Chime In Topic #9 – Managing TBR, ARC’s and Requests: Did You Read My Policy?
Chime In is our discussion segment here at M/G/W where we discuss anything from books, to writing, and blogging. As readers, writers and bloggers, sometimes a girl just needs to vent – on or off topic, so this is our outlet to discuss whatever shenanigans are flowing through our minds. Pet peeves, book boyfriends, the never-ending awesomeness that is social media, you name it, and we’ll discuss it. With happy smiles or evil grins and give you the readers, a chance to dish it back at us in the comments. And if you’ve missed anything you can catch up on all the awesome right HERE.
The life of a book blogger can get hectic. We love to read, that’s a given, but most of us have jobs, lives, or responsibilities outside of our blogs. Here are some problems we’ve faced and how we’ve chosen to conquer them. Please keep in mind, we love getting requests, and without the authors –Indie, self, and traditionally published- we wouldn’t own book blogs.
There are more books –print and e-book- in my “To Be Read” pile than I can count. Most of them are books I’d love to read, but I don’t have any time. This is the first downfall to having a book blog as opposed to becoming a reviewer –one who posts only to Amazon, Goodreads, or reads simply for entertainment. With that said, remember you don’t need a blog to become a reviewer!
How do I manage my TBR?
Well for the most part, I follow a strict schedule, and this is what I recommend for all bloggers –regardless of genre. I review at least two titles per month for Mother/Gamer/Writer, at least two titles per month from tour companies for my blog, and the rest are requests direct from authors, publicists, and publishing houses.
I currently use Google Calendar and Goodreads –Also used by M/G/W.
Tour books –author run or tour company- always come first. Authors spend considerable money (Usually $100 and up or time invested) for book tours. I do everything in my ability to read them as soon as they come in, but there are times I forget or busy. Luckily, I’m a fast reader.
For the non-blogger, reviewing and maintaining your TBR pile can be as simple as using Goodreads. There are tons of other programs and apps that can help you keep track too. Calibre is a favorite, but it’s geared toward e-books. It also converts DRM-free books into other formats if needed.
Why would you need another format? Well part of the reason is the next section of this –ARCS. Most ARCs are .pdf Format. They read horribly on multiple devices, so I prefer to reformat them.
After tour books, I look to my print stack and from there, e-books.
Remember an ARC is an advanced review copy, also known as an uncorrected proof. These are typically used before a book is released and, therefore, if I have time, are given the same priority as tour books. However, I have issues when the ARC’s abused. If an author has a polished copy or the title’s released –not including print- then I expect the same version that I would get if I purchased the book.
I also have issues with reviewers who don’t understand that an ARC is expected to have grammatical errors, and some minor issues. Writers aren’t editors, and no writer ever has written without mistakes.
Plus, what you think is wrong (Oxford comma for example) might be the new right. Most of what’s taught in grammar school is Oxford style. Did you know US books follow Chicago rules? AP is used for blog posts and e-zines, but most bloggers don’t realize that too.
In the same note, if the errors –editing or formatting- restrict the ability to read, let the author know. The majority of these copies are sent to reviewers before obtaining the final edit and formatting.
Therefore, the reviewer should never take away points, stars, whatever you use for these issues –in an ARC. At the same time, please state that the copy you reviewed was an ARC in your review.
Literary Sweet receives, on average, four requests per day. That’s a lot when you realize that my team consists of mostly me. I do have some associate reviewers, but they take only what interests them. How do I handle these requests?
It’s quite simple. For starters, I have a specific format and items that I request authors send with their request. This list is available on my blog. It gives what genres I accept, what I’m open to considering aside from those genres, and what my associates like. If the request doesn’t fit those guidelines, it’s trashed.
Round two requires reading the e-mail itself. I use my pen name on my blog, and although to me Rae appears feminine, I’m often referred to as a man. Trash. If an author can’t take three seconds to visit my about me page, then I won’t take the time to read their book. It’s a bit harsh, but I’d expect no less from another blogger.
After determining that I’d be a appropriate fit and that they’ve actually checked out my blog aside from my requests page, I e-mail the author with my current time frame. Right now, I’m booked into November and averaging 6-8 books per month, not including The Cat & Bones books, or the non-fiction writing/editing books I read.
If they accept my period, then I pencil them into the schedule. If they’d rather me arrange an interview or a spotlight than we do that instead.
Now, for those I don’t accept. To be honest, I don’t have the time to e-mail every author. Aside from reading and blogging, I’m also an author and have a family. Plus, the majority of my deletes are due to improper matching or calling me a dude. However, sometimes I’ve rejected a book because of cover art. We all have our own tastes, but if it looks my kids threw it together, I’m not going to bother.
Oh and if there are typos in the pitch, blurb, or my name … No!
- Always understand what you’re reading and why. Get to know the terms and world of the book blogger and authors.
- If you run a blog, consider having a submission guideline. Yes, some authors will ignore it and send anyway, but you’ll get more requests.
- Not sure if you’re ready to take on a blog but like reviewing? Review on Amazon and books sites, or try out associated reviews. Diayll and I both are always looking for reviewers, and so are other book blogs.
- Don’t be afraid to hit delete or say no to an author or publishing company. It’s harder to read a book you won’t like than saying, no thanks. I don’t like most contemporary romance, and there’s nothing wrong with that. At the same time, read the synopsis. It may interest you.
- Learn actual grammar rules before you accuse an author of poor grammar in a review. While Chicago’s considered the standard of published US fiction and non-fiction, consistency is the key regardless of chosen style. If the book’s publisher is only UK based, expect to see Oxford. Their dialogue rules differ from what we’re used to. EX: “The car is red”, Jane said. This is actually correct in the UK and not a typo. Electronic cookbooks, in addition to non-fiction, electronic works are AP. Also, there are grey areas with many grammar rules. It’s neither right or wrong, but if you, as the reader or reviewer, don’t take the time to learn them than you shouldn’t review a work based on grammar. Harsh, but true.
A final note about grammar:
I’m not the grammar police. It’s atrocious in my own writing before I edit it. However, I read book reviews after I’ve finished reading each book. I can’t tell you how many times I see references to grammar, when there were no issues in the book. Even one or two grammar problems, I ignore. Editors are human and it costs hundreds to thousands of dollars. Most of that money is out of pocket at the writer’s expense because unless they’re under contract, it’s up to the author to polish their manuscript prior to submission. If they self publish than all of the cost is on them.
I’m not talking about grammar rules (They are, their, there) we learned in grade school. These are punctuation rules, more so revolving around the comma, semi-colon, and colon, but there are many other ones that the common reader doesn’t know about, or they’re unfamiliar with other styles and the application of styles to the genre they read.
Chime In Readers: How do you manage your growing reading piles? How do you prioritize your books? What resources do you use to keep on schedule? What will make you say no to a request?