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On Dealing With Unsolicited Books

A photo of someone proffering a copy of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

When an unsolicited book comes your way, what do you do about it?

Unlike a book you’ve agreed to review, the only information you may have is whatever happens to be on the press release, if there was one in the package. By a process of elimination you’re able to tell who sent it (the publisher logo, the return address), and it’s likely someone you’ve worked with before.

You can treat it as you would a solicited ARC, reviewing it around the publication date and making space for it in your schedule. Or, considering it’s arrived without prior “consent”, you may opt to read it if and when you can get round to it.

Do unsolicited books cause pressure to review a book you may not have wanted? (Indeed it may be the case that you are surprised by a copy of a book you desperately did want, in which case you’d likely choose to read and review it because you would have anyway.) I think it depends on the individual and their relationship with the sender. For example, I’ve received a few books from a couple of publishers unsolicited, and whilst I may never have heard of the books before, the publishers know me enough that the books they sent were a perfect fit. But if a book arrived at my door that was of a topic I know nothing about, and especially if it happened to come from a publicist I didn’t know (this is unlikely), I would feel puzzled. Where I personally prefer to read books on subjects I know or am keen to research, I obviously feel less inclined to review books for which I have little background. Little background simply makes it harder to know whether what you’ve written is relevant.

If you choose to read the book, do you feel you have to read it around the publication date? In the grand scheme of things it makes sense to, but fitting another book into a possibly already burdened schedule is difficult, especially when book blogging doesn’t make you much, or any, money. But of course there can be the feeling that you want to please the sender – even if you know that they would know you might not be able to get to it.

An unsolicited copy of a book is surely sent in the hope of a review but with the knowledge that it might not be read or, if so, left until later.

If you receive unsolicited books, what actions do you take? If you don’t currently receive them, what do you think you would do when it happens?


Tanya Patrice

April 17, 2013, 1:20 am

I don’t accept advanced review copies, so I’ve never gotten unsolicited books. If I did, I’d probably read it when I got around to it if it’s something I’m interesting in and liked, I’d try to post around the publication date. That’s why I don’t accept ARC’s – I’d stress out!


April 17, 2013, 4:05 am

I don’t receive ARCs, unsolicited or even ones I’ve requested :) I usually only get approved for an occasional book on Netgalley and it is something that I’m really interested in. I have received unsolicited galleys at work and I just pass them along to another librarian. If I did get an unsolicited ARC at home I wouldn’t feel pressure to read or review it – I’d consider it a gift to take or leave.


April 17, 2013, 5:54 am

There is a Spanish publishing house that always send bloggers books that they haven’t requested, and it’s weird when you open the envelope and find, for example, a novel for young people, or even for kids. I also have recieved the second novel in a series and I hadn’t read (and I didn’t know) the first book.
Sometimes I read those books, sometimes I organize a giveaway, and send them to people that really want to read them.
I’m sorry, but I don’t read books that I don’t want to read.


April 17, 2013, 7:12 am

I don’t think I’ve ever read an unsolicited review book. I don’t object to them in principle, but it’s just hard to make the time, you know?


April 17, 2013, 8:53 am

I usually add them to my list of ARCs and try to fit them in if I can. I don’t pressure myself though. Since I didn’t know it was coming, I figure they can’t expect I will definitely get to it by release date. That’s said, I’ve had really good luck with unsolicited review books, in that the ones I have received have been in genres that I love. So at least I’m not having to decide on them based on content.


April 17, 2013, 1:04 pm

Great questions!

If I receive an unsolicited book that I’m interested in I’ll read it and try to fit a review in around the release date. Because it’s unsolicited I don’t freak out about the schedule though. If it fits, that’s awesome. If not? Tough. ;)


April 17, 2013, 1:09 pm

I don’t get unsolicited books. If I did, I’d probably try it because, whoa, unexpected book in the mail! Kind of like finding a pancake on your plate in the morning!


April 17, 2013, 1:14 pm

I rarely get unsolicited books anymore, although one came the other day WITH POSTAGE DUE! I was astounded! LOL (I didn’t know what it was or I would not have accepted it.) But unsolicited means no pressure to review, as far as I’m concerned. If I do accept on the basis of review however, I do try to get as close to the pub date as I can.


