What happens when people find out you review books?

March 14, 2015 Discussion 27

Over the past few years I’ve had this happen to me quite a few times so I wanted to know if it’s happened to any of you and how you handled it.

Somehow it comes up in conversation that I have a blog and that I review books that I receive from publishers. The person can be either a friend, a coworker or even a somewhat stranger. (like the person doing your nails, hair, or someone in a group or at a party that you’re hanging out with, or a member of your casual book club). When they find out that you review books then they say

not yet read chat bubble

“Will you read and review my book?”


“Will you read and review my friend’s book?”

I can’t help it but my initial inner reaction is to cringe. BUT WHY? Why would I cringe? Well… Because almost always these books aren’t in a genre that I would read, they likely aren’t finished books, or they are self-published books (I can’t seem to help having a bias against then) and I Have to admit usually have an atrocious cover (and I know it’s bad to judge a book by it’s cover but hey I admit it I’m a cover snob). I have most definitely read a few self pubbed and indie books and they haven’t been bad, some were really great, but those are / were rare in my past experiences.

I try to be polite and say I’m not interested but then oddly enough the person can then tend to get pushy. Not anyways of course but I don’t understand it when that happens! They ask again and sometimes again. I don’t like being rude, especially if it’s not the person asking for themselves but for someone they know like a friend, family member or co-worker of theirs. But ultimately off I just don’t want to, I don’t want to.

One time someone even gave out my email address telling their friend I had agreed to read and review/feature their book and I had to tell them no the person who told them that was mistaken and sorry for the misunderstanding that I actually wasn’t interested.

Maybe I should be more willing to read these books, and sometimes I totally am. But if my gut reaction is “oh no thank you” and I’d much rather spend time reading my own books, library books or review books I’ve received – then I’m more inclined to enjoy those. So I want to stick with that because ultimately the massive pile of personal books I haven’t been able to get to yet I’d never ending. Reading and reviewing is not my job right, so I want to just read what I feel like. It is my much beloved hobby, and I don’t ever want to feel any sort of dread when going to pick up a book.

So does that make me a an awful person because I don’t usually want to do that for my friends or their friend? I find the same thing tends to happen with me on my arts and crafts things I do. Folks that don’t dabble in hand making things don’t usually realize how long it takes to make that “one little thing” and so don’t realize when they ask if I can make them something how much time I would need to invest in it. For gifts I’m almost always happy to make things for friends but reading a book is an entirely different experience.

Now tell me, have you had this happen to you? What did you do, or how do you think you’d react? Care to share your experience?

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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27 Responses to “What happens when people find out you review books?”

  1. Kritika

    I’ve never heard that one! In fact, one of my friends has written five books and is too scared to let me read them even though I’ve been asking. I guess it goes both ways – some people want you to read their book and shout out to the world how good it is, and some people don’t want you to read it because they think you’ll be critical.
    Kritika recently posted…Review: The World Before UsMy Profile

  2. Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections

    I’ve never had that happen to me before, but I would also be hesitant, I think. Because a lot of people think you review ALL THE BOOKS. So, my favourite genres are fantasy, chicklit and contemporary, and then I get people come up to me and say, “Hey, I wrote this horror novel I think you should review”. They might also be unfinished, unedited, … And if they’re a friend or a friend of a friend, what if you don’t like the book?
    Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections recently posted…23 Things To Do Before I Turn 23My Profile

  3. Celine

    This has only happened to me once, and I was like “ummmm… maybe some day?”. Honestly I’d rather not review a work by someone I know, because I can be rather harsh. It might hurt their feelings, and I don’t want to do that.

    Most of the time when I tell people that I review books and that publishers send me books for me to read, they react rather confused. “But… why do they send you those books?”
    Celine recently posted…The 1000th Blog Post of Nyx Book ReviewsMy Profile

  4. DJ

    Wow, I can’t believe someone just gave your e-mail to their friend telling them you would review their book. That puts puts you in awkward position of telling the friend no, they were mistaken and lied to, and then the friend probably becomes embarrassed/angry over the whole situation. That someone, really didn’t think things through.
    I don’t blame you for saying no to these people though. It’s like you said, reading and writing reviews is something you do for fun, and like your artwork, doing these things is a serious time investment.
    DJ recently posted…Book Review: Avempratha (Theft of Swords: Part 2 of 2) by Michael J. SullivanMy Profile

  5. Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy

    It’s happened to me twice, and both times I got lucky and the books were really good. Plus one of the writers, my best friend’s sister, is in a writer’s group and has been writing for years, so I knew she was serious. But that was a couple of years ago. Now I would say no, because I do have a pretty strict polocy about only reading books from pubishers I trust, although I have been known to break that rule!
    Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy recently posted…Why I’ve Decided to go BACK to Star Ratings (LOL!)My Profile

