Tag Archives: how to piss off a book blogger

creepy dont do this

Once again, authors, don’t be this guy.

I’m not taking a lot of book review requests right now. I just don’t have the time. But my email is still up, and while most people are respectful of not wasting reviewers’ time, I do get some shit every now and again.

For example, a couple of weeks back, I got a presumable book review request that was just a cut and paste of the book’s information —title, author, page number, etc. No greeting, no salutation, no request, no explanation for why it was sent to me. I frequently get requests that are very clearly bulk emails with no evidence that the author has looked into me, my blog, or my reading preference at all. (Certainly, no evidence that they paid attention to what genre I read.)

Mostly I just delete them. The ones that look like an author at least typed it up I’ll respond to and decline (or accept, of course). But the obvious forwards and cut-and-paste jobs just go in the bin. Well, full disclosure, there’s a 3rd category too. Those that I respond to with ‘Why would you send me this?” I’ve gotten so tired of the scattershot method on authors’ part that, catch me at the right moment, and I’ll snark back with all the reasons I’m declining and then a paragraph of all the ways their email demonstrates how little effort they made and how little respect it shows.

But the one I got this morning is something new (and not in a better way). Honestly, I’m not even sure what it is. Maybe it’s parady, even. Normally I’d just delete it and move on. But, after spending an inordinate amount of time trying to find what the actual book title was, I checked it out on Goodreads to see what kind of mess it is, and this is what I found:

creepy dont do this

Nothing recent, but two one-star ratings and two reviews essentially saying, “Stop being creepy, stalker-dude.” So, I decided to air this one with the dictum, authors, don’t be this guy. May I present you the most confusing review request…if you can call it that…I’ve received in a while. (I’ve deleted any identifying information to avoid actually providing anything that could be construed as a promotion.)

To: undisclosed-recipients:;

7 years, 10 months….and a day. It has been a long time indeed….since I introduced myself.
I do not have much time for you guys unlike last time. There is a massive storm ‘Biporjoy’ meaning Disaster heading towards my city Vadodara, and state of Gujarat in General….that needs to be averted. It is scheduled to hit here in a couple of hours.
It won’t.
The sequel to ‘XXXX’ is out here…..the middle part is still being written….where I will solve the 7 Millenium prize problems, give solutions to get all the 5 Nobel prizes, come out with cures for HIV, cancer…..and more:
– God
On Fri, 14 Aug 2015, 7:32 pm <XXX> wrote:

