In my last post I began to rant about some of the unsolicited requests for money I get, and other similar types of favors, and realized I needed a separate blog post to address fellow authors.
I get a lot of requests to read and review Advanced Reader Copies (A.R.C.s) and even unedited manuscripts. Well admittedly, the volume has diminished in the last year, thankfully, but I still have complete strangers or barely-more-than-acquaintances who contact me thinking I’m sitting at my computer just waiting for an unsolicited manuscript to read.
Chances are if you’re reading this post, you won’t be one of the types of people I’m referring to because I’m sure the people who offer them to me are NOT followers of my blog or they land here from Google or whatever.
And to actual friends who’ve asked me to read their books, and I said yes but never got back to you, please accept my apologies. I’m backed up with books people would like me to read!
How to get me to not want to read your ARC or manuscript
If you’re an author, wannabe author, or plan on writing a book some day in the future I believe this is helpful advice. I can’t speak on behalf of OTHER authors or bloggers, just myself.
If you approach me with a book you’d like me to read, then please make sure it’s something I’ll actually be interested in reading. Does it have anything to offer my podcast audience or the followers of my blog, etc…? If you haven’t spent enough time on my site to be able to answer that question, then we’re probably off to a
spammy rough start.
If it is not relevant to my audience, then why are you asking me? If you can’t tell me “what’s in it for me” if I read it and review it for you, then you might want to think of what you’re offering your own potential readers.
We do ministry here in Peru. I know I don’t post a lot about it on social media but it’s one of the main things we are occupied with. We are busy mentoring and making disciples, and as mentioned I do freelance work as well as writing to supplement our support levels. That means that in many ways I’m tethered to my laptop and desk several hours per day looking at word processors, audio editing software as well as dashboards for various websites.
If you send me a manuscript in a format that I can’t read on my Kindle or a tablet, but instead I will have to spend more time on my laptop to read it, the chances are I’ll never get around to it. If you send it to me in a PDF or Word and then tell me to format it myself, then I’ll definitely not bother.
I know PDF is pretty much the standard and most people will accept that, but I am not really one of them anymore. I won’t read it in that format unless I’m already super anxious to read the book or it’s by an author I love and will accommodate.
Usually a typeface PDF of your book (one that’s print-ready and the font is big like it will be in the print version of your book) can be read just fine on my tablet. But most people who write me out of thin air are not usually presenting me something like that, anyway. Nothing personal against you, but 3/4 of the time the PDFs I’m sent are formatted with the font too small to read on my tablet or Kindle, and I want to be on my laptop less, not more. If I have to use my laptop to read your manuscript or ARC, it ain’t getting read.
Plain and simple.The onus is on the one asking the favor to accommodate the person reciprocating the favor.Click To Tweet
That being said, my opinion is that the onus is on the one asking the favor to accommodate the person reciprocating the favor, not the other way around. If I am asking people to do me a favor, such as take 5 hours on average of their time to read an entire book I’ve written for free, then I’m not asking for a small favor, but a big one. Therefore it behooves me to make it as easy for them as possible. So I make sure to send it in the way THEY tell me they prefer to read it in if I expect them to read it for me at all. I will likely write you back and say “OK, I’ll read it, but can you send it to me in mobi or epub so I can read it on my Kindle and not have to use my laptop or tablet to read the PDF?”.
Now, I understand if you don’t know how to get it to me in the preferred file I want to read it in, that’s fine! But please say that up front and I’ll take that into consideration and so I know what I’m working with first.
Which leads to another thing that keeps happening while we’re on the subject of writing: unedited books.
Don’t slip in an “oh by the way, can you edit it and make any corrections you find while reading it?”
Look I get it.
I write myself. I know what it is to approach people with a copy of my book before it’s been fully edited and proofread. In fact, in preparing to record an audio book for an old title of mine, I just found a misspelled word that I used four times in the entire book, and not once ever caught it before, nor had I ever had anybody ever pointed it out to me in four years!
I get it.
None of us are perfect.
Things slip by.
But if I approach someone before I’ve had proofreaders or editors go over my manuscript, I tell people who up front so they know my book is in that stage of the publishing process.
More often than not, people send me a book, and when I find a dozen mistakes in a short amount of time and approach them, they respond “oh, could you edit/proof read it for me and send me all the things you find?”
You asked me to read it, you didn’t ask me to edit it or proof read it. Editing is a lot of work. I’ve been blessed to have had a few people do it for me as a way of sowing into my ministry with my first few books, and I know they normally charge for their services. Plus I’m not an editor.
If you don’t tell me up front what your expectations are, but tag them on after I agreed to merely read it and maybe review it or offer you feedback, then we’re probably getting off to the wrong foot if I have to do more than you originally asked of me when you contacted me.
I know how to format files so that they can be read on my Kindle, but if I have to do that and waste more time — time that I charge other people when they hire me to format their books — I’m probably not going to be too happy to read your book, no matter how amazing and anointed you claim it is.
Again, I know what it is to ask favors from friends, so I can respect taking the courage to ask. But please know that I have a love/hate relationships with PDFs before sending me one expecting me to read it for you.
I know this just makes me look like a rude jerk because your book is so anointed and God told you to tell me I was supposed to help you because “it’s for the Kingdom and His glory”, but God told me to be responsible with my time and be a provider for my family, and that involves trying to be on my computer less, not more. Somewhere in there our direct rhema words are in conflict.If you're going to send me your manuscript to endorse it, please make it easy for me to do so.Click To Tweet
Oh, and one last thing about that: if you’re going to cold call email or inbox me that you want me to review a book you’ve written, or ask me to be a guest on my podcast, the least you could do is SEND me a copy of the book (preferably digital) instead of giving me the link to it on Amazon and just expecting me to buy it. Reading takes time, writing about your book takes time, and creating a podcast takes me like 2-3 times to edit as it does to record it. Why would I invest my time to benefit you and help you promote your book if you can’t do the simple task of giving me a copy free — which is really book basic publishing/promotion.
Approaching Me To Help Promote You or Your Work
Another thing I’m increasingly getting weary of is merely being another trampoline in people’s self-promotion journey. The last four years or so of the podcast has consisted of interviews. These are often times with guests I’ve approached and asked if they’d like to join me for a recorded discussion, but from time to time I’ve gotten solicitations, and sometimes taken the person up on it and had them on the show. Those episodes have gone well and other times not. It’s been hit or miss. But I get asked more often than how many times I say yes and go through with it.
Anyway, rant after deleting messages and shaking my head at my inbox over.
For more mistakes authors make when soliciting reviews, check out this post by Shelley Hitz.
And before asking me to do a review swap, please read this post on why the answer is no, and why you shouldn’t use that method for accumulating reviews.
Further reading from Church Magazine: