If I’ve learned anything throughout all my years or writing, it’s that this business is difficult. There are obstacles every step of the way.
First, there is writing the story. Sure, if you want to take a further step back there is the creation of the plot, characters, setting, etc. I mean the actual writing, though. Setting aside a portion of the day to write. Then, after X amount of days working and rewrites and editing and rewrites, you enter the ‘send out query letters and receive rejections’ phase. Finally, one day, you get a book deal with either an agent who finds a publisher or with the publisher directly. What’s next? More editing, of course. Meanwhile, before, during, and after publication, you’re into marketing. Selling the book. A website, a blog or two, joining other socialization networking sites, appearances, interviews. For those who have been published only as an eBook, where there are no ARCs to distribute, you then seek reviewers.
I didn’t realize how difficult this portion of the process would be. Now, before I begin my list of grievances, I’d like to mention I have found several reviewers who have read, or are currently reading, my book, Night Shadows. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to each of them for accepting the book. I’m not here to lambaste the reviewing process or name names of specific reviewers I don’t like. I’m not here to bash someone who gave me a bad review. I want only to make note of a few problems I’ve run into with reviewers in the hope others can learn.
Point 1 – No eBooks
Many reviewers have great sites and make a fabulous presentation. The sites are organized and laid out attractively. The reviews are professional and noteworthy. However, in the submission guidelines, they say they don’t review eBooks. I can understand with the explosion in e-self publishing, who knows what you may be receiving. As a reviewer, I wouldn’t want to slog through numerous files shoddily written by a bunch of hacks. However, with the popularity of eBooks, surely the reviewer could do some homework, take a little time to investigate the author/publisher, then decide. One reason I have seen mentioned is because the reviewer doesn’t own an eBook reader. Okay, I understand, but the person does use a computer and most everybody is aware of pdf files. Most eBook authors have pdf files to send. So, I don’t understand this objection to eBooks.
Point 2 – “I don’t have time. I’m backlogged.”
Totally understandable. You get a lot of books, you have other responsibilities, you have a separate job, and reviewing may be a part time endeavor. I have no problem with this reasoning. However, how difficult would it be to put that fact somewhere on the website, preferably the first line of the submission guidelines? “Backlogged and currently not accepting books for reviews until....” A simple statement is all that’s needed so as to not waste the author’s time.
My second problem in this point is I’ve run into reviewers who are backlogged, yet have advertised on at least one website that they’re accepting books for review. If all these people are trying to do is attract attention to their site, then they’ve failed with me because I went there to find a reviewer. To be told later they’re backlogged and can’t accept anything doesn’t do them any good with me, especially not if they’re looking for word of mouth attention. It’s simple: If you’re not accepting, don’t advertise you are.
Point 3 – Mistaken genre identity.
Night Shadows can be purchased at a number of sites, including Ominilit.com. At this site, you will find the genre, key search words related to the topic, and a story excerpt. Once again, it comes back to doing your homework, because one reviewer I contacted wrote back with polite refusal but misunderstood my story for a police procedural.
What I’m saying is, if you’re going to be a reviewer, whether you’re a newbie, doing it for fun, or looking to be a professional, then do your homework. Sure, you’re going to make mistakes, but try to avoid the obvious ones. State what you want and how you want it. What you’ll do and how you’ll do it. If you find you’ve run into a snag, then tell people.
With this in mind, please visit next week, as I introduce a new venture I’m undertaking. Hmm, wonder what it’ll be…