Hello all my lovely bookaholic readers! How are you! So nice to have you here! ☺

Welcome to this mail filled with colorful heroic personalities as eminent as each one of you.
This is a truly historic moment in the making that will be written down in the scrolls of mankind’s achievements in glittering golden letters. For the first time, a sizeable group of all of you esteemed best of distinguished reviewers from around the world has been carefully selected after a month-long tedious process of considering recommendations from your loyal fans/viewers/readers/followers/subscribers for a purpose. You have been gathered to witness an important announcement very relevant to your field, and this is going to be connected to the future of this planet too. A lot of you may know some one or the other in the addressees, while you might not have heard of most other people. Nevertheless, please feel comfortable to say whatever you wish to over here, as this is a rare as well as a great opportunity to make new valuable similar-minded friends and useful connections that are going to stay with you for life.
My name is XXXX. But these are just names; you will know my real identity one day when the time comes. You will hear about me a lot more often from now on in all forms of media if you haven’t heard about me already. I am now done working undercover behind the scenes while keeping a low profile. It is finally time to reveal myself to the world through all of you hand-chosen people.
The purpose of this special group which has been formed, is to propagate new ideas in the world of fiction…and transform the real world while doing so. You people are going to be the frontline waves of this tsunami that is going to rise mighty high and is going to be acknowledged as a brand new wave by the entire world. And all of this is going to begin…with a single book.
Come all you extraordinarily voracious readers! It is time for our first celebration! Using my gifted talents as an eloquent writer and a genius musician along with my fine analytical skills as a computer programmer – all of which were unknown till now, I have created for you the ultimate combination of breath-taking art and cutting-edge technology to produce a sparkling new innovative concept that will challenge the age-old traditional definition of what a novel can be, yet keeping its aroma intact. The result of mixing completely unrelated ingredients has been an enormous explosion of a book which packs a solid potent punch and provides a reading experience that is so amazingly rich and life-like real that it is beyond the scope of modern day human mental capacity to even conceptualize that such a thing can exist. At the same time it still retains the soul of a novel at its core.
The name of this freakingly mind-blowing breakthrough 6 star novel that I humbly present to you with a bow my lady is…XXX. And it is available now at XXX.
Firstly miss brainy, this book is just the foundation stone of what is going to be built in the future(more on that later). Do not think it is merely a book – in fact it is just an excuse to get started onto bigger things that will follow.
But you will still find it interesting to know that this book implements a totally fresh never-before-heard and never-before-seen idea. The tagline of this book is ‘Fiction meets reality’, and it stays true to it in an unbelievable way. You just won’t have any words to describe what you are about to experience! Don’t be astonished if this book sparks a new genre in the near future altogether. This book has the potential to become a revolutionary and legendary piece of writing…and usher in a whole new era of literature in our very lifetimes. It is full of exciting possibilities yet to be explored by current age authors and readers alike. However, the deviation from the form of present day novels is subtle and enjoyable instead of being glaring, and you will easily be able to adapt to it. This format of this book is going to act as a bridge between today’s format of novels and what is to come in the future – so you should definitely update yourself of the latest happenings in the world of novels by reading it.
Just if you are getting eager to read it and trying to compare it with famous works already at this stage, then let me tell you that this is definitely not the next best thing after Harry Potter or Lord of the rings. No madam! You would be grossly mistaken. This thing is on a whole new different level altogether! It is inevitably going to set a new benchmark – namely 6/5 stars.
Speaking in specific concrete terms, a few factors that make this book vastly different from anything you might have read till now are:
1. Firstly, it has got the basics right. The story is distinctively unique and original. The plot is teasingly intriguing and packed with beguiling twists that will keep you guessing all the way while the fantastic ending will leave you spellbound and fully satisfied. The narration is made in an exceptionally unorthodox yet appealing style that will leave you in awe of the versatile author’s uncanny approach and mastery over his writing.
2. The story is personalized, so that the reader(that is you, my lovely unassuming lady) herself becomes a key character in it and feels very very special. No need here to associate yourself with a certain character. Now you are one yourself, caringly placed right inside the novel like a crystal clear drop on a delicate petal. The spotlight is on you! Even after you finish reading the book, its enticing aftertaste will linger on for quite sometime, while its mesmerizing experience will seamlessly melt in and integrate to become a part of your reality (You didn’t understand the last line right? Ha! Read it to find out).
3. It has got some very addictive songs ranging in genres which will add a nice background effect to the main story at appropriate points, immersing you fully into the story’s world (even though skipping them will not affect the continuity of the story). You will not be able to resist giving into the heavenly temptation of getting used to being the subject of musical flattery and poetic ballads and getting pampered like a royal queen! You will just keep on coming back to hear those haunting melodious tracks for your entire lifetime.
4. You simply log into the book using your twitter account and then the whole book gets customized for you – a fusion of social media and novel. No filling of boring forms to register to read this 6 star novel! Which is kind of cool to say the least.
5. There are some special effects that will outright baffle you and suddenly catch you off guard when you least expect(like a camouflaged frog catching a blissfully ignorant flying insect). I do not wish to disclose these to you as I do not want to spoil the fun for you.
