When Book Reviews Attack!

book reviewsAfter completing a handful of free book reviews here at Suess’s Pieces and receiving several requests for future reviews, I have discovered a problem with my book review model. So things are about to change around here. And I’m about to make myself look like the meanest person you ever did meet.

Yo, Authors, I’m Not Your Private Fangirl

I started reviewing books for free as a way to help self-published and little-known authors get a modicum of online publicity for their works, and I was glad to do it. What can I say? I’m a writer who likes to give back where she can. However, I started receiving requests from authors* that made me wonder if I had the word groupie or fangirl tattooed on my forehead.

Initially the requests from authors seemed innocuous enough. I was asked to make comments on a blog post. Then I was asked to write a post on Suess’s Pieces in response to one author’s recent blog post with a link back to the original (in addition to the initial review.) I was later asked to retweet this or that.

Blah, blah, blah.

I ignored these different requests for the most part. Manners and etiquette aren’t universal traits, after all. But then yesterday I received an @mention on Twitter after letting an author know that her book had arrived and was in the queue for review. The author wrote, “Super! Some readers have taken pictures of them and the book at a race track and FB(ed) it. Will you?”

Um, ‘scuse me?

Fuck no, I won’t drive myself to the IMS with your 133-page “novel”, ask someone to take a picture of me with it, and then upload it to Facebook for you. First of all, I haven’t even read the book yet. But odds are it sucks. Second, what the hell? We are not friends. I am not a pushover.

Yoohoo! I’m Already Doing You a Favor

Is there anybody in there?

Writing a review (for free!) of a book that will likely never get a mention in Booklist or the Times might not be enough to qualify me for sainthood, but it is something you should kind of pretend to be grateful for. Say thank you, and move along. Or, if you prefer, return my kindness with a kindness of your own. But don’t keep asking me to give up more of my time to promote your pet project. It’s rude.

Reviews take time! (Cue The More You Know Star and some B-list TV personality.) First there’s the actual book reading, which, in the case of most self-published works, is excruciating. And then there’s writing, formatting, and publishing the review. Even my brief book reviews rob me of several precious hours. That’s time I could be copywriting for a real client or cleaning out my dog’s ears.

New Book Review Policy

There will be a fee for all future book reviews**. Prices are as follows:

Standard Review, completed in 6-8 weeks: $149
Expedited Review, completed in 4-6 weeks: $199

Both standard and expedited reviews will be a minimum of 400 words and will include publication of cover art, two links to the book’s Amazon page using my affiliate account, and a link to the author’s website or blog.

WARNING: Paid book reviews do not necessarily equal favorable reviews. In fact, future reviews will be brutally honest critiques of your work that could garner a lot of attention. But hey, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

Seriously, Em? No One Will Ever Pay That

Well, you’d be surprised.  But if I never write another review on Suess’s Pieces again, I’m okay with that.

Book reviews on Suess’s Pieces are changing effective immediately.
Authors and publicists go here to request a book review.


*Not all of them, mind you. Some of them were quite nice to deal with. But certainly there were enough to piss me off and prompt me to write this post.
**Previously agreed to free reviews will still be honored.

Photo credit: nkzs


About Emily Suess

Emily Suess is a technical marketing writer by day and a freelance copywriter by night. And, no, she's not related to Dr. Seuss.
  • http://www.theincslingers.com/blog Simon Salt

    Good for you!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      *highfive*

  • http://www.amountainmomma.com/ Theresa

    I can’t believe people sometimes. How brazen! Glad you wrote this.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Thanks for your support.  Don’t know why, but I was a little nervous people were going to hate me. (I’m sure some still do.)

  • Stacia

    I applaud this.  So many want something (and a LOT of something) for nothing.  Time is valuable so if $149 or $199 is what makes it worth it to you, I say more power to you.  And if someone wants to pay it, more power to them.  And if you then tell the world that it sucks?  Maybe they shouldn’t have paid you to review their book that sucks.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      I work two jobs and have a dog and boyfriend to raise on top of it. So that’s exactly it. Time *is* valuable. Perhaps in some small way this will help. I mean, if I convince just one bad writer to face the music and pull a book from Amazon, I’ve helped thousands of readers everywhere. Right?

