Monday, October 30, 2006

Do you want me to review your book?

I get a lot of inquiries about receiving books for review. The simplest answer is that I love books, so send them along. However, I do have tastes and I do stick to a few general guidelines.

First, look at the
authors I have reviewed in the past. I picked most of these books, and I generally know what I like. If the book you want to send me fits in well over there, then I’m probably interested. Generally speaking, SFF is the genre I enjoy reading most, but I don’t read exclusively from it, and I enjoy the occasional challenge and something new..

Do you have a publisher, agent, and editor? I don’t read books from print on demand or similar sources (often referred to as vanity press). I find that the quality is way too variable, with most falling somewhere between bad and worse than bad. This is my opinion and you can disagree with it, but I don’t need to hear about it. I tend to believe that if an author is good enough to be published, they will eventually find their way to an agent and publication through more ‘traditional’ sources.

I read both e-books and print books. For review purposes I prefer electronic just because I have very limited shelf space, but I'll always consider a print book as well. This does not mean I want everyone emailing me direct a PDF (or other) copy of their book. That will get an email deleted. Pitch your book to me, and be sure you talk about who published it. As I said above, I don't read self-published (or indie - I really hate that term) books. And if I can't tell if your book is self-published or not, I will assume it is and delete.

I like supporting small presses and not just the big guys. I know that it can be a gray area between a small, independent publisher and the print on demand services that I don’t prefer to support. But in my private life I feel that the corporate model is not necessarily the best, and I’m happy to extend that to my reviewing. However, I need clear information to make this determination, if I suspect it's a self-publishing outlet, I won't even consider it.

It amazes me how often I receive books that are the third or fourth book in a series that I haven’t read – these are books I’m not planning on reading anytime soon. If it’s a series I’m already reading – great, it’s almost a guarantee that I’ll eagerly read and review the book. If not…well, I’ve got limited time and the queue is already long. If you really want me to review that work, consider sending me the other books in the series.

It also amazes me just how many paranormal romance, romance, erotica, parnaormal romance disguised as urban fantasy, generic woman kicking some parnormal ass, etc. I read very few of these books, particularly the closer they are to romance.

I get lots of inquiries about YA fiction. To be honest, I don’t read that much of it. However, if it is YA fiction that truly crosses over into an adult market, I’ll consider it. Some fo the best books I've read lately are marketed as YA, but then again, I'm long past my teen years, so it has to have appeal to someone my age.

I have a busy life – I have a standard day job that takes up normal working hours, I enjoy socializing with friends, I do lots of volunteer work, and I have a family. All this means that while try to read as much as I can, I don’t read near as much as I like (at least until I find a way to win the lottery). I currently have a Stack of books to read numbering 400+ and I only read about 30 books a year. Throw in the books I buy and the 300+ review copies I’ll receive in a given year and you get an idea of the hopeless backlog I’ve got going. The queue is long. If you send me a book, I’ll consider it, but I cannot guarantee a review. I’m genuinely pleased if you have sent me a book, so I will try, but time is limited. If I do choose to read a book I will try to read and review it by its release date if received with enough lead time.

If you’ve managed to get through all of that above and you still want me to review you book, email me at nethspace'at'gmail'dot'com and I’ll get you my mailing address (remove and replace the 'at' and 'dot' as appropriate or just click on the nice, realtively spam-proof link in the sidebar). Thank you for your interest in Neth Space.


graywave said...

It's a crying shame you don't review ebooks. My new sci-fi novel, TimeSplash is being published (by a commercial publisher) in ebook editions only. There are no plans ever to produce a paper edition. I think you'll be seeing much more of this over the next few years. Meanwhile, the biggest drawback to electronic publishing is that reviewers won't look at e-books.

C Scott Morris said...

I just stumbled upon your blog, and enjoyed your review of Ursula LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness.
I disagree with the above comment about ebooks, if you spend all day looking at a screen, you dont want tow spend your precious few hours staring at another one.
I also disagree with your choice not to review POD books. There are several excellent small presses that only offer ebooks or POD trade paperback, ones where the quality is as good as what is put out by the Big Six.
POD is no longer the domain of vanity presses.
And I also strongly disagree with your statement that if a writer is good enough his book will get published. Hundreds of excellent books are penned each year, while only dozens are published, and not always the best of the best. Publishers receive hundreds of thousands of submissions each year, yet the market can only stand a few new titles at a time. Ebook and POD technology will allow a lot more of those excellent titles to find their way to readers.
And yes, the quality of self-pubbed titles is often lacking, Im not talking about those.
How does a savvy reader find these quality books that don't always appear on book shelves? By finding and reading book-reviewers. Like you.
You are doing yourself and your readers a dis-service by refusing to review POD titles.

Bruno Stella said...

I find myself agreeing with the above commenters that it is a real pity that you don't review ebooks. It's quite difficult to get exposure if nobody wants to read what one has written. I'm doing my best to plug my recently published fantasy and have encountered precisely this problem.

However, thanks to Neth for taking the time to explain why, exactly, he doesn't accept indie work. In doing so he explains why so many other reviewers don't want indie titles. Basically, most of the stuff is so eye-bleedingly bad that the authors couldn't give it away. I haven't personally read much indie work, but I get the sneaking suspicion that there are more horrors awaiting the unwary than I could imagine.

Thanks for your time. :)

Neth said...

Clarification - I have updated the post to say that I do read/review ebooks now and in fact prefer ebooks since I've completely run out of shelf space and receiving 300+ paper books a year is getting unsustainable.

However, my stance on self-published/vanity books remains the same.


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