April 24, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Still Accept Review Requests? Why or Why Not?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

DO YOU STILL ACCEPT REVIEW REQUESTS? WHY OR WHY NOT?

Short answer: I do, but with caution.
As of now, I've been blogging for five years and a half. Back when I started, the only thing I wanted was to give an outlet to books that I deemed worthy, but weren't as popular as they deserved IMO. They were all bought books, of course. I didn't even have a review policy at the time - as a newbie blogger, it didn't cross my mind that someone would go out of their way in order to offer me free (e)books. But, go figure - someone actually did.


Since I've always been well aware of what could work for me, I've probably spared myself a lot of grief 😅. I mean, mine is still a small blog after more than five years, and it was even smaller in those first days - so it's not like I was flooded with requests (neither I am now, to be honest). But even before I set up a policy, I didn't find the occasional "Hey Blogger X, you might probably like my stuff" email very enticing 😏😂. I only responded to tailored messages, and only accepted books that seemed to suit my preferences (the only time I set my guard a little lower - for a couple of valid reasons - I ended up with my one and only DNF ever, if you don't count Finnegan's Wake or some other Joyce book when I was a teen...). The thing is, I'm finicky - I don't pledge to read the written world, even if the books are for free. I only want to read books that I can reasonably expect to be my thing. And I have a rather specific notion of what that "thing" may be.


Over the years, I've accepted a few books for review, and the very first time I did marked the dawn of my most fruitful collaboration (by "fruitful", I especially hint at its human aspect) with an author. But it takes two to tango. It not only takes a reader who dives in depth with their reviews - it also takes an intelligent author who thinks reviews can be great opportunities to grow and improve their craft. Anyway, back on topic - what I mean is, a surprise book can be a great gift, but I need to be reasonably sure that it won't fail me before I say yes (ALSO because I hate to disappoint the writer who put their book in my hands). I'd rather not have a review for months than accept review books just for the sake of it. Also, after the DNF incident, I added a paragraph to my policy, stating that I will review the book no matter what, OR at least mark it as DNF if I don't like it, so if an author offers me a book, they have to accept that (the DNF I talked above never made it to my blog or GR page, since, out of courtesy, I asked the author what she wanted me to do, and of course she said, nothing at all...let's pretend we never crossed path. But I still feel so dishonest for that). So, yes, I accept books for review - but only if they meet a series of criteria, AND the author reaches out to me the proper way.


Well, that's it for now. And if you're interested in participating, here is the TMST prompt list for May:
  • May 1st: What are things that annoy you right now in the book market?
  • May 8th: Do you really read excerpts when featured on blogs?
  • May 15th: Are most of your review books for publishers or are you reviewing books of your choice?
  • May 22nd: Are you more inclined/less inclined to read books that are compared to other popular books or authors?
  • May 29th: Debut authors/New to me authors. What books have you read lately by new authors that you want to read more from?
My next TMST will be on May 1st, but I plan on participating in all the following rounds, except May 8th and 15th. There are a few things that I'm DYING to write about - and to hear your take on!

Now tell me something...do you still accept review requests? why or why not? and has anything changed in your review policy since you started blogging?

20 comments:

  1. So smart!

    I read so fast and at the time - I read so many genres - that it never even occurred to me that I wouldn't like every book or that I wouldn't have time to get to them all.

    It wasn't even a greedy, give me all the books thing. I was so excited that anyone would want me to read their book and wanted to spotlight as many as I could but I got overwhelmed and it's taken me years to fully pull out of my debacle lol

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I don't think of myself as smart in this department (but thanks!) because it wasn't a conscious decision on my part - I simply AM selective by nature. Then again, I wasn't around back when you started (the golden age of blogging?), and I've never had a huge trail of followers (which makes authors/publishers think you can be useful)...so it's easier for me to have such restraint LOL.

      I understand what you mean. You never struck me as a greedy person, but I can see you getting all excited about people shoving books at you LOL.

      Delete
  2. I've always been really selective too, but yes, even more so the longer I've been blogging! Like you, I don't want to accept a book unless I think I'm going to like it.

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    1. That saves a lot of grief...like, having to break the news to an author that their book and you didn't click!

      Delete
  3. No shame for DNF'ing a Joyce book. I only made it through Portrait because it was for class, and I don't think I'm so self-punishing that I'll ever try another of his books. I like difficulty, but I can't tolerate pretension. xD

    My blog is still pretty small to worry about a review policy, and I've only had one (self-published) author approach me on Tumblr about reading her book. I read the description and it seemed like something I would like, so I was happy to do it. It had mixed results, but it didn't put me off the experience! I'd be willing to do it again, especially for independent writers.

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    1. Haha, are there any real Joyce fans out there? 😉 I'm not even sure which book it was, but I do remember being bored to tears (...it was more than 30 years ago, but I doubt I'd feel differently today).

      I'm picky both when it comes to indie and traditionally published books. The only real downside of reviewing indie novels is that you talk directly to the author, without any filter, so you end up feeling guilty if you have to give their books a low rating. Not to mention, afraid to trigger some unpleasant reaction...But if they read my policy and send me a tailored request, I feel more confident that I can trust them to be nice even in the face of a low rating.

      Delete
    2. Haha, the only ones I've met are deeply entrenched in academia, so... there might be no saving them. From what I hear, I'd be lucky to understand a word of Ulysses. It's like the champion of pretentious nonsense doorstops.

