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The Compulsive Reader: Books: The Lowdown

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Books: The Lowdown

As someone who gets lots of books to review, the following question is inevitable: "HOW?" Well, I'll explain.

First off, disclaimer: I started this book blog because a substitute teacher encouraged me (and a bunch of other students) to let our voices be heard, and recommended blogging. I have always loved books, am very knowledgeable when it comes to YA, and wanted to connect with readers just as passionate as I am about books. And though I had been reviewing for a couple of years, it honestly hadn't occurred to me to review books for the sake of getting them for free until my first author approached me. Back then, I used the library, I bought my own books, I used PaperbackSwap.com, bookmooch.com, and I borrowed books from friends. I got creative.

So as much as I appreciate the many books I've received over the years and acknowledge that yes, it IS exciting to get them, getting the books should NOT be your only motivation for reviewing and blogging. All of my contacts with publishers approached me first--I did not seek them out. As I said in my post of blogging tips, if you are passionate and dedicated when it comes to blogging, you WILL be noticed. It's only been recently that I've asked for books from my contacts and authors, mainly because asking for free things makes me uncomfortable and because I am a bit shy.

But, when I do go about doing it, I don't say, "Hey, I'd really like to review that book, can I get it?" Instead, I approach the person, introduce myself, tell them about my blog, how many unique hits I get in a day, what I blog about, etc., and hope for the best. Basically, you have to be concise and tell that person why you can help sell their book.

And you have to be prepared to be disappointed. Publishers and authors don’t have bottomless pockets. They can’t give books to everyone. You’ll be told no sometimes. Sometimes you’ll be told yes, but it won’t ever happen. Even after two years, there are times when other bloggers get a book I want that I didn’t get, and I feel a little jealous, but that’s just the way it is. Get over it, and go buy it, preferably locally. You’ll be supporting local business AND the publisher and authors.

But when you are told yes, and you do get books, remember your manners! Say thank you (a lot of people don't do this, surprisingly), and try to get to it in a timely manner!

Just remember that there is more to blogging than reviewing the newest release or next month's big book. You can write about a favorite series from five years ago, or trends, or news, or just your opinion and that's still just as much fun. When I was visiting publishers while in New York City, all of the publicists I talked to said they like bloggers with big mouths who talk about everything and anything YA. It shows that you're passionate about the books, and not just someone looking for a free book.

Now go forth and spread the YA cheer!

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