Why I Don’t Accept Review Requests

I used to accept review requests on Nose Graze, but I actually closed down all requests only a few short months after creating my blog. I realized that I just couldn’t handle it. Here’s why:

I’m just not interested

I wasn’t interested in 99.9% of the requests I received. Most of them had covers that looked like they were put together in Paint, or had nothing to do with my reading interests, or they just didn’t look like good books. Sometimes this was due to the author completely ignoring my review policy and reading preferences, and other times the book did fit into a genre I like but the book itself just didn’t sound good.

And this leads into point #2…

It’s so awkward!

I obsess over awkwardness. Things that shouldn’t be awkward feel awkward to me. I make them awkward. I interpret them as awkward. And then I stress about how awkward they are!

I felt so awkward turning down review requests. I always felt bad saying, “No, your book doesn’t sound like something I’d like,” so I’d make up excuses instead. I’d try to let them down easy by saying, “Sorry, my TBR pile is just too big, I can’t take on anymore books right now.” But then it would get 10x more awkward when the author would try to work around that and offer to give me the book anyway “in case a space opened up”. Crap, what now?

Then if I actually did read the book but really didn’t like it, it got awkward yet again! How do I explain this? How can I tell them I hated the book without hurting their feelings? Do I even have to tell them? Can I just disappear into a hole and never let them know?

I’d rather do the choosing

Finally I realized something pretty big. I just don’t have the personality for this. I suck at turning people down, then I suck even worse at giving them bad news. I’m just terrible at it! I can’t do it! Why put myself through that if I hate it so much and wasn’t getting very good pitches anyway?

I’d rather be the one doing the pitching. I’d rather get turned down than be the one turning people down. I’d rather look at a list of all the available books (NetGalley, Edelweiss) and pick and choose which ones I want to read. If I get denied, whatevs. But for me, this is sooo much better than receiving requests, most of which I’m not interested in anyway.

Less stress, less hassle, less awkwardness. Oh, and less emails to sift through.

Do you accept review requests?

If so, what’s it like? How many requests do you get? Have you ever gotten really good books?

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45 comments

  1. I get about 2 requests per week. I usually tell them I’m swamped with requests, so if it’s not an issue, I’d email them again. It’s hard to keep up… I think I have at least 30 pending book review requests.

    Regarding good books, yes! Just discovered a favourite author — Frank Freudberg 😀 So yeah, I’m pretty happy with the books I’ve recieved so far. 🙂

  2. LOL “Can I just disappear into a hole and never let them know?” Right???? Honestly, I felt awkward for about a year, then I found my stride and am not nervous to turn people down or write bad reviews. I just got over it I think.

    I get about 5 to 20 review requests a day. I accept maybe one out of every 50. But even that is getting too much. I am still debating on not accepting any more requests. But I say that out of 15 review request books I find a great one!

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Review: Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
  3. I rarely get review requests anymore, since I put up a note in my sidebar saying that I’m not open for requests and my review policy hasn’t been up for over a year now. But when I do get them, I rarely accept them. When I do accept it’s because I’ve read that author’s books before and liked them. I think I’d much rather pick what I want to read too!

    Louise @ Nerdette Reviews recently posted: Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
  4. I get you! I so get you!!! I still accept review request. Why? Well, first I don’t want to delete my policy since it’s really long, it would be such a waste to delete it. HAHA And also I like to give Indie authors a chance 🙂 I’m not very updated with books and such so I am very open to suggestions. Most of the requests I get, like you…I reject them. They don’t interest me at all and also they never listen to my rules…ugh! It can be irritating..and sometimes they don’t even say Hi Chyna! Someone called me Jennifer before….

    Chyna @ Lite-Rate-Ture recently posted: Design Review: Does this cover not amuse you?
  5. I’m right there with you, although it took me a lot longer to finally say “no.” I hate disappointing people too, and I find it very hard to tell someone their book sucks, which most indies have a problem with, unfortunately. I only take on requests now from traditionally published authors, and only if it falls in my genre, and if it has enough 4-5 star reviews on Goodreads.

