Tag Archives: things I hate

B*tchy Blogger being B*tchy

I seem to do this about once a year, have an encounter that just rubs me the wrong way. I’m never entirely sure I wouldn’t let the same thing slide at any other moment than the one it happens in, but at the time it usually leaves me thinking, “How do people feel so entitled to my time or that they’re in any position to tell me how I should do things in my own reviews?”

I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve gotten on reviews subtly telling me that my opinion is wrong and I should be saying something else or saying something differently or in a different tone, etc. Sometimes I just roll my eyes at them, sometimes I thank them for mansplaining my opinion to me, which never goes over well, just so you know. People then seem to want to police how I communicate with said commenters. It’s a truly odd scenario that I’ve seen a couple times now.

And I’ll be honest, this post is mostly just me venting. But maybe it can be used as a cautionary tale about how you (authors requesting reviews) come across to bloggers (or this blogger, as I’ve just basically been told I don’t do it right, since I don’t do it like everyone else). Because often something that seems benign is actually annoying to a blogger (me), be it because they’ve seen it a hundred times or it reads differently on the receiving end than the requesting end.

This will take a little set up, going back almost 2 years. But first let me remind you of a couple passage in my policies and procedures. They say, “Sending me a book does not guarantee that I will read or review it,” and “just to reiterate this, I may never read YOUR book,” and most importantly for the point I wish to make today, “I love, love, LOVE getting to know other authors…However, I aim for a truly objective review and I find that too much conversation upfront impedes my ability to be impartial. So, please don’t take offense if you hear little from me prior to reading your book.”

What this comes down to is that, with few exceptions, I don’t respond to review requests. The whole system is set up for books to flow toward me and reviews to roll away from me, with no stutter in the steps, no need for any back and forwards between us.

I set it up this way because in the beginning of this blog’s existence, I listed very clear preferences about what I was open to accepting and what I wasn’t, along with the directions on how to submit requests that I would agree to or not. At that point in time I responded to each request. The idea was that only so many authors would be sending them, as only so many would match my stated preferences. I found that the vast majority of authors making requests to me ignored my preferences completely, most obviously hadn’t even read them. I got so tired of it I set up a trick email so I knew who had or hadn’t read the policies.

It’s not a secret, I’ve mentioned it several times. I simply put this paragraph at the top of my P&P page.

If you would like a book reviewed please email a MOBI file to 2lazy2readP&P@sadieforsythe.com. My policies follow. Please read them. Ireally is in your own best interest. I will ignore emails that patently haven’t followed even the most basic directions. Additionally, here are some generalisable tips.

I get so many emails to this address, you guys! I even got a tweet once asking if it was still my email, since he hadn’t gotten a response. And I just looked at it and thought, “You had to cut and paste that and you still didn’t actually read it, let alone the policies that would tell you not to expect a response.”

If you take nothing else way from this post, please hear me when I say it’s exceedingly annoying and borderline insulting to ask someone to read your 300 page book and write a several hundred word review, if you won’t even read a single page of policies in return. The arrogance in that astounds me. I promise you, from a bloggers perspective there is no monetary reward for doing this, not even the copy of your book counts. I work in ebooks, it costs nothing to send them and once read they just sit on my computer taking up space. They do not count as payment for my time or effort. So, you should expect to show a little respect when requesting it.

It got so bad that I just gave up on listing preferences at all and said, in a somewhat desultory way, fine, just send whatever and I’ll just choose among them. This is when I went to ebooks only, so it wouldn’t cost anyone to send a book I might never read. But I digress. I never miss an opportunity to say it though, because apparently people need the repeated reminder.

Back to today. I don’t respond to review requests. That’s my practice. In July of 2015 I got a request to read a particular book. I went through my normal process when I get a request. I uploaded the file to Caliber and marked it on Goodreads as a request. (That’s how I keep track of what has been sent to me.) Then in November, I got another request. I went to upload it to Caliber and realized there was no file attached. But I recognized it was a repeat, so I already had it anyhow. This was a stutter in my process, but mistakes happen. I got on with logging other books.

Then three months later I got a third email. Stating that the sender had made a request and not added the file. Since I was still open to reviews, they’d add it here. It was followed by all the same information from the first two emails.  A little over six months later, I got a fourth one. I recognized it this time. A fourth almost identical email, tends to stick in mind, even over a years time.

You’ve probably realized by now that if I haven’t read it in a year, I’m probably not going to. It isn’t a book that appeals to me. This didn’t appear to occur to the author, as I had this twitter exchange with them today.

