Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blogger Questions

1). Missing review copies. I contacted a publisher through Shelf Awareness with an ARC request. She replied saying that she'd send me a copy, also offering copies for a giveaway. I said, "Great, thanks! I'll post the giveaway when I post my review." Over two months later, the review copy hasn't shown up...should I e-mail the publisher about it, or just let it drop?

2) Missing giveaway wins. Earlier this (school) year, I had about six books over the course of several months that I won in giveaways but that never showed up. I e-mailed the bloggers about them, and all but two sent me another copy. The two said they'd send another copy, but these also never appeared. E-mail again, or let drop?

3) Old or new? I see a lot of the same upcoming/recent releases featured on the blogs I follow. Is it healthier (more followers and comments) for a blog to review mostly new releases or to review more books that have been sitting on the shelves for a while?

4) Phrasing. What's the most polite way to phrase a review request to publishers? I generally feel like I'm being a precocious botherer with my "Hi, I'm a book blogger and reviewer at [url], and I would like to request a review copy of [title] by [author] if copies are available. Thanks for your consideration! [mailing address].

I'd greatly appreciate any advice on these questions!


  1. I would like the answers to #2. I am not a blogger but I win a lot. Some bloggers are very helpful a few say it is not their responsibility to help.

  2. These are questions I'd totally like to have answers to, too. (That looks and sounds like a weird sentence. Anyway...)

    I think it's totally okay to e-mail a publisher when a book doesn't arrive. I mean, that's kind of about business, at least for them, isn't it? And as they want the book to be written and reviewed, they'll probably be happy to be noticed if a book didn't arrive, right? At least that what I'd think.

    I'm not that sure about the second question though. I mean, most bloggers are just doing this for fun and it's not really in their responsibility to re-ship stuff that got lost somewhere (in space:D) isn't it? I think I'd send one very polite e-mail, but I wouldn't send a second. Probably.

    About the third question: I think it's attracting more attention and probably you'll get more followers if you review new books. I'm not very sure as I'm totally new to this, but at least that's what my impression is. But I love to talk about classics and older books, too, so that's what I'm going to do. This should mostly be about being awesome for you as a blogger, so I'd just write whatever I feel like about writing.

    I'm not sure what to answer to your fourth question as I've never done that before, but I'd love to hear an answer though.

    1. Thanks for your advice! I was thinking that I wouldn't send a second e-mail to the bloggers; I thought it was very nice of the ones who did send a second copy for them to do that.

      I've tried to review more classics and older books than others, because these used to comprise most of my reading. It's gotten hard for me to balance the new vs. old, though, and it seems odd to me to be reading so much YA and new fiction when I have shelves of neglected classics. After all, I bought them with the intention of reading them!

    2. The thing with classics is, that probably more people have already read them and so don't need an opinion and a review about it. BUT I have to say that I'm trying to read (and so review) more classics, too, and I'd love to read other's opinion on them. I totally know what you mean, so just go ahead... read whatever you like :)

  3. I definitely am concerned with the fourth question. I've finally reached over two-hundred followers, but am not sure if that's enough cred to query publishers like, say, HarperTeen.

    1. Kaye, it really just depends on the publisher. I haven't requested ARCs from HarperTeen yet, but there were other publishers that sent me books I requested when I had between 100 followers and the almost 350 I currently have. Shelf Awareness is a great way to request review copies, too, because I don't think they look at followers much.

  4. Great questions, and I am not the expert or anything, but I would like to contribute my thoughts too :)

    1). Missing review copies || In this case, I think it would be appropriate to send at least one follow-up email to see what might have happened. I know some publishers send out ARC, but if it is close to pub date, sometimes they send out finished copies. If anything, you could write a short note explaining that you did not review the book yet because you still have not seen a copy. For me personally, I would probably let it rest and assume the book got lost in transit or things just got too busy. I always have books that are piling up on my TBR pile :)

    2) Missing giveaway wins || This one I have been on both end of the stick.

    PART I: Unless I was participating in some sort of auction/fundraiser that involves books, I usually don't pay attention to when and/or if a book arrives on my doorstep. Cool if it does, cool if it doesn't, UNCOOL if I paid for something and it gets lost in transit/never gets sent. I would expect most bloggers are amenable to working with you to figuring out if the book is taking its merry time to you OR if something else needs to be done. Personally I can think of 3 instances where I had trouble with receiving books.
    1) Free giveaway: The book has yet to show up on my doorstep, and I've been waiting for 2+ years, but since it was free, so I wasn't too devastated and did not pursue. 2) Fundraising auction: The book has yet to show up on my doorstep, and it has been about a year. I emailed the giveaway host back and forth, and she was super-nice and tried to figure out what happened with the author, but nothing came out of it. I let it go because after the 2nd email, I just decided it was not worth the battle even though I did donate some money. It was for a good cause. I have never had a problem before, and I am sure the book had been sent - maybe it will show its face after 10 years?
    3) Fundraising auction: This one I got taken care of, and I think I know what might have happened. It took a few emails back and forth with the blogger who in turn had to email the author, but the books finally arrived on my doorstep. It took 2 or 3 attempts, but when I saw the address label, it was pretty much written in invisible ink. I think the ink was FADING during transit, so by the time it reached MY post office, they probably didn't know where it came from or who to send it to!

