Johanna thinks about what’s wrong with publishers giving away comp copies:
Here’s the first problem: if I’ve never been a fan of your work, then why do you expect that I’ll suddenly have a change of heart when you’re sending me more of the same? It’s not like you were trying a different approach or subject matter or had a radical breakthrough or change in art style.
This is why I ask people to query me before sending me books for review. These days, I am just as likely to say “no, thank you” as I am to accept. I try to do that politely, although I suppose “I don’t want to see your comic” is always going to sting. In my case, it’s a valuable filter to weed out projects I’m not going to like. (Zombie and horror comics, superhero books with nothing unusual or new about them, that kind of thing.) It saves creators time and money, although I doubt they’re thinking about the benefits at the time.
This leads to a reminder: research the site you’re planning to submit to. If you’re publishing, for example, comics about a mostly-naked female hero who gets drenched in blood every other issue, I am not a good choice for potential review. If you’ve got a well-drawn new series about high school girls, on the other hand, I’d love to see that. If I’ve not liked your books in the past and you think I might be more receptive now or you’re trying something different, ask first. Emails with website links to description pages with samples are best, so I can do some research.
I also try to make it clear that anything sent to me is a submission for “possible review”, because I don’t and can’t promise to cover everything. When I receive an unsolicited package that I’m not interested in, I don’t have time to contact the sender, say “I don’t want these”, and try to arrange for postage reimbursement. (I can only imagine how well THAT email would be taken.) I’ve tried sending polite “I got the books, thank you, but I’m not planning to cover them” emails in the past, and the responses are either rude (”you’re stupid for not seeing my genius”), pathetic (”why not? please?”), or silent. I don’t blame them. It’s a tough situation to be in, on both sides.
Lots of interesting things to read in the comments, as well.