I’ve always loved books. When I was a child, my favorite gifts were books and that love of reading has followed me through life. Reading is my happy place.
Somewhere along the line, I became a book reviewer. It happened accidentally, really. I can’t even remember what compelled me to share my opinion about the first book I publicly reviewed. Even though I’m now a top reviewer, I never set out to become one. It just worked out that way.
I began receiving review requests, via email and social media direct messages. A LOT of them. I became a people pleaser. I wanted to help struggling authors, so I didn’t turn anyone down. The result? I was reading far too many books that I would have otherwise passed on – not because they were bad (although, in all honesty, some really were pretty awful) but because they simply weren’t in my preferred genres. Yet I persisted and agreed to read book after book. And that meant I had little to no time to enjoy any books I wanted to read simply for the enjoyment of it. Not good.
I was asked to review books for publishers. I amassed tons of print books, books that I had precious little space in my tiny house to store. I didn’t sell them… EVER… that would be incentivizing my reviews, and that is an absolute conflict of interest. I refuse to comprise myself in any manner. Instead, I gave four overflowing boxes of books to my very grateful library. They sent me a thank you letter.
Aside from building a sizeable eBook and print book library, what was I getting in return? To be quite honest I was receiving more than a little grief. I was finding that, although I was helping authors for no monetary gain, I was dealing with some ungrateful individuals who were making unrealistic demands. At the same time, Amazon changed things up by burying unverified reviews, which meant any book that was given to a reviewer could quite possibly not even show up on a product page and this wasn’t helping anyone.
I’d had enough. I removed my name, email address and website info from Amazon and elsewhere. I notified publishers that I no longer wanted to review for them. The result? I now have more time to read the books I truly wish to read. If I want to review a book, I do. If I don’t wish to review a book, I simply don’t.
On a very, VERY rare occasion, I agree to look at a book from an author whose work I’m previously familiar with. Other than that I make it known that I do not accept review requests. I think this is fair to everyone. I’ve taken to reading library books and I’m enjoying that immensely. Far too few people turn to their local libraries nowadays and that’s a shame. I encourage readers to visit their own local library. You just might be surprised at the wonderful books they have available!
How about you? Are you a book reviewer? What kinds of experiences have you had? I’d love to hear your thoughts!