Too many books, not enough time, is the essence of the main problem.
I consider our readers as well as the authors who have submitted books for review consideration to be part of a community and believe that being too transparent is better than not being transparent enough. So, this post is going to give much more detail than you might expect. Possibly more than you want.
Over a year ago (yes, it has really been that long), this blog went viral. The book submissions came rolling in and before I realized how many had been received, did some basic math, and closed submissions, there were hundreds. Many hundreds. We’ve now been closed to open submissions for almost a year.
I’ve also allowed a small trickle of books to come in since that time. In most cases, these were books that I was going to read anyway. Given that, I thought reviewing them made sense if they were within the scope of the books that we review. In a few extremely rare instances, I received queries from an author who had been referred by another author, something about the book appealed to me, and I decided to accept the submission.
In most cases, queries or submissions received after we closed them off were filed away in the “not going to review” file. My thinking was that if the author or their representative were able to find the email address for submission, they were also capable of reading the submission page and following directions. Those directions were, don’t submit. Submission inquiries went in the same file.
As of right now, we’ve reviewed a few hundred books (in excess of 250) and have more than that left. Lots of books have come out and are continuing to come out with authors who would like to have a chance to submit their book for review consideration. I’d like to give them a chance. I also don’t want to have all the books we review be those that have been out for a year, if not several. An eBook is, or at least can be, forever. Unlike a paper book competing for limited shelf space, an eBook has more than a couple weeks or months to catch on with readers. This argues against my timeliness concern, or at least tempers it.
That’s the main problem. Too many books and the desire to open for submissions again.
There are two secondary problems. The first is a desire, not just on my part, but also from the readers, to have more frequent posts on subjects other than book reviews. Our weekly author interview series is a start and has proven to be very popular. I’d like to do more. Last, given the ease of fixing problems with eBooks, making them (hopefully) better after their initial release, means that if we’re reviewing a book too long after it was released, what is being reviewed may not be what is actually for sale.
The “experts” say that a focus on a specific genre (or group of genres) is best to develop loyal followers. The “experts” may be right, but I feel like there is also a need and desire for an Indie book review site that is open to most genres. I don’t want to limit myself in that way. I like being exposed to other genres and hope our readers feel the same way.
More frequent reviews. That is a possibility and something that may or may not happen. However, I’m concerned that too many reviews are as likely to drive readers away as attract them. Certainly picking up the pace to a consistent one review every day of the week rather one most weekdays is something to aim for. The possibility of multiple reviews per day, while not impossible, presents some problems, but could possibly happen at some point.
Require some kind of qualification, such as minimum number of reviews on Amazon, before considering a book for review. This has some good arguments for it. The most obvious is removing some of the worst books from the review pool. However, I also have issues with this and would rather not limit us in this way, at least for now. I’ll keep this idea in reserve for future consideration.
An aging process that would drop a book from the review queue after some amount of time if it hasn’t been selected for review. This is at least part of the solution.
We have a lot of smart readers out there. If you have any ideas, I’m always open to suggestions.
The Solution …
… at least for now. Effective immediately, we are open for new submissions. Authors can get the details on the Submitting a Book for Review page, one of several links on the upper right of every page on the site.
For those who pay attention, there are also a few other pages that have been added or revamped, including one for anyone who thinks they might be interested in an new hobby in the wonderful, exciting, and highly non-paying world of book reviewing.