Monthly Archives: November 2013

Tips for submitting Ebooks to bloggers for review

ID-100207548This is an on-going list of things that help make submitting an ebook for review flow smoothly. I’ll be adding points as they occur to me. It’s written to be specific to me and my blog, but in all likelihood would work for any number of bloggers. I’m trying to focus on specific tasks—the mechanics, so to speak—not the request itself. So I’m going to skip over the obvious be polite/professional, don’t SPAM or harass the reviewer, and other such basic etiquette. The Bookish Brunette and Lindsay Buroker do a good job of breaking that down, if that’s what you’re looking for. This is about the nuts and bolts of getting a book into my hand and a subsequent review on the net.

To start with,

READ THE POLICY!!
I know this sounds too simple for words and every blogger to ever write a tips and hints page starts with it, but people really don’t do it. In my case, I don’t just assume they don’t, I know they don’t. I set up two email addresses, one labelled 2lazy2readP&P@sadieforsythe.com and the other, further down the page, labelled ereview@sadieforsythe.com. A full 1/3 of the requests I get come to that first email address. Of those that manage to read far enough to spot the trap, many still don’t follow the directions (point #2), so I’m forced to wonder how well they read them. But it’s a start.

FOLLOW DIRECTIONS!!
I know, I sound like a first grade teacher. But my case makes an excellent example of why this is important. I strive to write an objective review. And, as much as I love meeting authors (and I really, really do), I find that too much conversation upfront impedes my ability to be impartial. This means I’ve set the whole system up so that I don’t actually ‘meet’ authors prior to reading their work. After—great, but not before.

lady-face-angry-mdSo, if you send me a ‘request’ that says ‘write me back if you would like a copy’ (which is me requesting your book, BTW, not you requesting a review) you’ve A) not followed direction and probably annoying me upfront, but more to the point, B) just collapsed my system. Don’t expect a response (not that you’d know that, since you probably didn’t read the policies or you would know better). And…

DO YOUR BASIC RESEARCH
Under no circumstances write me this email and expect me to comply.

Good afternoon,

I saw your contact on book tweeting service, can you send me more informations about book reviews? Where will you post your review? your blog, amazon, goodreads, Facebook?

this is my new book…

Thank you very much

Looking forward to hear from you

Best Regards

Not only because all of that information has already been provided in the Do it Yourselfpolicies he/she obviously didn’t bother to read (yes, it came to the 2lazy2readP&P address), not to mention it’s listed on Book Tweeting, but also because I get several requests a day, have more books available to me than I can read, and therefore don’t need to work for more. I don’t need to make my case to you, just the opposite in fact. You make my job easier if you wish me to do you a favour, not the other way around. I don’t work for you. In fact, this gets me so riled up I wrote a whole rant on it. I know this really falls under the etiquette umbrella, that I wasn’t going to address, but it’s just so basic it needs repeating. 

INCLUDE THE INFORMATION ASKED FOR
I know this really falls under follow directions, but it deserves it’s own point. I ask for a title, synopsis, page length and cover image. I love it when authors include genre classifications too, but I don’t specify it. I ask for this information for a reason. It helps me decide if I’m interested in your book or not, but it also helps me in another way. I use Goodreads to keep track of my TBR list. If you’re book is too new to be on Goodreads I often add it so that I can place it on the appropriate shelf. To do this I need some basic information. Yes, I can search Amazon for this information (this is now acceptable by GR policies) and I do. But having the basics to begin with helps me help you.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE FILE NAME
man and kindleThis is something I never would have thought of if I wasn’t running an ebook review blog. Think it through. You send me an e-file. I then log it on my TBR list and plonk it onto my Kindle, to be read at some future date. When that time comes, I search my kindle for one of two things, the title or the author’s name. If the file is called something else, god forbid Unkown (of which I have several), I’ll never find it and, therefore never read it. So take that extra second to ensure that the file you attach to your email will show up when searched for.

IF YOU’RE INCLUDING LINKS, INCLUDE THE RIGHT ONES
If you send a Smashword’s coupon include the Smashwords link, not the Amazon one. I see this all of the time. People send me a coupon for one site and then link me to another. It’s usually Amazon. I think authors want me to know it’s available there. I promise, I’ll always look. But the logistics of the problem is that I still end up having to search for the book before I can actually use that handy-dandy coupon you’ve provided me. And as anyone who searches Smashwords regularly knows, their search engine is a bit of a pain. So just providing the link upfront instead of the higher profile Amazon one makes me happy. Honestly, I would prefer no link to a useless link. I’m just saying.

KEEP A LIST
listI have on more than one occasion, received the same book from the same author 2 or 3 times. I’m assuming this isn’t harassment, so much as poor bookkeeping. This wastes everyone’s time. You waste time posting a duplicate email and I waste time trying to log it only to discover I already have it.

SERIES
If a book is 2nd, 3rd, etc in a series, I will need the previous books. This admittedly runs the risk of my reading/reviewing the first one and not continuing the series to the newest book. If that happens at least you got one review from me. But without the beginning of the series I’m almost guaranteed not to read the book you send me.

