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Review Update: Don't Waste My Time or Yours

Thankfully nowhere near this though
After all the illnesses and blog hiatuses and chunks of time eaten up by my pregnancy, I finally tackled catching up on my book review requests. It has taken me a huge amount of time to catch up. Wow. 100+ emails. I really need to stay on top of this stuff more. Thankfully I am now back at the forefront of my inbox and things are running somewhat smoothly again. Although I am still in the process of narrowing down the list to decide what to review.

My biggest irritant that chaffs despite the relief I currently feel at being caught up? That I still get so many review requests that are a)horribly composed or b)asking me to review something I don't review or c)done well, but complete ignore a paragraph (or two) from my Review Policy.

Email review requests that don't fit my Review Policy are both a waste of my time for having to read/slog through it and yours for writing it. I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall, saying the same stuff over and over again. So even though much of what was wrong with the 25+ emails I deleted was already addressed here: 5 Tips for Getting Your Book Reviewed. With this post I'll try to cover the other stuff that was irritating, annoying, or a huge turn off.

So the authors that ignore entire paragraphs in my Review Policy. Really? And you do this while sending me a request that would entail me to spend 10+ hours reading and writing a review for your book? This is why I find it so easy to delete those emails. At the same time it is hard though. Some of those authors might be great authors, and maybe I actually would've loved their book. But when I get an average of 10 review requests a week and I'm only reviewing one novel each week, I have to cut down the list somehow. And those who pay attention are the ones who get my attention.

Learn how to properly format an e-book. And don't use super weird fonts. So annoying when you can't read the words, or the page is almost all white with writing just in the middle third of the page. When you're so distracted by the fonts and formatting you can't focus on the content? Not a good impression. If you don't know how to format an e-book properly, get help. There's lots of people who know how to do it well.

Very obviously hand drawn novel covers that aren't done very well? Huge turn off, even if the premise of the book is really good. A cover like that reeks of "I just uploaded this yesterday, no editor, no copy editor." Spend that extra bit of money and hire an artist to design a cover for you.

Plus I really don't like those authors who have read the Review Policy and know that their book doesn't fit my criteria but they send me a request anyway. These emails have a big huge 'BUT' in the middle. "I know you don't review bitter-sweet endings but...". "I know you say the novel has to have some romance but...". Why oh why do authors do this? I've outlined my Review Policy to state and define who I am as a reader. If your book doesn't fall into what I've stated then I'm not your target audience. And why in the world would you want me to read your novel if I'm not your target audience? In all likelihood this would result in a low rating. Reading and ratings are very subjective. Doesn't matter if your book has the most amazing premise, prose, or ending, if it's got some of those things I say I don't want to read then that will affect how I feel about the book and whether or not I like it. Don't send me a request hoping your book will be an exception. I'll have so many other books in my inbox that fit into what I do like that your book will go into my 'trash' slush pile.

While going through so many emails I also realized I had to state a specific word count. I thought the word 'novel' was pretty self-explanatory but apparently not, as I got a request for a review of a 23 page story. Personally I think a novel needs to be around 80K words to really develop the story and the characters but I decided to drop the cut off to just below that at 65K. Maybe I'll regret that, maybe I won't. But at least the requests will actually all be for novels now (hopefully). :P

So tired of the hard sell. For those of you who don't know what this is, I'll give you the condensed version (I'm doing a longer post about it, next week on my Lasera blog). The hard sell is essentially telling or generalizing how a reader will take/like your story. It's making wide sweeping comments or using absolutes. Eg: "This novel will enthrall you and take you on ride unlike any other." "You'll laugh, you'll cry, and this book will go straight into your heart." "You've never read anything like this before, it's completely unique." To address each of the above comments. Yeah I'm sorry, you as an author have no idea what will enthrall me personally. You as an author don't know when, or if, I will laugh and/or cry at your prose. Maybe something you meant to be serious I think is hysterical. And you as an author have no idea what I've read before and I'm sure you haven't read every single book in existence so you can't know that your novel is completely unique. --- Avoid the hard sell like the plague. The only time it is appropriate? If you're quoting a review by someone else, or if it is part of your back cover copy (although again this should typically and hopefully be written by someone else about your book, not written by you).

Despite all the irritants though some absolutely astounding and amazing sounding requests came through and I can't wait to get reading! :D


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  1. I was a pushover for awhile and would say yes to all requests even if they didn't fit my criteria. I stopped that policy though when I was getting sent things like hardcore erotica and poorly written short stories. Now I'm much more particular about what requests I say yes to.

    1. I gave a lot of leeway at the beginning too but as I progressed as a reviewer I realizes I didn't have to do that. I'm glad we can both be more particular now. Thanks for the comment Heather!

  2. I appreciate your post, and I can understand the flurry of requests you must get for reviews. I think your reviewing policies are a little short-sighted though. As a big fan and reader of indie books, some of my favorite books would not ever have been reviewed by you. Recently I enjoyed reading a fantasy novel which was maybe 50,000 words and had a brief sex scene between a husband and wife. Sometimes a story naturally goes to a certain progression. Sometimes a sex scene, if done well, serves to enrich the story/characters.

    Having the rules listed in your post seems so arbitrary. From my perspective saying flat out 'I don't review books with any sex scenes' is almost like saying 'I don't review books where the main character eats meat.' You may be a vegetarian, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be open to a good story that doesn't adhere to your personal bias. I was interested in reading your reviews regularly, but I want to read a reviewer that doesn't arbitrarily censor what gets reviewed. For now I'm afraid I'll have to pass, although I do like your writing style.

    1. I appreciate the comment and I can see your point of view. However, I do state that I don't read **explicit** sex scenes. I've read books with amazing scenes between a husband and wife and loved every bit of them. I just don't like erotica.
      I'm sorry you don't want to continue following my reviews, but I'd have to disagree and say that I don't think my policy and review tips constitute censorship. Essentially I feel I'm giving an author a short cut to know whether or not I'm their target audience. Everyone has things they don't like to read. Some people may not like epic fantasy where there's a quest of some sort, others might close a book if it's science-fiction that goes into great detail about the inner workings of a light-speed engine, and still others might put down a book that is literary in its writing and message but that starts to become preachy instead of focusing on the story.
      Although you enjoyed a novel that was 50K words, I've found through my reading that this rarely applies to me, most especially in the genres I enjoy -- fantasy, science fiction, and romance. I feel that worlds and characters aren't developed enough in that span of words, and so I had to draw a line, which was 15k words less than what I've usually found to be well rounded and well done worlds.
      I want to give authors the best possible chance, and so I feel that defining my basic preferences allows them a head start into the mind of me as a reader and makes it easier for them to want me or not as a possible reviewer.
      Thank you for the compliment on my writing style and I hope you continue to find good books to read.

  3. I'm glad that I've got at least some of this covered before I send you an email. I'll be sure to go through the requirements line by line. Being new to this, I read about so many critics that are booked until the end of the year and beyond. Getting disqualified because of something so trivial as mostly common sense concepts would suck. Thanks for being specific and to the point.


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