Book Marketing for Self-Publishers

7 Tips for Writing a Great Review Request

Getting your book reviewed by a dedicated reviewer is a major marketing milestone when it comes to promoting your book. The legitimacy gained from a good review can do wonders for your sales, so it’s definitely worth putting some effort into tracking down online book reviewers you like and asking them to review your book. The most common way of approaching a book blogger about a potential review is writing them a so-called review request. While this does sound like a very formal piece of paperwork to a lot of people, a review request is essentially just an email in which you provide some information about your book and politely ask the blogger if they’d be interested in writing a review about it.

While this sounds easy enough, book bloggers are very busy people. Not only do they get heaps of review requests every day, but they’re often maintaining their blogs or other online channels as a hobby, meaning they also have a regular job to worry about. That’s why it’s essential to do your research and write a really good review request; one that is interesting enough to stand out acknowledges the reviewer and isn’t too pushy. We’ve talked to several book bloggers to get their views on the matter and have distilled a few rules of thumb from those conversations. Here are 7 tips for writing a great review request!

1. Do Your Research

I like it when the author has read my review policy so they know exactly what I do and do not read, and if they include a sentence at the beginning of the review request indicating that they’ve read it, this is always much appreciated. – Amy Buckle, Amy’s Bookshelf

There are a lot of book bloggers out there, and they all have their preferences. Before you send any review requests, make sure to find out which of them would actually be interested in reading your book. That smart-looking book blog you like, with its flawless design and enviable traffic, might not be reviewing your particular genre, in which case requesting a review would be a waste of everybody’s time. You’ll be able to find a review policy on most websites that will give you all the information you need.

When it comes to the review policy, make sure you read through the whole thing! Many book bloggers are so busy that they decide not to take on any more reviews, in which case it’ll be stated clearly in their review policy. They’ll also specify exactly what should be included in your review request (blurbs, covers, publishing dates, etc.). Checking this before you start writing will save you a lot of time, and them a lot of annoyance, as emphasized by Joanne Baird of the Portobello Book Blog:

[…] if someone contacts me, I’d like them to at least have read my review policy and have an idea of the kind of books I like. I am frequently asked if I’d be interested in reviewing books in a genre I clearly say I don’t read.

2. Personalize Your Review Request

An email must be adressed to me, if it’s just generic, I will ignore it. – Amy Buckle, Amy’s Bookshelf

[…] each request should be tailored to suit [the reviewer’s] specifications. – Austine, NovelKnight Book Reviews

Whatever you do, never forget that there’s a real person behind that book blog. As such, basic manners and some acknowledgment go a long way. Since you’re essentially going to be asking a stranger to do you a great big favour, at the very least you ought to find out what the blogger’s name is and use it when writing them a review request. This indicates that you respect and value their work enough to at least have skimmed through their site.

If the reviewer in question uses an alias and you cannot find any reference to their real identity, then go ahead and use that alias to address them. However, never settle for something generic like the dreaded “whom it may concern” or “Sir/Madam”. Ideally, you also want to familiarize yourself with the work of some of the reviewers you’re planning on approaching. Not only will this help you get an idea of their style and tastes – which could play a big part in helping you determine whether or not to send them a review request in the first place – but it’ll allow you to craft a much more personal message.

3. Plan Ahead

Most bloggers have their reading lists planned well in advance so make sure you contact them in plenty time if you want a review around publication date – Joanne Baird, Portobello Book Blog

If you’ve formulated a long-term marketing strategy for your book (which we highly recommend you do), then you’ve probably determined an ideal time for a review to be published; either right before the publication of your book to build up some hype (and give you quotes for your cover), or right after, so that people can buy it right after reading the review. Whatever your marketing strategy, contact your reviewer of choice in good time. As mentioned previously, book bloggers generally have a lot on their plate, so if you want to time a review with a particular step in your marketing plan, you’ve got to get on their reading list early!

4. Include All the Necessary Info (and Present It Clearly!)

[…] include the information we ask for in [the] feature request. We receive enough that we delete any requests that don’t read our policy outright because we simply can’t do it all.- Austine, NovelKnight Book Reviews

You’re going to want to include enough information about your book to pique a reviewer’s interest and give them a good idea of what they’d be getting into, but not so much that it becomes a chore to read through. Essentially, you want to create a sort of CV for your book. While there are no universal rules for what to include in your request, most of the reviewers we talked to specifically requested the inclusion of the book’s cover, a link to the store page where the book is sold, and the blurb. So if you’re unsure where to start, these three things can be seen as the foundations of any good review request.

Of course, there are probably more specific things you’re going to need to add, depending on the reviewer you’re approaching. As mentioned, reviewers will specify exactly what they want to see in a review request in their review policy, so again, we can’t stress the importance of doing your research enough. Amy Buckle, for instance, appreciates when you indicate that you’ve familiarised yourself with her review policy early in your first message. By informing the reviewer that you’ve done your research before contacting them, they’ll be more inclined to engage with your request.

Once you know exactly what you need to include when asking for a review, put those writer’s skills to use and make it as enjoyable to read as the structure and formatting of the text allows. A little bit of personality goes a long way!

5. No Means No

At the moment, my blog review policy page says I’m not accepting review requests and you wouldn’t believe the amount of requests I still get! – Joanne Baird, Portobello Book Blog

If your review request gets turned down, accept it and move on. Even if there’s no warning, disclaimer, or other clear reason for the rejection of your request on the blogger’s site. Similarly, if there is a disclaimer on the reviewer’s site stating that they aren’t doing new reviews at the moment, respect it. Don’t try to win them over, charm them, or convince them of the particular merits of your book. Just wait until they’ve caught up on their backlog before asking them for a review.

As mentioned, most book bloggers do this in their free time, and it’s their prerogative to accept or refuse requests that come their way. Trying to argue with a book blogger will only serve to eliminate the chance of them even considering reading anything of yours in the future.

If you really want to get your book reviewed by a specific blogger, you can probably send them an email asking them whether they’re planning to take on new reviews in the not-too-distant future. Formulate your email politely, and you’ll likely get a response back; book bloggers are generally nice people, and they’re book worms like yourself to boot!

6. Let Them Do Their Thing

If a reviewer agrees to read your book, let them do so at their own pace. It’s probably going to take a while; they have to finish the book, reflect on what they’ve read, and then distill those thoughts into a piece of prose. Being writers yourselves, you know how time-consuming this can be. So, whatever you do, don’t send emails asking for updates on the review process. This will only cause annoyance and stress, which might have a negative impact on the review. Trust that if a book reviewer has agreed to take a look at your book, they will do just that, unless they tell you otherwise.

7. That’s All There Is To It!

We hope this article has provided some clarification regarding how to approach book bloggers for reviews. If you’ve been trying to land a review without any success, perhaps you can find some clue as to how you can step up your request game here. It may seem like a lot of effort, but believe us when we say that a good book review can go a long way when it comes to selling your book; it’s definitely worth the effort! Just remember to research the bloggers you plan on approaching, respect their rules and their time, and try to make your request stand out a bit where you can.

Should you want to learn more about book marketing, you can check out our guide on how to promote your book, as well as our blog post dealing with book marketing on social media. For more general advice, “4 Counterintuitive Self-Publishing Tips” might be a good place to dive in!

If you have any questions about this article or anything self-publishing-related, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or shoot us an email!

We’d like to offer a huge thanks to the book bloggers that were kind enough to share their views on what constitutes a review request! We couldn’t have written this blog post without you.

The following book bloggers are quoted directly in this article:


Amy’s Bookshelf

Portobello Book Blog