Responding to Offers of Books to Review

Why I don’t instantly say yes please when offered books to review


I love books.

I love talking about books I enjoy.

I don’t really love reviewing books, although I’m pretty sure that in doing so I learn more about the subject than on a more casual, less accountable reading.

But lately I seem to be getting quite a few requests to accept advance copies of books, both on subjects to do with the main focus of this blog, working from home, and also on social media, about which I blog more frequently on my Des Walsh dot Com site.

And I’m not keeping up. The books are starting to become something of a burden, not a pleasure.

Part of the challenge I have with the whole exercise of reviewing is that I have this sense – old-fashioned, quaint even, as it may be – that I should actually have read a book before posting about it. And related to that is the fact that I want to feel that I’ve done justice to the book.

At the same time, I realize that the authors and their publicists might prefer I did not take that line and if I was not going to read the whole book, couldn’t I at least skim it and write a brief post about it, with a link?

Not an unreasonable expectation.  Just not an easy one for me to deal with.

There is also the fact that some PR/marketing companies offering books for review don’t realize I’m in Australia and then have trouble getting the publisher to ship the book here.

Time for some clarification

So for a recent pitch I received from someone I did not know, I wrote what I thought was an honest and hopefully helpful response, and in which I included a “let you off the hook” clause for the possibility that they hadn’t realized they would need  to ship the book to Australia :

The concept certainly looks interesting and I am sure there is a demand. I’m frankly being rather cautious about accepting books for review as it’s not my primary focus, they tend to pile up and I feel guilty and even more so when the people who have sent them follow up, quite understandably, with prompts.

Also, if I accept a book for review I will only do so on the basis that I can review it honestly, not just write a puff piece. I would add that I do not seek to gain any notoriety by being unfair or unkind and I do try to “accentuate the positive”.

Then there is the expense for you as I am in Australia and do not any more agree to review books from electronic versions. Some publishers refuse to ship review copies to Australia.

Sorry to be less than enthusiastic, but I wanted to be open with you. If you still want to chance my getting around to reviewing the book, please let me know and I’ll send you a shipping address. If you decide otherwise I will understand completely.

Guess what? Date sent Feb 1, as of Feb 28 no reply.

Not holding my breath. 🙂

Anyone care to share their thoughts on this, perhaps showing me a better way to handle it?

Image credit: “Books behind the bed”, zimpenfish, via Flickr, Creative Commons

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About Des Walsh

I show business owners and other professionals how to navigate the social media maze and use LinkedIn effectively. I'm an author, speaker, business coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get my weekly Social Business Bites.