Dear Random Email Guy, You’re Doing It Wrong

10 Jul

The other day I received an email from a gentleman asking me to review his book. This is the second such email from this gentleman in as many months. I ignored and deleted the first, assuming my lack of response would be a clue. I was wrong.

(I’ve redacted sensitive information to protect the ignorant. Mouse-over for transcript.)

There are so many things wrong with this situation, I hardly know where to begin. First, I suppose, should be the knowledge that I have never requested solicitations. I have applied for writer-type positions through ads on Craigslist, but not to write reviews. Second, the insane amount of trust this gentleman has in the recipients of his email. He not only gives the title and premise of the book, along with attached cover art, but also his telephone number. There is no telling how many people he sent this to, presumably unsolicited. Third, and this is the big one, his phrasing makes it sound like he’s trying to do me a favor.

I thought about responding to him privately, but I honestly don’t think he would get the message. Instead, I’m adding him to my spam list and responding to him here.

Hello there, random email guy.

I don’t know you. I don’t know how you received my email address, or why you think it is appropriate to email me. I can only assume you found my address on my website and, seeing that I occasionally review books, thought you would offer me the opportunity to take a gander at your latest gem.

You see, I don’t accept books to review on solicitation. You’ll notice, with a quick look at my handy ‘Reviews‘ category, that I have reviewed just about everything from movies to television to apps and software to video games and products. And, yes, of course, books. But you’ll also notice that the books I review are ones that I have, on my own, decided to pick up and read for entertainment purposes only. I reviewed Chuck Wendig’s books because I like the way he writes and I like the stories he tells. I reviewed Dan O’Shea for the same reasons. Same thing with John Green. None of these people emailed me. None of them would be that presumptuous.

(Quick note: Wendig occasionally reminds his Twitter followers that it is good practice to review books you enjoy on major retail sites, especially if you get the book for free. I completely agree with him. I do not consider this remotely close to email solicitation.)

What your brief email has asked, essentially, is for me to take my time and my blog space to advertise for you for free. There are several things wrong with this, not least of which is… I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish by emailing me. I have less than twenty followers here and around 120 followers on Twitter. I simply don’t have the audience to be of any help to you. And if that’s the reason you emailed me, assuming that since I have less traffic I would jump at the chance to review someone as awesome as you, you’re sadly mistaken. I might not have a huge audience, but I certainly don’t work for free. My time and space are valuable, and for you to assume they aren’t is rather dick-ish.

If I haven’t made my point clear and you’re still confused why I would pass up such an opportunity, I would like to point you to this article in the Village Voice from Josh Olson and this post on Terribleminds from Chuck Wendig. (I’ve just spent a good amount of time looking for a post from John Scalzi on the subject and couldn’t find one, though I’m sure he has one. In my defense, Scalzi’s blog is HUGE.)

I would also like to point out that what you’re doing is hindering, not helping, your career. You can be sure that I will never pick up one of your books, and will encourage others to do the same. Yeah, I’m only one person, but if you’ve stooped to begging reviews via Hotmail it might actually have an impact.

Best wishes in your future endeavors,
Merry Mahaffey

PS: Next time you start to send this type of email, please remember two basic but essential rules for life: don’t be a dick and don’t forget to be awesome. May they serve you well.

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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Daily


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