Monday, January 12, 2015

Trend: Contacted by Self-Published Authors to Review Their Novels...but

Maybe I'm one of the only ones, but I doubt it. The trend started out in late 2013 for me, being contacted by self-published authors with the request to review their novels on Amazon.

It's pretty simple. I do a fair number of reviews, and by clicking back on my reviewer profile, people can find my website. Going there, it's easy to find my contact email address. Maybe it's been suggested in a popular author marketing book or two, or the authors are just being creative on their own in trying to grow their readership.

There's nothing wrong with any of that. Sometimes the authors offer to send me a copy of their novel, or point out that it's free, or only 99 cents, or it's very similar to a novel I enjoyed and reviewed, or whatever.

Not a problem. Gusto for initiative. Usually I'll go check out the Amazon link they provide and take a look at what they've written. I will say that every book has been either fantasy or SF, so they've targeted me properly there. While a few novels have looked pretty interesting, many are just horrible. Bad covers, the first few pages of the 'look inside' feature are rife with typos and horrid grammar, the first ten pages appear to be a prologue giving the history of the world and everything that's gone before in minute name it.

Like I indicated, some of the novels brought to my attention have both attractive covers and an interesting premise, and the first chapter is well written--minimal typos and grammar gaffs, interesting dialogue and description, and the story seems to be going somewhere.

The thing is, my reading time is very limited, especially during the school year, where I spend hours and hours reading essays, grading tests and quizzes, reviewing homework assignments and reading journals. Hey, that's the life of a high school English teacher. Then there's the village council and family and church and pet turtles get the point.

Instead of a polite reply to the contact/request email, indicating that I am unable to read and provide a review of the novel, for those novels that intrigue me, I reply with an offer for the possibility of the author to do an interview for my blog (yes, Up Around the Corner) and provide links to previous interviews to give them an idea what to expect. I also mention that possibly they could do something similar (a similar interview, or to read and, if they enjoyed one of my novels, to post a review, or whatever they think is appropriate) to help me promote one of my works.

Almost invariably, dead silence. No return email in reply. I get far more replies from authors who I decline to review their work, thanking me for taking the time to consider. And then those that were interested in a review, and possibly something mutual in return? I send them the first question, or a list of questions. I never hear back.

Okay, Those that I responded to positively appear to have been looking for something easy, because they're busy like me. Or maybe they just got a whole bunch of people jumping at the chance to do reviews based upon their emailed requests. Actually, I don't believe so as several I've bothered to go back and check on still have their two or three reviews, or maybe moved up from ten to fourteen after a few months.

Honestly, I don't mind helping out fellow authors, whatever their stripe, but it's not a one way street. For things to work, sometimes it takes time and effort from both ends.


  1. I've had a similar experience. I offer authors the option of an interview, or the chance to contribute a "Friday Fifteen" - fifteen books or authors who have influenced their life, and why. It should take no longer than fifteen minutes to write, but the only authors who've taken me up on the offer are authors I know personally.

    Authors, I get that you are busy. So am I. And you have to believe me when I say you don't want me to review your book if you can't hook me in the first couple of pages. I don't enjoy writing critical reviews ... but I'll do it if that's what the book deserves. If you can't find reviewers, that's probably telling you something about the perceived quality of your book.

    1. I didn't think I was the only one, Iola. I don't enjoy writing bad reviews either, about as much as I enjoy slogging through a book that is for various reasons, sub par. Or maybe it's just not for me.

  2. 'Bad covers, the first few pages of the 'look inside' feature are rife with typos and horrid grammar' - Seriously? I'd run a mile from these books. Nothing puts me off more. I couldn't read them let alone review them. I only do book reviews when I get totally excited about what I'm reading - like Genre Shotgun for instance ;)

    1. Time is precious, and reading something you don't enjoy only to give a poor review in the end...I agree, Phyllis. And thanks for the compliment on Genre Shotgun :)