  6. I used to selectively accept review books from authors, but received too many books I didn’t like (even when the book sounded like my kind of read), so then I started politely turning them down with a standard “time constraints” excuse.

    Nowadays, I must admit that I delete most requests from my e-mail without responding, because I get so many! Ever since I became a “top Amazon reviewer,” I am bombarded, and none of these authors even check my review policy. They just grab my name and send it out, probably along with an e-mail to twenty other people. So I don’t feel bad for ignoring. Unsolicited requests are just that: unsolicited. And unwanted.

    I do accept review books from authors I’ve read and loved…there are a handful of those. And Vine reviews. Those I can pick and choose. That works for me.

    Laurel-Rain Snow recently posted: AUTHOR’S HOME PAGE
  7. I still accept review requests, but I don’t really get that many any more (which is a blessing). I’ll be honest, I’m quite bad at replying to requests, though in my defence I do have a sentence on the site that says I can’t reply to all requests.

    I’m taking on less books to review these days, anyway. I have hundreds and hundreds of my own books to read, and review copies I just didn’t get to, and I want to get my TBR pile down, not up, so I’m trying to be choosier anyway. It’s hard, because 90% of the books sound awesome, but I’ll drown if I don’t change and start saying no…

    I also much prefer to request from Netgalley & Edelweiss. It’s so much easier for me to review ebooks these days, than wait for a paperback to arrive all the way to Tenerife!

  8. I’m so glad you posted this. My site does accept review copies and while it was a great idea, it just isn’t working. I run our site and there are 6 of us total and I just can’t get the rest if the team into the books that are being requested. I turn down 50% of the books that come through because 1) they sound horrible and the request is horribly written and/or 2) no one on the team is interested. So I’m going to have to start turning down more. Currently I just put them on a waiting list that really, never gets looked at again. Ugh.

  9. I don’t go looking for books to review. I have too many of my own to read as it is. However, if someone comes to me, which doesn’t happen very often, I consider the book and I’m very much like you… I feel awkward saying no to an author. So about a month ago this happened to me and I sort of knew right off the bat that it wasn’t for me but thought I’d give it a try anyway because I felt “awkward” saying no. Then I kept trying to read the book, put it down, pick it back up again and finally said this is enough. I can’t do it. Then I had to contact the author and tell her that I didn’t like it… again making ME feel awkward.

    I asked where they got my name and come to find out they stumbled across my site. It was then that I realized that they didn’t actually consider the books that I review on my site or my interests listed in my “policies” area.

    Carrie recently posted: Undeclared, Jen Frederick
  10. We NEED you! As a publisher we send out review requests regularly. First we read all of the reviewer’s policy and what books they have previously reviewed so we only send what interests them. We address each reviewer personally and our books are all professionally edited and proofread, proofread, proofread. No awkwardness required because we never expect a response and happy when we get a review and then send a thank you note. Please don’t give up! 🙂

  11. I started my blog quite recently so I’m still experimenting, but for the moment, I tend to agree with you. I receive many review requests for books that just wouldn’t fit in my blog (I focus on Canadian lit.), and more than once indeed the books looked more than amateurish. I try to not judge the book by its cover (uh uh), but when the book is unknown on GoodReads and Amazon, I just can’t say yes. There are a ton of books out there and so little time to read :/

  12. “I obsess over awkwardness. Things that shouldn’t be awkward feel awkward to me. I make them awkward. I interpret them as awkward. And then I stress about how awkward they are!” Baha, this cracked me up!

