review criteria, or taking your inner child and told them to fucking stop using fonts and colours that are just plain stupid. This is where we get to the real crux of this post, Etiquette and politeness, two words that so many authors are not aware off.
When you send an email to a reviewer, I know you think sending a mass email will save you time, you know the sort headed with phrases such as “Dear Sir / Madam”. We reviewers are people too, we like to feel special. So yes, use copy and paste for the main body of your email, but go on at least try and find out what my name is.
Please don’t say you love my site, and think your book would be a good fit, when your book clearly isn’t a good fit. That just makes me think that you have just sent the same email to every review site going. Again I want to feel special.
Don’t ever, and I mean EVER send out a review request, and then expect the book reviewer to actually have to pay money to buy the book. That’s just cheap. I don’t like cheap. I got an email like this where the author wanted £9.99 for their ebook. To use a famous Scottish saying Aye right!
Actually ask for a review, interview, or a news article. Don’t just send an email with the book’s synopsis, and a link to download it or the book as an attachment. Tat just makes me think you are lazy, and if you are too lazy to write a simple email, I tend to think that your writing will also be lazy.
Sell me the book, your email is probably the only way I will hear about your book. If your synopsis of the book is dull, and your email itself is poorly worded, then I won’t want to read your book. However don’t go too far, selling yourself as the greatest new writer I have never heard of just smacks of arrogance, and will get your email, can you guess? That’s right Deleted.
Congratulations, you have managed to get your book into my review pile. But don’t get cocky kid! This still doesn’t guarantee a review. It is clearly stated in my review policy that I won’t guarantee that I will actually review your book even if I accept it. This may sound unfair, and I’ll be honest I review 99% of all physical books that get sent my way. I used to feel obligated to review everything; it has only been in last few months that I realised that I don’t owe anyone anything for a 99p ebook.
Like most review sites Ginger Nuts of Horror is run by one person and as I have said before I have a life outside of this site. So if I take a bit of time in posting your review, please, please don’t send me a nasty email saying “WHY ISN’T MY REVIEW UP”. That will just get my back up, and yes, you guessed it the review deleted.
I can’t promise that if you follow these points your book will get picked up by every review site going. I do think, though, that your chances will be increased.
Just remember we reviewers don’t need your book, most of us have a book buying addiction and have more books to read than we have time left on this plane of existence. So please treat us nice, make us feel special, and we might just let you get to second base, hell you may even get a home run.
Click Below for Part 2