Friday, April 20, 2012

All About Books Reviews

Let me begin by saying I’m flattered. 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 to be a work of historical or fantasy fiction set in 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 & 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.


Bob Milne said...

Nice approach - I like it.

I'm in the same situation, a solo blogger who has a career and a family (including a 9 month old) to put first. I don't have nearly the time to read that I used to, so it takes a lot to get into my TBR pile.

I feel bad for turning down a read, but I figure better to be honest with a no-thanks than to reluctantly take on an obligation and have the review suffer because of it.

Joseph Finley said...

Bob, thanks for the comment. I didn't know how folks would react to my new review policy, so I really appreciate your view.

Selena York said...

A good idea that could easily turn sour...just my view. OR: Leave you out of pocket!There is always the 'doubt' element also. Will you provide proof that you actually did buy the book if asked?

Joseph Finley said...

I guess my view is that if I'm interested enough to think I'll actually read the book (let alone review it), I'll buy it - assuming it's reasonably priced. I've probably already bought more books on my Kindle than I'll ever get to; and if it's a writer I've gotten to know, I almost always support their cause by buying a copy. I hope no one thinks I plan on buying every book I'm contacted about. If so, hopefully this comments clears that up!