If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood
Who ya gonna call?
If a book doesn’t get press, who ya gonna call?
Err, bookbusters! That is, bloggers, Goodreads reviewers, Amazon reviewers, Shelfari, book tweeters, Instagrammers… There is a plethora of social media venues.
The freebie novelty wears off fast. Nowadays, I have a strict policy: say no to review copies unless Margaret Drabble offers to send me her new book via drone from Amazon. (Ha ha!) But I am often offered books by unknowns that are crazily inappropriate for my blog. For instance, a publicist recently offered a review copy of a novel about “a black market organ broker, arranging the sales of kidneys and livers from donors who need the money to recipients whose time on the transplant list is running out.” Does that sound like me.?
Even the crustiest blogger (that would be I) agrees occasionally to help a publicist or writer promote a book. (It usually sounds promising on the press release.) Okay, they’d rather have Janet Maslin write about it, but she shows no interest in Demigod Down (The Succubus Executioner # 2). I write to my contact, “I’m afraid I have to turn this one down, but think of me again.” Yes! I got out of it. But “think of me again”? What if she wants me to review The Succubus Executioner 3? I am a bit fractious when I must read books I dislike. Even when I accepted a review copy of the award-winning H Is for Hawk, I thought it was of shocking poor quality. Maybe Janet Maslin would have liked it. Maybe she did like it. I wasn’t very nice about it.
When you accept freebies, you can find yourself doing unpaid PR. The freebie road can deflect you from reading the books you have chosen to read and cherish. One of my favorite bloggers used to write about the classics. Now she reads freebie romances, mysteries, and other very light books. Freebies have changed her as a reader.
At Goodreads, there are hundreds of giveaway books, but there is much competition for them. Most of the books seem to be romances or SF, but there are also cookbooks and poetry. Here is a brief sampling.
- 10 copies available of Demigod Down (The Succubus Executionser # 2) by Kim Schubert, 500 requesting
- 1 copy of The Calling (Finite Faerie Chronicle #) by Joseph Eastwood, 1009 people requesting
- 1 copy of Homemade Sourdough: Mastering the Art and Science of Baking with Starters and Wild Yeast by Ed wood, 738 people requesting
You can also get free books at TLC Book Tours, where bloggers agree to write a book review and host an author interview. The site says, “As a host, you agree to receive a free book from one of our touring authors (who doesn’t like a free book??), read it and post a review on a date scheduled in advance for the author to “stop” at your blog.”
You know who doesn’t like a free book? ??
Netgalley is the best option for bloggers and consumer reviewers seeking free books. You can request books from a huge selection, and there are even reprints of Rosamund Lehmann, Mavis Gallant, and Vance Bourjailly from Open Road Media. I was invited by a publicist to join Netgalley three years ago, but I could not download any of the books on my Nook. You really need a Kindle for Netgalley. The Kindle receives the books instantly
In George Orwell’s humorous essay, “Confessions of a Book Reviewer,” he explains why he dreads reveiwing on demand books about subjects he knows nothing about.
Half hidden among the pile of papers is a bulky parcel containing five volumes which his editor has sent with a note suggesting that they ‘ought to go well together’. …Yesterday in a resolute moment he ripped the string off it and found the five volumes to be Palestine at the Cross Roads, Scientific Dairy Farming, A Short History of European Democracy (this one 680 pages and weighs four pounds), Tribal Customs in Portuguese East Africa, and a novel, It’s Nicer Lying Down, probably included by mistake.
Do you sympathize? He did get paid, though.
Ah, those were the days.