6. Not a point that differentiates it from other books but still just to mention: This is the first book in the series. It will have a sequel that you will be yearning for after you finish the first one.
In short, this 6 star book will leave you speechless!
You might be sniggering at the above line, sweetly giggling while rolling your eyes saying “Oh please!”, my dear miss. But believe it or not, this is actually not a hollow cocky and self-promoting babble coming from a seemingly narcissistic and self-obsessed eccentric sounding verbose author who wrote the book in question and is saying so just because he wrote it himself. Rather it is a carefully reached conclusion full of reinforced-cement-solid substance coming from a trustworthy impartial source, statistically based on various honest feedbacks and pure blatant facts.
Whoever has read this book till now has not only given it an over-generous above-brilliant outstanding feedback while gasping for air, but has also uncontrollably felt the urge to jump madly on and off the floor with rapturous joy – a queer yet ecstatic reaction that can best be described as a symptom of euphoria. And this has given me ample confidence to say with an alarming audacity a bold statement that I would like to repeat at the peril of being mocked, because I very well know that you can safely set this one in stone:
XXX is indeed the best book ever written till date.
I openly challenge anyone and everyone to prove otherwise.
I am not merely bragging or needlessly exaggerating. I have got better things to do in my busy life than to risk being deemed as a clown in front of such an intelligent audience as you all. To back myself sincerely, I will give you a real-life case that recently just happened in the last week. A well known lady called Mary XXX was so highly impressed with the novel that she promptly tweeted the link to this novel to over 100 of her friends. Now just introspect and ask yourself: have you ever reacted this way to a book? Any book? Even a 5 star book?
Further, on Sunday August 9th, she went ahead to call me on her web show and I was interviewed by her (I am truly indebted to her for that. In fact incidentally her birthday is on the 15th of August, so let us all please make it a special day for her by wishing her on twitter. Her handle is @XXX).
You can see an interesting part of that interview where you will see the stunningly good looking virtuoso that I am playing 2 instruments simultaneously with ease over here: https://www.youtube.com/XXX
You can also read her blog about the book here to validate whatever I have told here about Mary’s reaction in her own words: http://XXX/XXX.
You see my dear madam, I know inside-out of what I have created and so I also know exactly what I am talking. I am going to freely and unabashedly say what I strongly feel about this book irrespective of what people might think. As the pioneer of this innovative concept, I can tell you with authority that this book is like the beautifully crafted glistening exquisite Cullinan diamond made to enchant the onlooker, and you will definitely agree after reading it that it deserves every bit of the 6 star rating worth its weight in carats.
Compare it this way, lovely miss: If a novel is a 2D movie, then this is a 3D movie. If a novel is a car(a toyota camry maybe – a good car no doubt), then this is a supercar(a bugatti veyron – wow! wow!). If a novel is a passenger plane, then this is a supersonic concorde that breaks the sound barrier. If a novel is a cell, then this is a duracell. If a novel is a year, then this is a leap year. If a novel is a man, then this is superman. In short: this is a super-novel folks! Hence this super-novel is worthy of getting a super-rating, which is why it gets 6 stars.
I can not wait for you beautiful people to read through ‘XXX’ and undergo a phenomenal 6 star experience of a lifetime. An experience that simply should not be missed at any cost.
And as unconvincing as this may still sound to you right now, I am 101% sure that you will be more than happy to give it 6 stars without a problem. So I am not even bothered about your rating anyway, charming miss bibliophile.
Well you have heard the saying ‘Nothing is impossible’ – so 6/5 is possible too by inference. But coming to something that I care about deeply, how many of you have actually believed in this awe-inspiring saying or tried to act upon it even a bit? If not then this is your chance to do so.
We as mankind have flittered away a lot of time in making up catchy sayings that are nice to hear. But now comes the time to implement them. I have made this saying the motto of my life and I am fully committed to it. I promise you that:
If you let go of your ingrained inhibition to limit yourself to rate this book with just 5 stars and overcome it and rate it with 6 stars…then in return in the next decade I will change this world in IMPOSSIBLE ways that you can not even imagine…and the results would be what you always wanted.
Yes, I have got a crazy yet sound plan. A grand design. Just trust me, leave it to me…and watch.
Obviously right now! What are you waiting for my cute dear innocent friend! Please don’t tell me now that you are busy with other books. I understand that you have a schedule. But you also please try to understand that this is an extremely rare once in a blue moon kind of exceptional occurrence which means this book should be read first. Besides this is a short story! And life is short too! So just find the time for this book somehow. Consider this: This is a 6 star book right? Then why at all are you reading a 4 or a 5 star book right now? Which book’s review is going to interest your audience more – the very people who nominated you to be included in this classified mail? A 6 star book or a 4 or a 5 star book? After all you are reading for them correct? Then just set your priorities right mate! 6 > 5 and 6 > 4. Pick up the largest number first. Elementary isn’t it my intelligent buddy!
So read this book NOW! And come back here bustling with bubbly enthusiasm and shout out loudly to everyone to tell what you make of it. I am sure that this 6 star book is going to change your perspective of a novel forever. Mark my words again, pretty: This will be the best novel that you will have read till date. In fact you will deeply fall in love with it. Over and over again.
-> Though this online novel is mobile friendly, it will be best viewed on a desktop/laptop.
-> If you have any questions regarding this novel then please mail to me privately to avoid spoiler content being spilled over here.
-> On a vital note, if you are a heart patient then please refrain from reading this book or consult a good qualified doctor before forming a decision about going ahead with this roller coaster ride.
That is all I have to say to all of you wonderful 6 star people.

