I love to read and I am blessed to have a job that allows me to read books and review them. I have been doing this for a little over seven years now for my own personal enjoyment and now I get paid to do book reviews by an online Christian newspaper. I think I can safely say that I know how to ask for a review and how not to. But unlike most professional reviewers who work for big magazines/newspapers (who can receive up to 50 review requests a day), I work on a much smaller scale and I can take the time to respond to each and every email. Keep in mind however, that when approaching magazines and newspapers for reviews, they don't have the time to decipher your requests. It is much better to just send them a press release.
For the most part however, you will probably want to target your audience and ask them for reviews. We'll discuss where to find your audience at a later date. Today we'll start with some of the things you shouldn't do when asking a book reviewer to review your book. These rules don't just apply to professional book reviewers either, I'm sure book bloggers would appreciate you use them too.
Many of the emails I receive have only one sentence, "Would you review my book?" The author then signs their name and gives me no other information. They do not tell me the name of the book, nor do they give me any hint on what the book is about. NEVER do this. Professional reviewers will probably delete your email and bloggers will either forgive you for being so absent-minded or they'll delete it too. Reviewers do not have time to drag information out of you.
Once again the author forgets to tell me the name of their book. This type of question makes me feel like I'm being asked out on a blind date, "Do you want to go out on Friday night with what's his name?" The answer is no.
This is getting a little better. At least the author remembered to tell me the name of their book and the genre, but do they want me to review their book or go on a scavenger hunt? If you can't send me all the information in one email, why bother sending me anything at all? This is discourteous to those you are approaching. By making them search for your information you are implying that your time is more important than theirs. That will not help your review at all.
This is much better. The person tells me right off what genre of book I'm dealing with, what the name of the book is and what it's about, as well as how to reach the author. Perfect! Except for one thing — I don't like epic fantasy thrillers. Before you send out a request to a book reviewer, make sure you know what kinds of books they like to review. Otherwise, you are just wasting their time and yours.
Excuse me? You want me to review your book and pay for it too? Well, that takes a lot of nerve I must say. And yes, I have received a few of these kinds of emails. Never, ever ask someone for a review and then tell them they have to pay for the book first. It is standard practice for reviewers to receive a free complimentary book. They should never have to pay for it. Look at it this way, you are asking them to do something for free that will help you. You are asking for an honest review. If you are approaching a well known group like Kirkus Reviews for example, you would pay upwards of $400. Be thankful for those who will read your book and post a review for you, don't insult them by making them pay for it.
When you are looking for someone to review your book, whether they get paid for it (like Kirkus reviews) or not, keep in mind reviewers are very busy people. Most of the people you contact, are probably bloggers. However, even though they are not professional reviewers they are still taking time out of their schedule to review your book. So be kind, be gracious and give them all the information they will need to make an informed decision about your book.