Kazza: The Meaning of Slow and Why I’m Not Reviewing Your Book.
I really didn’t want to write this post but I feel like I have to in light of a few authors pushing hard over reviews, being passive-aggressive as well. At this moment in time, and for how long “this moment” lasts I have no idea, I want authors to understand this, sometimes, not always, it can be months (and months) before a review of your book may be written by me. I try to tell every author that I am “behind,” I’m on my own on the blog right now, that I am “slow” reading and reviewing – all of this is true. But you know what? I don’t particularly want to share my personal life experience with every single author who contacts me. Who wants to hear it? Who wants to repeatedly share it? Not you. Not me. It gets depressing. Some authors know the basics of what’s going on, the ones I read on a semiregular or regular basis, or there’s been some reason to mention it. If I say I’ll be “slow” you have two choices – 1) accept that or 2) don’t. Don’t say ‘that’s okay’ then proceed to hassle me. That’s uncool and that’s on you. Let’s be real, shall we? A lot of the time the authors hassling don’t even follow this blog on any social media platform, they don’t even know my name, yet they manage to follow so many others. The irony of the lack of equality in a genre that should be about equality is not lost on me. Clearly these authors believe this blog and my review won’t make any difference to their book anyway so it seems rather redundant to hassle me about a review. My reviews are not your numbers game. Also, here’s something that some authors don’t appear to understand, and I say some, reviewers have lives, and try as they might to review your book they may not be able to. Also, very importantly, reviewers aren’t obligated to review any book.
Okay, let me get somewhat personal. Let me give you a snapshot of why I’m “slow” or sometimes “behind”-
My husband has leukaemia. His leukaemia cannot be cured. However, he’s somehow and miraculously hit this odd window of a slowing down of the development of further symptoms. His bloodwork is far from brilliant, for a start he has neutropoenia and thrombocytopaenia – he bruises and bleeds and gets infections a whole lot more nowadays – and some days he is flat-out tired. Like now, at 3pm, when he’s sleeping during the day because he is just so exhausted. He has an amazing spirit and takes everything in his stride, and for some unknown reason he has become more static in his condition. It’s not a cure, it’s temporary, but I’ll take it and embrace it with both hands. Put into real life context – he’s a priority and important to me. Other things? Not as much.
On top of this, my son-in-law has stage 4 bowel cancer which has metastasized. He has a four-year old and a two-year old, my grandchildren, who don’t understand why daddy ‘disappears’ for periods of time. Sometimes he’s admitted to hospital because something else has impacted him during his latest chemo round, or infection has played havoc. We never know when that may happen and I step in to help my family. There’s more, like spending a long time in the early hours of the morning at the hospital emergency with my two-year old granddaughter having an asthma attack – this, after my SIL has been in chemo earlier or I’ve been with my husband at another hospital’s oncology department. I can get tired. Bone weary. If you know our blog you’ll also know we don’t have a string of guest reviewers on standby that I can ask to read a book in my stead. Sometimes, if things are pretty frantic, order goes out the window – that is rarely the case as I’m very organised, but sometimes it does. If you can’t understand why this could occur, I truly can’t explain it to you.
This year Cindi has been having a much needed reviewing hiatus. I’m hoping she’ll be back with me next year. I miss my dearest friend and co-conspirator writing her own wonderful style of reviews for the books she enjoys, but she’s needed a break. Paul, who guest reviews, is having a breather too. Reviewing is an intensive pastime and I’ve been “it” at On Top Down Under for 2018. I can get a bit overwhelmed between life and reviewing and tours and blog anniversaries. That doesn’t happen too often, feeling overwhelmed, I’m pretty resilient. Nevertheless, it does happen, the overwhelming feelings. You may notice occasional pauses in my reviewing, they’re because things are happening in my personal life and/or I’m feeling wholly exhausted and daunted – I’m entitled to kickback when this happens. This makes me “behind.”
In case you’re wondering why I keep doing this, keep blogging and reviewing, I’ll tell you straight-up, because clearly I’m being open here, it’s for the love of books. It’s because reading is an absolutely brilliant form of mindfulness and so is reviewing. I keep blogging and reviewing because I want to. I love to share my thoughts with others about a book. I add books down the side of this blog, I make sure to add some giveaways and tours. I make sure Pinterest is happening because quite a few readers come over here from there. I try to bolster a few people who are feeling a bit lost themselves.
Here’s why some authors perceive I’m unfair to their book, aka why other books/reviews seem like they are leapfrogging their book’s review –
I can have books for a long time before I actually read and review them. Some authors send me really early, often barely edited, galley copies. They do this because they genuinely want me to review their book. They want it on my radar for when I’m ready because historically I have enjoyed their writing. They also know I understand and don’t crucify them for any issues with editing at this early stage of their book. Sometimes I review it earlier because I can. Sometimes we may have an agreement the review doesn’t go up until closer to the release date. And you know what? Sometimes I have still been later with these reviews than release date and the authors concerned are perfectly gracious. No one else will know this though, only the author and I know. But some of you see a review of a recent release and think I’m reviewing other books and skipping yours when in actuality I’ve had their book longer than yours. Just for the record, even though personal perception is powerful for an individual that does not mean it’s the full or correct picture. You know what else? You don’t pay me. Do not treat me like you do. Cindi and I pay for the pleasure of hosting this review site. We take and seek no advertising revenue. Books featured on the side are not paid advertising either.
Furthermore, I’m heavily mood reading right now. I can’t predict that one. I mean mood reading in the sense that I can’t go to a particular book for personal feelings and reasons, your book may occasionally be put back one to two books in the queue – never anymore than two books. That’s all that happens. In the grand scheme of life that is a drop in the ocean. Don’t even begin to analyse how your book couldn’t possibly affect my mood. Happiness can sometimes be sadness, you need to live grief (or work with it) to understand it. To put it further into perspective, when you combine everything – my age, my personal life right now, the amount of review requests I receive, my concerted attempts to get as many authors and tours (not as many tours this year) on here as I can, then it can be a congested and slower process than normal. If I don’t read your book super quickly it will be featured down the side so my fellow readers know it’s coming out or is out. I can’t churn out reviews. I’m not prolific. It can take me anywhere between five hours to five days to actually get some reviews together before I hit publish. Some of my reviews are in excess of four thousand words. There are those of you who might think that is ridiculous but I don’t care what your opinion is about the time taken for me to write a review, or its length, I care about what I feel is right for me, our blog, the overall review.
At the end of the day, and in the fullest and truest context, I don’t want anyone to not send me a request to review their book if they think it’s a good fit for them and me. That is not what I’m saying, I’m still reviewing and loving reading. I ask for patience. If I tell you I am “slow” or “behind” at the moment then I mean it, please be honest with yourself as to whether or not that suits you. Take a look at my preferences, some of my reviews, because sometimes authors or review coordinators request me to review a book that isn’t ever going to be my style. Reviews are broken down into subcategories on our blog. Goodreads has stats on what I like readily available as well. I have my preferences fully outlined here. I understand the need to have your book seen and for you to get feedback. I simply don’t want to explain myself anymore. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. I don’t want authors saying, ‘yes, I’m fine with “slow,'” but they’re not fine at all. To the authors who are patient and appreciate my reviews for what they are, and they’re not always rosy, thank you. To the others, when you are passive-aggressive, rude, and totally me-centric, my answer is, nope, I’m not reviewing your book.