Tuesday, April 29, 2008

at the risk of sounding like an idiot

Okay, I'm just going to admit ignorance here and ask for help. I know a lot of you get review books from various sources. But that whole world is foreign to me. Lately I've been getting e-mails with offers of review copies, but since I didn't have a clue what exactly I was supposed to do, I've just ignored them. I didn't mean to be rude, but I didn't know what else to do. (Now why anyone would want to send me a review copy is beyond me...they obviously haven't actually read my sorry excuses for reviews, but that's beside the point.) Anyway, I just got an e-mail about a book that sounds really good, and I'd really love to get it, and would happily write what I pass off as a book review about it.

But I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Do I just reply to the e-mail and say, "I'd love to receive a review copy of so-and-so. Here's my address. Sincerely, me"?

And if you do get a review copy, do they give you some kind of deadline for reviewing it? Do you have to send the book back when you're done reading it? What if you don't like it...are you still supposed to review it?

See, I'm just welling over with ignorance here, aren't I? I know I should probably leave this whole thing alone. It's not like I don't have anything to read around here, but this book really does sound intriguing...and getting a free copy should would be better than going out and buying it, right?

18 comments:

Chris said...

LOL! Take the book Debi! You most certainly deserve review copies. You write great reviews and I've added quite a few to my wishlist based solely on my review. So to answer some of your questions from my experience: Yes, just respond to the email and say that the books sounds great, you'd love a review copy and here's my address. I've never gotten a deadline to review a book and thank god for that! I have about 15 or so on the review pile right now and some of them have been there since November :/ But they'll all get reviewed eventually and that's what matters...as long as people hear about them. You most certainly get to keep the book after! I've never heard of anyone asking for the book back, so it's like your little gift for reviewing it. And it's considered polite to review it whether you liked it or not, but if it's a review copy I usually try to drag some of the positive out even if I wasn't nuts about it. Of course if I didn't like it, I'll still say that though. It is a book review and my thoughts after all. Go Debi!!! I'm so happy your getting review copies now!!

Lynne said...

I agree with Chris! I've gotten quite a few books for review. I've read them and then posted reviews. Not all were great. I also sent an e-mail to the author letting them know that I had read the book and posted a review.

What's the title of the book you're interested in? I've gotten a few e-mails in the past few days - maybe it's one that I've gotten.

Debi said...

Chris,
Thank you so much for all the info! I hated sounding so perfectly clueless, but well, I was so perfectly clueless.

Melody said...

I'm so thrilled for you, Debi! Go get the book!!! And of course, I'll be looking forward to reading your review then. ;)

Debi said...

Lynne,
The book is Down to a Sunless Sea, a book of short stories. I have to say it really sounds like a book I might enjoy. Is that one you're reviewing?

Debi said...

Melody,
Thanks...you're always so sweet!

Lynne said...

Debi - I haven't heard of that book. Go for it!

J. Kaye Oldner said...

I read an article about this new wave of promoting books or other products. Promo people (or the author) are targeting regular people who consistently blog to assist in their promotion of the product/book.

The article went on to say that the consumer is more likely to listen to a regular person who doesn’t have an agenda such as a professional, paid reviewer. Makes sense to me.

This is a wonderful adventure and you should go for it! That you haven’t done this before shouldn’t hold you back. I think each person who decides to review has their own way of doing things. You do what feels best for you and that way, it will remain fun and unique for you. Make sense? And my email is always open if you have a question.

Go get ‘em!

J. Kaye Oldner said...

P.S. Steve (hubby) did a review on the book. He really liked it!

Becky said...

Debi, take the books you are interested in. Ignore everything else. A good bit of the time these are mass-generated. That doesn't mean the book is necessarily bad or good. There's just a campaign going on to get it promoted. And it really is just that easy as hitting reply and giving your address.

As far as deadlines go, unless they give you a deadline...I'd say don't put yourself under too much pressure. Again not being mean, but a person can only read so many books in a week, in a month.

You *might* consider writing a review policy for your site. These are super-handy. They let authors and publishers know that you're there and wanting books. (That's always a good thing.) And it lets others know your reviewing philosophy. For example, I stress the word *consider* as opposed to guaranteeing that I will get to the book. I am happy to consider your book for review, but there's no guarantee that I'll review it. Also, and this is a blogger by blogger thing, I let people know right up front that I'm honest. I'm not going to be intimidated/manipulated into giving a bad book a positive review. I'll tell it like I see it. They need to know that up front. That way they can decide if they can handle it.

