Sunday, December 02, 2012

Open Letter to Writers, Publishers, and PR Folks

I am rapidly approaching a major milestone in my personal life and a rather minor one in my book-blogging life.  I officially retire from the workplace at the end of December but, because I still have enough vacation days in the bank to cover the entire month, I could pack it in any day (it all depends on how much training time my replacement needs from me before I go).  Then, on January 20, Book Chase turns six.  But, frankly, one of the milestones scares the hell out of me, and I'm beginning to feel a little guilty about the other one.

First, what scares me.  I'm retiring into the teeth of the worst economy of my lifetime, and I have absolutely no confidence that anyone in Washington, of either party, has the ability to fix things, including the fellow we have just re-elected for another four, long years.  I've also been hit with unexpected news that the insurance I was counting on for most of 2013 is more than doubling in price, from the roughly $900 per month I expected to pay for my wife and myself, to $1807 per month.  Happy retirement!  Good luck, little nest egg.  But, enough of that, this is a book blog.

Now, what I'm feeling guilty about.  Book Chase is accomplishing more than I could have reasonably expected it ever to accomplish when I made that very first post on January 20, 2007.  My initial goal was simply to find people who shared a love of books and reading to the degree that I love reading.  That wasn't happening for me locally and, when I finally stumbled onto a couple of groundbreaking book blogs, I saw the light.  There really are people like me out there - thousands of them - and the Internet is where they live.

The first year was spent making friends, sharing links, and developing a book review style that did not reveal too much plot but still managed to tempt people into at least giving my favorites a shot at their own To Be Read lists.  I was reviewing books I purchased or got from the library, with an occasional request from an indie author thrown into the mix every so often.

Then, things started to get wild.  I started hearing directly from indie authors and publishers every week...then every day...then maybe twice a day...and now 15-20 times a day.  And the books I was offered got better and better.  They started coming from some of my favorite major publishers, giving me access to review copies of books from some of the writers I had been reading for years, if not decades.  I prided myself on answering every email solicitation I got, even if it was only to pass on a book being offered for review.  Then, I started deleting a few without taking time to respond because there were just too many of them.  Now I can only respond to those solicitations I want to accept, and I know that I am missing out on some very good books - and that my silence is probably offending a few people.

What I want to say publicly is that I know it's happening.  I enjoy nothing more than spreading the word about the books that might just slip through the crack if a bunch of people like me don't take the time to talk about them amongst ourselves.  But there's just shop and all that.  I'm running as fast as I can, but I doubt that, even in retirement, I'll ever review much more than 130 books a year (I have similar interests in live music and post videos of performances I attend to YouTube as SamHouston23 - and that involves time and travel).

So bear with me indie writers, indie publishers, major publishers, fellow reviewers, and those of you who read here on occasion.  I do it because I love it, and I'm not about to give up on all the fun I have doing it...just not going to happen.  I still want to hear from anyone with a good book to push; I live for that.  It's exciting, and opening the mail still feels like Christmas.  I can't believe things are working out so well for me as I move into retirement - at least, I won't have to worry about how I'm going to support my reading habit.

Keep those emails coming - let's see what's next.


  1. Awesome Sam! Happy retirement! Sounds like the worst part of your day will be deciding what book to read next. : )

  2. There certainly are worse problems to have, aren't there, Kayo? I'm looking forward to that and lots of live music events around the country.

  3. Sam, I have found so many good books because of your recommendations!

  4. Gold Digger, comments like yours really make my day. I'm easy, :-)

  5. Congrats on your retirement, Sam! I always love reading your recommendations - so glad you'll keep on reading and sharing!

  6. Julie, thanks for the kind remarks. I'm really looking forward to all the extra time in my day to do the things I enjoy most. Just 9 work days to go now.