Yeah, that’s four pages of self-aggrandizing bullshit, all written in some smug, condescending tone, entirely addressed to a subordinate female reader. Not just a female reader, though; it is very clearly aimed at a certain type of performative feminine. (I suppose that’s his only imagined audience.) It’s full of endearments like ‘my dear,’ ‘my pretty,’ ‘miss brainy,’ ‘miss bibliophile,’ ‘my dear madam,’ ‘my dear miss,’ ‘my lovely unassuming lady,’ ‘my cute dear innocent friend,’ and ‘my lady.’ Gag. I mean, like creepy uncle with wandering hands and an entitlement complex gag.

Again, I redacted his name and info, not to protect him, but so as to avoid rewarding this behavior with actual promotion. This is basically spam of an indeterminate purpose. (And even if it wasn’t the mess it is, four pages with the book title hidden amongst a wall of text is the wrong track to take.) I have no desire to help this book or its author in any manner. Especially since the “book” is a 32-page pamphlet, essentially, that isn’t even available anywhere except through the enclosed link and somehow by logging in through Twitter. Yeaaaaah, I’ll not be doing that.

So, yeah, authors don’t be this guy. No matter how cute or clever or smart (this guy thinks he’s a genius…maybe even a stable genius) you think you are, you’re not. You’re just an annoyance, something to snigger about and wish to avoid. But also, from a woman’s perspective, also a likely fragile ego and, therefore, a very possible threat that we are too often forced to smile and laugh with in order to stay safe. Nothing in this is appealing. Don’t be this guy, and if you are, go away. I promise that however many women are included in the above undisclosed-recipients, we are all thinking the same thing.

nightmare-by TheDigitalArtist:7177 from pixaby

Don’t be this guy.

It doesn’t happen often—once or twice a year, maybe. But occasionally I encounter something in or around book blogging that I choose to journal about. Usually that’s in the form of venting…some might say bitching. Semantics. But here we are again. I have another one.

This might take a little explaining and what I’m mostly trying to get at is an impression. So, it’s not super cut and dry. But I want to share the interactions I’ve recently had with an author and see if anyone else gets the same ick vibes I do. Again, this person hasn’t done anything overtly wrong, but something in every interaction—brief as they’ve been—has just been a little off somehow.

I’m not going to say who it was, or use any back-links. Because calling them out directly isn’t my point. Honestly, I hope they never see this. I’ll explain why at the end. (Though the internet is the internet. So, I have no control over that.)

The whole thing started over on Sadie’s Spotlight, which is a sister site to this one. Over there I sadie's spotlightgenerally post books promotion (book blitzes, spotlights, cover reveals, author interviews, etc). I don’t offer reviews. I have this blog for that. It does still focus on the same genres as See Sadie Read though. If I’m gonna play with books, I want it to be books I’m interested in.

Most of the content comes from tour companies. Meaning authors hire the tour company to arrange a series of promotional blog posts. And I get offers to participate, choosing those that look interesting to me. I do have a submit page for authors making their own arrangements, but I don’t honestly get a lot of submissions. I work mostly with the tour companies.

One day, I got an email from a tour company I post for regularly, asking if I’d pick up a particular tour. They were short on hosts for it. It wasn’t directly within my preferred genre cluster, but I said I’d share it just to be helpful. [My husband would tell me that this was my mistake. No good deed goes unpunished, after all.] There were no problems from the tour company side.

My first inkling that something was a little awry came from the author’s answers to the attached interview. And again, I’m talking impressions here. But in the course of 12 questions, this author gave the impression of being smug and dismissive of the interview (and thus interviewer).

This came through in a number of ways. Several questions that could have been elaborated on were answered with a curt “no.” For example, “Do you write every day?” “No.‘ Or “Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?” “No.”yes, maybe, no

There’s nothing wrong with this, unless you consider what the point of a promotional blog tour and interview is. It’s to draw readers in, to gain interest. Such questions could have been cut or from the written interview, or better yet, redirected. “No, I don’t write everyday. I write in inspired, sporadic bursts of creativity that leave me wrung out, emotionally exhausted, and desperate for the next wave.” Or “No, I never get writers block, but sometimes this similar thing happens and I do this.” Instead, the reader feels slapped in the face, as if he’s sneered at them for asking about something so beneath him. Like, I wholly imagine that “no” accompanied by a derisive snort.

But then there was the last question, the absolute coup de grace, that looked like this (I cut the title to keep it vague):

What is the last great book you’ve read?

I don’t read anymore. I read most of the masters and learned from their insight. I had read so many books until I arrived at “————-.” I arrived at the end of the search and a different one began. There are many good writers today but I learned their insights long ago, and other than a change of costumes, they reach the same reality, maybe in a different language.

He doesn’t read anymore? He’s learned ALL the insights of the masters? Long ago, even? He knows the insights of ALL the good writers of today? From ALL over the world? I was so shocked (and appalled) by the arrogance and audacity of this answer that I made a whole Tiktok about it. (Which to, be fair, was super inappropriate of me, even if I didn’t name him.)

@seesadieread where do some people get the confidence to basically say ‘i know all I need to know and have no need to seek further knowledge?’ #authoriwontread #nothankyou #theaudacity #thearogance #arrogant #authortalk #authortok #bookblogger #seesadieread #yousaidthatoutloud #insidethought #ummm #icouldnever #booktok #booktalk #havealittlehumility ♬ original sound – SadieF

My husband heard me making it and asked, “MAGA?” (Meaning, of course, an older, wealthy-ish, straight, white, male, with a superiority complex.) I obviously couldn’t answer that. How would I know? But the…again, impression was such that I’d lean toward saying probably, yes.

But there’s more. The post over on Sadie’s Spotlight went off without a hitch. The author didn’t say thank you, which is fine. Not all authors do. But he did post a link on his Instagram saying, “amazing Q&A with —– on “——.“” (Again, I cut the identifying information.)

Given my above thoughts on the interview, I can’t agree that the interview itself was amazing. But I don’t think that matters. Because, given that background, I felt the amazing referred more to it being with him and about his book than about the interview questions, blog post or anything I (or the tour company that arranged it) did. Again with the self-importance. And, again, it’s just an impression.