NUMBER OF REVIEWS
I know those first couple reviews are the hardest and most nerve wracking to find, but I’m unlikely to choose to read your book until you have them. The reason is that I’m going to be honest about my thoughts. That means if I disliked the book I’m going to say so. I’m not heartless though. I want to know going in that if I dislike the book and rate it poorly there are enough other reviews to balance everything out. There are a lot of dissenting views out there on the use of acquaintances for reviews. As long as they actually read the book before reviewing it I have no issue with it.

Like I said, this is an on-going list. Expect it to grow. But it’s a start. I’d be really interested in hearing from others. Have I forgotten something, missed something, mangled something? Let me know. 

Review of Sara Bain’s The Sleeping Warrior

The Sleeping WarriorAuthor, Sara Bain sent me a copy of her novel, The Sleeping Warrior.

Description from The Goodreads:
LONDON solicitor Libby Butler’s life is in a mess. Her affair with her boss is going nowhere as is her position in a city law firm. A narrow escape from the knife of south London’s elusive serial murderer, The Vampire Killer, has challenged her outward bravado and left her nerves in tatters.

When duty calls Libby to a police station in the middle of the night, she meets the enigmatic Gabriel Radley. Dressed like an ancient warrior, Gabriel has a habit of disappearing from police custody and danger appears to dog him.

Gabriel is searching for a ‘stone’, its value ‘beyond human imagination’, that will help bring a ‘monster’ to justice. When Libby agrees to help him, she plunges her life into grave danger where no one is safe.

A cult who call themselves The Awakened, a gangland thug and his henchman, a female assassin, a detective chief inspector from Scotland Yard, and even the serial killer, all become inadvertently embroiled in the chase for the stone and the pivotal force of Gabriel.

As the death toll rises, Libby is forced to face herself, learn the true value of life and the potent significance of the Sleeping Warrior within.

Review:
I generally thought this was an entertaining story with a number of interesting, seemingly independent threads that eventually wind together into a neat little package. There were some interesting characters. I particularly liked Libby, Gabriel, Rose and Lars (as we’re supposed to). It was also interesting to see, what would otherwise be considered bad guys, fighting on the side of good. That seems to be a sub-theme (is there such a thing?) of the book. Actions alone aren’t enough to judge the shade of one’s soul. I never could decide if it’s supposed to be religious fiction or not. But if it’s so subtle that I can’t decide, then it’s not obvious enough to bother me.

While most of the many twist were wonderful, there were occasionally some that were unbelievable. One in particular, the second hospital scene, almost ruined the book for me. Not just because it pushed the envelope of credibility, but also because it came out of no-where (When did everyone have time to plan this?), and because the whole book changed tone and direction after it. It really felt to me that there was a perceivable breach in the plot-line and that series of scenes is the epicentre of the rupture. A lot must have happened behind-the-scenes, because a number of characters suddenly started acting out of character all of a sudden and kept it up until the end.

At end the reader is left with questions. I don’t mean loose threads. The characters are left with the same questions. There are just some things—like what Gabriel actually is, or what Shinar did to be pursued, or what led Shinar to hunt the stone—that no one learns the answer to with any certainty. The reader can guess, but has no way of knowing if they are right.

Lastly, though not a criticism by any means, if you’re looking for a steamy PNR, this isn’t it. There are no sex scenes. There is love, of sorts, but no real romance. That’s not the point here.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed The Sleeping Warrior and would be up for reading more of Ms. Bain’s work.

Review of Torbrek…and the Dragon Variation, by Lexi Revellian

Torbrek

Last year sometime, I grabbed a copy of Lexi Revellian‘s novel, Torbrek…and the Dragon Variation from the Amazon free list.

Description from Goodreads:
An adventure story with daring deeds, dragons, friends, foes and romance – and no darned elves.

When Tor saves the Princess from the terrifying, fire-breathing dragon and delivers her to the handsome knight she is destined to marry, nothing is quite as it seems; the dragon is overweight and hasn’t breathed fire for years; the Princess and her supposed suitor don’t hit it off; and Tor shouldn’t be in the rebel cavalry at all because she’s a woman disguised as a man. Which doesn’t help when she is attracted to a fellow soldier…

Meanwhile, studying the records of the legendary Hundred Knights, cold-blooded agent Corfe unearths a secret about Tor that even she is unaware of, a secret that makes ruthless King Skardroft very interested in her, and will change the outcome of the battle for the kingdom.

Review:
I thought it was cute. I expected the humour to be a lot more ridiculous than it was. You know, a little Monty Python-like comedy. I would have been fine with that. I was up for a laugh. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that, though there was humour, there was also a solid story here.

I also really enjoyed the fact that Tor was truly a strong female lead. So often female warriors in fantasy are described as well trained, ruthless soldiers but then are shown to actually be rather soft—despite their training, being unwilling to kill when it comes down to it or traumatised by having to do so and keep up the strong front. Invariably a man comes to her rescue and she is grateful. Not Tor. She never wavers and the men around her let her be strong without needing to come to her rescue. I loved that.

Many of the characters grow significantly throughout the book. Skardroft learns the value of human contacts. The princess learns the value of self-sufficiency. Pom learns about courage. Some experience love for the first time, others face loss and acceptance. That’s a lot to squeeze into 250 pages. But it’s accomplished without feeling rushed.

All in all I found the whole thing a pleasant read.