    I don’t accept review requests either, for the same reasons as your ‘just not interested’ paragraph. The covers are usually HORRIBLE, and if I can’t even stand to look at a book how am I supposed to read it? I also hate obligation. The review copies I have already give me enough trouble. Plus – and this is terrible – I’m getting to the point that I only want the mainstream “hyped up” books. If it’s not something with a pretty cover that’s by an author I know, I don’t want it anymore. Is that sad? I’m kind of ashamed to admit that :-X

    Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat recently posted: Life of a Blogger: Fitness
    1. Oh yeah and I’m at the point now where if I don’t want it I don’t answer at all. Most of the requests I get are from people who CLEARLY did not read my policy, and I have half the mind to say “Well, I state in my policy that I don’t review x genre, so I won’t accept your book” and then realize that it would probably be offensive so I go for the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” policy, haha.

  13. Yeah, about a year after starting my blog, I changed my review policy to be closed to all request except if I had read an author’s work previously. It was mainly your point #1 that made me close review requests. I realized in a year with probably hundreds of requests, I accepted ONE book for review. Just one. I much prefer to be the one requesting now, because I know I’ll only request things I’m interested in.

  14. Oh my gosh, the awkwardness. I once accepted a book for review from an author. Thought it was pretty good/okay, but didn’t really like it enough to want to continue the series or even take on more books from said author. So he emailed me about another book that he wrote and I tried the whole “I don’t have room in my schedule to take on more review books right now” and of course that backfired because he was like, “oh I’ll just send you the pdf anyway and whenever you get around to it”. AWKWARD. Now what do I do? So I’ve pretty much just ignored it and have been debating whether or not to even accept requests anymore. I don’t get all that many, but when I do they are usually from self-pubbed authors, which, nothing against self-pubbing, but I just get really nervous taking them on because I feel like they are really hit or miss, and unfortunately, I feel like more tend to be a miss than a hit. So then I’m torn. Do I accept it for review or not? Maybe I should just take a page from your book and stop accepting them. It would make life a lot easier.

    Rebecca @ The Library Canary recently posted: Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin
  15. I used to respond to review requests, even when I had an open review policy (I stopped taking books too, but I still get submissions every day). Eventually I adopted a system kind of like a literary agent or publisher: no response = declined request. It’s easier for me as a blogger, and as an author I know it’s easier to receive silence than a flat-out “no.”

    Abria @ Read. Write. Discuss. recently posted: Staying Focused as a Writer
  16. I accept requests and I’ve read a lot of great books I would have missed if I didn’t. I am sure that more popular blogs like yours would get way more requests than I could handle though. I get one or two a week, maybe, and I’ve just hit that point this summer. Before that it was one a month, if that. I’m pretty bad at replying to email in general so I usually don’t reply if it’s a no. I feel bad about it but I keep doing it…so I guess I don’t feel that bad about it.

  17. I think I’ve accepted two review requests out of a hundred. I rated one of them two stars and DNF-ed the other one.
    I get so many emails in which the author gushes about how much they love my blog and how they think their book will be one that I’ll surely love. Usually, it seems like they didn’t even read my review policy, much less my actual reviews.

    Dana @ The Nerdy Journalist recently posted: TGIF Weekly Recap | Sept. 5, 2014
  18. Am I a horrible person for just not replying to someone who asks for a review of a book I have no interest in? I used to, but now I seldom do. I at least made mention of it in my review policy.. so that saves my bum. I get really annoyed when someone ignores my policy though. I mean, if it clearly states that I’m not accepting requests and you email me anyway, unless you are an author I’ve read before or love, then no beans. I will trash the mail by default. It just bugs me too much.

  19. My blog is not ready yet, so I’m just a regular reader, and, guess what? I also receive review requests by email (sometimes with a PDF file attached). Not sure how people get my email, but well, that’s awkard at least. And I can’t understand why authors don’t even bother to make a mobi version. I won’t read a PDF. No way! And of course I won’t read something people just throw in my email box.

    And this desperate attitude for a review looks just…desperate. I know how important reviews are for authors, I swear I want to help, but all this pressure for a review is overwhelming. Sometimes I just want to read good book, and don’t have the time (or simply don’t want) to write about it.