[As an aside, I wonder how many more emails I would have gotten if my spam filter hadn’t identified the email address as a repeat and bounced it.]

This final exchange is what I want to talk about. Yes, I was curt with this author (and to their credit, they did not respond in kind), certainly not as polite as I would normally be. But from my perspective, here’s why: As this author (whose identity I have obviously obfuscated because this whole thing is close enough to a subtweet without me calling them or their book out by name/title) points out, a simple response would have let them know I got their book. But, as I said, it’s not my practice and it takes a little while to push someone out of their normal routine.

More than that, the emails were obviously a cut and paste deal—quite long, with an intro, blurb, sample passage, discussion of what the work utilizes, a bio, discussion on target audience and the amount of gore/violence, purchase links, and previous review quotes. So, not something they wrote just for me. In fact, one of the emails still had the email interaction between the author and another reviewer they requested from, with all the same information attached (obviously from having been cut and pasted). So, if the format wasn’t enough to prove it was a cut and paste deal the author’s mistake would, which is fine. I don’t mind a form email, but it doesn’t grab my attention. More to the point, it makes it a lot easier to think, when you receive a second one, that the author just doesn’t realize they’re hitting the same reviewer up a second time. Which is exactly what I thought.

By the time I got the third email, I realized this was an author who intended to be persistent. And this is important, it’s where impressions come into play, because if I’ve come to the attention of someone who is willing to hound people until they get what they want (and I’m not saying this person is like that, just that from the email chain it was looking like they might be) the last thing I want to do is encourage it by engaging them, which discourages me from contacting them.  Further, right there any chance I might read their book is drastically reduced, because, in my experience, those are the same authors who go nuts if they get a bad review and I avoid those authors like they have the plague.

By the time I got the fourth email, a year after the first, I was feeling hunted. I recognized the book on sight and was irritated to see it in my email again. Do you want to be the author reviewers avoid? Probably not. Is it logical to feel hunted from four emails, also probably not. But the darned thing just kept popping back up with the same cut and paste information, nothing new. Just another identical request, liked a kid that keeps asking for candy after they’ve been told ‘not until after dinner’ four times. It’s exactly as effective as my six-year-old’s begging and exactly as annoying.

So, by the time I got the Twitter DMs asking me how to better contact me to request a fifth review from me, I’d had enough. Authors, if you’ve emailed someone four times, you are no longer sending a friendly, helpful reminder email. You just aren’t. It’s time to move on.

I wholly acknowledge that this author did not set out to become a canker sore in my contact box. From where they sat they had five attempts at communication over a year and a half. That doesn’t sound too bad. And honestly, they’re not the only one I’ve gotten multiple emails from. In terms of frequency, they’re not even the worst. One particular duo sent me 18 emails about reviewing their books, none of which followed the directions and included the file to actually review. But on the receiving end it feels like Bible thumpers you just can’t get to stop knocking on your door. You don’t want to answer to tell them to go away, because then you have to talk to them. But if you don’t talk to them, they’ll come back. It’s not a good position to put anyone in.

There are other, smaller things effecting me in this case too. Things that are really just personal quibbles. I, for example, think a book gets six months as a new release to be eligible for sending out for review requests. After that it needs to be set aside to garner attention on its own. There are more authors seeking reviews than there are bloggers to review them and if older books never step out of the request/review line, no new books can find their way into it. I think it’s selfish to still be petitioning reviewers so long after a release, unless there’s a reason for it (new edition, as a promotion prior to a sequel’s release, etc). Not everyone agrees with this, obviously. But it comes into play here as, “Why is this author still emailing me about this book at all? It’s no longer a new release.” Which just compounded my annoyance at getting several requests for it.

Like I said above, I’m venting here. I’m being b*tchy. But I think it can also benefit authors to be reminded that bloggers get inundated with review requests. I have a paragraph at the beginning of mine saying that I’m currently only reading one requested review book a month, and I still get several requests. Admittedly, the number has fallen off as authors are discouraged by my rather terse statement, but they haven’t stopped. And when I had no such note, I was receiving hundreds of requests, literally. I read a lot, but that’s far, far more than I could handle. This is why reading policies is so important. Imagine trying to keep track of all that. Anything that tangles up the system is problematic.

