When you agree to review a book, do you always follow through? Are you loyal to other writers by keeping up your side of the bargain?
Not long ago, I posted a piece on the Funds For Writers Blog about paying writers equitably. Here’s the abbreviated version I posted on Facebook:
“If you are a writer, ask to be paid for your work. If you are asking a writer to appear, pay them. If you read a book, pay for it. If you accept a free book, post a review. Anything else is eroding the careers of writers everywhere.”
I believe I touched a nerve, which is sometimes fun, but it also means I probably waded into a controversial topic that woke people up.
A lot of authors responded with rants about giving away “x” many books and not getting reviews. I can relate. I give away 100 books leading up to a new release, and less than 50 percent of the recipients stay true to their promise of a review. I get it, it’s difficult to read and review a book with your busy schedule, but it’s wrong to agree to review and not follow through. I’m always amazed by the people who DO follow through, and pained by the ones who do not.
That said, my point was really that, as writers, we tend to cannibalize our own. When you agree to act as a beta reader or reviewer, do you always follow through? As badly as we crave reviews for our own work, are we loyal to other writers by keeping up our side of the bargain?
When you receive a book, you can pay for it or review it. It’s as simple as that. If you find the hours to read a fellow author’s book, you can spare 15 minutes to review it.
What about all those generous souls giving away their books for free? My policy is to only take a free book if I intend to review it. Frankly, I prefer to pay for my books, because I prefer that people pay for mine. I also refuse to download a free book, preferring to at least pay $1.99 or more.
Yes, I give books away with the clear message that they are copies for review. And I follow up with these readers, against the advice of many in the industry. My system goes like this:
- I solicit reviewers via newsletter and social media.
- I create a list of reviewers and their contact information.
- I send my book to these reviewers.
- A month later, I send an email or postcard asking if they received the book. I make no mention of a review.
- After another month, I send a second email/postcard asking if they enjoyed the book. Again, no mention of a review.
That’s it – no harassment. After a couple of months, you have the list of names of people who reviewed your work. You love these people, and you won’t mind asking them to review again in the future. They have proven they will follow through. You also know those who have not reviewed, and to not ask again.
With that frustration in mind: pay for books. If you receive one for free, feel highly obligated to review it. It’s a simple etiquette. It’s writers honoring writers.
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