Common Mistakes when Seeking ReviewsMy Amazon ranking, depending on the moment, sways between the top 10 and top 100 of all Amazon reviewers. I get deluged with requests to review books. It is simply staggering how many mistakes these reviewers make when writing me. I get hundreds - if not thousands - of these requests in a given week. So sit back and imagine for a moment that you get 1,000 requests in a week for people who want you to review their book. Imagine that you are wading your way through this gigantic pile of requests and figuring out which ones you want to actually deal with. You are in the first pass just tossing out the chaff so you can deal with the wheat.
Below I list the types of glaring issues that will get you swept away in that first pass. Make sure you focus on these areas, no matter what reviewer you are writing!
These are the things you SHOULD DO in order to avoid making a mistake.
Send an Individual Message
Always send a message with JUST THE RECIPIENT in the TO line. That is, NEVER send out a mass email with lots of names in the "to" list. Why? If you send a TO message with tons of email addresses in it, now every other person in that TO line has access to my email address - and if their machine gets hit by an email virus, I am now a victim of their virus attack. I don't want my email address in hundreds of other unrelated peoples' systems. This is true no matter who you're sending to. Always send directly to one person. If you're sending to a group, always use the BCC field to send as a blind carbon copy, so the people don't all get each other's email addresses as part of the mailing. It is the first line of prevention againnst email virus attacks.
Avoid All Typos
Your pitch must be typo free. I say it again. If you have a clutter of typos and other issues in your pitch letter, I will have zero interest in reading your book. I already have 999 other books with authors eager for me to read them. And that's just for this week. I don't have that many hours in a day. So I need to choose the very best books to spend my time on. A book full of typos won't qualify. If an author can't even construct a one-page pitch letter free of typos, what waits in store for me in the book itself? It is absolutely critical that your pitch letter be perfect. Make sure you have several friends proof it for you. Automated spell checkers can often miss issues.
Use Good-Sized Fonts with Ample Spacing
If your pitch message mushes together without paragraph breaks, or has a tiny font, or is eight pages long, you are asking a LOT of the reviewer to wade through the mess to read it. Remember, they have 999 other messages to read, with pitches which are perfectly formatted! You might think, "But my book is amazing, why should I care about the pitch message?" If someone cannot READ your pitch message, they will assume your book is the same mess. They will never know how wonderful your content is. Imagine this. Imagine someone wants you to read a book but they give you a tiny, smeared piece of leather that has the words written in Hi-C. It would frustrate you to no end to try to read it, and why would you bother if you have another 999 books waiting that were done exactly the way you like?
Your key to having a reviewer move to the next stage is for them to get the sense that you are going to make this enjoyable for them. Again, remember. It's not like they're lying around bored and hoping you give them something to do. They are overworked and worn down. If you make their life difficult before they even begin, they're not going to give you the benefit of the doubt. They are going to move on to the next author who bothered to take that ten minutes to ensure the message was short, well formatted, and easy to read.
Present the Information they Need
A reviewer is busy. Often they are enormously overloaded. They have no time or interest to go off on a treasure hunt. Never say "go off to my website to learn what my book is about". Don't say generically "I just wrote a book, please read it." Explain concisely in your email pitch what the details of your book are. Everything the reviewer needs should be right there. They should be able to read your pitch, get interested in your concept, and hit REPLY to agree to receive the full copy. Anything more than that, involving heading off to websites to read, is too much. Especially with many reviewers using smart-phones to check their email.
NEVER email the whole book
This has got to be one of the worst turn-offs in the review world. My email box is already stuffed full of content. I do *NOT* need an 8 gig file downloading into my inbox for a book I have no interest in reading. Even if I did end up being interested, it might be that I prefer a PDF vs a DOC, or vice versa. It is critical that the reviewer not get deluged with unwanted material. Yes, absolutely OFFER to send them various formats if they are interested. Always offer a variety of formats - DOC, PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and so on. You can make them all for free and easily with Calibre. The more you match the reviewer's standard system, the more likely you are to get your material read.
Never Degrade your Own Material
Imagine you are a reviewer and you have 1,000 emails sitting in a pile to read. Now imagine you receive a pitch where the author says "I know my book sucks, but ..." - what would you think? The *AUTHOR* thinks their book sucks. You have another 999 authors who are claiming their book is great. Why in the world would you spend your time with an author who apparently knows up front that their book is awful?
Reviewers are human beings. They only have X hours in a day to read things, and they're already swamped. You have to make the best case possible for the book you have written. If you do not believe whole-heartedly in your book, then go back and fine tune it again. You want it to be absolutely perfect before you ask others to read it and believe in it. If you haven't had it read by every friend you know, ask them to read it. If you haven't had a professional proofreader read it yet, hire one. It is very worth the effort. A book which is full of typos or other grammatical types of issues is going to fail immediately when reviewers see it. You need your book to be your very best effort - and one you honestly believe is worthy of reading - before you send it out to others.
Then, when you mail it out, TELL others you believe it is your very best effort and worth their time to read.
Focus on the *Reviewer's* Benefits in Reading it - NOT in Your Interests
This is Marketing 101. A reviewer, as mentioned, is already deluged with work. It's not like they have to find books to read. If you write a pitch and all it talks about is "I loved writing this book" and "I had fun visiting these locations", how does that make it interesting to the reviewer? You have to entice the REVIEWER to want to read this book. Tell them what fantastic things they will learn while reading it! Tell them what amazing new knowledge they will be exposed to!
Look through your pitch again. is it all about "I, I, I"?? That is a death knell for most reviewers. You want your pitch to be about "you, you, you." This is true in EVERY area of marketing. If you haven't mastered some of these marketing basics, there are many books out there which will help you with this craft. I highly recommend you get a book or two and study them and get to know them. Either that, or hire a marketer. It is absolutely necessary that you learn how to market properly before you start sending press releases out to reviewers and other public contacts.
Good luck with your book publicity efforts!
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