    PART II : I host giveaways, at least one per month for the last year or so, and usually I am the one paying for the shipping costs and usually I do not worry about delivery confirmation. Overall I have not had a package that has failed to arrive - at least, none that anyone has told me. I would hope the winner would have told me if a package never came. If I had to do a re-send, then I would definitely re-check the address and probably pay for delivery confirmation the 2nd time around to make sure all the ducks are in a row.

    CONCLUSION : I think it is okay to send a follow-up email or two and make sure to be uber-nice and NOT accusatory, but after that, ask yourself if it is worth your time and effort. I do understand where you are coming from, but if the blogger turns out to be a jerk (hopefully not) or helpful but it still is a no-show, is the book worth the hassle? You did not really lose anything with a "free" giveaway, but perhaps you will think twice before entering in that blogger's giveaway in the future.

    To be continued... (did you know that I can only write 4,096 characters? I did not!)

  5. 3) Old or new? || I have been blogging for 2+ years, off and on, and I can happily say that you should read whatever YOU enjoy because I too enjoy seeing a book that might have been "so 2 years ago" but not everyone was blogging 2 years ago - and I too get tired of seeing the same titles/covers every day. I try to blend the new with the old, what I want to read and what everyone else may prefer to read, and I think that works best for me. I may not be on the front lines of a much-hyped book, but I will get to my review maybe a few weeks/months later - and I like to think THEN my review will get read and not get lost among the rest of them. Read your classics. I also do mini-reviews - which mostly are books I don't have much to say OR don't have time to write a lengthy review, but I think it can work to spotlight the oldies-but-goodies. Or do a classic spotlight feature on your blog. Do what works for your reading appetite - it is SO much better to read an enthusiastic review about THE SCARLET LETTER than a meh review on THE HUNGER GAMES (just an example!).

    4) Phrasing. || I used to request more when I first started out, and now I just read what I like, when I like, and sometimes NetGalley is my friend :) I think it is never a bad idea to be too polite - I like to say something like

    "I run the book blog The EPIC Rat for the past 2+ years. I generally review YA and occasionally historical romance and fantasy. I post at least 2 or 3 reviews per week, and my blog receives about 20 visitors per day.

    I am interested in one of your upcoming books because it sounds interesting, etc."

    Also, I have started to provide a link to my past book reviews (all my reviews have been labeled as "book reviews") and/or review archive by author name, so they can see what my reviews look like. Then I thank them for their time.

    Like giveaways, I don't pursue it any further than the first email. If I receive the book in the mail, awesome. If I don't, again I did not lose anything except my time in writing a review request email.

    Some pubs look at blog stats, other pubs are happy to receive a request. I would probably wait until you have 2 or 3 months under your belt, maybe a few followers or so, and at least a good handful of reviews. There is NO magic number for stats, followers, reviews, length of blogginess - and it is hard anyway for anyone to see the "true" traffic of a blog unless you are a book blog giant like The Story Siren or Presenting Lenore. I think everyone else is roughly on the same page, and you do not lose much if you simply ask politely and all you gain are books that you have been dying to read.


    Okay I didn't mean to write so much [addendum: apparently SO much that I had to break up my comment, haha] , but these were really good questions - and I wanted to give you my input (which apparently was a bucket of "word vomit"). Hope this helps! I think it definitely helped me reflect on my blogging experience so far :D

    1. Hi Cecilia,
      Thanks so much for your comments! I wish I could write that prolifically, lol. I will definitely be thinking about your advice in future situations like these!

  6. Hey Susie, great questions :) Blogging is a learning experience for ALL of us so it's good to get input whenever possible.
    Question 1: I would email and let them know I never received the book. If you're comfortable, apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, but you're still interested in the ARC and appreciate their time.

    Question #2 is tricky. I would email one last time just in case your first email didn't go through. Most bloggers will try to work with you and sometimes they're only the middle man so they don't have to pay shipping. But they can contact the author and find out what's up. I don't think this is a waste of time and I have had to follow up emailing people over this issue. Most of the time it's a post office mistake or a misunderstanding. I would rather send an extra email than buy the book. I always use delivery confirmation when sending prizes, it's cheap and easy to do.

    Question #3 is your call. This is YOUR time and you decide which books are worth reviewing. If your readers have other preferences they can comment or tell you, but the book you're reviewing should be something you're comfortable with.

    I thought Question 4 was easy. I just got 30 followers and never considered that when requesting books. Harper Teen, Partials, is the only one who has rejected me so far. I have emailed both publishers and authors and usually they're happy to oblige.
    "Hello there! I write a blog reviewing books and blank book by blank author has caught my interest. Here is my blog website...I always post my review on and and I enjoy spreading the word on good books. Please let me know if I could get a review copy and thank you for your consideration!
    Best wishes,
    Sometimes I leave a comment about their website or if it's an author where I heard about their book from and making a comment on their website or blog. I like to make it personal, but also professional. You might also mention your preference, ebook versus print book. I haven't requested books lately because I have a big pile to catch up on, but it's great :) Also, a few authors I have reviewed ask me to review their upcoming and current titles once they realize I enjoyed their previous book.
    I also agree with the other comments listed above, but you basically have to follow your instincts on what to pursue and when to move on.
    Hope this helps!!!
    Blessings, Kara
    PS. Have you read Starters yet? I got my copy from Netgalley and LOVED it! Best wishes on your blog and giveaways :)

    1. Thanks for the advice, Kara, it certainly helps!
      I have read Starters. I absolutely loved all the excitement and intrigue in it, though the ending threw me for a loop and I didn't really like how the conclusion was done.