Then came the email from him, through Sadie’s Spotlight’s submission page saying, “Hello Sadie! Here are my images for my book submission for review!” And let me pause here and reiterate that Sadie’s Spotlight does not offer reviews. The submission page does however say this:

I accept submissions for posts in the BROAD fantasy, urban fantasy, magical realism, PNR, sci-fi/fantasy romance, LGBTQ+ genres. I do accept YA, but not children’s books in these genres. If you’re book isn’t in this genre family, sorry this isn’t the place for you.

and this:

To preempt the question, I do not post reviews on Sadie’s Spotlight. However, if I ever do read a book that’s also on the blog I will add a note on the Spotlight with a link to the review on See Sadie Read. You are welcome to include a copy of a book, but I’m not making any promises in that department.

The point of these bullets is that authors are welcome submit a fantasy book for a spotlight on the blog and, if they include an e-copy, I might read it and post a review over on See Sadie Read, back-linking the to two posts together. But the submission is very clearly for a spotlight of a fantasy book and nothing else. There is no promise of review, none at all.

I pulled these two quotes because—first—this author’s book is a self published, fictionalized memoir, not fantasy. I even tried to verify it’s genre by checking Amazon and Goodreads. But the blurb section is 100% praise and not one word blurb or synopsis. [This is where my husband’s comment that I shouldn’t be nice comes in. I relaxed my genre limitation to accept a non-fantasy book in the first place and now all this.]

please-just-stop--1Second, since he was working with a tour organizer and had been on the blog three days earlier, there was no reason to self-submit a request for a spotlight. Which is beside the point, because—third— “Here are my images for my book submission for review!” isn’t actually requesting a spotlight (the only thing on offer). It isn’t, in fact, requesting anything at all. It is presuming I will review his book and benevolently providing me the images to use when I do.

A book I have not been asked or agreed to review—I have, instead been clear that I make no such promises—submitted via a form not intended for reviews at all, in a genre clearly not included in the accepted genre range, to be posted on a blog that doesn’t ever post reviews, and with no evidence that he’d ever even visited the blog I do post reviews on. (Otherwise, one would presume he’d have sent his email there.) And given all the other minor irritants, I can only read the tone as arrogant and assumptive. But again, it’s just an impression…another impression.

But wait, there’s more. Though only a little. I, of course, wrote him back and declined to review his book.

Thank you for contacting me about —–. However, Sadie’s Spotlight does not offer reviews and the book has already (and recently) been on the blog for a spotlight & interview. 
I wish you the best in future promotions. 
To which he responded:
It appeared u also would review so how was I going to sell myself if I told u look at the post u put up it might have been rude. Thanks

What’s wrong with that, you might ask. Well, other than obviously being dashed off and not reread (not worth the effort to proofread), it subtly blames me for his mistake. My submission guidelines obviously led him to believe Sadie’s Spotlight might also review books. The guidelines that say, “I do not post reviews on Sadie’s Spotlight.” The submission page on which question one is, sadie's spotlight question one and if you mark no diverts you to a screen that says,

sadie's spotlight declination screen

But my guidelines led him to believe I might be interested in reading and reviewing his fictionalized memoir. So, he’s not at fault. (There is an LGBTQ tag, so maybe he rationalized slipping it in on that technicality. Though I generally mean fantasy with LGBTQ+ themes.)

Plus, it addresses why he sent me his images (because it would be rude to just tell me to get them off the blog post), but not that he’s—surely knowingly—submitting his book (not just images, but his book too) for a review on a blog that doesn’t post book reviews—even if he’d actually asked me to.

So, again, we’re left with the arrogance to respond to my declination with blame and an excuse. As opposed to simple acceptance and/or maybe an apology for the mistake.

No one of the above flags is really an issue on its own. But all together leaves a very poor impression. Such that I truly wish I’d not agreed to post that first spotlight. He strikes me as the sort of man who will take everything personally (this post especially, should he find it). Thus my assertion that I hope he doesn’t stumble across it.

I can imagine him coming for me hard. Not in the real world, obviously, but online. (The author who once dealt with his anger over a poor review by writing and presenting to his critique group, a rape scene about me so vile that one of his critique partners felt compelled to look me up and warn me about it, comes to mind.) Or he might even go back to the original tour company and make their life difficult, because a random blogger they partner with said online that she thought he came across as an arrogant ass.

And I do recognize that I’m walking a precarious line here. I try very hard to be agnostic about the books I post on Sadie’s Spotlight. Not everything, even in the fantasy genres is going to be my cup of tea and the point is to hype books and authors up, not tear them down. So, this particular post is contrary to all my efforts over there. (And is part of why I’m not naming the author.) But sometimes a thing just has to be said, even if only in a blog post 6 whole people might see.

