Sunday, July 13, 2014

A New Review Policy

In the last few weeks, I've read quite a few articles about blogging, reviewing, and policies. They've made me really think about how I'm reviewing, what I'm blogging about, and why I should or shouldn't change my policy. I really enjoyed reading all of these articles, and I know their intent was not to tell people that they're reviewing for the wrong reasons or that they should change their policies. But I think they were extremely helpful in *maybe* making bloggers think about how just a few words can change the meaning behind how and why they review books.


The Articles:

Let's be honest here, I'm not going to read all the books I wanna read in a lifetime. I'll be on my deathbed telling everyone and God: "Just one more chapter. I'm almost finished, I swear." Like, no joke. I'll probably still be reading until I won't be able to because of physical or mental incapacities. And it kills me to imagine all the books I'll miss out on because life is just too damn short to read all that I want to. So, why should I waste anymore time on all the books I truly don't like or have tried and want to DNF?

I know NetGalley says that we don't have to review the books we receive on there. But now that they implemented the feedback to approval ratio (and an email reminder), I've been shit out of luck. I'm slowly building that up, because I feel like I have to do that so I'll get approved more often. And I kind of hate that NG did that to me. It put a lot of stress on me to review more and more books from their website so I could bump up my percentage and not lose potentially amazing approvals. And it's also made me feel like I should try harder to review books by their publication dates. When I lost my auto-approval to Harlequin Teen, I thought it was because of that poor ratio and me not reviewing more of their books. (I've since learned that was *probably* not the case). It just put even more pressure on me to put my NG books above others. It took a bit of the fun out of reading. And oh, the guilt when I don't review those books in a timely manner!

It's not even just NG's fault that I've lost the fun in reading. I put that on myself. By worrying about deadlines and publication dates, approval ratios and hot authors, I started catering my blog to book pressure. What is book pressure, you ask? The pressure to wanting the hottest ARCs, to get approved through NG, EW, or the publishers/authors for them, and have the books read and reviewed by the release dates. I fell into a pattern that's been becoming quite popular around the blogosphere lately. And I want to get back to not worrying about release dates and hyped-up books. 

Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love being a book blogger! And I'm always so humbled to be approved for a book (especially if it's a popular ARC and I'm really excited about it). This past June, I got my first Disney-Hyperion approval! I was elated! But, because I was an idiot who decided that requesting ALL THE BOOKS was the right way to go when I first joined NG, I gained too many too fast. And I love that publishers/authors have given me these chances to read books early (or some that have already been published). But now, I'm sunk in a hole so deep that I see no way out of it for the next few years.

I'm not trying to complain about having to review all of these books. And I certainly don't want you to think that I'm not grateful for all I've been given. I'm just trying to figure out a way that'll put less stress and pressure on myself and get me back to the feeling I had when I first created my book blog. That feeling of newness and excitement that will bring me back to the girl who just loved reading books for the fun of it. Not for the reviews, not for the ARCs, not for the marketing, and certainly not for the need to be on top of all that is going on in the blogging community. 

With these articles and how I've been feeling since this summer hit, I've made myself take a step back to reexamine why I started blogging in the first place. Like I said in my top ten blogging confessions, I didn't know anything about the publishing community before jumping headfirst into Part of that World. I didn't even know what ARCs were! I started this blog because I wanted to talk about books and share my love for them with other people who understand and want to fangirl (or rant) with me. 

Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of that. I lost sight of what blogging meant to me and why I was reviewing books. And I don't want that to ever happen again.

***

So, I'm implementing a change in my reviewing policy! This new policy was inspired by Anya's post about for review vs. review consideration and Kim's post about blogging for books vs. blogging because of books. From now on, the books I review are "for consideration" and not used in terms of an exchange. That was how I'd been putting it in my review posts: I received this from ____ in exchange for an honest review. But that's no longer what I want to say. Because I'm no longer receiving these books as a "payment" of sorts and I'm no longer making myself obligated to review a book I don't like or don't want to read anymore. I thought about saying: *____ kindly provided by ____ via ____* but I'm not sure if that's the best way to change it. Anyone have any good suggestions?