      That does sound like it could lead to some bad experiences. Not everyone takes criticism well, and no book is ever going to work for every reader. I don't even like reading unfairly negative reviews, and I didn't write the book! I think it's totally fair to be picky. You seem to have a really solid understanding of what you like and what you're looking for in your books. I'm a little envious. My TBR wouldn't be so out of control if I didn't want to read just, you know, everything. xD

      Delete
    3. So far I've only had pleasant experiences - the worst I had happening to me was an author never replying to the email where I sent her my review link and explained that, unfortunately, I had enjoyed her book less than I hoped to (2.5 stars...and I'll admit it might have been a 2 straight, but I tried to focus on the positive aspects of the book, since I had sort of requested it...). It was understandable, after all.

      Quote: "My TBR wouldn't be so out of control if I didn't want to read just, you know, everything.".
      LOL, at least you never get bored! and probably bump into some nice surprise now and then.

      Delete
  4. I agree, it is so hard when you have to try and review a book that you didn’t like. I have had authors email me and ask me to change my rating ore my review, which I will not do. That is another reason I won’t accept requests anymore. I don’t need that pressure. Thanks for doing TMST again!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Quote: "I have had authors email me and ask me to change my rating ore my review".
      Heck, big fat no. The game (so to speak) comes with a set of rules. The few times I rated a book lower than the author (or me, in the first place) would expect, I didn't get backlash, but I was probably just lucky. It must be unnerving - especially since nowadays you never know if an author is going to flip and do something nasty in retaliation...

      Delete
  5. I have said yes to some publicists, but I usually already had the book via EW or NG. Unfortunately, many of the requests I get are not for the genre or age range I read for the blog. So, I decline. I love that you want to spread the love for those smaller books. I smile every time someone comments, that they had never heard of the book I am featuring. I love hyped books and all, but there are tons of gems out there.

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    1. Unfortunately, there are lots of authors/publishers who don't bother reading review policies and send random requests...to which I don't bother replying LOL. But I do politely decline requests if they send a tailored one and I still think their book won't fit me for some reason.

      Yes, there are many smaller books that don't get the love they deserve! It's usually harder to convince someone to try them, but when one manages to do that, it feels awesome.

      Delete
  6. I made the mistake of not being selective enough, so I basically accepted anything and everything and then was inundated :( And then the added pressure to read from my toppling review pile, and then not having the time to read my own books which is the whole reason why I started blogging! I'm trying to get back to that.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. From what I hear, you weren't the only one to do that mistake in the beginning, not by a long shot. And sometimes it's not easy to say no because you think you might miss out on something, or simply hate to turn a kind request down. But especially when you are a "successful" blogger and get tons of them, it's for your own sanity...I sometimes think that being a small blogger suits me better!

      Delete
  7. I once accepted a book for an author and found out later from another blogger they were horrible at responding to negative criticism... thankfully I think the author learned their lesson because I didn't get any backlash when my review was just as negative as the person who wrote the first negative review.

    I think I'm more picky with review requests now - most authors don't even bother reading my policy, so most of the genres don't even FIT. I'll agree though - being picky saves a lot of heartbreak (especially when you're a turtle reader like me WHO TAKES 20 YEARS TO READ A BOOK).

    I used to also politely decline to review requests as well, but now I don't even answer to review requests if I'm not interested - I just select and delete. This is because I got told it was a shame I couldn't read a book due to my schedule... or something. I don't even remember but somehow I'm still on their list? Why am I on their list? I'll never understand because I don't plan on accepting any of their books....

    Oh and don't mind my name. I had to change it for certification reasons but it'll change back soon! >_> Or I could save myself the heartbreak and just separate my Google+ account from Blogger.

    Actually, that's a good idea. Be back in the future! o_o

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    1. LOL, for a moment I got all excited and thought "A new reader? or maybe follower?". Then I saw it was just plain old you and my face fell (haha, I'M TOTALLY KIDDING! but I did wonder who "Hannah Tu" was for an instant).

      Thank you for sharing your almost-horror story! That majorly sucks - I understand feeling bad for a low rating, but as I'm fond of saying, the game comes with a set of rules. Especially if someone sends you their book on their own accord, and if the review is fair (that is, not nasty, or a personal attack), they have to accept that.

      Quote: "I got told it was a shame I couldn't read a book due to my schedule... or something".
      Really?!? That's new. For me, that is. Don't people understand that the harder they push, the more ones gets annoyed and WON'T make the time to read their book? Also, first and foremost, we read for our own pleasure...it's not like we work as editors or proof-readers or something.

      And I don't reply to random requests either...if you don't make the effort to read my policy (or peruse my blog - I even have a Reading Rooms section with all my favourite genres listed, for crying out loud), why should I make the effort to write you back? Especially if you don't even bother addressing me or my blog in the first line...

      Delete
  8. Life is too short to read bad books (or books that aren't our *thing*), I totally agree and am picky too. I don't want to write about not liking books, I want to write what I love about them! I guess that's why I have so many highly-rated books in my reviews. Also, I accept requests but I'm so behind on the stuff I've already chosen and all the books that are being released and...

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    1. That was my reason for starting a blog - to give some underrated books I loved a spotlight. "Bad" reviews are useful of course (even when it's not the book, it's you), but I don't particularly enjoy having to write one either...

      Delete
  9. At the start I was so grateful people actually reached out to ME for reviews, so I kept accepting all kinds of books, even if they were blatantly not my type lol but with the passing of time I've become god at controlling myself and I now accept books only after thinking through VERY thoroughly. The hugest struggle is when it comes to NetGalley and Edelweiss because looking at ALL THOSE BOOKS...it's just so hard to resist, lol. I'm getting better at it though...I think.

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    1. It's a blogging learning curve! I've always being picky (though maybe a little less so back when I started than now), but it seems like every blogger experiences such a shift. And I do believe it's more of a "grateful" thing than a "greedy" thing.

      Delete

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