Besides a chance to simply vent, I do want to use this example as a chance to say to all authors—especially male authors (who I’ve anecdotally found to be far more guilty of this sort of thing)—to not be this guy. And if you are this guy, maybe think about not being quite so self-aggrandizing. It’s not a great look…certainly isn’t doing your book any favors. If I were to read it at this point, it would be 100% to see if the fictionalized memoir is as much author wish-fulfillment and chest thumping as it feels like it must be at this point.


Sorry, not sorry.


Why haven’t I been reading VS. Why I deleted 400ish books

I haven’t done any reading for the last three days, not even audiobooks. The reason is that I was finally able to move my Calibre library, which is where I store all my ebooks, off of remote storage (where I had to access it by wi-fi) to my actual computer (where I can access it directly). This took some technological re-jigging for which I am forever and eternally grateful to my husband.

Working with Calibre when it was on the network server was slooooow. Adding, or deleting, or editing the metadata of a book was a five minute+ process, and if I had several books to upload (or whatever), it took eons. And the bigger the library got the slower the whole process became. The result was that I did very little with it, and as any data analyst will tell you, data that isn’t tended gets messy.

You might ask how I let this happen in the first place. And that’s what I’m here to discuss (as well as two further subjects that I’ll get to later.) In order to explain my Calibre problem (outside of just having an older computer), I have to go way back to my previous review policies.

Several years ago, when I started this blog, my review policies were genre specific about what I was willing to read. I quickly found that authors—desperate for reviews, rushed, overwhelmed, etc—almost never read the review policies of bloggers they query. I could (and did) say I don’t read short stories, Christian fiction or Young Adult titles and would get a slew of requests that said, “Would you be interested in reading/reviewing my Young Adult Christian short story?” Every time. I swear.

At the time, I responded to every email I got and I spent and inordinate amount of time responding to authors whose books didn’t meet even my most basic qualifications. Authors I shouldn’t have had requests from and shouldn’t be requiring my time to respond to. Eventually it started to irritate me. If an author is willing to ask me to read their 300 page book and write a 250-500+ word review of it, the least they can do is read and comply with my one page policies and procedures. Right? Apparently not.

And to be clear, we’re not talking a request a week or anything. We’re talking 10 a day, sometimes more. You put your email out there as willing to provide free reviews and open to self-published and Indie authors and you will get flooded with requests. Period.

Each and every one seemed to think they were special. “She doesn’t generally like Young Adult Christian short stories, but maybe she’ll like mine. Better send it to her just in case” seemed to be the thought process. (Or less flatteringly, the world, represented by this blogger, owes me. I sensed this in a lot of emails.) Authors, don’t do this. I won’t miraculously like your book outside my preferred genre. I won’t even read it. And I don’t owe you anything.

So, eventually I changed my policies. I gave up on trying to get authors to be courteous. I did this resentfully, I admit, but I did it. I decided that ebooks are free to send, so I’d just open the flood gates. I basically said, “Send me anything you want. I make no promises to read it. But I’ll pick a couple books a month from the pile to review.”

Even then, when I couldn’t make it any more mindless, authors didn’t read the policies. I know because I kept getting emails offering me books, with instructions to respond for my copy, when I specifically said, “just send it.” Plus, I pettily made the email in the first paragraph 2lazy2readP&P@sadieforsythe.com. The real email was farther down the page. I got tons of emails at the too lazy address.

And here’s how this relates to now. My process for dealing with these books was that I started an email folder that I put all the requests in and then once every couple weeks, I went through and added all the mobi/PDF files to Calibre and created an A2R (available to read) shelf on Goodreads.

This worked great in the beginning. Calibre was slow, but it was manageable. As time went on however, it got unwieldy and I started to feel overwhelmed. I didn’t even realize it at the time. I got on with getting on. But eventually I discovered that I’d been dumping all these books in Calibre and meticulously logging them on Goodreads, but I hadn’t gone and actually read one in a while.

At that point I closed myself to requests. I posted a notice saying that I was accepting no new titles and was going to concentrate on reading the ones I already had. (You know I still got requests regularly though, right? Mostly from what I think are publicists who had me on lists and sent me every book they represented. Never bothering to come back to the blog and check if I was still open. Bloggers are resources, not people, apparently. Yes, I’m bitter.)

I was better about reading the requested books for a while. But eventually scrolling through hundreds of books, most of which didn’t interest me (and some of which had some serious quality issues), soured and I drifted away. All those books still sat in Calibre and I still maintained my Goodreads shelf, but it was just detritus. This was all a slow, but real process.

This brings me to the present and my newly functional Calibre file. I just spent three days, three damn near full days reading the blurb of every single book in my review request pile (and often several reviews) and deciding what I might actually be willing to read and deleting the rest. I deleted something in the vicinity of 400 ebooks. I kept about 120, which is still too many.

