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February 19, 2010

Why being a book reviewer is so cool

Free books!  Yes, I've said before that as a reviewer for Curled Up With a Good Book, I get access to free books that the site's editor receives from publishers.  That's a cool perk in itself.

However, having been a book reviewer either for Amazon, Epinions, and now Curled Up, I get lots of emails from authors and publishers asking if I'll review their book as well.  I also have found myself on some sort of book list because daily I get 2-3 emails just advertising a certain book, with subjects ranging from spy thrillers to history to even children's books!  I don't even know if they would be free or if it's just advertising, but I pretty much just delete them.

I've also taken to ignoring the offers specifically directed to me by the author or his/her agent.  I've had a couple of bad experiences with this kind of thing, as both times the books weren't really that good.  I always told them that I can't guarantee them a good review but that I would definitely read the book and review it.  One such book, Dan Roentsch's Face of a Stranger, is a perfect example of the problems.
Dan's agent (I believe, it was a few years ago) contacted me and noted that I had been reviewing a lot of science fiction books on Amazon, and asked if I would be interested in this book?  It was Roentsch's first book, and he wanted to get some reviews out there.  I gave her the standard caveat of "no guarantee of a good review" etc, and she accepted that with no problems.  So she sent me the book, I read it, thought it was decent but not really that good, and wrote the review (go read the review to see what I mean).

I emailed the agent and told her that I had submitted the review.  The response I got back (and this is *really* paraphrased, as this was 6 years ago) was: "Hmph.  Well, thank you for doing that. The review is a bit long, though."  It's no longer than any of my other reviews were, but the attitude expressed just irritated me. It's like she verbally accepted that the review might not be glowing, but when it turned out that way, she was miffed.  I've also heard stories of authors doing this and then getting really upset with a negative review.

So no more of that for me.

But what's got me excited is the email I received yesterday from a representative of Zenith Press.  He had seen my review of Omaha Beach & Beyond that I posted Wednesday, and he mentioned that Zenith Press publishes a lot of military history books regarding World War II.  He gave me a list of four that are coming out in the next few months and asked if I'd like to get them and review them.

I sent him a note back saying I'd love to, with the following caveats:

1) I promise a fair review, but not necessarily a positive review.  I will "call it as I see it" and if I don't like the book, I will say so.

2) I will make a note on the review that I received the books direct from the publisher, but that it will not affect my review in any way

3) I have a number of books that I've received to review.  I will do my best to do a timely review of the books I get from you, but I can't make any promises that they will be done by publication date.

He readily accepted these conditions, and I'm going to have two World War II books heading my way soon!  It's my favourite period of Military History to study, so I'm really hoping this keeps going.  Hopefully they won't drop me with my first negative review (I doubt that, though, as the guy seemed pretty understanding of that "honest review" requirement).

Between these books and the ones I get from Curled Up, I am really looking forward to some good reading over the next year.


  1. That is very cool. I just got a book through Epinions yesterday. It's my first book freebie (as a reviewer, anyway), but a few years ago, I was discovered by a PR firm in Nashville and now they send me music to review. So far, I've liked just about everything they've sent me! I'm not even an Epinions top reviewer in music anymore.

  2. Sara is right. YOU HAVE ARRIVED. Congrats. I knew you'd be famous someday. That's really impressive that they wanted you. I can understand why. You give awesome reviews. Who know where this could lead.

  3. Mom, it's not *that* big. It's more of a publisher thinking "hey, he likes this stuff and gave a good review to our one book, maybe he'll do it for more?"

    Certainly not *famous* LOL

    But I do appreciate the sentiment and the compliments.

    Jenny, that's cool! I could never review music on Epinions. Just don't really have much of an opinion other than "I liked that" or "that sucked." Maybe I should submit my 80s one-hit wonder posts there. :)

  4. I would enjoy them... I'm a total 80s geek.


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