Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What I Want To Know

Welcome to TNBBC's "What I Want To Know" - a mini series of sorts that will hopefully answer some of the questions and quiet some of the concerns I know fellow bloggers, authors, and publishers have regarding how to choose a reviewer or book to review, review etiquette, how to pitch and be pitched.. among other things.

Last week, the authors and publishers explained how they decide who they will pitch books to. This week I throw it back over to the bloggers to find out:

How do you decide what you will accept and/or read for review?

I wanted to know if they weighed their decision on genre, or niche, and also what they thought drew the requests for reviews to them.

Here's what they had to say:

"I will accept anything but non-fiction. To be honest... it is just too hard to review. I love all things paranormal, or thriller, so I tend to steer towards those if I am picking out a book for a pleasure read, but my main audience (as of the last several months) has been indie based. Indie authors (I think) have realized I can give clear cut, unbiased opinions, and constructive criticism. If I dislike a book, I am going to tell you why, and offer up the techniques I think could have made it a success." Misty Baker,

" 'A Book A Day Til I Can Stay’ has a very simple premise. I am reading and reviewing book titles for the duration of my appeal to gain residency in Australia. So this is part writing exercise, part would-be performance art in a sense. I will often try to challenge myself by reading books I am either not familiar with, or that belong to a genre I have not had much exposure to. After ninety-one days/books/reviews, I have found myself reading more detective fiction than ever before, as well as romance novels and histories. Previously I was a devoted fan of science fiction and fantasy. For the sake of my readers, and in an attempt to avoid repetitiveness, I try to avoid material that I am too familiar with. Given the length of time required by the challenge to read and review a book every day, I have relied on my local library in Thirroul, New South Wales. Buying books each week would have financially crippled me. I have found the selection at the library quite extensive and have taken to simply snatching off the shelves books I have never heard of, as I’m fairly confident I will get a decent read. The only book I have refused to read so far is Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I doubt I could cover that in a day." Emmett O'Cuana,

" I read fiction pretty exclusively and I read everything but science fiction and romance novels, pretty much. I like mysteries/suspense, chick lit, YA (paranormal and otherwise) and general fiction. When I go to request a book, I consider the synopsis or if I've heard anything about it." Kelly Hager,

" I decide based on the following factors: 1) If it sounds interesting or appealing to me in any way. 2) How much time I'll have in the next couple months/how many books I have awaiting me. 3) The expectations of the author and when they want me to have the review done by. I'm not getting paid to do this so I'm not going to rearrange my schedule just because you want it done in a week after I get it. 4) A small factor is if it is a publisher I've worked with before. If I like you and think you are good to work with and enjoy the books you send me then I'm more likely to accept the book even if it doesn't sound like a book I'm dying to read. I'm loyal. I read from every genre and would not say that I have a niche. I think what sets me apart is how eclectic my reading habits are from others. You might find me reading a classic, then a YA paranormal romance novel, followed by a book about Edie Sedgwick or a favorite band of mine and then I might rave about a new cookbook. I'm a new blogger so I'm still TRYING to find my "blog self" and what sets me apart but I think between my eclectic taste and my quirky personality I'll be set apart." Jamie Bennett,

Many bloggers have been building up a reputation with authors and publishers and have established strong working relationships with them. Requests for reviews are pouring in from everywhere, by everyone. Others are reaching out on their own and just beginning to learn the in's and out's of approaching publishers or authors.

The best thing a blogger can do is to narrow their "reading range" and learn how to say no.

It can be very easy to say yes to every book that is pitched to you, but by focusing your blog on a specific genre or niche (for example, TNBBC likes to focus on Indie authors and publishers), you are doing yourself, your contacts, and your readers a world of good.

Not every book will be the right one for you. But that doesn't mean you can't continue to find ways to work with the author or publisher who presents it to you. I find that offering a giveaway, or interview, to spotlight them and their work sometimes works out better than reviewing a book that you don't like. You may find yourself struggling to write a negative review to an audience (your audience) who wouldn't have wanted to read the book in the first place.

Which leads us nicely into next week's topic: How the authors and publishers handle negative reviews.

See you back here again next week! Same blog site, same blog channel!


  1. I think this is where it has been hard for me in blogging. I really am an eclectic reader. It's the same way with music. It's near impossible for me to focus on a genre or a niche because I'd get ridiculously bored and feel like I've missed out on other books that I'm dying to read. I think a lot of pubs pass me by because I review both YA and adult which is unfortunate because I think there are a lot of people out there who are eclectic readers and will read a good book from any genre or reading level.

  2. Narrowing the range doesn't necessarily apply to everyone or every blog. But I do believe that is part of the struggle - and we've discussed that before. Because you aren't catering to ONE genre, you may get overlooked for a genre specific review opportunity if the person seeking the review wants the most exposure possible. It would make sense to pitch the blogs that support solely their genre.

    However - people like us, the broader ranged bloggers, we also have appeal because people never know what we are going to read, and what they may discover through us! So we have to use THAT as our niche. Kinda like the slogan for the place I work at "Never The Same Thing Twice" - keeps the customers (or blog readers) coming back :)

  3. Thanks for the mention! Cheers -

  4. I've been away from your blog for a bit, Lori (whip me, now!!) but I L-O-V-E this new series you've got going on!! Kudos, my dear, for a very informative & interesting mini series to both a reading nut and someone trying to dive into the blogging world! I promise I will not stray from your blog again... :P

  5. Hey Emmet, thanks for the interest and for answering the questions :)

    KT, I love this series too. The bloggers, publishers, and authors were great sports and I can't wait to share the rest of the series with everyone!