  • http://twitter.com/KatjaPresnal Katja Presnal

    Good for you!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Thanks, Katja.

  • Lindsay Bell

    Greatest. Post. Ever. Seriously, this is awesome, and congrats for having the balls to write it. And stick to it. It’s especially difficult (as much as it pains me to write this) for women to ‘put a value’ on themselves. You are worth something. Start charging it. :) 

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Thanks, Lindsay. There’s so much to charge for. The difficult part will be where to begin! :)

  • Lisa Nicholson

    Bravo for standing up for yourself!!!  My personal favorite is when you mention cleaning the dogs ears.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      I can’t lie. I giggle at that too, and it’s sad to laugh at my own jokes. :)

  • http://twitter.com/Jeffrey__Scott Jeffrey Scott

    I think it’s the best thing you could have done. It’s a sad fact, but some people don’t appreciate when others are ALREADY doing them a favor. Keep up the good work and doing what you love. Giving you all my support.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      I felt like it had to be done to preserve my own sanity. I’ve liked having book reviews as part of the content on my blog, but I don’t love them *that* much. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shah-Wharton/100001722033908 Shah Wharton

    How rude. But I get it myself. However, if I begin a book and it stinks, I no longer plough on. I just tell the author I loath it or its not my thing or go edit this pile of dung – then don’t write a review. If I choose and pay for a book which turns out to be pooh, I will review it and say why it stinks. These are my new rules after reading this, If rudeness continues – I may issue a financial tax too – Though no one would pay it for my opinions. ;(

    Good on you – and cheers for the inspiration to remove my selfless cap ;D XX

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      I know what you’re saying. It can be a real struggle to keep reading a horrible book. However, I’ve kept on reading in most cases because I want to be able to balance the review and find something–anything–that is somehow redeeming. It doesn’t mean I’ll find what I’m looking for though! lol

  • Kisma

    YOU GO GIRL!!!
    I believe  society expects to many things for free and do not understand that people need to make a living and although it is nice to provide a favor now and then, when it becomes “work”, by all means, you deserve to be compensated. I have started charging for my cards:-) Got tired of people assuming I would just whip one out for free because they were too lazy to run to the store. My cards take longer to make then it takes them to go to the store and decided which card is good enough and cost as much.

    And when it comes to reading books, nothing worse then one that drags….

    Good for you!!!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      That’s awesome! You should earn something for your hard work and talent too.

      I honetly don’t mind people asking for favors–every once in a while. It’s nice to do something to help others out when I have time.

      However, we all have to draw a line somewhere, and to keep asking for favors from someone you don’t know without the offer of reciprocation really does burn my biscuits! :)

  • http://twitter.com/flyawaycafe Mary Jo Manzanares

    I can’t believe authors would act that way.  Well, I believe it, just can’t understand it.  Just another example of the entitlement belief at work.  ACK!  (I’ve added a couple of books you’ve reviewed to my Kindle wish list.)

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      One or two of those books I would definitely recommend. :)

  • http://biz.leoraw.com/about/ Leora Wenger

    Emily, this is great.  You tell ‘em.

    My main note is:  this is life.  Some people will ask for a mile after you give an inch.  Then they will ask for two miles… learning how to set limits that are comfortable for you is all part of the process.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      You are very, very right Leora. It is life. It’s not the first time
      people have tried to take advantage of my kindness. In fact, this is a
      pretty mild case of it. The thing is, years ago I did learn a lesson
      about establishing boundaries, and I find it comes in very handy from
      time to time. :)

      I think everyone, but especially women, should
      be bold about saying no. It’s empowering for one thing, but when people
      see that you’re unwilling to be used they eventually stop asking!

  • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

    You are very, very right Leora. It is life. It’s not the first time people have tried to take advantage of my kindness. In fact, this is a pretty mild case of it. The thing is, years ago I did learn a lesson about establishing boundaries, and I find it comes in very handy from time to time. :)

    I think everyone, but especially women, should be bold about saying no. It’s empowering for one thing, but when people see that you’re unwilling to be used they eventually stop asking!

  • http://twitter.com/mattdelman Matthew Delman

    I 110% agree with this move, Emily. The old saw about “give an inch, they’ll take a mile” tends to apply a lot in these cases, as I’ve seen more and more writers who seem unable to take any sort of criticism about their works. I definitely think you should be compensated for the time you put into reviewing books, and those prices are spot on. So for that I applaud you.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      The sad part of it is, had these authors taken the reviews they were given and moved on about their merry business, other authors would still have a place to come for free reviews.

      A few greedy writers really have gone and spoiled it for everyone else. What a shame.

  • http://www.grizzbabesden.blogspot.com Grizzbabe

    Damn skippy!!

    The very nerve . . .

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      I really shouldn’t be surprised. I just have such high hopes for humanity.

  • Jim

    Hey Emily,
    I agree 100%! I posted that in Facebook too. I also linked your web site to mine.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Awesome! Thanks, Jim.

  • http://www.dailytrader.com Wholesale Suppliers

    Looks like you did enough free reviews for a life time. Good thing to shove away those pushovers. I don’t think everyone would like a perfectly honest review, I mean there’s loads of writers who have developed the concept that they have written a masterpiece and if you rate it as crap, then I think they might demand a refund. How do you deal with that?

  • http://www.austinbriggs.com Austin Briggs

    Ha! Nice move, and I like the attitude :) I’m an indie, and I read a lot of indies, and some of them I review – still for free. I only read the books I like after taking a “look inside”, though.

    What if you absolutely loathe a book by someone who paid you to review it? Would you publish a 1-star review, or send a refund back? 

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      I’d publish it. Buyer beware, I suppose. It’s not like they weren’t warned.

      The money isn’t buying my opinion, it’s buying my time. No one gets refunds on that.

      In all honesty, I don’t expect anyone will ever purchase a review from me. They’d have to be unflinchingly brave, terribly stupid or just plain desperate for publicity.

      • http://www.austinbriggs.com Austin Briggs

        Yep – I’ve just read a few of your latest reviews, and I believe you’ll absolutely publish it. Good point about time. I do want some authors to pay me back for reading their stuff.

        The three qualities you mention all apply to me. Hmm…

        • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

          LOL! Sounds like a dangerous combination.

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  • http://tiaras-and-trucks.blogspot.com Angela

    I don’t blame you at all!  The racetrack request boggles my mind.  It also makes me think of some unfavorable photos you could create in photoshop, such as the book, at a racetrack, in a ball of flames.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      LOL! Someone else suggest I photoshop tire treads over the cover of the book as if I’d let the drivers run over it! :)

  • Dave Roy

    Just saw this post after you tweeted it today. I totally agree with your position on this!

    As a guy who posts reviews on Amazon (I’m not an “Amazon reviewer” because those reviews are previously posted elsewhere), I get all sorts of book review requests. I generally ignore them.

    Back before I did that, however, I did accept an offer from a first-time author’s agent to review a book. I got the book, thought it was “ok,” and gave it an “ok” review. Said it was pretty good for a first-timer, and outlined what I liked and didn’t like about it.

    When I notified the agent that it had been posted, I got a very lukewarm response, basically boiling down to “The review’s a bit long, but thank you.”

    I could almost hear the internal gnashing of teeth in her head at the fact I didn’t give it a 5-star review.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      I know, right? You can bet if I get a book to review, I’m going to tell the truth about it.

      It ruins MY reputation to say kind things about a book that sucks. So anyone who asks for a review should have the chutzpah to take whatever comes of it.

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  • Lisa

    OMG!