April 17, 2013, 2:37 pm

I don’t get sent books from publishers (i’m not even sure how it works to be honest) but I do get a lot of emails from small e-book publishers. If I’m honest, I ignore a lot of them, as most of them don’t even say ‘hi, would you consider reading this’ – which I think is rude.

I think you are right though, if it is from a Publisher you have a good relationship with, they are giving you a book that they know you will like and review well, if it isn’t it feels a bit rude to assume you will read it just because they send it. This is, after all, something you do in your free time. Also, I think you are right in saying it makes sense that you read it around publication date, otherwise it could become easily forgotten.

Rebecca @ Love at First Book

April 17, 2013, 3:02 pm

I think if the book is unsolicited and comes without info (like, we thought you’d enjoy this book from xxx) then you can do whatever you want with it. Would I feel obligated to review it? Probably, unless it was completely not my genres!

jenn aka the picky girl

April 17, 2013, 3:06 pm

Nope. I get them (though only recently), and usually they’re way off in terms of my reading tastes.

If they’re something I would read anyway, I treat it as I would any other review copy (not that I think it’s necessary).


April 17, 2013, 3:12 pm

I get an occasional unsolicited book, but it’s pretty rare since I cut back on the review books I requested or accepted a couple years ago.

I first determine whether it’s a book I want to read at all. My reading time is precious. and I would much rather read something I want to read than not. If it is a book I want to read, I add it to my stack of TBR books. It doesn’t get special treatment because it’s a review book. I’ll get to it when I get to it. Perhaps I should take them more seriously, but, frankly, if a book is sent to me unsolicited, I don’t feel obligated to read or review it.


April 18, 2013, 12:28 pm

I very seldom get unsolicited books. But I’m a nice person and do read them anyway (I wouldn’t if I had 10 per week, obviously). Since I review all books I read, I would write a review even if I didn’t like the book very much. If it was a book that I was really not interested in, I would not read it, though.


April 19, 2013, 11:55 am

I have only ever received one book unsolicited. In that case I was lucky that it was a book well chosen for me. I never agree on a date to read any book so I am always open to read by mood rather than a schedule. In which case I treated the unsolicited book like I would have any other review copy. If I did receive an unsolicited book I wasn’t interested in reading I suspect I just wouldn’t read it and instead try to pass it on to someone who might enjoy it.


April 20, 2013, 2:14 am

I don’t get many unsolicited books any more – which is good as it kind of creeps me out that someone would know my mailing address without my telling them! But when I did – I never prioritized the book to read. I barely prioritize the books I DO request, I’m far too moody a reader!

Laurie c

April 22, 2013, 11:04 am

If the unsolicited book was The Night Circus I would read it right away! ;)


May 24, 2013, 12:36 pm

Jeanne: Yes, it’s exciting. I suppose I’m lucky that the couple I’ve had have been obviously well chosen.

Rhapsody: Postage? Wow, did you pay for it or let it go? Yes, that’s what I’m thinking, no pressure. I haven’t posted reviews of my current unsolicited books yet, though one’s ready.

Alice: Usually it’ll start with the publisher approaching you, though you could always try Netgalley if you want. Basically as it would with the e-book publishers you speak of. I often ignore rude emails – awkward ones aren’t so bad, but if it’s ‘review my book, respond to this email, bye’ it does go in the bin. Yes, I think with classics it would be easier to leave it, new edition or not, but otherwise near the publication date if possible.

Rebecca: Yes, there is that feeling of obligation, even if you don’t manage to review it in time.

Jenn: To be honest I don’t understand sending competely unrelated books, especially since there are lots of bloggers and few ARCs.

Literary Feline: I wondered if unsolicited books do arrive less often if you accept less books later on. I suppose you therefore received them from publishers who knew you? It’s difficult, you could try to be ‘more serious’ about it, but then if it’s sent without prior knowledge you can’t just change your schedule, be it your blog schedule or personal reading plans.

Judith: Good strategy, as it were. And if they are one you would’ve passed on if emailed about it, not reading it makes sense.

Jessica: I could learn a few things from you! I keep saying I won’t give a date, because sometimes it inevitably doesn’t work out, but I always end up doing so. Passing it on is a good idea.

Aarti: You get them from publishers you haven’t worked with before, then? Yes, that is a bit creepy, unless, say, the person had moved to another company.

Laurie: That would’ve made an awesome unsolicited book. right?



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