One Book Reviewer’s Pet Peeves

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Image by Geralt [CC0] via Pixabay

On the whole, as I wrote yesterday, reviewing books over the past five years has been a great experience. I do have a few pet peeves though.

  1. Unsolicited requests to review books utterly unrelated to my reviewing interests. Mercifully they have been few, perhaps because of the link to “How I Choose Books to Review” in my “About” page.
  2. Publicists at publishing houses who don’t respond to requests for review copies. Even a note saying, “thanks, but our review copies are limited to…” or “thanks, but we have already sent our allotted review copies.” I’m a person and not a bot and am interested in reviewing one of your books and talking about it with my network.
  3. Books with important things to say, that unfortunately are said badly. One person commented yesterday, “I’ve wondered if reviewers get books that they just really have a hard time reading, whether due to writing quality, subject matter, or for some other reason, but they have to slog through regardless to produce a fair review. It would take a lot of the joy out of reading.” Yes.
  4. Books that really should have remained articles but were padded out. Ten chapters that are variations on a theme with different stories. OK, I get it, already!
  5. People who ask questions about a book without reading my review. They don’t want to spend a couple minutes actually reading the review. I wonder if it occurred to them how much time goes into the reading of a book, and then writing a review that distills a book into a couple minutes reading? I’m happy to take time to respond to questions and comments about a review someone has read. But it seems insulting to ask me to take time to tell them what they could have found if they took the time to read the review.
  6. I don’t like it when people try to hi-jack comments on a post to promote their own blog, or book, or make off-topic comments. No one likes people who do this at a party. What makes people think it is OK online?
  7. There are people who argue with you about a book whose point of view they don’t agree with. It’s fine to engage me when you disagree with my assessment of a book. But if you disagree with the content of the book, your argument is with the author.
  8. Finally, I’m not a fan of e-galleys, especially the ones that expire. Worse is when they mix capitalization and lower case and weird formatting to prevent distribution. dO yOu like ReadIng senTences like thiS? I don’t have a tablet other than a Kindle. If you send an e-galley in an Adobe Digital Edition or epub format, the only way I can read it is by squinting at my phone. A print copy, even an advanced review copy, costs more, but it tells me you value the publisher-reviewer relationship. An e-galley doesn’t.

Apart from the last, most of these things happen rarely. E-galleys seem to be becoming more the rule than the exception. Most publicists respond quickly, usually positively and graciously when they can’t send the book I’m requesting. Most commenters read the reviews and take the conversation I’ve started in my review further. I enjoy most of the books I read–relatively few are a slog.

I think, on balance, book people, whether they write, publish, sell, review, or read, value and respect each other as well as sharing a common love–books! I think all of us realize that we need each other to sustain a reading culture.

3 thoughts on “One Book Reviewer’s Pet Peeves

  1. Good post!

    #1. I offer to help new or “unknown” authors, and I specifically list the type of books I am interested in: “My interest is Christian non-fiction of a thoughtful nature – books about the Christian life, spiritual growth, biblical/theological issues. This can include books that are true stories, where an author shares an experience and its affect on their Christian faith.” — To my surprise, or perhaps not, I have caused offense several times with this!! One person was just offended that I don’t want to read and review fiction, and insinuated I was haughty. Yet I see bloggers who specifically and only review Christian romance fiction. Etc. It is common to have a review preference. Why can’t I have one?

    #6 I agree and disagree here. I think there is a good and bad way to share about your own blog or book. Sometimes it is clear that someone is just quickly dropping in, could care less about your blog, and only dropping their own link for selfish purposes. Annoying. Your word “hijacking” nails it. However, I think this can also be done well and be appropriate. If another blogger and I are on the same wave length and have written on similar content, I am pleased if they link to their work. I have made new friends this way – found “kindred spirits.” More like networking, than a selfish hijacker.

    • What is weird is that Christian fiction is the most popular segment of Christian publishing and has plenty of people to write about it. Thankfully, I am more or less immune to requests from those writers. On #6, what you say is a good corrective. I don’t mind people adding content if it is related to the topic of a post, and they seem to care about what I and other commenters are discussing.

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