  6. Michelle @ In Libris Veritas

    Typically people always want to know how to get the free books…so I feel obligated to tell them about the work and time that goes into it. I’ve had a few people ask me to read their books and generally I cringe to. I read self-published books but I loathe when people ask me because I can tell they’re hoping for a positive review and I refuse to promise them that sort of thing. If they were someone I met online then I wouldn’t have a problem with it because there is a bit of distance between us, but people I actually know..I can’t do it. I’m honest and if I hate their book I’m pretty much going to tell them that, lol.
    Michelle @ In Libris Veritas recently posted…Product Review: Influenster XOVoxBoxMy Profile

  7. Lola

    I don’t often tell peoepl in real life that I read and review, but I do agree with your general statement. I think it’s weird that people when they hear something like that immediately pull it to themselves. If something like that happens to me, I might consider it when the book sounds interesting, but I rather would tell them just to send me a review request through e-mail so I can treat it as one.

    And indeed it’s not your job. And when it comes to your crafts it seems people just don’t understand how much time it takes. If they would offer to pay for it, it would be different, but just assuming you could make something for them because they sort of know you is weird.
    Lola recently posted…My To-Be Read List #7: chosen bookMy Profile

  8. Litha Nelle

    I will read self published books, but not from friends: I would hate to break their hearts if I didn’t like their book. Also, I could be biased in my take of the book if I liked said friend a lot. Overall, I think it’s best if you say no- there are other people out there who can read and review.
    ~Litha Nelle
    Litha Nelle recently posted…“Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7)” by Ilona AndrewsMy Profile

  9. Felicia (asillygirl)

    It hasn’t happened to me, but I’m not as much of a book reviewer as so many other people. I don’t think I would do it. I mean, send me a quick desciption, and if I like what I see, surely I put it on my TBR-list, like I normally do with books I think I like. Then if I read it, I might review it, but that’s it.
    Felicia (asillygirl) recently posted…Chapter 44: How I knew we weren’t friendsMy Profile

  10. [email protected]

    I ended up meeting an author through mops and yes I reviewed it on the blog. But there was an incident where she asked me to change something , and I did …but then I wasn’t being honest with my review or with myself. So ended up not reading her books anymore and keeping her as a friend.
    Another local author I meet …sent me an email to read her series and Yes I have reviewed it honestly because I know of her but I haven’t gotten to her as well as the other author I reviewed books from. If that makes sense . Also if you are such good friends with an author …how can you review their book honestly ??
    [email protected] recently posted…Most Likely to SucceedMy Profile

  11. Lynn

    Not as such – more that people want me to read the books they love and will bring them in but it’s very rare that our tastes will cross over – I am willing to read books outside my comfort zone – but just not all the time. Reading is a hobby and I want to read the books I enjoy – otherwise it’s more like a chore.
    Lynn 😀
    Lynn recently posted…Art it Up: Dreamer’s PoolMy Profile

  12. Shawna

    Honestly, I am amazed that you find the time to read the books you do. I’ve told you as much in the past.

    “i don’t have time, I am already under so many obligations,” should be all that anyone ever needs to hear to get them to stop asking. It’s sad that even when blatantly told something, people just don’t understand.

    As for the handmade items—do not get me started. This is why I am a selfish knitter! I even belong to a selfish knitter group on Ravelry. Hahaha.

    Not only have I quit making things for everyone who asks (the silent ones get surprises when I have time), but I have also quit offering to teach others how to make their own things. “Flaky” doesn’t begin to cover it. Never. Again. They can call a yarn store and pay someone.

    Getting back to your reading situation, people are just annoying and think nothing ever applies to them personally. You know, I would probably be inclined to lie about myself and just say either don’t review books, or I would say something like how the last time someone gave me their own books to review, I never got around to them, and here I am four years later, and the books are still sitting there because of all the other obligations I have. Lying can be a good thing. Haha

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Hey that is actually so so true! When indie authors have given me their books I almost never got around to them in the past that is why I just stopped accepting them…that and most of them weren’t any good at all and I got tired of wasting my time.

      A selfish knitter group! That is brilliant. I don’t mind making things like you said but agree I prefer them to be surprises. I do still like making toys but I plan to sell them eventually. So it satisfies my need to make things and hopefully I will start getting some money for them too.
      I was really surprised by how insistent some people are about wanting you to read what they want you to. It’s kind of funny because I am stubborn and just as insistent that I won’t. I only read what my trusted friends suggest and only if I know they have the same tastes as me.

