Friday, August 19, 2011

guest article: How to Start a Book Blog (Part 2)

How to Start a Book Blog (Part II)

Subtitled: Questions People Ask Carrie About Book Blogging and How She Would Answer Said Questions

Yesterday I answered these questions about book blogging and today I thought I would address some a couple of specific questions I have received relating to publishers and the books I do and have received for review.

We'll just get right to the point today . . .

Question No. 1: How Do You Deal With Publishers and the Books They Offer Review Copies Of?

a.) I receive a lot of promos for various books. A lot. Daily. I may accept one out of every ten books for reviews but I do take the time to respond to each inquiry, regardless of my intent to accept. I think it's just polite to acknowledge the publisher or publicist who is taking time out of their day to approach me about a book. The least I can do is give them an answer.

b.) I do request certain titles but those requests are typically directed towards publishers who I have a long-standing relationship with and I trust their work. (Think: Crossway.) I only request titles that I feel about 95% sure that I will enjoy. I don't want to waste my time or the publishers money in having them send books that I think might be ok but aren't terrifically exciting.

c.) Yes, I do have contacts at publishing houses and no, I do not hand out that contact information. Yes, that may come across as snobby but I have some good reasons for not doing so. First, I worked hard myself to establish the contacts. I hunted down the information for myself and worked hard at developing good, trusted relationships with my contacts. The information was not dropped in my lap and, yes, it did involve work. Any serious book blogger should have to work for themselves, in my opinion. It's not just about the "free books." And here is another reason I say that: when developing relationships with contacts in the publishing industry, I frequently heard about individuals who would request a dozen or more titles at a time. Greed is obvious to the publishers and it makes them more hesitant to work with those of us who are genuinely interested in specific titles because of their apparent worth on the market.

I don't want to promote half-rate books. You don't want to read half-rate books. And when I approach a publisher, I want them to know that I think they have something valuable to offer and that I'm going to present the book in the most thoughtful way possible to my audience.

I also learned the hard way that people were taking my recommendations when I sometimes felt half-hearted about certain books. I've since refused all half-hearted attempts and will either tell you I don't think a book is "all that" or I won't review it at all.

d.) Yes, I still receive some books which I have not requested in the mail. They arrive all the time. (Less so now because I've been e-mailing the publishers asking them to e-mail me about books before they mail them to me.) It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but if a book comes unsolicited I do not feel the need to review it. The way I (now) see it - the publisher took a gamble in mailing me the book in the first place. They didn't know whether or not I would like it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I just really don't. (Most times I don't.) I just e-mail the publisher, thank them for sending it and tell them why I will not be reviewing it. A few times it's just been because I don't have the time to review it. It may be that I already have a stack of review copies sitting here and I know how long it will take for me to get the reviews all up. I'm not going to stick a book into the line-up that was not requested and showed up by surprise. It's not fair to the books that are awaiting my attention that I did request. (Think: Crossway.)

Question No. 2: Do you review books that you do not like?...
(read the rest of this article here)


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