But it also means that in these circumstances, your one little email—be it a first, a reminder or a fourth—is never just one little email to the person who is getting it. It’s one drop in a flood. Some things so easily compound into big things when you’re talking about that sort of volume. Be respectful, be patient, be diligent and be willing to take no for an answer (even an unspoken one) and walk away. And for goodness sake, don’t think your unsolicited advice on how things should be done, no matter how subtle, is welcome or appreciated! I promise you, it’s not.

OK, I feel better. Sometimes a venting session is necessary. If I’m lucky maybe it’ll be helpful to someone and not exist as little more than a vent. But it is what it is.


June 25, 2017 and I just got another request for this book.

Aug. 26, 2017 and I just got ANOTHER request about this book.



Late last year, I found myself so annoyed at authors who fill the synopsis section of their book’s description with so much praise I can’t decipher what the book is actually about that I wrote a whole post about it. You can read it here.

This morning I had a similar experience, leading me to a similar response. I’ll start with a couple screenshots, see if you can guess my complaint by the common denominator.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.00.58 AMScreen Shot 2015-05-26 at 12.10.25 PMScreen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.51.03 AM

Did you figure it out? Look authors, I realize Amazon stopped using tags and I realize that tags were a useful way to find books, as well as something authors could manipulate and feel like they were doing something significant to work their books up the recommendation chain. I get it, I do. I even tried it once when I was new. But tags do not belong in titles! (This is just my opinion, of course, but I’m pretty firm in it.)

I find it especially irritating in cases like the first and last examples above, when at least one word of each of the tags in included in the title itself. This means that anyone searching those words would get the book even without the tags. (And as an aside, I could write another whole rant on mixing incompatible genres, like in that 3rd example. How can you have a YA, threesome erotic novel? You shouldn’t be able to? It goes against what it means to be YA.)

Let me break this down for you, from a reader’s perspective. I’m scrolling through the list of millions of books available to me as a reader, yes? I’m glancing at covers and titles to see what interests me. If I come across Fantasy: Immortaland: The Greatest Fantasy Kingdom To Exist And That Will Ever Exist (Fantasy Story, Epic Fantasy, Magic Kingdom, Fantasy Adventure) I have to stop and pick through all those extraneous word to find the actual title. Do you know what my reaction to this is? ‘That’s too much trouble’ and I scroll right by. That’s right. This practice is losing you sales in a very real way.

What’s more, it looks desperate. It says to me that this author is so desperate to be noticed they’re attempting to rig the system. Yes, I know how hard it is to be noticed, but getting noticed for trying to get noticed is a little pitiful.

Then there is the fact that sites like Goodreads pull the book’s details from Amazon and thus indiscriminately pull the data from the title line, along with all those tags, into their metadata where it really is useless.

And what if I’m the sort who likes to hide my kinky side? I don’t necessarily want that kink readily apparent in the title. Just because my seven-year-old sees me reading a book called Strictly Business doesn’t mean I want to yet explain what Strictly Business: Gay, M/M, BDSM, Dom/sub, billionaire, CEO, taboo (Courtland Chronicles series Book 2) means. The same argument could be made for someone reading outside their religion, or above their age limit, or in a professional setting, etc.

It’s my further understanding that this is an outdated mode of getting your book found in the first place. According to a 2009 post (that’s right six years old) Google no longer uses metatag keywords in their searches at all.  

And you can guarantee that if Google has given it up the rest of the Web isn’t far behind. After all, there’s surely a reason Amazon removed the tagging option in the first place.

So, this practice of obscuring your title with tags annoys readers (at least this reader), means some kinky readers have to avoid your books, looks ridiculous, and probably doesn’t really do much. So, I’d be interested in hearing why authors and publishers seem to be ramping up the use of the practice. The five examples I used above took me mere moments to find and I could pull dozens more.

How about this one:

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.39.50 AM

According to the cover, the title of the book is The Barony Letter and the series name is Liath. (You might be tempted to think it’s the other-way around, due to which is most prominently displayed, but you’d apparently be wrong. I was.) But the author has chosen to put the tag Historical Romance, before the actual title, as if the book is called Historical Romance: Liath: The Barony Letter. Sorry, I have no desire to read anything so clumsily titled, or any book that I have to work so hard to figure out the basic information of, for that matter.

