Tag Archives: reviewing

Authors and Reviewers: a Two-Way Street?

This recent post about the author/reviewer relationship has sparked a whole lot of discussion. The gist: the original poster says that authors owe her some form of publicity in exchange for reviews, be it through increasing her Amazon rank or retweeting her or what have you. Her argument, from what I gather, is that writing quality reviews earns her a bit of brand promotion on the part of the author. She uses the term “two-way street” a few times.

I’m not going to tell her how to run her blog. I just felt like blathering about the subject for a while. Whether or not you want to pay attention to someone who named her blog “utter randomonium” is up to you.

First off: I don’t make any money reviewing books. To me, it’s an even exchange: a book for a review. I have the luxury of not needing my blog to pay for itself, which is why I don’t bother running any ads. I don’t pay much attention to page hits or rankings or site traffic. I’ve added myself to a couple blog directories but I don’t actively advertise. I have no mailing list to join or Facebook page to like. If I wanted to get my name out there, I’d post author interviews and join blog tours/hops and exchange links and host giveaways. But I’m not interested in any of that. I just like to read.

So maybe my viewpoint is different because I am not running a business here. I am simply reading books and then admitting to it on the internet. I am fortunate that some authors and publishers have noticed me and wanted to add their titles to my library. That about sums it up.

Still, anyone who asks me to do a bunch of things to promote their stuff, regardless of our relationship, is pretty annoying. I’d be really irritated if authors did it to me, so I’m not sure why it’d be okay for me to do it to them. Our roles are pretty clear: they write a book, then put forth the manpower and production/shipping costs involved in getting the complimentary copy into my hands. My job is to read the book and then write about it. I’m not even obligated to link to anything.

See, promotion isn’t even part of the equation. Books and reviews don’t exist for each other’s sake. Their shared audience is the reader. Authors may benefit from reviews but the reviewer isn’t doing the author a favor. If anything, they’re doing the readers a favor by letting them know whether a book is worth their time.

Like I said before, it’s a trade: one book in exchange for one honest review. It’s just not that complicated.

On Reading and Reviewing

At some point I became a book reviewer. I’m not sure when this happened, exactly, but I now receive review requests every month. Which is fine, of course: as a book lover I certainly am not going to complain about people giving me books. And lately authors have been really good about offering me books I actually might want to read. I have, however, fallen behind on my reading. I warn anyone asking for a review that it could be several months before I even crack open their book, and so far that’s dissuaded no one. I take this as a good sign, especially since my reading habit has dwindled as of late. It’s not that I don’t enjoy what I’m reading, just that I often find myself doing kakuro puzzles instead.

While I’m here, I’d like to share some random tidbits about my reading/reviewing life:

  • My complete to-be-read list is online and regularly updated. With very few exceptions, these are the books actually on my shelves at the moment, waiting to be read. The yellow is what I’m currently reading. The gray is something I am considering never reading.
  • Lately (since the beginning of September) I’ve also been keeping a list of the top of the TBR pile, which are the books I plan to read next. When books arrive, I tell the author/agent/publicist where they are on the stack. Please note that this does not include audiobooks, which I plow through every other week or so, meaning you can’t just count reviews on my blog and expect yours to show up.
  • Sometimes, regardless of what’s listed on the top of the TBR pile, I will just grab some other book off the shelf and read that instead. I figure I’m doing no one any favors if I start resenting my reviewing obligations. But this is an extremely rare occurrence.
  • I do not generally mention on my blog whether the copy I read is one I received for review or not. The way I figure it, I’m not being paid to do this, and books fall into my hands in many ways other than me specifically seeking them out, including random strangers (read: BookCrossers) sending them to me out of the blue.
  • I also don’t always mention if a book I’m reviewing is the audio version. Since all the audiobooks I earread are unabridged, I don’t feel a need to mention it unless there’s something notable about the reader.
  • The vast majority of my reading is done in bed before turning out the light. Occasionally I also read in the recliner in my study, but that inevitably results in a nap, especially if there’s a cat on my lap.

Maybe over the holidays my reading will pick up speed again. I think the first step is tossing that kakuro book.

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