I recently met a first-time author, who gave me a copy of his book. Shortly after, I got an email from the author’s publicist saying, “We’d appreciate it if you would post your five-star review of the book on Amazon.”
- I don’t mind being asked to post a review of a book (though this ask was poorly done).
- I don’t mind being asked by a publicist, as opposed to the author, if it’s done well (this was not).
- But what frosts me is being told by a publicist what rating to assign the book without even asking whether I’d read it or even intended to read it.
Let’s break it down: What are the rules governing recommendations, referrals and references? And how many did the publicist violate?
How to ask for a favor.
Rule #3. Don’t over-specify the favor. “Would you consider writing a review on Amazon?” is a perfectly reasonable question. Asking that my review contain five stars is just insulting. It implies either that my ratings are for sale or that I needn’t read the book to determine its value, both of which rankle the would-be favor-giver.
“I’m not sure what the right next step would be, but would you mind having a look at Joseph’s resume?” That’s fine. Compare it to “I’d appreciate it if you’d take Joseph’s phone call and meet with him, just for a half hour or so.” That’s over the line.
(A tour guide on a canal in Bruges, Belgium, after a delightful ride, said to me, “May I remind you the 10-franc tip is not included in the admission price.”)