Here’s more: HISTORICAL ROMANCE: The Marriage Was Not The Best Suited For Our Love HISTORICAL ROMANCE Short Story (Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Historical Romance … Romance books, Historical Romance Novel)Mystery: Whispers of Silence (Mystery Books, Mystery Romance Novels, Thriller Romance, Mystery Romance Books, Mystery Romance Series)Ancient Egypt: Discover the Fascinating World of Ancient Egyptian History, Myths, Pyramids and More: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Egypt Fiction, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Egyptian History, EgyptA Firm Lesson Learned (Hot Neighbor, Alpha Male, Gay M/M Man Next Door, Mind Control Paranormal)

Is it starting to look like gobbledygook yet? I know I can’t tease out the titles from all that other nonsense. (For the record, that’s four books in the paragraph above.) And I can’t even blame it on one author or publisher. These are mostly all different writers crossing genres from gay erotica to mysteries to non-fiction. Though, it does seem most common in the romance & erotic genres.

So, from one serious, several-hundred-books-a-year reader, please authors, PLEASE, stop doing this. It drives me batty and puts me off your books. If you really want that information available to readers, put it in the synopsis. That’s what it’s there for.

Indie authors of the world, please stop doing this!


OK, this is me venting at the world. I’ll admit that. This isn’t a reasoned, ‘here is the proof of my argument’ post. It’s me expressing horror at something I seeing become a common, though admittedly not frequent (thank gawd) occurrence.

But if I see something that drives me so crazy that I feel the need to rant about it, I tend to also think I might not be the only person and maybe I should point this out as REALLY, REALLY, REALLY annoying. Plus, at least as far as I’m concerned, not only is this not a productive marketing strategy but it is prohibitive. I don’t buy these books. I don’t even consider buying these books. I actively dislike these books and am inclined to think badly of those who put these books out. I trust I’m making my dislike of the practice I intend to discuss quite clear.

Let me backtrack a moment, let the rest of ya’ll catch up while I tell you what the heck I’m talking about. I am talking about authors that use the ‘book description’ portion of their books’ Amazon page (or any other seller, but lets go with Amazon for simplicities’ sake) to provide the reader praise of the book instead of a blurb, description or synopsis. Why would you do that?  Especially when there is already a section for editorial reviews provided and a whole reader review section.

I have an example and I want to apologise to the author in question for using him as such, but his book’s Amazon page is a perfect example of what I’m talking about (and it’s the book that brought me to my current irritated state).

But first, here is an example of someone doing it right. It’s Julio Alexi Genao’s When You Were Pixels and I chose it simply because it was one of the last books I reviewed on Amazon, but it’s also a fabulous short.

ding it right

Notice, a brief synopsise in the ‘book description’ section. Not an essay, just enough to tempt me into reading the book. If I’m interested in reading it, I can then scroll down the screen and look at the reviews.

Now compare it to this (clicking on them should get you a bigger picture and if you could please ignore the fact that, as always, I had about a bazillion tabs open I’d be eternally grateful):

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 14.08.45 Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 14.08.33 Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 14.09.08

See, here’s my issue. The cover is really intriguing. I’m interested. I scroll down to the blurb…oh, no blurb. People seem to like it, even a couple people whose names I recognise from the book blogging scene, but I still don’t know what the book is about. So, I scroll down a little more to the “From the Author’ section, thinking maybe he might say something hinting at the book’s subject. Um…no…just more people apparently liking the mystery book.

In the end, I’d been given 44 snippets of praise, some repeating, but nothing to tell me what the book is about. Let me make a bold statement here. I don’t care how many people like your book, if it’s not about something I’m interested in. This means that in order to decide if I should buy and eventually read your book or not, the description is significantly more important than the praise. Much, much more important.

But there is a whole secondary problem here. In a world where indie/self-published authors have to work their derrières off to hustle up a couple reviews, I’m left wondering how a book that provides no clue to its content garnered 44 reviews worth quoting. Now, I’m making no allegations. This book has been out for over two years. It’s had some time to gather readers, but it still makes me wonder. And some readers are a lot less forgiving of questionable reviews than me.

So here I am, looking at the book. It has a cool cover and it’s a freebie. So I could take a chance on it, but the honest truth is that unless I know the subject, it’ll just be detritus on my kindle forever. How does this help the author sell books? How does this provide me, a reader, enjoyment? It doesn’t, not at all. In fact, it makes me irate, though I admit that’s possibly not the norm.

So take note self-publishing authors and indie publishers, this is a horrendous practice. It puts this particular reader off, and honestly, since it makes no sense at all anyway, how could I be the only one? Stop. Stop right now. Undo every book page you have in your catalogue that looks like this. It’s a stupid, ridiculous thing to do to yourself and to readers. For all that is holy in the book world, please, please, please stop doing this. I HATE IT! Am I the only one?