You have to understand how hard it is for me to delete books. It’s not like a paperback that I can give away and believe that someone else might love. It’s just taking something that exists and making it not exist. I find this really difficult. This is part of why I kept all the books instead of just deleting uninteresting ones as they came in (which in retrospect would have been a much better path).

And lets also be honest about the fact that I’ve had some of these books for years. So, I can’t even really call them review requests. I think it’s safe to say no one is waiting for my review of them anymore. Regardless, they came to my by request and I have kept them. And now I have a manageable pile that I might actually read. If nothing else (and most importantly), I can look at them without feeling like I’m drowning. I can actually find titles I might be interested in, because they’re not buried in a thousand titles that I have no interest in.

As to my second agenda point, I thought it might be interesting to list some of the reasons I chose to delete books. The major one was that a book didn’t match my interest. That’s fine. No book is right for everyone and I inadvertently set up a system where I’d get a lot of books that didn’t suit me. I’d thought, statistically, I should receive a certain percentage that did. But honestly, that didn’t work out. The vast majority of what I received didn’t match my preferences at all

I started my first pass by deleting all the nonfiction I wasn’t interested in, which was all of it. If I’d been interested, I’d have read it already. There were a lot of books about war, especially WWII. I think one of the publicists I referred to above represents war related non-fiction writers. (Keep in mind even a casual glance at my blog will inform you I read almost all fiction.)

Then I went for all the memoirs, biographies, autobiographies and travelogues by people I’d never heard of. There was everything from continent hopping to a non-participatory purveyor of child pornography, drug addicts to French cuisine. Then I binned all the Middle Grade and most of the Young Adult (good lord, so many Young Adult books).

Then I whittled down all of the thrillers. I had a lot of thrillers. Especially thrillers set in England. There were tonnes of ex soldiers, wounded soldiers, Scotland yard and MI5 (and of course the American versions too). They all kick islamic ass and save the girl (sometimes that girl is all grown up, sometimes that girl is a child. But save her the synopsis suggested he would.) Again, I think I must have been on some publicists list. So many of the emails came from the same person, in the same format, and there were dozens of them.

After that it was just a matter of reading the blurb of each book and deciding what I would be interested in and what looked good enough to keep. And this is where the fuzzy decision-making came in. Below is a list of things I noticed that caused me to hit the delete button instead of the keep. And I know this might feel really negative, but keep in mind this is a post about what I didn’t like. There would be an equal number of things I did like if I was writing that post. But that post could be summed up as the opposite of this one.

So, here we go:

  1. The cover. I don’t have to like the cover, but it has to be quality. I understand that when a book first comes out it might not have the best cover (especially since I often got early copies). But if the book has been out several years and the cover still looks like it’s done in crayon [you think I’m joking, but I’m not], then I’ll take that as indicative of the level of quality I can find inside. 
  2. If I can’t read the font on the cover, be it too fancy, too blocky, too faint, too dark, too shadowed, too anything else there was a good chance I’d delete it instead of try to find it more legible somewhere else.
  3. The blurb. Just the blurb. I read SO MANY bad blurbs. But bad in different ways. 
    1. There has to BE a blurb. I don’t mean when Goodreads hasn’t imported it. That’s correctable. (In fact, I fixed this for several books during this culling process.) But some publishers/authors seem to prefer putting review quotes where the blurb should be. I’ve said this before, I don’t care who likes the book or how much, if I couldn’t easily discover what it’s about I deleted it. 
    2. If the blurb is 15 paragraphs long and details the entire storyline, I took this to infer that the author was incapable of brevity and deleted the book. 
    3. Contradictorily, if the blurb was two lines long and told me nothing informative I deleted it. The mystery really didn’t entice me to delve deeper. 
    4. If the blurb started out with ‘This book is about…’ I took it to mean the author wasn’t able to show, instead of tell, and assumed the book was equally as unsubtle. This is different from ending the blurb with something like, “The text explores the themes of X, Y and Z.” I could handle that. But just plopping the plot points on a platter like a dead fish was a no-go. 
    5. If I found grammar mistakes or typos in the blurb I deleted the book. This happened a disturbing number of times. I think people forget to proof their blurb along with the book. 
    6. (This one is 100% personal preference.) If the female lead was introduced as “young, beautiful X,” or “exotically beautiful,” or (as was especially common in the thrillers) “mysterious and sexy X,” I likely deleted the book. If being beautiful or sexy or attractive to the male lead was the characteristic the author thought most important  to say about her (important enough to be mentioned in the brief blurb), then she likely wasn’t some one I care to read about. And/or that author isn’t one I can trust to write representative women.
  4. Reviews. And there are several sub points here too. 
    1. If the book has been out several years and there are no reviews, I have no interest in being the first. I deleted the book. 
    2. If the book has universally poor reviews. I deleted the book. 
    3. If the book has too many suspect 5-star reviews I deleted the book. Suspect means:
      1. Too many good and NO bad ones
      2. Several reviews using similar phrases or formats
      3. Several reviews all on the same day and none on other days
      4. Several reviews from accounts with no other reviews, etc. 
      5. Too high a percentage of reviews that don’t actually address the content of the book, just generalized praise.
    4. If there was even one prominent review citing poor editing and formatting.
    5. If several reviewers pointed out the book is a precipitous cliffhanger I deleted it. 
  5. Page length. This is subjective, but if the plot in the blurb doesn’t feel as if it could support the 600+ pages of text I passed it up. Or if it feels like too much to fit into the 115.
  6. If I saw evidence that the author aggressively engaged a past reviewer or attacked someone over a negative review I not only deleted the book I bleached my kindle too.
  7. If the author sent me so many emails that seeing the book made me feel harassed, I deleted the book.

