How To Ask For A Book Review

This “How To Ask For A Book Review” post has been a long time coming. Although I consider myself a microblogger or microreviewer, I still receive my fair share of book review requests. Some are well-written, but, unfortunately, most are not. So, to help authors ensure their review requests gain more traction, I put together a list of how to ask for a book review.

I can’t say I have a wholly unbiased opinion of how to ask for a book review. The review requests I received over time inspired much, if not all, of what I included here. However, I can say I tried to approach this in a constructive way rather than as a rant. So I hope readers find this approachable and informative. Like my previous discussion posts, I know this appears verbose. But I prefer to clearly and plainly communicate so that fewer questions pop up. It just so happens this means the use of more words!

If you stumbled across this post and want more “how to” guides, I have a few more for you. Consider my posts for How To Improve Social Media Interaction and ARC Book Review Etiquette. Now, let’s get to the point of this post: how to ask for a book review.

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How To Improve Social Media Interaction

I try not to dwell too much on some of the behavior I see on social media. The chances are that I don’t know the whole story or I’m being cynical about human behavior or both or neither. But one facet of social media I keep thinking about is engagement, specifically on Twitter. I think about how to improve social media interaction. And when I mention social media I mainly mean Twitter because that’s my preferred platform.

Lately I keep seeing tweets from others who feel like they aren’t receiving the amount of engagement they’d like to have. This perceived or factual low engagement may come as no surprise considering all of the changes occurring on Twitter. The algorithm, not to mention the platform itself, constantly seems to be in a state of flux. But I didn’t write this post to complain about the changes on Twitter, including how it often hides replies.

Regardless of the mess that is Twitter, there are other factors at play that affect engagement. And all of these elements I discuss below are things that one can control to some degree. Though I have the book reviewer community in mind for this discussion, these tips are broadly applicable outside of the book review sphere. Last year I mentioned some of these action items when I posted about how to make book blog friends and grow your audience. I expand upon them in this discussion about how to improve social media interaction. Although the title of this post implies a focus on social media, I also share tips on how to improve blog interaction.

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ARC Book Review Etiquette

At the end of last week a 3.5-year-old blog post made fresh rounds on Twitter. It prompted me to wonder about ARC book review etiquette and what that means to me versus what it might mean to others.

In the circulating blog post, the author provided suggestions about what to do if one finds one cannot review an ARC (advanced review copy) of a book. My personal philosophy about reviewing ARCs generally aligns fairly similarly with this blogger. However, this person also alleged that not reviewing an ARC amounts to theft of the ARC. In short, I agree with this person on some points, but not on others.

So, here I am, looking at ARC book review etiquette. Before I launch into the thick of it, please understand that much of what I wrote is personal opinion. I try to hold myself to it, but others may not feel it’s the correct course of action for them. I also am not perfect all of the time with my own philosophies, and I’ve learned to give myself grace. However, I recommend that reviewers consider and understand that there are some basic rules of etiquette in life. And those “rules” are perhaps good to apply to establishing and maintaining relationships. This includes for the book review world.

In this post I share my opinions on what is an ARC review commitment and why it’s a good idea to follow through on them. I also discuss why it’s not the end of the world to not leave an ARC review. Lastly, I discuss why I don’t believe it’s theft if the receiver of an ARC does not leave a review. This is not a post about book review etiquette with respect to style and faux pas, as Nicole described here. Rather, I provide, for consideration, the positives and negatives of leaving or not leaving ARC reviews.

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Negative Book Reviews Are Necessary

Last month there was an uptick in commentary on book Twitter about negative book reviews. I believe it pertained to an author’s opinion that people shouldn’t leave negative reviews, or something of the sort. I don’t have the time to track down the incident that spurred another bout of commentary. Nor do I particularly care enough to do so because it’s a topic that will forever be ubiquitous in the community.

However, this is a topic I’ve been thinking about ever since I started my blog in 2021. I remember debating with myself whether to post negative book reviews. At the time I hadn’t seen any other blogger post anything other than a positive (3+ stars) review. And so it seemed like the norm and something maybe I should do because why contribute to negativity? After all, there’s certainly enough of that in the world.

But the more I thought about it the more strongly I felt about several things. First, I wouldn’t be true to myself if I only elected to share positive reviews. Second, sharing only my positive reviews wouldn’t be fair to potential future readers of a particular book. And third, reviews are predominately for readers, not authors.

Let me elaborate so that I know you know what I mean.

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How to Make Book Blog Friends and Grow Your Audience

I started my blog in March 2021, more than 1.5 years ago. Every so often I find myself reflecting on my journey. And every so often something I see on social media or someone else’s blog will spur another moment of reflection. A topic I keep coming back to involves how I found or created my niche within the bookish community. Note that I am definitely not an expert on this and these are just what I found worked for me. In this post I talk about how to make book blog friends.

It wasn’t easy at first. Starting a blog and maintaining it takes a lot of time and effort. Like many others, I started mine to connect with others who enjoy reading similar things. However, ever since the advent of more instantaneous social media (i.e., Twitter, Instagram, TikTok), blogging can feel like shouting out into the void. Therefore, it’s just as important to create and maintain at least one form of social media, in my opinion. That in itself can take a while to curate and figure out. You have to decide who to follow, what hashtags to use, and how to set up WordPress such that shared links to your site automatically preview an image.

All of this is initially overwhelming and may feel futile for the first few months. But after trying different ways to interact and create content, I feel like I’ve started to crack the code. (But who knows, it could change tomorrow. :-)) So I put together a list of things that I strive to do and that I encourage others to try. While I engage in these activities to connect with others, I’ve also seen a positive impact on my blog statistics, if that is something that is equally important to you. So, consider this list a work in progress. Read on to learn how to make book blog friends and grow your audience.

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