Recently I received an email from a publishing marketer wanting to know where my review was for an advanced reading copy they had sent. The problem was, this copy was unsolicited. It arrived in my mailbox as a pleasant surprise and after a courtesy Instagram post made its way to small but kind of growing pile of unsolicited book mail. This was not the first time an email like this has happened, and it kind of upset me. The more I thought about it, the more I felt the marketer was out of line to approach me in this manner. After deleting the email (I try not to allow myself to angry respond – lesson learned there) I took to Twitter with my grievances because that is what we do in this day and age of booming social media.
It turns out that many of you agree
(because I am right) and I had some nice discussions about these unsolicited copies and unread review policies (Spoiler – nobody reads them). I wanted to carry that over to the blog and discuss it further because it’s fun to do. So let’s do this!
Unsolicited Book Mail: Is There A Proper Etiquette Involved?
This is a tricky one for me because I say yes and no. Technically, I feel as though I did not ask for it, therefore I am in no way, shape or form committed to respond or react to it. But I also happen to be a nice and appreciative person *wink*. So do have a haphazard system in place that I hope is courtesy and grateful because I do love book mail and being thought of ❤
My System (Attempt at Unsolicited Book Mail Etiquette)
Keeping two shelves for ARCs & reviews copies: Here I separate the requested and agreed to reading versus the glorious and ever elusive surprise mail into two defining collections. And well, I bet you can guess which takes priority *double wink*
Contacting the publisher: If I am provided with contact or have the information for the sender (a few I work with regularly will send titles they think I might like) I will send an email thanking them for the book and let them know that if/when I have time to review it, I will be sure to send them the link. I do understand these ARCs cost them money and like to be appreciative and responsive when I can. However, I will not go out of my way to track down senders of the random titles that arrive with no additional information.
Brief promotion without/before reviewing: I always attempt to share the book mail on Instagram and social media in advance. Albeit my following count is hardly worthy of actually labeling this as a promotion. I feel that bringing any awareness to the titles is the least I can do before it goes on the glorious surprise mail shelf.
Reviewing: I will review and acknowledge that it was sent via the publisher and shoot them a link once I am finally able to do. I do not review the random romance or spiritual titles that arrive. To be fair, I have a policy that states I am closed for reviews and do not accept these titles EVER. Should have read that *triple wink* <– is that a thing?
I appreciate and respect those rare occasions that I am sent the unexpected. Particularly when it is accompanied by a nice note or explanation. I have one publicist who will send books with a card saying “This sounded like your cup of tea” I adore her! I do the best I can to acknowledge and review the titles. But I also believe it is out of line for any publisher to demand a review when the title was never actually requested. I am hoping this is a rare event that I will not encounter too often.
How do you handle unsolicited books? Perhaps you have experienced something similar (although I hope not). Do you feel there is a proper etiquette involved with unsolicited book mail?