Below are the books I chose to keep. I’ll not list all the titles, but you can see it’s manageable number and feels amazing to me.

There’s another point I want to make with all of this though. It’s not the reason I chose to write the post, but I don’t plan to miss the opportunity. It’s one I make a lot. Authors too often forget that there is a real person on the other end of the review request email. I have seen some real doozies in my time. Like the guy who just sent me a link to his book and said, “If you read mine, I might read yours.” I took a certain, “You know what, fuck off,” glee in deleting his book. I had similar feelings about the Christmas book with the Santa looking up at the big glowing cross. I have always maintained that I don’t enjoy Christian fiction. And have a certain amount of resentment when I receive overt ones.

But more than feeling taken advantage of, I think authors don’t understand that sending a reviewer a book also sends a certain amount of obligation. Please remember that it is a minor imposition. Even when invited to submit, you are still stepping into someone’s space with a request. It requires something of the recipient.

This post is too perfect an example. I spent nearly 3 full days dealing with ebooks that authors sent me. That is a lot of my time. I’ve recently opened myself back up to review requests in just the opposite way I used to be. I accept only physical and audio books and I only take one at a time. So, I’m back to responding to emails.

I recently sent this email to an author who requested a review from me.

Thank you for contacting me about reviewing your book. My policies state that I and current only accepting “physical and audio books in the Science Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and LGBTQ+ genres.” Your nonfiction/philosophical ebook fits none of those parameters.”

His response was basically a shrug. He essentially said, “Well, enjoy it anyway.” He did not care at all that he’d queried a reviewer that wouldn’t be interested in his title. And I assume it’s because he doesn’t think it matters. But 3 full days of re-ordering ebooks proves that it does! Please don’t just shrug at reviewers’ time. And that’s what he did. He basically told me he didn’t care that he’d wasted my time. Please don’t just ignore the fact that reviewers usually tell you up front what they wish to receive and, in doing so, what they wish not to receive. You are not the exception to the rule.

Yes, I historically exacerbated the situation with my open policies. And if I had less trouble deleting book it wouldn’t have been as much of an issue. But the “I’ll just send it anyway” attitude is what is driving a lot of reviewers away reviewing. (It’s why I’ve posted very few review requested reviews lately.) As is the lack of effort authors are willing to put into the exchange.

I got the above request on the same day that I got the email that was addressed to:

Dear Book Reviewer (Couldn’t find your name on your website).

My blog is called See Sadie Read. He emailed Reviews@SadieForsythe.com. How hard do you think he looked for my name, if he couldn’t find it? Do you think he read my policies if he couldn’t even find my name in the title of the blog? Maybe he did. But… Yet he’s comfortable asking for several hours of my time.

So, as I do once a year or so, I’m taking this opportunity to remind authors/publishers that what may be one email on your end might be the 50th on the receivers end. That ebook you think, “Oh, I’ll send it just in case,” or “I found an email, no need to read farther,” might be causing a log jam in that reviewer’s Calibre and contributing to their loss of love for the hobby as a whole. Don’t cut the corners. Read the policies. Comply with the procedures. Don’t send your book to a reviewer if it doesn’t match their preferred genres and/or format. Remember you are dealing with a person, a person who is probably doing what they’re doing out of generosity. Don’t bite the hand that’s offering you those coveted reviews that the market experts tell you your book will die if it doesn’t get 50 of. (We could discuss if this is actually true or not.)

To wrap all this up, I plan to spend another couple days in Calibre going through all the rest of my ebooks (the ones I’ve obsessively gathered all on my own). Tastes change over time and I don’t read things now that I did three years ago. In fact, I read a book recently by someone I considered a favorite a few years back and found it so problematic I wanted to cry. Anything I’ve read and rated one-star doesn’t need to be kept. Probably the argument that if I’ve read it and it isn’t a favorite I don’t need to keep it at all could be made. (But lets not go too far.) I love surrounding myself with books. But it’s time to pare the library down in the hopes that I can actually read instead of just collect the books I own.

Anyone else feel my pain in the book hoarding department?