Over the past few weeks and months, I've gotten several requests to read ARCs and newly released books. I don't know what prompted the sudden uptick (I've not had a request in almost a year before that) but still that doesn't lessen the pain of having to tell an excited author that I just can't do it.
So I thought I'd write out my thoughts here to better explain why I almost always deny review requests.
1. I read a lot of books.
This doesn't sound like it would prevent me from reading books, but it does! I have a massive pile of 50+ books that I'm dying to get to, and I just haven't found the time yet. I read books in my genre to stay up to date on current trends. I read books by bestsellers and award winners to download good writing techniques by osmosis. I read books selected by my book club so I can go out and have some kind of a social life once a month. I read books that are total guilty pleasures simply because they sound so amazing. In the midst of all this reading, I rarely feel compelled to put down a book I'm dying to read for one I've been asked to read.
2. I read only paperbacks.
This one is total personal preference, but as a writer, I spend eight hours a day, five days a week, staring at a screen and reading small words. I just don't want to do it in my free time. I want to take my book to the park and sit on a bench and watch my kids play while getting lost in an amazing new world. I haven't read an ebook in years and I don't plant to start. So receiving ebooks from requesting authors just doesn't work for me.
3. Paperbacks are expensive.
Sure, they're not as much as a hardcover, but still they have printing costs and cover art costs and shipping costs, and all sorts of extra associated costs that ebooks don't necessarily have. That means that either an author is paying for a book for me to read (which feels strange) or I dip into my already tight book budget to buy a book as a favor to the author. If it's a book I genuinely want, I'll shell out the cash and beg forgiveness later. But I just can't get my mind around the idea of spending money on books I'm not dying to read.
4. Reviews are requested for a book that had poor editing or writing.
It's 2017. If I want to know what's in a book, I can go to Amazon or any market and see a sample of that book. I can see if the formatting is off, if the first page is full of grammatical errors, if the tenses don't match or the point of view isn't consistent. I can see a lot in those first few pages, and sadly, I'm often not impressed. More often than not, I couldn't be paid to read it much less *pay* to read it. No way, Jose. I work hard to make my books as close to perfect as possible. I'm not going to pay for a book that's anything less than what I could do myself.
5. I'm honest.
Sadly these days, a lot of authors will say they want honesty and then reject it when it smacks them in the face. They don't want to know what you thought, they want to hear you praise them. And I'm just not about that. I don't expect that of anyone reviewing my books either. If something didn't work, I'm going to identify it in my review. If something worked really well, I'm going to identify it in my review. That's it. I write reviews that are professional, courteous, and honest, and some people don't want that. They want reviews three-stars and above only. They want reviews that are so great, they can be quoted on the front cover. They want me to lie, and I won't. I'll tell the truth without a shred of consideration if the author will like it. That's part of being an author, y'all.
6. A few make it through the gauntlet.
Despite all these considerations and parameters, I do still occasionally accept review requests from authors. It's not impossible, so if you're an author who'd like a review, feel free to send over a request, but keep these in mind. I'll feel much less guilty if I have to turn you down!