Hmmm… How do I broach this subject without sounding like I think I’m the end-all to all… plus a little more?!? (Which, by the way, is not at all the case!)
Several times a month I receive offers of free mystery books. Yes! FREE mystery books!!! Sometimes these offers come from the mystery book authors, and sometimes the offers come from their publishers. Either way, they are very generous offers… and believe me, I would LOVE to accept every one of the offered books!
But, I don’t!
I just “flat-out” have a policy of not accepting free mystery books. I think that this policy comes from my very ingrained “guilt complex” >>> which, if you have, then you know what I mean!!! I know that with my guilt complex, I would end up feeling “obligated” to write a good review.
I must be honest and disclose that I did (once upon a time) accept two free books from authors/publishers. I don’t know what possessed me to think that I could be fair-minded in my reviews… but let me just say that one of the books I loved, and the other I didn’t finish.
So, I decided not to review either book. One would clearly have gotten a 5 star rating, the other would have gotten a … Yup! That’s when the guilt complex comes in! I couldn’t give that free book less than 3 stars, which, since I didn’t get past page 50 (my cut-off for books that I literally make myself stay with!) would have been a sham.
Me and my guilt complex!!! I’d rather spend the $6.99 and not “have to finish” a book I’m not enjoying, than stay with a book I don’t like just so that I can try to find nice things to write about in a review. (Thumper’s mom would be proud of me!)
PS>>> I’m using the “five-star” rating system as my example since it seems to be the most prevalent…
Maria (BearMountainBooks) says
I used to be a reviewer for a large review site so I know how you feel. Most authors understand that not every book is going to be a perfect match for everyone, but there are some authors out there who never learn to live with a bad review. So believe me, I know what you are saying.
One of the review sites I follow (Red Adept Reviews) came up with a great way around books she didn’t finish. She gives them an honorable mention if the writing is good (good copyediting, no huge, awful problems like POV switching that left her confused). But she just states plainly that they weren’t her thing and she didn’t finish the book. Sometimes she’ll mention if there was material that she won’t ever read (for me it would be torture scenes or animal abuse) but mostly she just says, “Hey there’s nothing really wrong with this book, but it’s not my cuppa!)
She reviews everything that is 3 star or greater.
I’m not suggesting you should review books–it is a lot of work! But for those who do, I like the honorable mention idea. There’s also several blogs that don’t use a star rating. That way they don’t get caught between the 3 and 4…is it 4 and a half…
I wish that when I reviewed, I’d had some of these options!!
The most important thing is to enjoy the books we read. If you can’t do that and review, don’t review!!! You do a great blog just the way it is.
I totally agree! I’ve got that guilt complex, too. It’s actually good to know you have it–I can take your reviews as your honest opinion. Thanks for disclosing this.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
That’s why I don’t “review”… although, when I find an author who I really, really like, then I give the author a shout-out!
I only accept the occasional ARC (honestly I have enough books on my TBR mountain without the freebies) but I make it clear up front that I may not finish the book and that if I do finish it I will write an honest review, even it it’s bad. I think making it clear up front, indeed the process of writing out the policy in the first place, made it possible for me to no longer feel that sense of obligation to write something positive because I’ve been given the book for free. I also tend not to look at it as a one-way transaction – yes they’ve given me a book but I’ve given them an opportunity to have an independent opinion written about the book and there’s at least a 50/50 chance it will be a positive opinion (based on the law of averages).
Clarissa at MMT says
I do accept ARC’s (mostly through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Program). I do try to be fair. I don’t necessarily think about where I got a book when I am reading it. Most of my reads come from the library, or the thrift store. The thing about true ARC’s (ie: bound galleys) is that they are not truly final. So something I don’t like in them (grammar, editing, etc.) might actually change in the final published work. I much prefer getting an advance copy of a book with the ISBN and binding and everything in place.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
I love reading other people’s mystery book reviews… Those very same reviews are what prompt me to devote my time to trying a new author. But, since I already have so many authors who I follow, I am rather choosy. I try to lump all of the reviews I can find together and come up with the mean score.
Any time I try a new author, I actually have that kid-in-a-candy-store feeling which comes from the prospect of having all of that particular author’s books waiting for me to enjoy!
Edie Dykeman says
When I started reviewing mystery books at the end of 2008 I often had a difficult time not feeling guilty about reviewing a book I just didn’t like. There have probably been 6-8 books over the last 18 months that I just could not get through.
When a new-to-me author requests a review, I have a canned email I send that lets them know first of all, it may take many months before I finish a review, and also that I may not review that book at all for whatever reason. So the author knows ahead of time their book may not be reviewed. It is then their choice if they want to send it to me.
As I was reading the above responses, I was thinking that I could note the books I didn’t read in the forum for the site I do reviews – the name of the book and author, and why I didn’t believe I could read or write a review. For example, I have found I cannot read any book about vampires, or a book that is especially graphic with the crime(s) to the point of being disgusting.
That way, those who are interested can still read the book if they choose, and I am not making that decision for them. It should be their choice.
However, I am getting better at giving the bad along with the good, realizing no book is perfect and people usually respect an honest review.
Danna, Another old posting that I have just found!
Being on Social Security, I would love to be able to “review” free books. But I would also make sure whoever is asking me to do this understood that if for some reason I did not like the book that that is what I would say.
Also, there would have to be an understanding that when I am finished with the book that I would donate that book to a local library. Just because I didn’t like a book, someone else just might!
I would think, though, by agreeing to review books that if I were to give a review that some people wouldn’t agree with, a lot of people would take exception too. Hope this makes sense!