June 26, 2009

How Not to Pitch

One of the things that happens to you when you're a book blogger is that authors and publicists email you about books they'd like you to read and review. And sometimes those emails are insane.

One time, early on in my book blogging saga, I received a poorly-written query from an author, let us call him MF, who addressed me as "Dear Editor". I wrote back -- admittedly, somewhat snarkily -- and  suggested that next time, MF might find out my name and use it rather than spam me with a form letter. Then I got this reply:
oh, dear, the anal-retentiveness has been awakened; the narcissism and the pomposity is too much. I have been reviewed all over the world by better and more expoxied reviewers than yourself. As a practicing psychotherapist you have more than issues, my dear, inflated sir. Do not respond as I will delete your email; that you would spend so much time crafting a response like yours reveals how little is going on in your life. You are not only an aberration but a self-important prig, a remnant of the 19th century.

I did not write back. It didn't matter; MF is a little notorious for spamming book bloggers and he queried me several more times both through email and through my blog. I don't know why he'd keep writing to a narcissistic, anal-retentive, pompous un-expoxied, inflated, self-important, aberrant, 19th-century prig, but there you have it.

I got another email this week -- two, actually -- from an author whom I'll call TR. This is the content of TR's first email to me:
I had a near death experince 9 months ago. As a result I reached nirvana. The buddhists suggest I am teh buddha of teh age but I assure them I am simply heimdall.
In the last 5 months I have written and published 5 books and I have determined to write ininfite books and everplain everything there is to explain in all of existence and I do it rather swiftly.
Now here is where you come in.
[amazon link redacted]
That is the link to the first fouth books.
I will attach the 2,3,4th volume in this main in PDF format becasue I am looking for a harsh critic.
I do not want you to be biased because you had to pay for the books. I am sending them to you freely so that you will be unbiased in your judgement of them. I am looking forward to hearing what you have to say about my books, sunshine.

Thank you for your compassion and understanding,
[TR]

And this is the content of his follow-up (sent 20 minutes later):
If you hate volume 2,3 & 4 you are going to love volume 5 & 6
Attempt to keep this comment in your mind written by freud as you read.

"Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity."

Thats a nice way of saying, if you hate my books it is becasue subconsiously you love them.

I would like to point out that this author's email display name was "Me". Do you know how odd it is to get mail from "Me" that you haven't yourself sent? It is truly bizarre (as is the rest of this pitch).

I don't even know where to start. There's the poor spelling, the linkening of oneself to a Norse god, the unsanctioned nickname, five books in five months (hello, iUniverse! Thanks for making publishing a joke industry!), the misunderstanding of some irrelevant Freud, the audacity of claiming that you'll write infinite books in order to explain everything ever ... this is a mess. The kicker, though, is the last line of the second email: "if you hate my books it is because subconsciously you love them."

Ladies and gentlemen, this is called denial. This means that even if you are asking for a harsh critic, you are going to have your hands on your ears and be yelling -- LALALA YOU ACTUALLY LOVE ME -- when harsh criticism comes. Up to this point I was almost interested, despite the trainwreck factor of it all.

Le sigh.

I hasten to assure you all that yes, it is possible to successfully pitch to a blogger or reviewer. Authors and publicists do it all of the time. Would you like to do this too? Here are some hints:

  1. Learn to spell. Or at least to use spellcheck, for the love of pete.

  2. Include a teaser or blurb, like on the back of a book.

  3. Ideally, include a writing sample as well.

  4. Do not give the reviewer you're querying an unsolicited nickname, sunshine.

  5. Show that you know who you're pitching too -- use their name, and be demonstrably familiar with what they like (ie, don't send a YA novel to a blog that only reviews nonfiction).

  6. If your pitch makes the person you're contacting afraid to give you her address, you're probably doing it wrong. Don't be these guys.

23 comments:

Catherine said...

There is only one thing to say about the first one. And that is: "LOL"
.-= Catherine´s last blog ..Change Of Address =-.

Melissa said...

Natasha at MAWBooks tweeted your post - haha, we all need a little snark in our lives :) Great blog!

(btw - what is the meaning of expoxied? if it's a real word, I guess I've learned a new one today!)
.-= Melissa´s last blog ..Books, books, books! =-.

Steph Su said...

Heard it from Natasha on Twitter as well! Oh goodness. That made me giggle and then sigh in despair at the state of some people.
.-= Steph Su´s last blog ..Discussion: Race & Ethnicity in YA =-.

Sheila DeChantal said...

That is unbelievable! Thank you for sharing this... I have had one encounter up to this point but nothing to the level in which you have. I sat here and read your post with my mouth hanging open in shock.

This was a great pre bed read..... : )
.-= Sheila DeChantal´s last blog ..Freebie Friday: Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen =-.

Diane said...

LMAO! Some ppl... just don't read the fine print. lol.
.-= Diane´s last blog ..The Twilight Zone ~ Time Enough At Last =-.

Amy Reads Good Books said...

Ha! Great post! You never know when a Norse god will pop in your inbox!
.-= Amy Reads Good Books´s last blog ..The 19th Wife =-.

Christine said...

Last time I posted about the first letter it was established that there's no such word as "expoxied". He might have meant to write "experienced", but it's pretty unclear.

