Why I cannot just purchase your 99c book and review it…

I receive dozens of emails every week asking me to review books. Many are sent by authors who have self published and need independent readers to read their book and review it. In lay mans terms, they need someone willing to read their book and write what they think of it preferably on Amazon to boost their books so more people will come across it and read it. There is, I am sure much more to the intricacies of marketing, but I have intention of going through those here at this time.

Some authors employ companies to find them reviewers, others try the personal approach. You see, I can say no to reviewing a book when asked. I often say yes, unless I know a book just won’t appeal to me. I don’t believe in marking books down because I have accepted a book from a genre I don’t enjoy very much.

Anyway, I digress, where was I? Yes I receive dozens of book review requests a week and I sift through these, when the mood takes me and devise the reading review list for the following month. For example July 2013 looks like this:

Book Reviews July 2013
69 Bone Pit by James J Lamb
70 The Rocking Chair by Stephen Manchester
71 The Golden Goose of Los Angeles by Travis Irish
72 Fade To Black by Marlene Webb
73 Killer Instinct by Darcia Helle
74 Tetherbird by Emily Daid
75 Love Me Mama-the unflavoured child by E Reed
76 Dangerous Trade by Ned Stevens
77 Justice Hunter by HJ Dimmerman
78 The Plague Within by Lawrence W Gold
79 Thick Fog in Pscheco Pass by RP Mcabe
80 Miss Unknown by Roger Max Dumont
81 Sia by Josh Grayson

This list puts books in chronological order of the date I was asked to review them. The majority of these books are already on my Kindle waiting to be read.

How do I decide how many books to review a month?

I usually allocate 12 books a month. That’s a nice comfortable number that allows me to read books I have purchased myself by favourite authors or genres to read too. I identify and short stories and books and may add in a few more but I do not exceed allocating more than 16 a month to read. I don’t want to be rushed and prefer to give each book time.

This month I have had to purchase 2 books to review out of my own funds. OK so it won’t break the bank but I abhor doing so.

My reasons for not wanting to purchase the book you are asking me to review:

Firstly, you contacted me for a review, you are asking for me to give you time. I don’t get payment for my time. My reward isn’t having your book for free as I cannot just read it and not write a review or feedback. You have to concede that I am volunteering to do you a favour. The alternative is that I could leisurely browse Amazon UK and purchase any books that take my fancy without an obligation to review, your book may or may not appear or appeal to me. Even if your book did appear on my Amazon screen I may not necessarily choose to read it. Chances are my purchases would mirror those of thousands of others who will never hear of your book.

If I buy your book and not the 11 others I am reviewing, subconsciously it undermines the playing field. I endeavour to be as honest and as fair as I can but I am human and the fact I had to buy it (yes felt obligated for whatever reason to spend my money as well as time) may have a bearing on my review. I like a level playing field; all books I am asked to review should either be purchased by myself or not purchased by myself.

If you feel I should purchase every book I review, that’s absolutely fine £12-15 a month is fine by me, but I get to choose the book and you don’t get to solicit my time, hence its pointless you email me as I will be too busy browsing the net for books that appeal, not necessarily yours. I won’t be able to review 12-16 books a month as it may cost me more than I can afford to allocate to reviewing Indie authors, after all I have other expenses like books I have been waiting to read, going out, watching plays, going to the symphony, gardening, eating, buying clothes, shoes, the cats etc. Things I may feel I want to spend more time on rather than read your emails and books.

The biggest turn off is when self published authors do not know what mobi is. If you sell an Amazon ebook you are selling mobi files of your book to read on our Kindle devices. PDF looks rubbish on Kindle the print is too small, the formatting dire and if you make it bigger you have to scroll the page, which is not ideal when trying to review. Also I prefer to review the exact file you are hawking on Amazon, after all I will be putting my review under the marketing for that file.

I won’t read your book on my laptop or iPad.

I wouldn’t do that for Jeffery Archer so you aren’t different. So in summary I only read books on Kindle, I have no intention of changing this habit because you don’t know what format you are flogging your books, if you approach me to read your book a free file of it is standard operating procedure otherwise leave me to my browsing and keep your fingers crossed I come across your book, reading which isn’t payment enough for my time as one angry author emailed to tell me.

I also won’t read your book if its poorly formatted.

So any old mobi file won’t cut it. If its not up to the standard for the paying public, it’s definitely not up to a standard for a favourable review.

I have 72 books on my Kindle 2/3 of these are books I have browsed and purchased over 6 months ago, on mobi format, professionally edited, but haven’t had the opportunity to read because I give my time for free to review ebooks. Giving free reviews for reading books is yet another area in life you are subject to abuse for doing someone a favour.



  1. You are doing a good thing but understand where you are coming from. I hope you don’t lose the joy of reading and reviewing, it would be unfortunate. Keep on keeping on:)


  2. I am surprised anyone would expect you to pay anything if they are soliciting you for a review. I wrote to 20 reviewers asking for their services and said I would send them a copy in whatever format they wanted.
    Out of 20, only 1 replied, to who I sent a copy.
    Disheartened slightlyI asked the KDP community for help and got some great advise that a reviewer probably would not have given.
    Still needing real critical reviews, (at the moment everyone is leaving 5star ratings, which is great, but I know I can improve my books), and so I joined up to Tom Hobbs Kindlemojo site and now have an editor / beta reader.
    My advise to my fellow Indie authors out there is GIVE your work to as many people as possible, especially other authors.
    Final comment is…….Wow you read a lot.


    1. Thanks Dave. I have to say I say no to fewer authors than I should. In fact my big cut off is if they can’t get be a mobi file but that also has its problems. I’m a soft touch I know, I feel guilty and fall for any sob story and buy Kindle books from authors who are soliciting my time but that’s going to stop now. No more Miss Soft Touch! I understand why you feel fellow authors are good for feedback, but I think I give a Joe Blogs opinion without being discouraging and so do a lot of other reviewers. I do read a lot, never realised this until I started offering free reviews and counting books, however I still have 70 books waiting to be read on my Kindle.


      1. Excellent! It is being edited at this moment but will be ready by the time you get to read it. When it is done I will send you a copy. Do I have your email?


      1. So you were the 1 reply I had!
        It would be better if I sent you the new mobi when it is ready, as I am sure it will be a lot more enjoyable. I think I wrote a whole new chapter 1 and did away with the prologue. I will look back at my emails and resend the new file to you shortly.
        Many thanks


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