Book Review Policy

November 2013 Update: Since I wrote this "policy" in 2011, a lot has happened. I finished my first novel and began working on my second. I chose to go the indie route, so time I once used for writing was swallowed by publishing tasks, such as working with an editor, cover designer, and formatter, and keeping up with the various publishing platforms, like Kindle, Kobo, etc. Then there's all the marketing that goes along with publishing, which is another necessary, but time consuming, endeavor.

My work-in-progress has also resulted in the need for abundant research (I write historical fantasy, and I try to make the details, settings, and characters as historically accurate as possible). Lastly, I've tried to keep this blog alive by posting at least once per week. And while I often review the books I've just finished reading, I've since concluded that this can never be a book review blog. Many true book review blogs have multiple reviewers who are avid readers and as devoted to writing critical reviews as I am to writing my novels.

Recently I've received a ton of very well-written and creative review requests, which I keep hoping to be able to respond to (because they were soooo well done), but always run out of time to get to them. I wish I could, but I've decided I must prioritize my free time to (i) writing, (ii) marketing/publishing, (iii) keeping this blog alive, and (iv) everything else. All of this happens after the time I devote to my family and my regular job.

Lastly, and this is scary, my "to read" list is now 50 books long. This could take me two or three years (or more) to get through. So breaking into my "to read" list has become harder than ever. This doesn't mean I won't look at the book you contact me about (I may), and it doesn't mean there is zero chance of getting on my "to read" list (it might), but I just want to set honest expectations. Since I started this blog in mid-2011, I've only accepted 4 requests from publishers or authors that actually resulted in book reviews on my blog.

As an author, I know how important it is to get reviews, but I also know that there are many dedicated book review bloggers out there who will accept your request and give your book an honest and critical review. I have great respect for those folks. I also have great respect for everyone who has gone through the marathon task of bringing a novel to publication, and wish all of you the very best of luck in your writing careers!

My "to read" list is starting to look like this!

My Original "Policy" Statement

When I started Fresh-scraped Vellum in July of 2011, I never imagined authors would begin contacting me about reviewing their books. A few months ago, I received such a request. The book looked interesting and I quickly agreed to review it. Nowadays I’m getting several requests per week from authors and their PR folks to review new novels. I wish I could say yes to all these requests. But here’s where reality sets in.

Unlike some of the more established book review sites, Fresh-scraped Vellum is a one-man shop. Just little ‘ole me. And my biggest constraint in life is time, especially given my own writing schedule and my job as a practicing attorney for the past seventeen years. I wish I had more time to read, but I don’t. And my "to-read" list already exceeds a volume I could ever hope to conquer by year’s end. Also: (i) only about half my blog posts are book reviews; (ii) I typically only publish one or two such reviews a month; and (iii) I’m fond of reviewing books that have been around quite a while. In other words, there isn’t much shelf space on the blog for new material.

My bookshelves back home are jammed!
Does this mean I’m closed to reviewing new books? Absolutely not. It just means the chance of it happening is low. Basically, an author needs to break into my existing “to-read” list, which usually means that I find the concept of the book to be more interesting than the others in line. To achieve this, it usually helps for a work to be historical or fantasy fiction with a Medieval setting (or some earlier period in history) with a compelling concept. This is not to say I only read Medieval fiction, but that happens to be my sweet spot these days. For a better idea of the types of books I read and review click here and here, or visit my bookshelves on Goodreads or Shelfari.

So here’s the deal. Feel free to contact me (preferably by email) if you want me to read your book, and include a link to it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.com. If I’m interested, I’ll buy a copy (I like supporting fellow authors; there’s no need to send me a free copy). If I start reading it and it seems like it would make a good review, I’ll let you know. This means you’ve broken into my “to-read” list. This could also take quite a while, so if you don’t hear back from me, it simply means I may still be considering whether to read your book. If the book is clearly not the type of thing I read, I may let you know. And if you can’t wait a while to see if you break into my “to-read” list, let me know your time frame. If it doesn’t work with my schedule, I’ll be honest with you.

I hope this helps. Fortunately for authors there are a ton of great book review blogs, many of which have multiple reviewers. I have links to a number of them under the Blogs I Follow in the right-hand column. Best of luck to all—and again, I’m flattered.

* "Bookworm" image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (work in the public domain, originally created by Carl Spitzweg, c. 1850).