Amanda said...

I'm particularly fond of "my dear, inflated SIR."

And I think if I ever get published, I'm going to use the finger-in-my-ears technique. If they say they hate it, it must mean they love it. Oh yeah.
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..Zel, by Donna Jo Napoli =-.

Holly said...

LOL! I haven't received any like this, but I do get a lot of pitches. Do you respond to every single one?
.-= Holly´s last blog ..The Bollywood Piano...Review =-.

christina said...

Oh my gosh. I really couldn't stop laughing through out this whole post. *applause*
.-= christina´s last blog ..Input? =-.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I remember when you posted about the first letter (and I did review his book btw, received it before the hoopla otherwise would have reconsidered). What I can't believe is that he continued to query you! That is just hilarious! As for the second one, oh my goodness. Seriously. What a pitch.
.-= Natasha @ Maw Books´s last blog ..Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight =-.

Melanie said...

That's hilarious! The internet sometimes brings out the worst in people, don't you think?

GenreReviewer said...

*blink* Well, I've never had something like this happen to me yet. So far, I've only received well-written, respectful pitches. But I suppose it's only a matter of time before I get one like these...
.-= GenreReviewer´s last blog ..Giveaway: The Vanishing Sculptor =-.

Christine said...

Holly -- I don't respond to every pitch, for a couple reasons. First of all, I don't think I need to justify insanity with a response. Secondly, I have a moratorium on reviews; I went a bit nuts with the ARC requests when I first started blogging, and realized that I had to slow waaaaaay down -- and so I don't request books unless I really, really, really want to read them. I think that all of the publicists who regularly pitch to me know that I respond infrequently, and I'd rather not take up my time (and theirs) writing a bunch of "no thanks" emails.

Natasha -- I actually accepted his book in the end, and got a copy. And then I gave it away before I had a chance to read or review it... kind of accidentally-on-purpose. Ah, well. (And thanks for RTing this, by the way.)

GenreReviewer -- I could make some up and send them to you, and then you could experience the joy of crazy. Wouldn't that be nice? (Probably not, actually.)

David de Beer said...

my dear, inflated sir

eh? is this true?
If it is, I must apologize -- haven't been reading your blog for very long so I was under the impression you're a girl. "she reads", kind of threw me.

At least he didn't call you passive agressive (which I've come to believe is the internet insult of choice.), although I assume he was working his way up to it.

I keep trying to come up with something constructive to say, and related to your post, but I got nothin. Anyways, maybe now your blog will be happy and stop telling me to introduce myself and leave a comment.

You run a nice blog, and this is just one of the hazards of the occupation so don't let it get to you.

Christine said...

No, it's not true. I'm a girl, always have been, and intend to remain so! Just a further example of MF really not knowing what's going on.

Marie Burton said...

That was fun, thanks for the laugh.
Le Sigh.
I sigh at the insanity of the book world sometimes! But it sure is fun to talk about.
.-= Marie Burton´s last blog ..The Sunday Salon - Plenty of Plaidy and Dragons! =-.

raych said...

*DIES laughing*

Oh my dear inflated Christine, every time I read a review of yours now I think, Gee, Christine sure is epoxied these days.

Also, I think you are being unfair to teh buddha. I mean, he didn't so much claim to 'explain' everything ever as he did promise to 'everplain' it, which is a totally different thing, and involves a bucket of lolcats.

Is it wrong that I kind of want to read this book now? I am a sucker for overwhelming idiocy. RESIST!!!
.-= raych´s last blog ..What Would Google Do - Jeff Jarvis =-.

Lisa said...

Unbelievable! I've not had anything like that happen to me, but I will remember this post every time I get a request from now on! LOL
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Musing Mondays: Mid Year Stats =-.

Mrs. Micah said...

Glad to see you decided to write about it--too funny!! :) The "simply heimdall" part had me and my coworker in stitches. He suggests that Simply Heimdall would be a great band name. One of those Scandinavian metal bands, perhaps.

I wish we got such fun pitches in the PF blogging industry--alas we mostly get form letters and the most we can laugh about is being called "Dear Blogger" or "Dear X" when X is not our name or pseudonym.

Thanks for sharing, sunshine!
.-= Mrs. Micah´s last blog ..Fianc├ęs Combining Finances =-.

Bill Ectric said...

Expoxied is like, back when I was binding my own books, and accidentally epoxied my hand to the book's, it had to be expoxied off before I could eat lunch, or else I would drag the unfinished book through the guacamole.

(just kidding)

Wendy said...

LOL - I've been out of the loop the last 10 days, so I missed this on Twitter! Thanks for sharing (especially that first one!!!). I am also simply amazed at the requests which appear in my in-box. But, I haven't had any quite as funny as you have.

EL Fay said...

I know this is an older post, but you raise a very good point.

I state specifically in my review policy that one of the genres I DO NOT like is Westerns. And yet one day I got an email from an author begging me to read her Western, which apparently critics had said was the best Western since Lonesome Dove. She didn't even address me specifically - it was obviously a mass email she just sent to random book bloggers. I considered responding and pointing out everything she had done wrong in her email, but decided it just wasn't worth it.
.-= EL Fay´s last blog ..Sunday Salon =-.