    As a reader, I decided I don’t want to write reviews all the time. That’s it. If I pay for a book, I don’t have any obligation with the author (even if the book is free – I didn’t ask for it anyway).

    I’m not sure how this is going to work on my blog though – I’m afraid of looking pretensious saying I don’t accept requests on a new blog, but I don’t want anyone choosing my next reading.

    1. I work on my family’s publishing house here in far Brazil, and you would never guess how many paperbacks I receive looking for an “opinion”… (not even talking about originals, ok?). I can’t even imagine why people need an opinion for a book already published.
      It’s sad, but most of them go the recycle bin – no library would accept them, and we have no space to keep all those books.

  20. I don’t accept review requests either, for some of the same reasons you stated. Some Authors don’t know how to take no for an answer and I really feel bad saying well, it really doesn’t catch my interest. So I just say not open to review requests, and it gives me the freedom to read whatever I want, whenever I want, and not on someone’s schedule. I hate having to feel like I owe someone something, especially when I’m doing it as a hobby in my free time.

    Julie S. recently posted: If I Stay Book vs. Movie Review
  21. I did take review requests until recently. I had the same issues with it. I rarely enjoyed the books I was offered, and I had to send a lot of emails saying I wasn’t interested. It’s just uncomfortable. Plus, since I’ve started working as a librarian, I’m much more worried about reading things I might buy for the library or recommend to students. Since most of the requests I was getting were from indie or self-published authors, I’m not likely to purchase them for our library. Now, I can focus one what i want to read, and if I want to read a review copy I’ll just get it from NetGalley or Edelweiss.

    Laura Ashlee recently posted: Audiobooks and Literacy
  22. I stopped taking review requests simply because it was too much. I already have tons of books that I select to read and yes, sometimes what is offered just isn’t interesting or exciting to me.

    I also had a problem where I wanted to help some of these new publicity companies that are starting up and I am supposed to be part of a blog tour and then when I finally read the book. It’s terrible. Now instead of an honest review, they have me doing a spotlight so I don’t bash their author on a blog tour. It wasn’t worth the time to keep reading bad books to help out the publisher and authors.

    Lucy @EBookObsessed recently posted: Celebrate Our Third Anniversary!
  23. I have had to put up a note on my blog stating that I’m not taking any requests at this time unless I’ve worked with them in the past. It doesn’t stop authors asking though and I just have to politely turn them down. It does get tiring at times and I get a little burnt out from doing requests. Sometimes I just have to put those books down and read what I want for a breather. I won’t do reviews for blog tours though and be on a deadline to finish the book.

    Sharon's Book Nook! recently posted: Divergent by Veronica Roth – Book vs. Movie Review
  24. So complicated and awkward! I feel bad because there have been books that I liked, but more often than not, I didn’t enjoy them. I have accepted review requests since then, because, like you, let me do the asking!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  25. Great post, Ashley. As a new blogger, I stated on my page that I don’t accept review requests mainly because I’m still figured things out. And I’ve got this huge stack of books already that need to be read first! I work with on book publicity company and one publishing house right now. But I get to decide which books and tours might be the best fit for my reading and blogging style. It’s worked pretty well for me. I can mix books I already have on my list and discover new authors at the same time!

  26. I delete a lot of random and just bad review request emails, but I’ve also been getting more emails from the big six publishers and so I find it worth the other emails when I get invited to review a book I’m really pumped for ;-). I guess I just got over the awkwardness of deleting emails without responding to them with the assumption that no one’s time needs to keep being wasted :-/

  27. I mostly don’t do review requests. I got one good book recently though. I also quit doing book tours after a string of really bad books. I was still on a mailing list though and one book recently looked really good so I caved. I got two pages in and the writing is stilted and awkward and horrible. Grrrrr. I knew better!

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