The review request window on Off The TBR is open once again! I’m referring to it as a window because I could shut it again at any time. If I do it will probably be for one of two reasons:
- I’ve received too many requests and need to pause in order to get caught-up
- Life has gotten too busy outside the blog and I can’t keep up with reading and reviews
Both circumstances should (hopefully) only bring a temporary window close.
I’ll be taking most of this post and copying it directly to my Review Request & Contact Info page as well as my Rating System page. So really this is an announcement and a copy of what you’ll see on those pages. Both will be updated prior to this post going live.
Who Can Request A Review?
I accept review requests from the following:
If you send me a review request, please include information about the book and any links to the author or publishers web pages/social media accounts that my be helpful in determining whether to accept the request.
What To Expect From Me
I think it’s only fair to let you know a little of what you can expect from me if I accept your review request.
- If you request a review I will give you a general time-frame for when I think I can get your book read and reviewed. This is not a promise or guarantee it will be completed by that date, just an estimated time frame. I usually plan my reading schedule about a month or so in advance so I may already have other books slotted for the near future. I typically only read 3-4 books a month and write reviews on the weekends (just to give you an idea of my schedule).
- I will post the review and give it a rating. This will be true EVEN IF I GIVE IT A BAD RATING. I put that last bit in large font and underline because I want to be clear up front that if I don’t like the book, even if it is a DNF, I’m still going to review and rate it. I look at it this way…If I put time into reading it when I could have read something else it’s getting some commentary from me. That’s not me trying to be a jerk, it’s just me respecting my time. If you’re worried about getting a bad review you should reconsider the request. See my Rating Scale page for more about how I rate and what it means.
What I Read
I primarily read speculative fiction. So if you have a book in that broad genre category and would like a review I’ll consider it. I reserve the right to refuse requests for any reason.
- My primary reading sub-genres within speculative fiction are fantasy and science fiction. I read more fantasy than science fiction but I enjoy both.
- I don’t read much YA but I will.
- I don’t typically read romance though I’m not totally opposed to it. Just know that it isn’t normally my thing so I may not be the best person to review your book if it is primarily romance. I’m trying to expand my horizons in this area so I’m open to it, but if you’re looking for good exposure you might look for someone else to request a review from first.
- I also don’t usually read westerns (unless you’re talking the steampunk/SF versions of westerns). I will read them and have in the past, but as I noted above this is a spec-fic blog so if yours is a western please don’t ask me to review it unless it is a spec-fic western.
- I do not read erotic fiction. Please don’t ask me to.
I prefer actual hard copy books to read and review. However I understand about printing and mailing costs, especially for self-published authors so I also accept books I can download to my Kindle. I do not listen to audio books.
My reviews are not academic reviews. I don’t think most readers are looking for that. I’ll let you know what I thought and I’ll be honest. I do write long reviews however and they are often detailed. I’ve tried writing short reviews and seem to fail every time. Take a look at some of my past reviews for examples of how they look and feel. My “template” has evolved some over the past year and may evolve some more but my recent reviews are a good idea of what to expect though I make no promises as to content.
I rate books on a 5 star scale. The most basic explanation is this:
5 Stars: I LOVED this book! I’ll gush over it. And I don’t typically gush. This will be on my “Best Of” list for the year. I will quite probably read it more than once, maybe even more than twice. I’m going to tell everyone to read it even if hey don’t normally like the genre and if they probably won’t read it anyway. Very few criticisms if any. This is the kind of book that stays with me a while. It will often do more than one of the following:
- Blows me away
- Hits me in the gut
- Makes me cry
- Makes me laugh out loud
- Frightens me
- Expands my horizons
The above is not a an complete list. Put basically this is a book with all “the feels.”
4 Stars: I really liked this book. I’m likely to read it more than once. I’m going to tell everyone who loves the genre to put this on their TBR. There were a few criticisms but still not enough to really detract from the story. May do at least one of the things listed under 5 Stars above. This book may have some of “the feels.”
3 Stars: I liked this book. It was entertaining but it didn’t blow me away. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. There may have been a number of issues with it, or maybe it was just an enjoyable read but not one I would write home to mom about. It was worth the read and I would recommend it to fans of the genre but I probably would not read it again.
2 Stars: I didn’t like this book. I found plenty of things to criticize. Will not be recommending it to anyone.
1 Star: I hated this book. I either didn’t finish it (DNF) or just hated the story that bad. Will recommend people steer clear of it. This should be a pretty rare rating. And yes I still give a DNF a 1 Star because otherwise I can’t give a score on Goodreads or Amazon.
Now…all that being said I will also give .5 ratings in between those above (3.5 or 4.5). You’re all reasonably smart people so I’m sure you can figure out the grey in between. If not hopefully it will make sense within my review.
Most of my reviews will be 3 Stars or above. This is because like most of you, when I sit down to read I’m not looking to find things wrong with the story and I genuinely anticipate a fun and enjoyable experience. I rarely dislike a book so much that it will fall below 3 Stars. Maybe that’s grade inflation or maybe not, but my point is I don’t rate on a bell curve.
Why A Rating Scale?
I’ve gone back and forth over time about whether I wanted to continue using a rating scale for my reviews. I even solicited feedback from friends in the blogging community. I finally settled on keeping a rating scale system. Here’s my reasoning:
- They are helpful for review readers: Many of you noted how you really like seeing how people score a book, especially if it the rating is given by a reviewer they like and trust. Yeah it’s always possible you may not agree with another reviewer’s score but often it helps when choosing future books to buy and read.
- They are helpful for me: I had to admit that even with the negatives I came up with for deciding whether to keep a rating score when it’s all said and done a score does help me when looking back on the year to see what books I absolutely loved compared to those I really liked. This doesn’t mean I no longer think there are negatives to a rating score, it’s just that the positives are worth it for me as a reviewer.
- Goodreads and Amazon: <sigh>…yes in the end these two platforms had a lot to do with my decision too as much as I dislike it. I post to those sites because of the help they provide to book sales and to readers. Both are important to me in their own way. I feel that to really get the most benefit from those platforms I need to provide a rating. If I’m going to do that I might as well keep them on the blog as well.
So there you have it. My updated Review Request and Ratings Scale pages are live! Now let’s just hope I don’t get inundated. OK I doubt i will but still crossing my fingers.