So it's up to you if you review a book you don't like. Some bloggers do. Some bloggers don't.

Review copies are yours. You don't have to send them back to anyone. If you receive truckloads of books you might want to have a plan for what to do with them all--giving books to friends, donating books to libraries, doing giveaways on your blog, etc.

I didn't mean to make it all-about-me time. I hope you know that. I'm just trying to give advice. I didn't have my policy up in place at the beginning. And there were definitely a few months where I struggled with whether or not it was "okay" to receive review copies and what it all meant.

I didn't have the guts to ask for advice. So when asked, I share what I've learned.

Nymeth said...

I got an e-mail about that very same book! It's funny, I've had my blog for over a year now, and until a month ago I'd never received a review request. Then I got my first one ever last month, and in the last few weeks, another two or three. So as you can see I have no experience, and there's very little I can say to add to the excellent advice you were given, but one thing: I wouldn't think it would be rude not to reply to an e-mail if the book doesn't sound particularly appealing. Like Becky said, these are mass e-mails, and I'm sure they don't expect every single person they approach to be interested.

But Down to a Sunless Sea does sound good, and I think I'm going to say yes. I'm just afraid that once I disclose my geographical location I will never hear from them again. It has happened before :P

I blinked a few times when I opened the e-mail and saw that it started "Dear Reviewer" :P

Debi said...

J.Kaye,
I guess that whole "regular people" concept makes a lot of sense. I know I'm much more trusting in a review I read on someone's blog than I am in a professional review.
And I actually read your husband's review (though at the time I thought it was you). When I got the e-mail, I went to Amazon to check out the book...and was excited to see your (which turned out to be the hubby's) review. It's part of what sold me on wanting the book!

Becky,
Wow...thank you! So much good info there! I appreciate you taking the time to pass along all this wonderful advice!

Nymeth,
I know what you mean about the "Dear Reviewer"...my first thought was, "I think someone made a mistake here." But when I realized they really did send it to me, I was pretty excited because I thought this one sounded like it might be good.
And as far as them leaving you off the list once they find out you're in Europe...well, they'd be absolute fools! I guess, being mass-generated, they probably don't have much of a clue about individuals. But if they took the time to read your reviews, they would ALL be sending you their books. I really love reading everyone's reviews, but I can honestly say that yours are the best...they truly are works of art themselves. And I'd be willing to bet that your reviews have sold more books than anyone I know. I can say for a fact that you've cost me a big pile of money :)

Stephanie said...

I agree Debi....if someone offers you a review copy, and it's something you think you would be interested in....take it!! From my point of view, it's just another way of authors promoting books. It seems to be more popular with newer authors, trying to get their books in the hands of readers. Personally, I think it's a great idea.

All the offers I've gotten have come from people reading my blog. I think a lot of PR groups have gone with this line of thinking...targeting people who actually read books!! Brilliant idea, if you ask me. I know I would always take a recommendation of a blogger I know. Seems that authors and PR people are finally understanding that concept!!

DesLily said...

Nothing better than a review book!! Enough folks have told you to take it, so I won't join them...welll ok I will, TAKE IT! HAHAHA

I've had one sent to me also (but only one) which was a great read! (Laurie R King: Touchstone) I hope you enjoy yours as much as I enjoyed mine!

Dewey said...

I have a similar review policy to Becky's, but I cover my bases by saying that if I don't like it, the book will get no review or a bad review. That way, I can decide if I want to review it or not if I don't like it. I just have that on my contact form.

If you want to try getting more review copies but pick and choose what you're interested in instead of random solicitations, then try curledup.com!

I like the random solicitations, though, because I get to read indie and small press books that won't get tons of publicity, but might be just as good or better than the books everyone will hear about. I like to feel like I'm supporting indie and small presses.

gail@more than a song said...

How fun for you that they want to send you a book to read and review! You'll do fine....I don't do good with reviews.

Eva said...

I'm seconding Chris' advice as well. :) I only accept review copies of books that sound really good, and the only ones that have a deadline are Pump Up Your Books (because the authors go on virtual tours). Have fun w/ it!

Kim L said...

It looks like you've gotten some good advice here. In my experience, I've just replied to the email and given them my address. And I've gotten several books that way. One book promoter likes to have me post on a certain day (oops I forgot one time) but the rest don't (or I wouldn't take them, because I can't deal with many deadlines.)

As far as I can tell, the book promoters just want you to review the book on your site. Yeah I was a little overwhelmed when I saw I had 8 book review requests the other day. But I say go for it!