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Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Rant about Rude, Lazy, Ignorant Authors

I've done a number of interviews with other blogs over the years, and one question that always comes up is what advice I'd give to an author looking for reviews. My answer is always the same - Do Your Homework.

There are days where I actually dread opening up my email or checking the submissions on my review form because I know it's just going to be an exercise in adding authors to my black list. Some of these authors I can dismiss as being lazy and opportunistic, dropping spam bombs on every reviewer they can find. These are authors who mined my email address from my Amazon profile, never bothering to read the very simple statement that identifies me as a "Science fiction & fantasy reader, reviewer, and writer."

These are the authors who send me review requests for books like . . .

  • Being Equal Doesn't Mean Being the Same (SELF-EMPOWERMENT BOOK)
  • Introduction to Journal Writing: The Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Life Changing Habit (TEEN & YOUNG ADULT / SELF-HELP)
  • Minecraft: 50 Unofficial Minecraft Books in 1 (CHILDREN'S EBOOKS / ACTIVITY BOOKS)
  • I just released my first two COLORING BOOKS on Amazon

Then there are authors who actually made an effort to stop by the blog, who made a point of visiting my Review Policy, and who took the time to fill out the Review Request form. Forget lazy and opportunistic, the authors that get blacklisted here are nothing less than rude, ignorant, and possibly even arrogant. They are authors who deliberately ignored the very clear cautions about what I won't read (one at the top of the page, and one above the request form).

What you won't find here is faith-based fiction, religious themes, YA or NA fiction, romance novels, poetry, and self-help or how-to books. These are subjects that do not appeal to me, so please don't waste time your time or mine by submitting such titles.

Before you waste your time filling out the form, please remember that I do NOT read YA/NA fiction. I am NOT interested, and your pitch is NOT going to change that.

These are the authors who send me review requests with notes like . . .

  • This eBook will help kids grow in the positive directions. The only best way on how to do this is by use of positive affirmations. (GENRE: SELF-HELP)
  • The first volume in a trilogy of YOUNG ADULT fantasy adventures sure to delight fans of C.S. Lewis
  • For YOUNG ADULTS and adults with open minds
  • I AM SLEEPLESS: SIM 299, a newly released YA Science Fiction novel

In case you think I'm exaggerating, the above are all examples from the past week.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for most authors. I know what goes into writing and editing a book. I have nothing but sympathy for the challenges they face in marketing their own work. It's not an easy job, but you're never going to be successful if you don't do your homework. Blatantly ignoring a reviewer's guidelines is only going to get you blacklisted and forever consigned to the spam folder.

Finally, the same caution about doing your homework applies to book communities like Goodreads. Blindly adding friends just so you can spam them with invitations to your young adult, romance, or self-help group is just as offensive and insulting. The only thing worse is re-inviting them (multiple times) when they've declined the invitation. That's a quick and easy way to not just getting yourself unfriended, but flagged as well.

Yeah, I'm being a bit of an ass this morning, but this shit frustrates me. Every spam email I have to scan through, every day I have to open my review form for nonsense, and every time I have to go through the nonsense of cleaning up Goodreads . . . that's time I can't spend reading and reviewing books from authors who are intelligent, polite, and respectful - and that's the real shame. 

29 comments:

  1. Not to mention they are stupidly wasting everyone's time. I've tried to be careful with every reviewer I contact.

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    1. And that's what gets me - it's not just wasting my time, it's wasting the time of authors like yourself who I'd rather be reading. It's disrespectful.

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  2. We have the same problem. We have a list on our submissions guidelines page of what we don't want, but there are still authors that ignore it.

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    1. Normally I just shrug it off, but I was frustrated enough to draft this post, and still annoyed enough this morning to post it. :)

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    1. It happens, and I know it's a fact of life for other reviewers, but sometimes you just need to rant and get the frustrations out. :)

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  4. Ummm...so does that mean you won't review my YA historical romance self-help book called "How I Became a Missionary" then? Are you sure I can't interest you?

    Seriously, you have every right to be frustrated.

