Have you heard of that saying Never Say Never? I had too. But until recently, I never really thought much about it, and definitely did not ever consider applying it in practice. In-fact I am known to use the word pretty liberally. And one area where I know I have used it way too often is on the topic of doing paid book reviews.
I was determined to ‘never’ do them. Not because I had anything against the concept. And definitely nothing against those who did it. Reading and reviewing books took time and effort, and if people felt the need to be compensated, I completely understood it. I just personally felt it wasn’t for me. I wanted to read for pleasure, and be free to review (or not), and share my thoughts as I deemed fit.
Now nothing much of the above has changed, outside of the fact that I am now accepting paid book reviews (and I’ll explain in a bit). But before I get into the details, I just want to share the why. What changed, and why I have now decided to take on paid book reviews.
Well mostly it’s a time thing. But it’s also due to some pretty drastic changes in circumstances.
When I originally started my book blog, I was a stay-at-home mom, who blogged about books as a creative release. However, over the past three years, a lot has changed. I started working full time as a Digital Content Marketer. In addition to starting another food blog – The Love of Spice (among several other projects). This resulted in a severe time crunch for me, and I had to prioritize my tasks, and the projects I took on.
The other thing that changed was the sheer volume of review requests I started getting. I used to get one, maybe two review requests a month. And now, on an average I get one review request every other day. About 15-20 books a month.
Now clearly I don’t accept most of those books for review. But even if I accept just 1-2 books a month, in addition to the books I want to read for pleasure, and all the other things I need to get done, it gets really overwhelming, and stressful for me.
And the last thing I want is for reading (or reviewing for that matter) to cause me additional stress. Because for the longest time, books have been my favorite way to de-stress, and I want to keep it that way.
At the same time, I also need to be cautious about the time I spend away from my family, because I already work full time, and have two blogs to run. I cannot afford to spend more time away that I don’t absolutely need to, reading and reviewing books that I might or might not have picked up on my own.
And that’s the other aspect of this whole production. Accepting books for review is always a gamble. Some of them turn out great, but others are minor disasters to say the least. And then I end up putting all the time and effort in reading and reviewing them anyway, because I have given my word to the author, and I like to keep it. Which is nice and all, but cold comfort when I feel guilty about not doing higher priority tasks just to make time for this.
Because here is the thing, when I look at the big picture, and consider the time and energy I put into reading and reviewing books, I just cannot justify it. Nor can I justify letting the books I really want to read, lie unread, as I work towards the review commitments.
So this is what I have decided to get some semblance of control back when it comes to reading and reviewing books – Going forward I am going to mostly only (most only, not only only 😛 – explanation further down) take on paid book reviews.
I am sure this will do one thing, if nothing else – it will instantly bring down the volume of review requests, which is great for me, at the moment. Because it will free up my time, and a lot of mental energy. I am assuming (or rather, hoping) that this will also weed out quality issues. But if it doesn’t, I have decided on some measures to ensure the quality of books I do end up taking up for review (details in the highlights below).
Now of-course I will be writing a proper book review policy, and having it published on the blog soon, but in the meanwhile, I wanted you guys, my readers, as well as the authors who follow my blog, to know the thought process behind the change, and also a little of what to expect from the policy, which is going to be published soon.
On that note, here are 5 important highlights of the upcoming book review policy (authors, please take note) –
1. First, let me address, the ‘mostly only’ thing I mentioned above. So like I said, going forward I will be mostly only taking up paid book review projects to justify the time and energy I put into it. But I will also be reviewing some books for free. Especially the ones by my friends. Or the ones I choose to.
2. If you are a new-to-me author, then I’ll require a sample of the book (first 25 pages, or 3 chapters) to decide whether or not I’ll take up the book for review. Trust me, this will save us both a lot of heartache. I would be able to take an educated guess as to whether I would like the book (because sometimes blurbs are not enough) and it will reduce the chances of a negative review for you, if I do end up taking on the review request.
3. Speaking of which, if we do decide to work together, please know that I will be disclosing the fact that it is a paid review, in my review, on every single platform I review it.
4. On a related note, I will always publish the review on all the promised platforms. But in case the review is negative, and you would rather me not publish my review, I will refrain from publishing it. But under no circumstances will I change my review.
And this leads very nicely into the final, and most important thing I hope you understand about the book review policy –
5. The review charges are compensation for the time and energy I spend in reading and reviewing your book. And not payment for a positive book review. That is one thing I cannot guarantee. I can promise an honest and fair review, even a kind one, but not a positive one.
That’s all from my end folks. I would love to hear from you. What do you think about paid book reviews? All positive and negative opinions are welcome (so long as they are politely worded), because I know, I have been on both sides of this argument, and I kind of understand both point of views.
But (whether you do paid book reviews or not) do share your thoughts, because your opinions are valuable to me as they will help me draft a well rounded book review policy. And especially if you do paid book reviews, I would love to hear about your experience (in the comments, or via private/direct message on Facebook/Instagram, if you are more comfortable with that). Because I am sure there is something I have not thought of, as I am so new to this. Which is why I would really appreciate any comments/suggestions/advice you have for me.
P.S. Please know that nothing changes for all the book review requests I have already accepted.
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