  13. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Huh! People can be so pushy and rude sometimes. Like, just because you review books doesn’t mean you can read ALL the books out there, regardless of genre, just because you know someone who knows someone…you know?! That’s never ever happened to me but then again, I live in a small community so I don’t know many people who’ve written books…or who know someone who’s written a book. It would totally annoy me if people did what they’re doing to you though. ESPECIALLY if they got pushy, which would make me want to say no on principal. Most people who I know are all surprised when they find I I review books: Wow! How did you get into that? And…publishers just SEND you books?! Wow….

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: Blue Lily, Lily BlueMy Profile

  14. Silvara

    I haven’t had it happen with reviews surprisingly. Most of my coworkers know I review books, but none of them have asked me to do any specific ones. None of my family or friends either. They’ll ask what genre I review, and the closest I got was an ex-coworker who was telling me about her local author friend. But they weren’t a genre I was interested in, and she didn’t ask me to review it. So I guess I’m lucky so far with that.

    What I DO get all the time is people asking me for my crochet patterns, and where I get my ceramics that I paint. Because they want to make a bunch of them and sell them at such-and-such fair etc. I tend to tell those people that I “can’t find” the pattern(s) they want, or that I “forgot” to get the url of the website I buy my ceramics on. Sorry, but if I’m making the stuff to sell myself, I’m not going to give you the exact same items to do the same thing.
    Silvara recently posted…Affliction (Anita Blake #22) by Laurell K. Hamilton (review)My Profile

  15. Kel @ Booked til Tuesday

    No, I can’t say this has ever happened to me, but I think I’d feel torn if it did, especially if it were for a WIP. I got a degree in writing, and I like editing…then again, there’s a good chance I’d scare the person off, be it for a review or early opinion, once I mentioned what a strict, picky stickler I am.

    Sounds like you need a solid line that works 99.9999% of the time, like, “Thank you for thinking of us, but we don’t take these calls during business hours.” I use that all the time for sales calls.
    Kel @ Booked til Tuesday recently posted…Art It Up! – Crocheted Hat #2My Profile

  16. Claudia {Sparrowhawk}

    Wow! You have seriously stressed each one of my qualms on this post. I’ve been having to say no to many self-published authors (which does break my heart a bit), I guess I’m not all that versed in the differences between published and self-published to be sure of my decisions, but still, I get you and the “cringing.”

    It behooves me to say even, that I am in the process of getting some of these self-published books I committed myself to off my shoulders! It’s been so terribly hard and difficult to push myself to read through books I am NOT interested in. I’ve even become bitter towards books (I know right?), because I miss MY books. Snow Like Ashes is still sitting on my shelf waiting for me to read!

    I have put my foot down, (finally) and am learning to accept that saying, “I’m sorry, but no” is okay 🙂

    As always, great post!
    Claudia {Sparrowhawk} recently posted…Sparrow’s Reading Corner: {5 Treasured Childhood Books That Made Me Fall in Love with Reading}My Profile

  17. Leslie

    It has happened a couple of times before, and I always send a couple of links to more critical reviews on my blog before I agree to anything. I tell them I don’t sugar coat my opinions and warn them that I’ve rarely found a book that was self-published that I liked. I also warn them that their book will end up in a pile of TBR books and I can’t promise a deadline to when I will get to it. After all that, no one has ever sent me their work to review (or their friend’s work).

    Congrats on the new little one! I’m really hoping you scheduled all these posts ahead of time, in which case, I’m really jealous of your organization! 🙂
    Leslie recently posted…Trailer Park Friday: Two Short Films, Inside Out, The Con Man & MoreMy Profile

  18. Samantha @ Bookish Serendipity

    I totally understand! A couple of my friends learned that I had a blog, which I wasn’t too thrilled about, and one of them even found it online! I’m not embarrassed by my blog–on the contrary, I love it!–but my blog is very personal for me. I don’t know, I just don’t like having people I know IRL reading my blog.
    Samantha @ Bookish Serendipity recently posted…Every Day by David Levithan–Co-Review with Fari from My Little Corner For BooksMy Profile

  19. fishgirl182 @ nite lite

    I must not run into a lot of writers because this has never happened to me before. Most people either seem mildly interested or totally uninterested, which doesn’t bother me either way.

  20. Jess @My Reading Dress

    Ooh that’s never happened to me before. I mean, the conversation’s come up a lot of times but I guess maybe I don’t know that many aspiring writers? I do get a bit of confusion and “buuuut how does it work? And you’re doing it for free, why?”

    If that scenario happened to me though, I’d be the same as you. It’s not selfish. I wouldn’t want to do it either, you know? Because then all things get awkward, imo.
    Jess @My Reading Dress recently posted…Living In the Age of SlothsMy Profile