For the past several years I have been reviewing books for my own site, Bookpleasures.com, as well as many other sites. I am also a regular contributor to the Canadian Book Review Annual. As editor of Bookpleasures.com, I would like to make a few comments about book reviewing and what to expect, particularly from Bookpleasures.com.
Today, with the advent of the Internet, there has been a proliferation of book reviewers, whom I shall classify as the good, the bad and the ugly.
Those falling into the last category are those that you have to be particularly on the look out for, as their only interest is to receive complimentary books without bothering to review them, or if they do review them, their reviews are very short and without substance. On the other hand, there are many serious and excellent reviewers who devote a great deal of their time and energy in reading and writing a review.
Sometimes, I admit, the reviews are not exactly very complimentary. However, it is to be noted that it is not the objective of a reviewer to be a salesperson or a public relations representative for the author. If the criticism is constructive, a great deal can be learned from the review, particularly if the reviewer is also an author.
From the point of view of a reviewer, what I find most annoying is receiving a book without first asking me if I would accept to review it. Bookpleasures receives on average about 10-15 email requests per week. Generally, I personally accept a few to review, others, I forward onto Bookpleasures’ international team of reviewers.
In all probability, there is a 20%-30% chance that a request to review will be accepted by a reviewer.
The reason why a book is not accepted is wide and varied. Many of our reviewers have a backlog that they would like to clear before accepting new assignments, or the subject matter is not one that interests any of them.
What I like to see in a request is not “hype" but rather a brief resumé of the contents of the book, who the author is, if the book is published by a main stream publisher or is it self-published, and if the book is available on Amazon.
Bookpleasures also conducts e-interviews with some authors, and if the author is open to have himself or herself interviewed, please indicate.
If you are a publicist or publisher, don’t be afraid to put Bookpleasures as well as other book reviewing sites on your emailing list. You never know when something catches our eyes. Sometimes you may be publicizing a particular book, and our reviewers will look to your site and see something else that interests them.
As for the time frame, this all depends on the reviewer. Anywhere from one week to three months is the norm. You can ask the reviewer to give you some idea as to his or her time frame. You can also inquire as to his or her credentials. Bookpleasures does provide links to the reviewers’ site that should give you some idea as to their experience.
I do hope this is of help to some of you.
Norm Goldman is a free lance travel writer and book reviewer. His articles appear on his own sites, bookpleasures.com and sketchandtravel.com , as well as many other Internet sites.