Honestly, not much is going to change with this new "for consideration" review policy. Here on my blog, this only means that I'll take a book into consideration for a review. I have a right to express an honest review (not that I don't already) even if it's negative or DNF if I don't want to continue reading it. My time is precious, and it might be a long while before I even read the book. But I'm also open to just doing a spotlight post for them if I don't provide a review. That is fine with me. I love helping authors get their books out there, even if I didn't like it. After all, readers have different tastes. But I'm going to be more selective when it comes to review requests. And I'm only going to take a book into consideration if I truly want it. 

This policy obviously won't apply to books I receive for blog tours and release day launches. Those I do feel obligated to finish no matter what, and I'm okay with that. I signed up to review the book by that exact date, and I'll do just that (no DNFs). But again, I'm going to be very picky when it comes to them now, and only sign up if I love the author or I'm excited to read something new.

However, this new change will apply to NetGalley (not so much Edelweiss, because I rarely get approved on there). Oh, NG. I love you, I do. But I hate this feedback to approval ratio, and I'm done worrying about my low percentage. I'm not blogging for books; I'm blogging because of books. And I don't want to lose that distinction. I do like the NG ratio because it keeps track of the books I'm reviewing, and I've heard that publishers don't really even pay attention to that. But when it started, I panicked and then felt like I was screwing over these authors/publishers because I hadn't yet reviewed their books. It was that whole mentality of "exchange" and me feeling like I owed them a review for being approved. But I'm getting over that mindset. I'll still slowly build up my percentage, and I'll keep reviewing all of the books on there. I actually haven't even been requesting many; maybe one or two a week (go me!). But trying to review them all before release dates and in a timely manner is stressful and consuming. And besides, I think post-publication hype is great promotion as well. 

Oh, but it's since occurred to me that the publishers all have their own requirements on NG. I will be paying more attention to that, especially if they do expect a review within an allotted timeframe. Most, it seems, don't (or at least the ones that I love and request from a lot). But if they do, I'll try my hardest to review the book in a timely manner. I just want to have that choice of finishing the book or not. I want to be able to DNF if I'm not feeling the book and not be expected to write a review from that. If that happens, I'll just send a small note to the publisher instead.


***

I've read all the comments; I understand people's concerns over how this looks and what each side is saying. I agree with both, to an extent (just depends on where I got the book). But I lean on the side that doesn't like the language of "in exchange for" even though I've always used it in my reviews. Mostly, because I never knew how I should actually phrase it. And honestly, this policy change is really just for NetGalley. I know I might lose potential approvals, but I have so many books to read that I welcome denied ones sometimes (especially if I wish I hadn't requested the book in the first place). And I understand how people feel that, when they get a book from those websites or sent directly from a publisher, a review is expected. I was one of those people not too long ago. 

But let's face it, there are just too many books and not enough time to read them all. And I don't think publishers really expect us to read all of them. That would just not be feasible. But I don't want to waste anymore of my time pushing through books I don't like to just simply write a negative (and most often rant and rage-filled) review afterward. Let's just DNF and move on. 

First, foremost, and always, I am a mood reader. I love being able to pick a book at random or read one that I've been anticipating for a long time. I love having the choice of setting a book aside if it's not capturing my attention and being able to decide what book I want to read next. Deadlines just don't work for me. Stress to review ALL THE BOOKS doesn't work for me. What works is what always has for me: mood.

When I started making it seem like an exchange, I put that pressure on myself to review all of the books I received. Because of my policy, I always felt obligated to review a book. And sometimes, that obligation probably took enjoyment out of books I might have liked otherwise. And, in turn, it made me lose sight of why I love reading and why I started my blog in the first place. I didn't create this blog to be a marketing tool. I created it to share what I love or don't love about books. And I hope this policy change will help lessen that stress and remind me why I started Part of that World.

Because life is just too damn short to waste time on books I don't want to read.


I'm doing this for personal reasons and for my blog. And I'm not going to be abusing my NG/EW privileges by DNFing all the time (it is rare when I don't want to finish the book). I just want to create a much less stress-filled and guilt-ridden blog. I think this is the best choice for me. :)

2 comments:

  1. I get all of my books from the library, so the whole ARC thing does'nt apply to me, but good for you, for deciding to make the changes you feel you need to make, to make blogging enjoyable again! Book blogging is supposed to be fun, not a chore :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love my library! They don't always have the most popular books, though, so it's nice when I can read them early. But yeah, it sometimes feels like a chore. And I want to get away from that. Thank you! :)

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