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  5. Its ridiculous. I keep things simple - in my submission policy I say DONT ENQUIRE if I'm interested, simply send the book and assume I won't read it. And yet I still get a bunch of pointless pitches, even for books that fall in genres I make clear I'm not interested in. One asshole even went so far as to mock my blog's name whilst enquiring if I wanted to read 'the hottest YA release since The Hunger Games'. Smh.

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    1. Wow, now that's just being an asshole. Some people amaze me.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. I deleted my post, following your advice: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Keep up the great work!!!

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  8. Hear hear. Sadly, I think I've become inured to spam emails. These days if it's not personalized, I ignore or delete immediately. But as annoying as it is, being flooded with emails is something I expect so it probably doesn't bother me as much as it should. On the other hand, being spammed in my Goodreads account or Twitter drives me insane. A little research too and they would have found the blog and the correct avenues to submit requests. Social media is MY private space, and if I had wanted to be solicited there, I would have said so.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. I do a pretty good job of managing my email with the 3 Gmail categories, but I'm always worried I might miss something.

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  9. Damn, I need to add a form to my blog.

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    1. Creating the form was one of the best moves I ever made with the blog. It keeps 80% of the requests out of email, and lets me pick and choose with whom I'll follow up.

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    2. I cobbled one together last night and put links to it on my blog and on Goodreads. I hope it works.

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  10. I absolutely hate spam in Goodreads, for some reason that bothers me more than anywhere else. But, I now have my account set so only friends can send me messages and I ignore friend requests from anyone that doesn't have a good number/percentage of books in common. It is frustrating when they are obviously wasting peoples time to send requests to reviewers that are clearly NOT their demographic.

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    1. Hmm, good idea - I think I need to look at my message settings

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  11. I used to look through and respond to every submission request. Then I'd just look through them all. Now I barely get that much. Its sad what this does to you. I used to feel terrible about not responding but I have a life too.

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    1. That's why I started the form and set the expectation that I'll only reach out if I'm interested. The endless "thanks, but no thanks" emails were getting too much.

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  12. Hey Bob- that sucks the big time- and you're one of the super nice guys out there when it comes to us authors so it sucks that much more you have to put up with the deluge of sprall mail (spam + troll like = sprall) :-D

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    1. Ah, thanks, Kristi - I hate to play up the stereotype, but maybe us Canucks are just naturally polite. :)

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  13. I had someone send me the same pitch email twice in one week. Which might not have been so bad had I not already said no once by the time the 2nd email came through. Guy just wasn't paying attention, send a bulk request, and ignored my review policies.

    It happens disturbingly often. Half the time I don't even bother to reply to them. If they can't be bothered to address me as anything other than "Reviewer," or at least pitch me a book in the genres I read, I figure I don't have to waste my time typing out a rejection message.

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  14. I'm not accepting unsolicited review copies at the moment, so I'm of course getting plenty of unsolicited requests -- often for books I don't have any interest in at all. It is just so wildly frustrating... they're wasting everyone's time!

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  15. Bob, you are not being an ass at all. I get frustrated as hell with authors carpetbombing me regardless of my book reading interests and getting all offended when I say no! I get authors trying to send me stuff I have no interest in. I get people asking me to read a few pages of their novel and comment-what am I, an unpaid proofreader or their mummy???!!! I am about to put a review policy on Goodreads and my blog so lets see how many people ignore it!

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  16. BTW, you can add this mornings face-palm request to that list:

    I AM SLEEPLESS: SIM 299, a newly released YA Science Fiction novel

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  17. Ha ha, Bob, I feel your pain! Although my own pain has diminished greatly since I completely stopped reading self published books a few years ago. It was either that or go crazy. I clearly state in my review policy that I DON'T review SP books, and I finally added a line that says something like "sure, go ahead and email me anyway, but I won't respond to your email." That's taken care of a lot of the weird requests. I even have some publicists who don't listen, so it's not just authors. Even when I respond to an email and tell them "I don't review non fiction!" They keep sending me non fiction pitches. Crazy! Oh well, these are the desperate authors whose book probably sucks anyway (sorry, but if you can't follow directions, you probably have a terrible book).

    And what's sad is those people make things worse for the really good SP authors who do their homework and take the craft of writing seriously.

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    1. "if you can't follow directions, you probably have a terrible book" EXACTLY! :)

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