I don’t mean to sound overly cocky, but I get a lot of review requests, or at least, more requests than I expected to get when I started this blog. It might sound strange, but I never expected any author to reach out to me, asking for a review.
Unfortunately, I can’t accept every review request for one reason or another. I recently interacted with an author who got incredibly angry, and somewhat hostile, when I declined their request. This led to me flip-flopping about whether or not I had an obligation to accept every request, which then caused me to examine my reasons why I decline requests. That led to me writing this post, expanding on my reasons why I might decline a request. I know, it sounds like a “first world problem”, and it is, but I also don’t want people to believe a decline is malicious.
Your Book Is Not In My Genre
I mostly review science fiction and fantasy. Those are genres that I love and I feel comfortable reviewing. I might review a random literary fiction book or thriller here and there, but I tend to stick to the science fiction and fantasy realms.
Sometimes, I will get requests for a romance novel, or historical fiction, which are genres that I don’t really read and don’t tend to enjoy. I don’t think it’s fair to myself, the author or the book itself for me to try to review a book in a genre I dislike.
I Don’t Have Time At The Moment
Some request I get have a very specific time frame the author wants a review by. These tend to be for books that haven’t been released yet, but not always. In some cases, the window I’m given is very small or ends very soon. I have other commitments, I have other reviews I’ve committed to writing and books to read. If I’m given a time frame that I can’t meet, I try to work with the author to decide on a slightly bigger window (i.e. I can’t have a review ready by next week, but I can finish it by the middle of next month). If the author is unwilling to give me some leeway, I have to decline.
Your Book Discusses Topics I’m Not Comfortable With
There’s a big debate on whether or not author should include trigger warnings in their books, either on a page before the first chapter or towards the back of the book where the acknowledgments or author bio are. Some say doing so might spoil the book, while others believe these warnings are necessary. I’m not going to say one option is better than the other, that’s a choice for the author to make.
However, there are certain subjects I don’t feel comfortable reading about or discussing in a review. The biggest deciding factor for me when I decide to read, or in some cases continue reading, a book is whether I think I’d enjoy it (or am currently enjoying it). There’s certain subjects that I don’t want to read about and I’m not going to force myself to. Authors like getting reviews, but I think most would agree they want reviews from someone who actually enjoyed their work.
I Read Your Book, But I Don’t Want To Be Mean
This might sound unfair, but I tend to be nicer to indie and self-published authors and debut authors than established authors or those working with big presses when I review. There are some fantastic indie authors out there and their books have less potential to reach a large audience than someone publishing through Harper Collins, for instance.
Nearly every review request I’ve gotten has come from an indie or self-published author. Sometimes, I’ll read the book in question, I’ll complete it and I simply didn’t like it. Maybe I’m not the target audience, maybe I just didn’t connect with the writing style. And sometimes, unfortunately, I hate everything about it. It would be kind of a jerk move, then, for me to write a long review discussing all of the things I didn’t like about the book, which the author is trying to get recognition and an audience for.
When I correspond with authors, this is why I tend to tell them that I’ll read their work and then let them know if I’m going to review it. I never promise a positive review, but there’s a difference between saying “here are some things I think could be improved” or “here’s why this book wasn’t a hit for me” and me either lying (which I refuse to do) or roasting the book.
I Read It, But I Don’t Have Much to Say
I don’t know if this one belongs here, but it kind of fits, so I’m including it. Sometimes, I’ll finish a book and I’ll feel completely neutral about it. I liked parts of it, but I don’t feel strongly enough about it to write more than a paragraph about my feelings for it. Writing an in-depth review would feel like pulling teeth. When that happens, I review the book solely on Goodreads and Amazon, hence my “I don’t know if this belongs here” note above. This way the author does get a review for their work, but I don’t have to struggle to write a full review for the book.
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