December 12, 2017

When I'm Asked to Review a Book

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From time to time, I post a review of an author's newest book. Since this is a blog for writers, and I am a writer, I want to help support others in their publishing endeavors.

How I Choose the Books

Writers and publicists occasionally contact me for a review. Sometimes I say no because this blog is not a book review blog, it's a blog for writers. However, if the request comes from someone I've met at a conference or whose writing or topic interests me, I'll say yes.

When someone I've never heard of asks for a review, I research the author first. Which leads to the point of this post.

I received a request (for my other blog) to review an upcoming faith-based book focused on saving failed marriages. I checked out the authors' website and ministry information. The authors had years of experience counseling couples and helping them repair broken marriages. Every thing looked professional and targeted to the appropriate audience. The website's design invited people to stay on the site and learn more about the authors. For these reasons, I said yes.

Then I Declined To Do the Review

After I received the book, I sat down to read it...Three times I tried to get through the Introduction. The first time I didn't make it past the first paragraph. I wrote the publicist a brief email and explained that I could not get past the Introduction. The professionalism of the internet presence did not carry over to the book. Rather than write a negative review (because I'm here to help not hurt writers), I outlined my reasons for declining the review. They included:

  • Print too small and tight line spacing
  • Typos and grammar errors in almost every paragraph
  • Narrative that meandered without a clear flow toward the objective

I had made the incorrect assumption that a publicist and professional website meant the author respected their readers enough to have it polished and edited by a professional editor.

Self-Published Writers: Please Don't Make This Error

As a freelance editor, I cringe when I run across a poorly edited work. I know the author took a lot of time to write their story, so it makes me sad to see the mess many decide to publish. Spend the money and get your work polished, even if you're seeking traditional paths to publishing. It makes a huge difference.

New Book Review Policy

Thanks to this experience, I have a new policy on accepting books to review. Send me your first 10 pages and a synopsis. Based on that information, I'll decide whether I'm willing to review your book or not.  This policy applies to both of my blogs.  Please keep in mind, my blogs are not book review blogs, but I will consider a book if it aligns with my goals for either blog. That means you should read several posts before asking for a review.

For those of you looking for books to give to readers on your gift list, check out these posts. If your loved one didn't request a specific book, at the least read a few pages of any book before buying it.

Do you have great book gift suggestions? Please share them in the comments section of this blog.

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