Monday, February 18, 2013

Lesson Learned

After several days of thinking about it, I've come to a conclusion about the future of Book Chase.  

In the last ten days, I have had three separate discouraging bits of feedback regarding what I do here: one bit from a fairly well known author who took offense at something I said about her latest book, one bit from a regional author who ranted in a rather embarrassing way (I think) about something totally unrelated to her work that I said, and another bit from a publisher saying that I had "committed" to a review merely by accepting an unsolicited book of theirs in the mail (what am I supposed to do when a book whose genre I don't read suddenly shows up at my back door?).

Well, I have now thought it all over, and I have decided that enough is enough.

I am going to finish up with the review copies already in my possession, but I am not going to accept any others for review.  

I will still, on occasion, review books here - but they will be books I buy, borrow from the library, or get through programs at Amazon, GoodReads, or LibraryThing.  

I have never been a shill for writers or publishers, and I refuse to become one now.  This is not a job; if it were, I would have starved long ago.  I will, from this moment on, read what I want, when I want.  I have let my desire to get out the word on new books and authors overwhelm my personal time because I believed I was doing just a tiny bit of good.

Lesson learned.  Life is too short for this kind of frustration.  


  1. Bravo!

    I reached this same conclusion last year. Life has been much less stressful since.

  2. The publisher that insisted you were somehow committed to reviewing a book sent your way is ridiculous. No critic is under any such obligation, even regarding a book that he or she had specifically requested. The decision of whether or not to review a book is always the critic's. Any self-respecting publisher understands that.

    Jeff Pierce
    Editor, The Rap Sheet

  3. Sam, you do a wonderful thing here and I feel it's a huge shame that certain people with their own agendas have made you question it. If I had any advice to give it would be to Very Much ignore them - you CAN turn down review copes; you're not obliged. Don't be bullied, Sam. And I'll still be over here, excited, regardless of where the books come from.


  4. I never really got all that many review copies, but I have long since stopped seeking them out. I get very few offers now, and only take the ones I would probably read anyway.

    As for authors, I've only ever heard from those whose books I liked. But I think you have a larger readership than I do. Honestly, at this point in life, a public spat with a famous author might be kind of fun. Maybe a Gore Vidal/Norman Mailer kind of thing..

    No. It would probably be more trouble than it would be worth.

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  6. You are right, Sam. Life is too short for this kind of manipulation, [and accusation] etc. I remember once posting a [favorable] review of a book on Amazon. I included a personally-taken image of the book, and within five minutes I got an email from the author telling me basically to "take that image off", adding several other comments that were so unwarranted.
    I felt like sending him some Valium.

  7. I regret that your hard work and honest opinions have opened you up to such pressure and negativity. I come here because your love for the written word radiates from every line in this blog, and that makes me feel comfortable and at home here.

    You should feel at home here too.

    Enjoy your reading.

  8. So sorry about this Sam.
    I enjoy your reviews and posts, no matter where the books come from.


  9. I knew there had to be a reason that your blog had been so quiet of late. I am happy it was not for some family emergency but sad to hear that you were attacked over something you obviously enjoy and put such effort into. I do not think you were wrong in thinking you were doing a little bit of good. I have really admired your willingness to read so many new authors and to take the time to write such thoughtful and balanced reviews. I know you have taken time to make this decision but I hope some of the positives offered in the comments give some perspective in what caused the decision to be made in the first place. I don't believe you can please everyone no matter how hard you try (just to say I do not think that is what you try to do) and it seems the negative squeaky wheel is too loud. For that I apologize as I for one do not comment often enough to show appreciation for what you do. Enjoy your reading and I will certainly read all your reviews with continued appreciation.

  10. Yay Sam! You should always only ever read what you want when you want and then be honest in your opinion of it publishers and authors be darned!

  11. I think you've come to the right conclusion. For years I hardly ever got offered review copies, and now that I no longer want to accept any, the emails come flooding in. Most of them don't fit my genre interests anyways. I prefer to read what I like, when I like, even if it's not everyone's cup of tea!

  12. Thanks to all for the understanding and supportive comments you've made. I'm still bothered by what happened, but I'm trying to get re-motivated enough to keep up the effort. I realize these were three "fringe" reactions but they happened so close together that they had quite an emotional impact on me.

    I will, I'm sure, put it behind me - and maybe it was a lesson I needed to learn. I will most certainly more carefully pick the books I do accept...and there will be fewer than before...much fewer.

    Thanks again for understanding my reaction. I know that some of you have had the same experience.

  13. And just when I needed it most, I get an email telling me that a site has included me on a Top 100 Blog list of sites essential for "Voracious Readers." I don't usually take much notice of stuff like this, but the timing is perfect and I am going to fly their badge for a while right up top...just to remind myself that it is all worth it and that books and literature are really my biggest single passion in life.

  14. I'm late to the party these days, but I think you're doing the right thing. You shouldn't read anything you don't want to read, and since by TBR list is as large as it is mostly because of this blog, I prefer to read reviews of the books you want to read, not the ones forced upon you.

    Anywho, this blog is great and the award is well-deserved. Congratulations!

  15. Thanks for the kind words, Miss Annie. I have tried to be pretty certain about a book, as regards quality and personal fit, before I accept it for review, but sometimes I make a mistake...but always tell the truth. My "reviews" are very personal ones based on my own reaction to a book...but some (a very few) act as if blog-reviewers work directly for them, defeating the whole purpose.

  16. HI Sam - I'm really late to this post, so while you've had lots of feedback along the lines of what I'd say, I just wanted to say that I support what you say about reading for pleasure, what you want. If you can balance that with reading new books that give you pleasure and to spread the word, that is wonderful. If not, reading what you want is the only way that blogs can keep going year after year, I've found.

  17. You're absolutely right, Susan. That's the key because when blogging becomes a chore and starts feeling like work, it's time to quit. None of us started book-blogging because we needed to add a part-time job to our schedules.

  18. I'm happy to read all of your reviews, regardless of where the book comes from. Life is too short to be under pressure so enjoy your reading!

  19. Thank you, Kathleen, for the kind words regarding my review policy change of heart.