This is not the way to suss out a review

I can’t speak for the 50,000 other bloggers on the interwebz, but I got a pitch a few minutes ago that pushed all my buttons. Not the good ones. The stuff in quote blocks is the pitch sans identifying info.

Greetings Book Reviewer!

I already know, from lack of my name that this person has never been near my review policy.

[Name retracted] is looking for reviewers interested in reviewing our most recently released books! The list of currently reviewable books are below. If your blog has 500 followers or less, you are entitled to a “for review only” version of the title chosen for review (PDF file format); if your blog has between 500 to 3,000 followers, you are entitled to a e-book of your chosen title free of charge in your choice of Nook or Kindle. If your blog has more than 3,000 followers, you are entitled to a print version of the book of your choice (Trade Paperback).

Do you want me to review a book or is this a popularity contest. FYI, I don’t have ‘blog followers’. So I have ZERO.

Should your review generate at least 50 sales (determined by e-mails from purchasers who mention your review), we will send you an autographed version of the book reviewed, with a special thank-you message from the [retracted], and include an excerpt from your review in the next edition of the book, listing your name and the name of your blog.

Am I supposed to ask people to buy the book and then mention they bought it due to me or is this a review? A review prompts people to buy, but generally they don’t need to identify or even remember why they bought a book. Its classic word of mouth, you see the cover, remember you read something somewhere about it.

Recent Titles for Review:
- [retracted] (Literary Fiction) by [retracted]
- [retracted] (General Fiction, Coming of Age) by [retracted]
- [retracted](Educational, Health) by [retracted]
- [retracted] (Relationship Self-Help) by [retracted]
- [retracted] (Biography) by [retracted]

You may see information for these books at [retracted], or [retracted]

For further information, contact me at


There was no copy, no synopses, nothing other than this pitch sent to multiple bloggers at the same time. I know we are the bastard children of publishing, but seriously would you pitch the NYT like this? Would you query an agent like this? If the answer is no to that question you may need to rethink before you pitch. And while I will admit that blurbing a book is one of my blog goals, I won’t participate in a Ponzi scam to do so.

Bloggers, what is your worst pitch story?

EDIT: My reply:

This is by far the most insulting pitch I have ever received in my 4+ years blogging about books. I have worked hard to get the word out about books that I have loved, I have written professional reviews for newspapers, created campaigns for books I have loved and partnered my blog with my local indie to increase their sales, but being asked to review based on blog follower counts – and blurbed based on sales is ludicrous and insulting.

I have zero blog followers, because I have no widget for that. I do not believe it is sound marketing, I base my successes on visitor counts – of which I have 1,500 a day unique on the average. A blurb is a seal of approval, and I would only blurb books I saw fit – asking me to compete with sales to blurb is ridiculous.

It is incredibly infuriating to receive a pitch not only with my name missing, I do have one of those and it is in that area of my blog that you also obviously did not read – the Review Policy Page. Where you would have learned, that I do not accept anything but children’s literature.

So no matter how many followers I would have had, had I had a widget, they would not care about any of these books because they are kid lit minded.

Please take me off of your list.

Pam van Hylckama Vlieg


We spoke, I sent him this link - and then this next email came through. He is a fair and honest guy, gotta give cred for being new.

Dear Reviewers,
You may have just recently received an email from us about review opportunities. This was incorrectly sent (a draft), and does not reflect our policy.

Our actual policy is to provide you with either a print copy or e-book copy of any of our titles you decide to review, regardless of number of followers. In addition, if your review appears, your blurb will appear in the next edition of said book regardless of sales resulted, including having your copy autographed if you so wish. Please not that we do NOT give out ARC’s, all books sent are the actual published version.

We regret any confusion or anger this may have caused. Please forgive us, we are fairly new at this.


25 Responses so far

  1. Gravatar

    Please, please, please just send them this blog post as a response. As a (hopefully) future publicist – this is MORONIC.

  2. Gravatar

    That’s awful! Doesn’t even seem like they care about the books they’re pitching, just the fame it could bring.

  3. Gravatar

    This is brilliant, I am surprised that the number of sales your revew generates was not incremental! 100 sales and you will brifley be written into the next book. 500 sales and a main character will be named after you etc…

  4. Gravatar

    Holy Crapoley! I haven’t been pitched by anyone for a review, but does this person really think we’re that stupid? We review books for the love of them, and the love of reading, not to force people to buy books and give us credit for the idea. I don’t know what your actual response was, if you even dignified it with one, but I don’t think mine would have been printable.


  5. Gravatar

    Haha! I get some crazy ones, but THAT is like epic crazy.

    The follower thing is hilarious. Aren’t there like 2 or 3 blogs that have over 3000 followers. And views are what really matters. How many people actually SEE the blog post.

    I had a pitch from a small publisher where I turned down the request because the book sounded too mature. So, then they replied back telling me that “no, it is not too mature.” Sensing some fun, I replied back to say that “yes, it is too mature and I know my limits.” They actually came back AGAIN saying that I was wrong and it was NOT too mature. Yeah, way to get me to read it. NOT!!!

  6. Gravatar

    Your reply was brilliant. This week seems to be full of pitch fail. I got one yesterday where the publicist had never learned to BCC, and there was at least 100 e-mail addresses, and it nearly crashed my phone, it took so long to load.

  7. Gravatar

    I agree with Cindy. Some of the best pitches, ones that convinced me to review the book, were from people who were excited about the book and really wanted me to read it- no strings attached!

  8. Gravatar

    Sorry Cyndi! Cyndi, Cyndi, Cyndi. Not Cindy.

