Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review Request Red Flags

About two months ago I signed on with Book Tweeting Service to be a voluntary book reviewer. I listed my tastes along with my email and blog on their website for writers to see. They'd send me their work along with their request. Right now I'm on my fourth such request: "Light Dark The Awakening of MageKnight" by Daniel Fife.

I had fun reading "Trapped on Draconica" and "Nimpentoad". I was glad to write and tweet reviews for them because they let the story speak for itself. I'm looking forward to reading "Blood Skies" because the author told me the premise in a single sentence and the closest thing to self praise was 'I have it on good authority that they don't suck'. All of them fit my favorite genre of 'fantasy'.
It's been fun so far but I gotta make known a some red flags that pop up too often.

1. Claiming to be 'original' and other self praise

This is number one because it is the biggest turn off. I can't stand it when writers tell me how 'original' they are. One person even told me their work was going to 'redefine the fantasy genre' or something like that. No one is 100 percent original. I'm certainly not. I will gladly tell anyone who asks what my many influences are (a few are on the 'About the Author' page above this post) though I won't say what they influenced because that would be spoilers. Anyway, it bothers me because it's a Suspiciously Specific Denial; why tell me it's 'original' or 'engrossing' or other quality unless you, to some extent, think it's not.  The more you praise yourself the less likely I am to read your book. Let the book speak for itself.*  This leads into number two.

2. Not providing enough information

You gotta tell me what's going on for me to be interested in it. I like to know who the protagonist is, what their problem is, and a few things about the setting. I'd also like more details then 'average guy fights evil thing to save the world'.  Some have only told me that something is targeting their protagonist but not who or why and very little about the protagonist themselves. Others tell me what their book does, for instance, 'unites the mystical world and the scientific one' but it doesn't say who is doing the uniting and why. The less you tell me about your book the less likely I am to read it. However, the inverse is not true. The golden mean is a paragraph.

3. Your book does not match my profile on Book Tweeting Service
The page lists that I like 'fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction'. If you email me paranormal, or romance, or realistic fiction, then you obviously skipped to the line that had my email and did not truly read my profile. I find that offensive. I will tell you 'Sorry, that's not my genre' and therefore waste both our time. HOWEVER, this point is number three for a reason.

If you make a good enough pitch, and it's tangentially related to one of my interests, then I might say yes. For instance, I received a review request from a guy who wrote a detective novel. That's not my genre but the detective lives in a science-fictionish setting and the author wrote such a marvelous request that I said yes.

If you send up all three of these red flags then, as the saying goes, three strikes and you're out.

*If the book has reviews by others and you want to attach them to your request, that's fine.

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