Monday, January 24, 2011

Reviewing books

I feel like blogging, so instead of posting something controversial as I usually do when I am trying to think up something to blog about, I am going to talk about reviewing books. I have friends ask me about it occasionally, so I shall enlighten anyone still curious.

I had posted several book reviews on my own, and found I enjoyed it. Two of my friends at one point suggested I contact some publishers and see if they had some kind of program for bloggers to review books, and many do. I got hooked up with a few by asking, and my good blogging friend, Molly, also helped me get hooked up with a couple.

Different publishers ask for different things, but generally I post a blurb about the book, taken from the publisher's website or, write a review of it - what I thought of the book, put a bio of the author and picture, and that is it. Have I given negative reviews? Yes, a few. Some authors can handle it, some can't.

I also have some "pet peeves" that I will comment on, but that doesn't necessarily make a negative review overall. One is cursing. I have heard all of the excuses and reasons, but I am still 100% convinced none should appear in a Christian book. If the author wants to do it, let him or her go to secular fiction. This isn't a blog post about that, but Christians shouldn't even use those words, so why use them and subject their readers to them?

The other, is Christian content. There has been a lot of debate about what constitutes Christian fiction, which is what I mostly review - but it bothers me when a Christian author writes a book for a Christian publisher, and God is not in the story anywhere. Yeah, I get the good overcomes evil thing, but hey, it IS Christian fiction, so why try to hide the fact?!

The books are free in exchange for a review, which for a book lover like me is awesome - I'd do a lot for free books, or music.

One highlight for me is when an author comments on my review. That means a lot.

Now, if anyone is still reading, here is a list of who I review for, and how they all work.

1) Authors. I occasionally get emails from an author asking me to review their book. I don't always do it, as I have gotten offers from secular books that I had no interest in.

2) Publicists. I haven't accepted many from them, as they are often not up my alley, such as the one I recently got for how to get healing by communicating with angels. Uh, no thanks.

3) B&B Media Group. When I contacted David C. Cook Publishing, I was forwarded to a lady from B&B. They are publicists that offer a lot of David C. Cook books, among other authors and publishers. They have a website where I can look for books to review, then email my contact there and ask for a review copy. She also sends out emails occasionally about books up for review.

4) Bethhany House Publishers. Bethany sends out an occasional email with books to review, fiction and non-fiction, usually in separate emails. To request a book, I just click on a link for the book in the email and click that I want to review it. When I post my review, I email a link to my contact. I also post a review on Amazon as per their request (or another retail site) I don't get many books from them.

5) Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. Possibly my favorite place to review for. It is run by a great lady who gets paid by authors to have their books reviewed by her book reviewers. Towards the end of each month, she sends out a list of around 8 books for 2 months away, all fiction, with the dates they are to be reviewed for. For example, she will send out the March list next week. I just reply with the books I want to review. On the date(s) the books are to be reviewed, she puts a HTML code on her blog, and I copy and paste it - has a blurb about the book, author, etc, and add my review to it.

6) First. This operates similar to the one mentioned above, but there are differing amounts of books, and not just for a certain month. One thing I don't like, is there is a limited amount of copies for this one, so it is first come, first serve. They also provide an HTML code to use, which I take advantage of.

7) Harvest House. I can just go to their website, find a book or books I am interested in, and send my list to my contact. I post a review, send it in, and also post one on Amazon.

8) Kregel Publishing. I get occasional emails from them with books to review, but can also check out their catalog or site and ask for books. I don't review many for Kregel.

9) Revell. My contact at Revell sends out occasional emails with one book offered for review, usually fiction, but not always. I reply and tell her I want it. After I read it, I post a review on the dates she indicated, and send her a link.

10) Thomas Nelson. They have a site, Booksneeze, where they put books up for review. I go there, pick one, click "request to review" and they send it out. There is no time period usually. When I am ready, I go back on and submit my link to the review and a link to my Amazon review. One drawback, you can only have one book at a time, and sometimes they put up something I want badly, but I already have a book.

11) Tyndale. They operate pretty much like Thomas Nelson, but they put up fewer books, so I haven't reviewed many books for them. And you can only have one out at a time for them also.

12) Waterbrook/Multnomah. They also operate like Tyndale and Nelson, but in addition, I have to also post my review - not just the link - on their site. In addition to only being allowed one book a time, there is also the drawback that once you request a book, you cannot even pull up the available books for review. Weird, and a pain.

13) Winepress. They have a site where I can pick books to review. I send my requests in to my contact. She also occasionally emails me with book offers. When I post the review, I email her a link. As a very nice follow up, she sends me a thank-you note by mail to thank me for my review. Not necessary, but a very nice gesture.

14) Zondervan. Another "one book at a time" publisher. I go to their website, pick out any book - has to be a book, no Bibles, etc - and put in my request. After I review the book, I post a review, then go on their site and post the link and link to the Amazon review.

15) Strang. Fairly new to me. I had gotten a couple of books from a lady who worked there at one point, but it was hit and miss. Just recently, they made their system better. My contact emails me a list of books for the next month, and I email her back with the books I want. Once I post a review and post the links on their site, they mail me out the next book.

16) Litfuse. This is a publicity group. They email out review offers one book a time. There are limited copies, so it is first come. first serve. Once my review is posted, I email a link to the lady in charge. They spread the review dates out over several days, assigning different days to reviewers.

Quite a list. To keep track, I use Google Spreadsheets. As soon as I request a book, I put it on the spreadsheet along with the author, who I am reviewing it for, the required date(s), if any, and a place to mark when the review is done. I also shade in the line with light grey when the review is posted. It works great for me, as long as I remember to check it. Occasionally, I will still get a book in the mail and not sure who I am reviewing it for, and when, and I have to do some research.

Well, that is it. How I got started, and how I do it.


Annette said...

Thank you for sharing your blogging story!
Have you been reading the posts about Christian Fiction at:
My Friend Amy's and She Reads?
The subject is What Can Be Done About Christian Fiction?
One of my replies on my blog was My Two Cents on Christian Fiction.