  9. Gravatar

    For 500 sales u get a an acre of land in Florida. True story. Haha

    At least they now know that is the wrong way to pitch. I wonder if it was really a draft? I’d like to see an even earlier draft. “For bloggers with 20 followers you get a PDF of a PDF of the cover, but if u have 25 followers u get the actual PDF!”

  10. Gravatar

    Forget the fact that they’ve sent out a follow-up email.

    Don’t you feel bad for shaming someone like this? I’ve been following your chat on Twitter, and to be honest it’s coming across as bullying, “I think I made him cry”. Really?

    I realize you get a lot of hits, and you’re a popular blogger, but is snark like this necessary? Someone made a mistake – it happens.

    I’m a book blogger, and I would never shame someone publicly like this. I know you’ve retracted their name and any information that would show us who they are. But they know who they are, and how do you think they feel being ridiculed like this?

    Instead of a knee jerk reaction wouldn’t it have been better to send a private email explaining your review policy.

  11. Gravatar

    I once had an author ask me to review the novel, and call me the wrong name, and wrong site reference.

    Hello Brittany from Books and More,

    Danielle from Bookwhore.. not even close. To Whom it May Concern works to.

  12. Gravatar

    I am pretty sure you left out the part where I said I felt bad – and then the part here on the blog where I printed our emails and gave him cred and links to help him start out. also you are unaware of the now 10 emails where I have spent my evening helping him build a much better pitch. So no, I didn’t ‘hurt’ or make him feel bad, he is genuinely interested in learn g more and pitching better. Also we spoke about me posting this. So before you Climb up on a high horse, maybe you could have asked me some more questions. Also whether I am popular or not is irrelevant to this entire conversation, if I am perceived as popular I have worked damn hard for four years for it. I kind of resent that even being a factor in how I handle something.

  13. Gravatar

    Wow. Talk about unclear on the concept! Who are these people?

    I query this week from some idiot offering me “free content for my blog” because my blog is so “highly rated.”

    Dude, it’s highly rated because I write my own content. Or I get “free content” from people like Danielle Smith (her interview on how you SHOULD approach a book reviewer.)

    And this week I’ll have “free content” by mystery writing legend Lawrence Block.

    I wonder if they have an IQ test for marketers–if your IQ is above a certain point, you don’t qualify.

  14. Gravatar

    That was supposed to be “I got a query.”

  15. Gravatar

    My favorite pitch remains the one where they really wanted me to interview the doctor bringing the revolutionary and famed BRAZILIAN BUTT LIFT surgery to the US.

    He did not write a book about it, he was just a plastic surgeon who hired a PR firm to get people to get his AMAZING BRAZILIAN BUTT LIFT.

    Now, maybe if he had written a Middle Grade novel about the BRAZILIAN BUTT LIFT I would have reconsidered.

    Or maybe, if they had sent me 11 follow up emails instead of 10…

    And, because I can’t help myself, BRAZILIAN BUTT LIFT!

  16. Gravatar

    As a writer, your post sent a shudder up my spine – the idea that the books we spend months or years writing would be so insensitively marketed by a publishing machine is gutting. And of course to receive such an insulting pitch rightly made you see red.

    Is it any wonder that so many of us are choosing self-publishing? I’ve just launched my book in the US after it was published by Penguin in the UK. Though I had a great experience with Penguin my in-house PR there was fabulous, I love the complete control I’ve now got over the whole publication process. So whether my book succeeds or fails in the US will be down to me. Daunting, but I’ll take my chances! And as someone else mentioned, a pitch to a blogger that shows the excitement of the sender, whether PR or author, is surely nicer to read (and certainly nicer to send!)

  17. Gravatar

    “I have zero blog followers, because I have no widget for that.”

    I’m confused: are the people who follow your blog in an RSS reader (like Google reader) not considered “followers”?

  18. Gravatar

    i alternated between lols and nerdrage while reading this.

    but mostly, i am impressed with the professionalism on both sides – you and the dude – at the conclusion.

  19. Gravatar

    [...] This is not the way to suss out a review @ [...]

  20. Gravatar

    I am usually quite good at responding to review requests… but I feel like it is a lot easier to just not respond and delete a request if the email wasn’t addressed to me to begin with. It’s not like they know my name, right?

    The lack of professionalism in that letter was just sad…

  21. Gravatar

    [...] Book Reviewers – Not only did I have my interview with Anne R. Allen, but Pam from Bookalicious had a very interesting encounter with a publicist that you have to read about to [...]

  22. Gravatar

    Whoa. Incredible. I’m speechless. I wonder if this is the future of publishers contacting bloggers.

  23. Gravatar

    [...] I wonder if this much fuss was kicked up when Technorati started up? An article urging you to delete your klout profile that stirred the pot a bit on twitter but last I checked people aren’t exactly leaving klout in droves because of it. This is Not the Way to Suss Out a Review [...]

  24. Gravatar

    Well, that’s definitely a new approach! I have had a few interesting encounters, including one author who got my name right in her first email, and then called me Heidi in her second message, but this one takes the cake!

    I like the fact that you took the time to reply and to help the publicist figure out a better approach. If nothing else, I’m sure you’ve helped the books he’s promoting get more of a fair shake from bloggers.

  25. Gravatar

    [...] 4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog? Basically any post Pam writes at Bookalicious is worthy of a good discussion. She’s always on the mark and I love the topics she brings up. My favorite in the past few months was in regards to a ridiculous pitch she received. It’s definitely worth reading and commenting! – This is not the way to suss out a review [...]

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