Dear (Bad) Publicists and (Uninformed) Authors,
I started reviewing books two years ago with the goal of sharing my love of reading with other like-minded people, discovering new books to read and building friendships with fellow book bloggers and authors.
When I began blogging, I had no idea that publicists and authors sent email pitches and advance review copies to bloggers. I was shocked and naturally excited and appreciative when I received my first email asking me if I would like to read and review a book early to help build buzz before its release date.
Now, two years of book blogging later, I get a healthy amount of email pitches a week and read and review books early regularly. But lately, something has been bothering me about some of the review pitches I’ve been receiving and I just have to share it with you in hopes that you’ll take the advice of a book blogger.
Untargeted email pitches.
We all know what they are. Those annoying emails that when you open them you shake your head and wonder what the heck the person on the other end of the email was thinking when they hit send. Because that email was clearly not targeted at you, your blog, or your interests.
Before I continue, I want to flat out say that I may be extra sensitive to this issue because I too work in public relations. More than anyone, I understand the work that goes into building a list of blogs to reach out to and drafting pitches to send to them. I do this every day for a living at my full time job and I also do it on a freelance basis for authors.
Allow me to outline a few of the more annoying traits of an untargeted email pitch:
-The pitches that don’t address the blogger specifically by name (i.e. Dear Book Blogger). If you don’t have the time to find my name on my blog, I probably don’t have the time to review the book you’re pitching. Common courtesy here, people.
-Pitches that are sent to multiple book bloggers at one time (or worse yet, the dreaded BCC email pitch). I promise, you will get better results if you personally send an email to each blogger one at a time. Even when I get a pitch for a book I’m not interested in, if the publicist has taken the time to personally email me, I make a point to respond and thank them for their interest in my blog.
-Pitches from self-published authors who clearly haven’t looked at my review policy. I explicitly state that I do not read and review self-published books at this time. Please don’t waste my time (or yours) sending me an email.
-Pitches for books that I most likely would not read or review based on the kinds of books I normally read. If you skim through even one or two pages of my blog, it’s easy to see the types of books I enjoy. If you’re really doing your homework, you may even take a look at my recent four or five star reviews or check out my Goodreads page to further get to know me and my reading preferences. All of this information will only help you develop a stronger pitch.
-Pitches that don’t include any kind of call to action. I can’t tell you how many pitches I’ve been sent that summarize a book, share its release date…and that’s it. They don’t ask me to review the book, host a giveaway or offer up the author for an interview or guest blog. If you don’t tell me what you’re looking for, I can’t help you. Please get straight to the point.
Of course, for every bad publicist out there, there are a dozen good ones. And I absolutely adore the smart, kind and diligent publicists I’ve worked with (and believe me, I have worked with many delightful PR people over the past few years and I’m so grateful for the relationships we’ve developed). Now that I’ve shared some traits of negative review pitches, let me share some positive ones in hopes that you can take something useful away from this letter.
-Pitches that are short, to the point and include links to the book’s Goodreads page and an author’s website and/or social media accounts.
-Publicists who have clearly researched my blog, understand my audience and read my review policy. Bonus points if they reference another review I’ve done by that same author or a similar author.
-Pitches where the publicist tells me why they personally liked the book and shares a few of their thoughts about it. We’re all human…it’s nice to see a little personality!
-Email pitches that don’t include annoying attachments. No one wants a clogged inbox of author headshots and press kits they haven’t requested.
Publicists, as a book blogger and fellow PR professional, I appreciate the work you do. You ensure that the labors of love of our favorite authors get into the right hands to create the most buzz and opportunity for a book to do well. I absolutely enjoy reading and reviewing books. This letter is in no way to discourage you from reaching out to me, but rather, ensuring that if you do reach out to me (or any other book blogger) that your pitch is targeted and well-received.
Book Blogger and PR professional